What is a research hypothesis?
In a scientific study (for example, a dissertation or thesis), a research hypothesis (also called a scientific hypothesis) is a statement about the expected outcomes of the study. In simpler terms, a hypothesis is a statement that presents a research question and identifies anticipated outcomes. In addition, it forms the basis of scientific experiments, which is integral to the scientific method. Consequently, you must construct your research hypotheses with care and attention. If you build your hypothesis incorrectly, it can impact your experiment negatively.
A good research hypothesis should be clear about who will be evaluated as well as very specific about what will be evaluated.
You need to construct a convincing, testable scientific hypothesis for your experiment. Testable hypotheses are those that can either be proven or rejected based on the results of an experiment.
The importance of a testable hypothesis
In order to devise and perform an experiment using the scientific method, your hypothesis must be testable. To accomplish this, a few basic requirements need to be met:
- The validity of the hypothesis must be able to be proven.
- The hypothesis must be falsifiable.
- A good research hypothesis must be selective and clearly defined about what is being evaluated and very specific about the expected outcome.
How to formulate an effective research hypothesis?
Testable hypotheses should provide a clear introduction to the scientific experiment, its objectives, and possible outcomes. A compelling hypothesis, however, needs to take into account a few factors:
- Your problem must be stated
- You should identify the topic and purpose of the experiment clearly in the hypothesis.
- Put the hypothesis in the form of a conditional statement
- As an example: if a certain action is taken, an expected result will occur.
- Variables must be selected
- Experimental studies investigate the relationship between an independent variable and a dependent variable based on a hypothesis. A change in the independent variable (the factor being changed) changes what happens to the dependent variable (the idea under test).
Tip: Create a hypothesis checklist
The following questions are important to ask when building a strong hypothesis:
- Does the language sound clear and accurate?
- Is the hypothesis clear about the subject of the study?
- Are there independent and dependent variables in the hypothesis? Can they be recognized easily?
- Is it possible to test a hypothesis by conducting an experiment?
- Can the hypothesis explain the expected outcome of your experiment?
This is a helpful list that you can use as a starting point before you experiment. Your hypothesis can be strengthened by identifying weaknesses and revising them as necessary.