A CONCEPT is an abstract or general idea inferred or derived from specific instances. A concept is a word or phrase that symbolizes several interrelated ideas. Unlike a theory, a concept does not need to be discussed to be understood (Smyth, 2004).
CONCEPTUALIZATION is inventing or contriving an idea or explanation and formulating it mentally. It is the act of creating or formulating something by thinking up particular ideas or actions intended to deal with a problem or situation. A conceptualization is an abstract, simplified view of the world that we wish to represent for some purpose. Every knowledge base, knowledge-based system, or knowledge-level agent is committed to some conceptualization, explicitly or implicitly (Genesereth and Nilsson, 1987).
FRAMING is the formulation of plans and important details. Itis a way of conceiving something.
A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK can be defined as a set of broad ideas and principles taken from relevant fields of enquiry ad used to structure a subsequent presentation (Reichel and Ramey, 1987).
A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK is a research tool intended to assist a researcher to develop awareness and understanding of the situation under scrutiny and to communicate this. When clearly articulated, a conceptual framework has potential usefulness as a tool to assist a researcher to make meaning of subsequent findings. It forms part of the agenda for negotiation to be scrutinized and tested, reviewed and informed as a result of investigation (Guba and Lincoln, 1989).
According to Goetz and LeCompte (1984), and Bliss, Monk and Ogborn (1983) a conceptual framework increasingly strengthens and keeps the research on track by:
- Providing clear links from the literature to the research goals and questions.
- Contributing to the formulation of the research design.
- Providing reference points for discussion of literature, methodology and analysis of data.
- Contributing to the trustworthiness of the study.
- Giving a broad scope to thinking about the research.
- Conceptualizing the problem and providing a means to link ideas and data so that deeper connections can be revealed.
A conceptual framework should assist a researcher to organize his/her thinking and complete an investigation successfully. It must explain the relationship among interlinked concepts. It explains the possible connection between the variables and answers the why questions. To find out how effective one’s conceptual framework is, one should analyze whether the set objectives have been addressed (Smyth, 2004).
When we understand a concept we understand the links and assoc E’tons that go with that concept. Researchers who understand concepts become more knowledgeable in their area of research. Understanding is greater and of higher quality if we understand the dynamics. In research if one can understand a concept one becomes very close to “owning” it.