While a theoretical framework provides the general set of ideas in which a study occurs, the conceptual framework refers to the specific ideas a researcher uses in the study.
Examples of conceptual frameworks include the methods of a chemistry experiment, the definitions a sociologist uses to describe a culture and the types of data an economist considers when evaluating a country's industry.
I like how theoretical frameworks are defined in this blog post. Cyrus Samii offers an explanation of what a good theoretical framework does for students.
For example, you can use framing theory to help you explain how different actors perceive the world.
Three of the most challenging concepts for me to explain are the interrelated ideas of a theoretical framework, a conceptual framework, and an analytical framework.
All three of these tend to be used interchangeably.
On the other hand, the theoretical framework may also determine what ideas are When used as a separate term, "theoretical framework" always refers to the larger ideas governing research and study.
However, the terms "theoretical" and "conceptual" are often confused or used interchangeably to designate all ideas used to define and shape an intellectual study.
For example, a psychologist writing a paper may be working in a Freudian, Jungian or behaviorist theoretical framework.
A theoretical framework provides a large, overarching structure of ideas that the researcher can then draw from in beginning to analyze a phenomenon or a text.