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How to Write a Research Hypothesis?

Research Hypothesis

What is Hypothesis?

Hypothesis is an assumption or an idea proposed for the sake of argument so that it can be tested. It is a precise, testable statement of what the researchers predict will be the outcome of the study.  Hypothesis usually involves proposing a relationship between two variables: the independent variable (what the researchers change) and the dependent variable (what the research measures).

Example hypothesis from Question to Statements

  • Question: Are health and mental stress-related?
  • Statement: I predict that health and mental stress are related

Variables in hypotheses

Hypotheses propose a relationship between two or more types of variables.

  • An independent variable is something the researcher changes or controls.
  • A dependent variable is something the researcher observes and measures.

If there are any control variables, extraneous variables, or confounding variables, be sure to jot those down as you go to minimize the chances that research bias will affect your results.

Example: Daily exposure to the sun leads to increased levels of happiness.

In this example, the independent variable is exposure to the sun – the assumed cause. The dependent variable is the level of happiness – the assumed effect.

What is a Research Hypothesis?

Research hypothesis is a statement that introduces a research question and proposes an expected result. It is an integral part of the scientific method that forms the basis of scientific experiments. Therefore, you need to be careful and thorough when building your research hypothesis. A minor flaw in the construction of your hypothesis could have an adverse effect on your experiment. In research, there is a convention that the hypothesis is written in two forms, the null hypothesis, and the alternative hypothesis (called the experimental hypothesis when the method of investigation is an experiment).

Types of Hypotheses

The hypothesis you use will depend on what you are investigating and hoping to find. Some of the main types of hypotheses that you might use include:

Simple hypothesis: This type of hypothesis suggests that there is a relationship between one independent variable and one dependent variable.

Complex hypothesis: This type of hypothesis suggests a relationship between three or more variables, such as two independent variables and a dependent variable.

Null hypothesis: The null hypothesis states that the two variables under investigation have no relationship which means one variable does not affect the other variable. It claims that the findings are purely coincidental and have no presence in the validity of the hypothesis being investigated.

Alternative hypothesis: The alternative hypothesis states the effect of a relationship between one variable to another variable. In this, the result of the study is not due to the chance of occurrence in the study. Also, we accept the alternative hypothesis if the null hypothesis is denied. We do not accept the alternative hypothesis if the null hypothesis is not rejected.

Statistical hypothesis: This hypothesis uses statistical analysis to evaluate a representative sample of the population and then generalizes the findings to the larger group.

Logical hypothesis: This hypothesis assumes a relationship between variables without collecting data or evidence.

Essential Characteristics of a Good Research Hypothesis

As the hypothesis is specific, there is a testable prediction about what you expect to happen in a study. You may consider drawing hypothesis from previously published research based on the theory. A good research hypothesis involves more effort than just a guess. In particular, your hypothesis may begin with a question that could be further explored through background research. To help you formulate a promising research hypothesis, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is the language clear and focused?
  2. What is the relationship between your hypothesis and your research topic?
  3. Is your hypothesis testable? If yes, then how?
  4. What are the possible explanations that you might want to explore?
  5. Does your hypothesis include both an independent and dependent variable?
  6. Can you manipulate your variables without hampering ethical standards?
  7. Does your research predict the relationship and outcome?
  8. Is your research simple and concise (avoids wordiness)?
  9. Is it clear with no ambiguity or assumptions about the readers’ knowledge
  10. Is your research observable and testable results?
  11. Is it relevant and specific to the research question or problem?

Developing a hypothesis 

Step 1. Ask a question

Writing a hypothesis begins with a research question that you want to answer. The question should be focused, specific, and researchable within the constraints of your project.

Step 2. Do some preliminary research

Your initial answer to the question should be based on what is already known about the topic. Look for theories and previous studies to help you form educated assumptions about what your research will find. At this stage, you might construct a conceptual framework to ensure that you’re embarking on a relevant topic. This can also help you identify which variables you will study and what you think the relationships are between them. Sometimes, you’ll have to operationalize more complex constructs.

Step 3. Formulate your hypothesis

Now you should have some idea of what you expect to find. Write your initial answer to the question in a clear, concise sentence.

Step 4. Refine your hypothesis

You need to make sure your hypothesis is specific and testable. There are various ways of phrasing a hypothesis, but all the terms you use should have clear definitions, and the hypothesis should contain:

  • The relevant variables
  • The specific group being studied
  • The predicted outcome of the experiment or analysis

Step 5. Phrase your hypothesis in three ways

To identify the variables, you can write a simple prediction in if…then form. The first part of the sentence states the independent variable and the second part states the dependent variable. In academic research, hypotheses are more commonly phrased in terms of correlations or effects, where you directly state the predicted relationship between variables. If you are comparing two groups, the hypothesis can state what difference you expect to find between them.

Step 6. Write a null hypothesis

If your research involves statistical hypothesis testing, you will also have to write a null hypothesis. The null hypothesis is the default position that there is no association between the variables. The null hypothesis is written as H0, while the alternative hypothesis is H1 or Ha.


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