Literature does not always clearly delineate between a theoretical or conceptual framework.
With that being said, there are slight differences between the two.
Researchers create theoretical and conceptual frameworks that include a philosophical and methodological model to help design their work.
A formal theory provides context for the outcome of the events conducted in the research.
Many social science research papers fit into this rubric.
For example, Peripheral Realism Theory, which categorizes perceived differences among nation-states as those that give orders, those that obey, and those that rebel, could be used as a means for understanding conflicted relationships among countries in Africa.Based upon the above example, it is perhaps easiest to understand the nature and function of a theoretical framework if it is viewed as an answer to two basic questions: The answers to these questions come from a thorough review of the literature and your course readings [summarized and analyzed in the next section of your paper] and the gaps in the research that emerge from the review process. “The General Method of Theory-Building Research in Applied Disciplines.” A growing and increasingly important trend in the social and behavioral sciences is to think about and attempt to understand specific research problems from an interdisciplinary perspective.With this in mind, a complete theoretical framework will likely not emerge until after you have completed a thorough review of the literature. One way to do this is to not rely exclusively on the theories developed within your particular discipline, but to think about how an issue might be informed by theories developed in other disciplines.The theoretical framework introduces and describes the theory that explains why the research problem under study exists.A theoretical framework consists of concepts and, together with their definitions and reference to relevant scholarly literature, existing theory that is used for your particular study.Eisenhart defined a theoretical framework as “a structure that guides research by relying on a formal theory…constructed by using an established, coherent explanation of certain phenomena and relationships” (1991, p. Thus, the theoretical framework consists of the selected theory (or theories) that undergirds your thinking with regards to how you understand and plan to research your topic, as well as the concepts and definitions from that theory that are relevant to your topic.Lovitts (2005) empirically defines criteria for applying or developing theory to the dissertation that must be appropriate, logically interpreted, well understood, and align with the question at hand." "Miles and Huberman (1994) defined a conceptual framework as a visual or written product, one that “explains, either graphically or in narrative form, the main things to be studied—the key factors, concepts, or variables—and the presumed relationships among them” (p.By virtue of its applicative nature, good theory in the social sciences is of value precisely because it fulfills one primary purpose: to explain the meaning, nature, and challenges associated with a phenomenon, often experienced but unexplained in the world in which we live, so that we may use that knowledge and understanding to act in more informed and effective ways.A theoretical framework is used to limit the scope of the relevant data by focusing on specific variables and defining the specific viewpoint [framework] that the researcher will take in analyzing and interpreting the data to be gathered.You must review course readings and pertinent research studies for theories and analytic models that are relevant to the research problem you are investigating.The selection of a theory should depend on its appropriateness, ease of application, and explanatory power.