Theoretical Framework vs Conceptual Framework Differences and Similarities Leave a comment

But, to do this, we need to have a common understanding of the language we use and an appreciation of the different ways these terms can be applied. After choosing a theory, the researcher can construct the theoretical framework that turns the theory into the object of study. Thanks to this work, the study is well positioned to advance knowledge because it puts the theory to the test and unites findings across research contexts.

This section reexamines the characteristics and functions of conceptual frameworks to provide a better understanding of their roles in qualitative research. If using a fully inductive theory development study design, theory will not shape the study design. There is no theoretical framework to develop because there is no theory to build into the structure of the research. Instead, the study will depend on a robustly developed conceptual framework (see below). Indeed, a lack of appreciation of the differences between these terms can have detrimental consequences. Without clarity, we risk falsely assuming shared interpretations and applications of these terms.

Structure: Theoretical Framework vs Conceptual Framework

Theoretical frameworks play a central role in research, serving as the bedrock of any investigation. This section offers a refresher on the essential elements and functions of theoretical frameworks in research. In a thesis or dissertation, the discussion is an in-depth exploration of the results, going into detail about the meaning of your findings and citing relevant sources to put them in context.

conceptual versus theoretical framework

If using a theory-informing inductive data analysis study design, the researcher will wait until data analysis is underway to decide which theory or theories can be used to inform data interpretations. The theoretical framework of the study is, therefore, developed during the data analysis processes (which may include cycles of data collection and analysis). Not all aspects of the study are shaped by theory in the theory-informing inductive data analysis study design. In this design, the theoretical framework offers a description of which elements of the study are theory informed and how they are informed.

Step 2: Select your independent and dependent variables

Theoretical frameworks provide the lens for interpreting the data, informing what kinds of themes and patterns might be relevant. Conceptual frameworks, however, present the variables concepts and variables and the relationships among them that will be analyzed. Conceptual frameworks may illustrate concepts and relationships based on previous theory, but they can also include novel concepts or relationships conceptual versus theoretical framework that stem from the particular context being studied. Theoretical frameworks provide a broad and general view of the research problem, rooted in established theories. Conceptual frameworks, on the other hand, offer a more focused view of the specific research problem. They explicitly outline the concrete concepts and variables involved in the study and the relationships between them.

Some common variables to include are moderating, mediating, and control variables. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to help you construct your own conceptual framework. Identifying a theory that aligns with your dissertation or doctoral study takes time.

Investigate theory

Although they serve different purposes, understanding their differences will help you structure these steps when organizing your research. Note that causal relationships often involve several independent variables that affect the dependent variable. For the purpose of this example, we’ll work with just one independent variable (“hours of study”).

  • Ask your supervisor if you are allowed to include an image on the title page before doing so.
  • You can use your theoretical framework to answer descriptive questions or analyze more hypotheses and findings related to your topic.
  • The conceptual framework answers the question of how the researcher’s problem will be explored.
  • Describe how your proposed study may lead to useful research or gaps in previous research and explain your rationale in general terms.
  • Their differences are substantial, but both frameworks are critical to conducting sound research.

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