Writing a Hypothesis
An essential part of any scientific research is making a hypothesis. It is a deduction based on something underexplored yet obvious from the previous evidence. This idea should be supported or rejected by further research and testing.
A hypothesis is necessary before you start collecting data and doing experiments. In fact, it is a basis for the next scientific steps, so you need to know how to create it correctly.
What a Hypothesis Is About
In general, it is a prediction about the results of your research. The hypothesis you make is an answer to your research questions. In some academic work, you may need to put forward several hypotheses to consider different aspects of your research work.
Make sure that your hypothesis is not just your guess. You should use some existing data or theories to make it. One more essential characteristic of any hypothesis is that it should be testable for you to support, change or completely refute it. You should carry on some experiments or tests to find additional evidence.
Role of Variables in a Hypothesis
You also need to consider the relationship between its variables. Variables can be independent and dependent.
- An independent variable is some points or factors which a researcher can affect.
- A dependent variable means that you can only observe it but cannot control it in any way. However, you can measure it and conclude based on this measurement.
Often, a cause is an independent variable, but an effect is a dependent one.
How to Develop a Hypothesis
1. Asking a Correct Question Is the First Step
Start creating a hypothesis with a research question for your work. This question should be as narrow as possible. It also needs to be testable and researchable, considering the limits of your overall project. For example:
✔️ Do people who spend more time outdoors catch colds seldom in comparison with others?
2. Doing Preliminary Research Is Mandatory
Your presupposed answer to this question should be based on the already known information. That is why you need to do some reading to learn about all existing theories and results of previous research work so that you can make some assumptions about the possible results of your academic work.
Here, you need to make up a conceptual framework to decide which variable you can research and what kind of relationship exists between them.
3. Making Up the Body of Your Hypothesis
At this stage, having a certain idea about your expected research results is essential. Write one or two concise sentences to express this idea. It should be formulated clearly and thoroughly. For example:
✔️ Spending more time outdoors leads to avoiding colds in people.
4. Checking the Relevance of Your Hypothesis
Make sure your hypothesis is relevant to the field of studies, current debate, your topic and other factors. Try to formulate it as a unique statement that can be tested with different scientific methods. Use the terms that are acceptable and understandable in your field of study. Provide consistent definitions for them if needed.
The hypothesis should include:
- the testable and relevant variables;
- some groups of people or phenomena that should be researched;
- the possible results of your analysis.
5. Checking the Relevance of Your Hypothesis
First of all, you need to indicate the variables by using a simple sentence structure - ‘if… then…’ The part after ‘if’ is an independent variable, and the part after ‘then’ is a dependent variable. For example:
✔️ If people spend more time outdoors, then they tend to avoid colds.
When you continue your academic research, you will rephrase the hypothesis using correlations between the variables that you can predict. For example:
✔️ The number of time people spend outdoors influences their ability to avoid colds.
You can also compare these two variables and receive the hypothesis based on the difference between them. For example:
✔️ People who spend more time outdoors catch colds more seldom than those who prefer to spend time indoors.
6. What a Null Hypothesis Means
You create such a hypothesis if your scientific work involves the analysis of statistical data. It is a default type that does not imply a correlation between the variables. The sign for it is usually ‘H0’, while the other hypothesis which features this correlation is mentioned as ‘H1’. For example:
- ✔️ H0: The amount of time people spend outdoors does not influence their catching colds.
- ✔️ H1: The amount of time people spend outdoors influences their ability to catch colds.
You know now what a hypothesis is, what it consists of, and how to write it correctly step-by-step. Remember that your hypothesis is an essential basis for your research work because you need to know what you are supposed to do and test in your research. Make your hypothesis consistent and relevant to your field of study. It also needs to include variables and provide the ground for further testing and research.
Here is comparison of badly and well-formulated hypotheses:
- ❌ People often catch colds. (There are no variables here and there is nothing to check during surveys and experiments).
- ✔️ People often catch colds if they do not spend much time outdoors. (Here, you can have the two variables and check the correlation between them).
All in all, the further success of your academic research may depend on how carefully and responsibly you formulate the hypothesis.