A research hypothesis can be defined as a clear, specific and predictive statement that states the possible outcome of a scientific study. The result of the research study is based on previous research studies and can be tested by scientific research.
The research hypothesis is written before the beginning of any scientific research or data collection.
What is Research Hypothesis?
The research hypothesis is the first step and basis of all research endeavours. The research hypothesis shows what you want to prove with your research study. Therefore, the research hypothesis should be written first before you begin the study, no matter what kind of research study you are conducting.
The research hypothesis shows the direction to the researcher conducting the research. It states what the researcher expects to find from the study. It is a tentative answer that guides the entire research study.
Writing a research hypothesis is not an easy task. It requires skills to write a testable research hypothesis. The researcher is required to study the research done by other researchers on the same subject and find out the loopholes in those researches to make it the basis for their research.
Make sure to consider the general research question posed in the study before jumping directly to write a research hypothesis. Pointing out the exact question can be very difficult for researchers as most researchers are usually not aware of what they are trying to find from their research study. Moreover, the added excitement to conduct the study makes it even more difficult for the researchers to pin down the exact research hypothesis.
There are two primary criteria to develop a reasonable research hypothesis. First, the research hypothesis should be researchable and second; it must be interesting. By researchable, we mean that the question in the research hypothesis statement should be able to be answered with the help of science and the answer to the question should be answerable within a reasonable period.
The research hypothesis being interesting means that the research question should be valuable in the context of the ongoing scientific research of the topic.
Let us learn about the research hypothesis in quantitative and qualitative studies:
Research hypothesis in Quantitative studies
The research hypothesis in a quantitative study consists of one independent variable and one dependent variable, and the research hypothesis mentions the expected relationship between both of the variables.
The independent variable is mentioned first in the research hypothesis followed by explanations and results, etc. and then the dependent variable is specified. Make sure that the variables are referred to in the same order as they are mentioned in the research hypothesis; otherwise, there are chances that your readers get confused while reading your research proposal.
When both variables are used in continuous nature, then it is easy to describe negative or positive relationships between both of them. In the case of categorical variables, the hypothesis statement about which category of independent variables is associated with which group of dependent variables.
It is good to represent the research hypothesis in directional format. That means, the statement is made about the expected relationship between the variables based on past research, the study of existing research, on an educational guess, or only by observation.
Additionally, the null hypothesis can also be used between two variables which state that there is no relationship between the variables. The null hypothesis is the basis of all types of statistical research.
Lastly, a simple research hypothesis for quantitative research should provide a direction for the study of the relationship between two variables. Still, it should also use phrases like “tend to” or “in general” to soften the tone of the hypothesis.
Research hypothesis in qualitative research
The role of the research hypothesis in qualitative research is different as compared to its role in quantitative research. The research hypothesis is not developed at the beginning of the research because of the inductive nature of the qualitative studies.
The research hypothesis is introduced during the iterative process of data collection and the Interpretation of the data. The research hypothesis helps the researchers ask more questions and look for answers for disconfirming evidence.
The qualitative study is dependent on the questions and subquestions asked by the researchers at the beginning of the qualitative research. Generally, in qualitative studies one or two central questions are developed and based on these central questions a series of five to ten subquestions is built and these sub-questions are further used to develop central questions for the research purpose.
In qualitative studies, these questions are directly asked the participant of the research study usually through focus groups or in-depth interviews. This is done to develop an understanding between participants of the study and the researchers. This helps in creating a collaborative experience between the two.
Variables in hypothesis
In research studies like correlational research and experimental studies, a hypothesis shows a relationship between two or more variables. There is an independent variable and a dependent variable.
An independent variable is a variable that a researcher can control and change, whereas, a dependent variable is a variable that the researcher measures and observes.
For example, regular exercise lowers the chances of a heart attack. In this example, the regular exercise is an independent variable and probabilities of occurrence of heart attack is a dependent variable that researchers can measure by observation.
How to develop a reasonable research hypothesis?
A research hypothesis plays an essential role in the research study. Therefore, it is necessary to develop an accurate and precise research hypothesis. In this section, you will learn how to develop a reasonable research hypothesis. The following are the steps involved in developing a research hypothesis.
Step 1. Have a question?
The first step involved in writing a research hypothesis is having a question that you want to answer. This question should be specific and within the scope of your research area. Make sure that the question that you ask is researchable within the time duration of your research study. The examples of research hypothesis questions can be
- Do students who attend classes regularly score more in exams?
- Do people prefer to buy products that have a high price as compared to the other similar products available in the market?
Step 2. Do some preliminary research:
Preliminary research is conducted before a researcher decides his research hypothesis. In the preliminary research, all the knowledge available about the question is collected by studying the theories and previous studies.
Having this knowledge helps the researchers to form educational assumptions about the outcomes of the research. At this stage, the researcher might prepare a conceptual framework to determine which variable should be studied and what you think is the relationship between the different variables.
The preliminary study also helps the researcher to change the topic if he feels the problem doesn’t have much scope for research.
Step 3. Formulation of hypothesis:
At this stage, the final research hypothesis is formulated. At this stage, the researcher has some idea of what he should expect from the research study. Write the answer to the question of research hypothesis in concise and clear sentences.
The clearer the research hypothesis, the easier will be for researchers to conduct the research.
Step 4. Refine the final hypothesis:
It is essential to make sure that your research hypothesis is testable and specific. You can define a hypothesis in different ways, but you should make sure that all the words that you use in your research hypothesis have precise definitions.
Besides, your hypothesis should contain a set of variables, the relationship between the variables, specific group being studied, and already predicted the outcome of the research.
Step 5. Use three methods to phrase your hypothesis:
They establish a clear relationship between variables, write the hypothesis in if.. then form. The first part of the sentence should be an independent variable, and the second part of the variable should state the dependent variable.
For example, if a student attends 100% classes in a semester, then he will score more than 90% in the exams.
In academic research, the research hypotheses are formed in terms of correlations or effects. In such hypotheses, the relationship between the variables is directly stated in the research hypothesis.
For example, the high numbers of lectures attended by students have a positive impact on their results.
When you are writing a research hypothesis to compare two groups, the hypothesis should state what the differences you are expecting to find in both the groups are.
For example, the students who have more than 70% attendance will score better in exams than the students who have lower than 50% attendance.
Step 6. Write the Null hypothesis:
A null hypothesis is written when research involves statistical hypothesis testing. A null hypothesis when there is no specific relationship between the variables.
It is a default position that shows that two variables used in the hypothesis are not related to each other. A null hypothesis is usually written as H0, and alternative hypotheses are written as H1 or Ha.
Importance of Research Hypothesis
Research plays an essential role in every field. To experiment, a researcher needs to make sure that the research he wants to conduct is testable. A research hypothesis is developed after conducting a preliminary study.
A preliminary study is the study of previous studies done by researchers and the study of research papers written on the same concept. With the help of the research hypothesis, a researcher makes sure that he is not hidden towards a dead end, and it works as a direction map for the researcher.