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How to Develop a Good Research Hypothesis

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The story of a research study begins by asking a question. Researchers all around the globe are asking curious questions and formulating research hypothesis. However, whether the research study provides an effective conclusion depends on how well one develops a good research hypothesis. Research hypothesis examples could help researchers get an idea as to how to write a good research hypothesis.

This blog will help you understand what is a research hypothesis, its characteristics and, how to formulate a research hypothesis

Table of Contents

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 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).

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).

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:

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

research hypothesis example

The questions listed above can be used as a checklist to make sure your hypothesis is based on a solid foundation. Furthermore, it can help you identify weaknesses in your hypothesis and revise it if necessary.

Source: Educational Hub

How to formulate a research hypothesis.

A testable hypothesis is not a simple statement. It is rather an intricate statement that needs to offer a clear introduction to a scientific experiment, its intentions, and the possible outcomes. However, there are some important things to consider when building a compelling hypothesis.

1. State the problem that you are trying to solve.

Make sure that the hypothesis clearly defines the topic and the focus of the experiment.

2. Try to write the hypothesis as an if-then statement.

Follow this template: If a specific action is taken, then a certain outcome is expected.

3. Define the variables

Independent variables are the ones that are manipulated, controlled, or changed. Independent variables are isolated from other factors of the study.

Dependent variables , as the name suggests are dependent on other factors of the study. They are influenced by the change in independent variable.

4. Scrutinize the hypothesis

Evaluate assumptions, predictions, and evidence rigorously to refine your understanding.

Types of Research Hypothesis

The types of research hypothesis are stated below:

1. Simple Hypothesis

It predicts the relationship between a single dependent variable and a single independent variable.

2. Complex Hypothesis

It predicts the relationship between two or more independent and dependent variables.

3. Directional Hypothesis

It specifies the expected direction to be followed to determine the relationship between variables and is derived from theory. Furthermore, it implies the researcher’s intellectual commitment to a particular outcome.

4. Non-directional Hypothesis

It does not predict the exact direction or nature of the relationship between the two variables. The non-directional hypothesis is used when there is no theory involved or when findings contradict previous research.

5. Associative and Causal Hypothesis

The associative hypothesis defines interdependency between variables. A change in one variable results in the change of the other variable. On the other hand, the causal hypothesis proposes an effect on the dependent due to manipulation of the independent variable.

6. Null Hypothesis

Null hypothesis states a negative statement to support the researcher’s findings that there is no relationship between two variables. There will be no changes in the dependent variable due the manipulation of the independent variable. Furthermore, it states results are due to chance and are not significant in terms of supporting the idea being investigated.

7. Alternative Hypothesis

It states that there is a relationship between the two variables of the study and that the results are significant to the research topic. An experimental hypothesis predicts what changes will take place in the dependent variable when the independent variable is manipulated. Also, it states that the results are not due to chance and that they are significant in terms of supporting the theory being investigated.

Research Hypothesis Examples of Independent and Dependent Variables

Research Hypothesis Example 1 The greater number of coal plants in a region (independent variable) increases water pollution (dependent variable). If you change the independent variable (building more coal factories), it will change the dependent variable (amount of water pollution).
Research Hypothesis Example 2 What is the effect of diet or regular soda (independent variable) on blood sugar levels (dependent variable)? If you change the independent variable (the type of soda you consume), it will change the dependent variable (blood sugar levels)

You should not ignore the importance of the above steps. The validity of your experiment and its results rely on a robust testable hypothesis. Developing a strong testable hypothesis has few advantages, it compels us to think intensely and specifically about the outcomes of a study. Consequently, it enables us to understand the implication of the question and the different variables involved in the study. Furthermore, it helps us to make precise predictions based on prior research. Hence, forming a hypothesis would be of great value to the research. Here are some good examples of testable hypotheses.

More importantly, you need to build a robust testable research hypothesis for your scientific experiments. A testable hypothesis is a hypothesis that can be proved or disproved as a result of experimentation.

Importance of a Testable Hypothesis

To devise and perform an experiment using scientific method, you need to make sure that your hypothesis is testable. To be considered testable, some essential criteria must be met:

  • There must be a possibility to prove that the hypothesis is true.
  • There must be a possibility to prove that the hypothesis is false.
  • The results of the hypothesis must be reproducible.

Without these criteria, the hypothesis and the results will be vague. As a result, the experiment will not prove or disprove anything significant.

What are your experiences with building hypotheses for scientific experiments? What challenges did you face? How did you overcome these challenges? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section.

Frequently Asked Questions

The steps to write a research hypothesis are: 1. Stating the problem: Ensure that the hypothesis defines the research problem 2. Writing a hypothesis as an 'if-then' statement: Include the action and the expected outcome of your study by following a ‘if-then’ structure. 3. Defining the variables: Define the variables as Dependent or Independent based on their dependency to other factors. 4. Scrutinizing the hypothesis: Identify the type of your hypothesis

Hypothesis testing is a statistical tool which is used to make inferences about a population data to draw conclusions for a particular hypothesis.

Hypothesis in statistics is a formal statement about the nature of a population within a structured framework of a statistical model. It is used to test an existing hypothesis by studying a population.

Research hypothesis is a statement that introduces a research question and proposes an expected result. It forms the basis of scientific experiments.

The different types of hypothesis in research are: • Null hypothesis: Null hypothesis is a negative statement to support the researcher’s findings that there is no relationship between two variables. • Alternate hypothesis: Alternate hypothesis predicts the relationship between the two variables of the study. • Directional hypothesis: Directional hypothesis specifies the expected direction to be followed to determine the relationship between variables. • Non-directional hypothesis: Non-directional hypothesis does not predict the exact direction or nature of the relationship between the two variables. • Simple hypothesis: Simple hypothesis predicts the relationship between a single dependent variable and a single independent variable. • Complex hypothesis: Complex hypothesis predicts the relationship between two or more independent and dependent variables. • Associative and casual hypothesis: Associative and casual hypothesis predicts the relationship between two or more independent and dependent variables. • Empirical hypothesis: Empirical hypothesis can be tested via experiments and observation. • Statistical hypothesis: A statistical hypothesis utilizes statistical models to draw conclusions about broader populations.

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  • How to Write a Strong Hypothesis | Guide & Examples

How to Write a Strong Hypothesis | Guide & Examples

Published on 6 May 2022 by Shona McCombes .

A hypothesis is a statement that can be tested by scientific research. If you want to test a relationship between two or more variables, you need to write hypotheses before you start your experiment or data collection.

Table of contents

What is a hypothesis, developing a hypothesis (with example), hypothesis examples, frequently asked questions about writing hypotheses.

A hypothesis states your predictions about what your research will find. It is a tentative answer to your research question that has not yet been tested. For some research projects, you might have to write several hypotheses that address different aspects of your research question.

A hypothesis is not just a guess – it should be based on existing theories and knowledge. It also has to be testable, which means you can support or refute it through scientific research methods (such as experiments, observations, and statistical analysis of data).

Variables in hypotheses

Hypotheses propose a relationship between two or more variables . An independent variable is something the researcher changes or controls. A dependent variable is something the researcher observes and measures.

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 .

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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 identify which variables you will study and what you think the relationships are between them. Sometimes, you’ll have to operationalise 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 H 0 , while the alternative hypothesis is H 1 or H a .

Hypothesis testing is a formal procedure for investigating our ideas about the world using statistics. It is used by scientists to test specific predictions, called hypotheses , by calculating how likely it is that a pattern or relationship between variables could have arisen by chance.

A hypothesis is not just a guess. It should be based on existing theories and knowledge. It also has to be testable, which means you can support or refute it through scientific research methods (such as experiments, observations, and statistical analysis of data).

A research hypothesis is your proposed answer to your research question. The research hypothesis usually includes an explanation (‘ x affects y because …’).

A statistical hypothesis, on the other hand, is a mathematical statement about a population parameter. Statistical hypotheses always come in pairs: the null and alternative hypotheses. In a well-designed study , the statistical hypotheses correspond logically to the research hypothesis.

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how to make a hypothesis in research

How to Write a Hypothesis: A Step-by-Step Guide

how to make a hypothesis in research

Introduction

An overview of the research hypothesis, different types of hypotheses, variables in a hypothesis, how to formulate an effective research hypothesis, designing a study around your hypothesis.

The scientific method can derive and test predictions as hypotheses. Empirical research can then provide support (or lack thereof) for the hypotheses. Even failure to find support for a hypothesis still represents a valuable contribution to scientific knowledge. Let's look more closely at the idea of the hypothesis and the role it plays in research.

how to make a hypothesis in research

As much as the term exists in everyday language, there is a detailed development that informs the word "hypothesis" when applied to research. A good research hypothesis is informed by prior research and guides research design and data analysis , so it is important to understand how a hypothesis is defined and understood by researchers.

What is the simple definition of a hypothesis?

A hypothesis is a testable prediction about an outcome between two or more variables . It functions as a navigational tool in the research process, directing what you aim to predict and how.

What is the hypothesis for in research?

In research, a hypothesis serves as the cornerstone for your empirical study. It not only lays out what you aim to investigate but also provides a structured approach for your data collection and analysis.

Essentially, it bridges the gap between the theoretical and the empirical, guiding your investigation throughout its course.

how to make a hypothesis in research

What is an example of a hypothesis?

If you are studying the relationship between physical exercise and mental health, a suitable hypothesis could be: "Regular physical exercise leads to improved mental well-being among adults."

This statement constitutes a specific and testable hypothesis that directly relates to the variables you are investigating.

What makes a good hypothesis?

A good hypothesis possesses several key characteristics. Firstly, it must be testable, allowing you to analyze data through empirical means, such as observation or experimentation, to assess if there is significant support for the hypothesis. Secondly, a hypothesis should be specific and unambiguous, giving a clear understanding of the expected relationship between variables. Lastly, it should be grounded in existing research or theoretical frameworks , ensuring its relevance and applicability.

Understanding the types of hypotheses can greatly enhance how you construct and work with hypotheses. While all hypotheses serve the essential function of guiding your study, there are varying purposes among the types of hypotheses. In addition, all hypotheses stand in contrast to the null hypothesis, or the assumption that there is no significant relationship between the variables .

Here, we explore various kinds of hypotheses to provide you with the tools needed to craft effective hypotheses for your specific research needs. Bear in mind that many of these hypothesis types may overlap with one another, and the specific type that is typically used will likely depend on the area of research and methodology you are following.

Null hypothesis

The null hypothesis is a statement that there is no effect or relationship between the variables being studied. In statistical terms, it serves as the default assumption that any observed differences are due to random chance.

For example, if you're studying the effect of a drug on blood pressure, the null hypothesis might state that the drug has no effect.

Alternative hypothesis

Contrary to the null hypothesis, the alternative hypothesis suggests that there is a significant relationship or effect between variables.

Using the drug example, the alternative hypothesis would posit that the drug does indeed affect blood pressure. This is what researchers aim to prove.

how to make a hypothesis in research

Simple hypothesis

A simple hypothesis makes a prediction about the relationship between two variables, and only two variables.

For example, "Increased study time results in better exam scores." Here, "study time" and "exam scores" are the only variables involved.

Complex hypothesis

A complex hypothesis, as the name suggests, involves more than two variables. For instance, "Increased study time and access to resources result in better exam scores." Here, "study time," "access to resources," and "exam scores" are all variables.

This hypothesis refers to multiple potential mediating variables. Other hypotheses could also include predictions about variables that moderate the relationship between the independent variable and dependent variable .

Directional hypothesis

A directional hypothesis specifies the direction of the expected relationship between variables. For example, "Eating more fruits and vegetables leads to a decrease in heart disease."

Here, the direction of heart disease is explicitly predicted to decrease, due to effects from eating more fruits and vegetables. All hypotheses typically specify the expected direction of the relationship between the independent and dependent variable, such that researchers can test if this prediction holds in their data analysis .

how to make a hypothesis in research

Statistical hypothesis

A statistical hypothesis is one that is testable through statistical methods, providing a numerical value that can be analyzed. This is commonly seen in quantitative research .

For example, "There is a statistically significant difference in test scores between students who study for one hour and those who study for two."

Empirical hypothesis

An empirical hypothesis is derived from observations and is tested through empirical methods, often through experimentation or survey data . Empirical hypotheses may also be assessed with statistical analyses.

For example, "Regular exercise is correlated with a lower incidence of depression," could be tested through surveys that measure exercise frequency and depression levels.

Causal hypothesis

A causal hypothesis proposes that one variable causes a change in another. This type of hypothesis is often tested through controlled experiments.

For example, "Smoking causes lung cancer," assumes a direct causal relationship.

Associative hypothesis

Unlike causal hypotheses, associative hypotheses suggest a relationship between variables but do not imply causation.

For instance, "People who smoke are more likely to get lung cancer," notes an association but doesn't claim that smoking causes lung cancer directly.

Relational hypothesis

A relational hypothesis explores the relationship between two or more variables but doesn't specify the nature of the relationship.

For example, "There is a relationship between diet and heart health," leaves the nature of the relationship (causal, associative, etc.) open to interpretation.

Logical hypothesis

A logical hypothesis is based on sound reasoning and logical principles. It's often used in theoretical research to explore abstract concepts, rather than being based on empirical data.

For example, "If all men are mortal and Socrates is a man, then Socrates is mortal," employs logical reasoning to make its point.

how to make a hypothesis in research

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In any research hypothesis, variables play a critical role. These are the elements or factors that the researcher manipulates, controls, or measures. Understanding variables is essential for crafting a clear, testable hypothesis and for the stages of research that follow, such as data collection and analysis.

In the realm of hypotheses, there are generally two types of variables to consider: independent and dependent. Independent variables are what you, as the researcher, manipulate or change in your study. It's considered the cause in the relationship you're investigating. For instance, in a study examining the impact of sleep duration on academic performance, the independent variable would be the amount of sleep participants get.

Conversely, the dependent variable is the outcome you measure to gauge the effect of your manipulation. It's the effect in the cause-and-effect relationship. The dependent variable thus refers to the main outcome of interest in your study. In the same sleep study example, the academic performance, perhaps measured by exam scores or GPA, would be the dependent variable.

Beyond these two primary types, you might also encounter control variables. These are variables that could potentially influence the outcome and are therefore kept constant to isolate the relationship between the independent and dependent variables . For example, in the sleep and academic performance study, control variables could include age, diet, or even the subject of study.

By clearly identifying and understanding the roles of these variables in your hypothesis, you set the stage for a methodologically sound research project. It helps you develop focused research questions, design appropriate experiments or observations, and carry out meaningful data analysis . It's a step that lays the groundwork for the success of your entire study.

how to make a hypothesis in research

Crafting a strong, testable hypothesis is crucial for the success of any research project. It sets the stage for everything from your study design to data collection and analysis . Below are some key considerations to keep in mind when formulating your hypothesis:

  • Be specific : A vague hypothesis can lead to ambiguous results and interpretations . Clearly define your variables and the expected relationship between them.
  • Ensure testability : A good hypothesis should be testable through empirical means, whether by observation , experimentation, or other forms of data analysis.
  • Ground in literature : Before creating your hypothesis, consult existing research and theories. This not only helps you identify gaps in current knowledge but also gives you valuable context and credibility for crafting your hypothesis.
  • Use simple language : While your hypothesis should be conceptually sound, it doesn't have to be complicated. Aim for clarity and simplicity in your wording.
  • State direction, if applicable : If your hypothesis involves a directional outcome (e.g., "increase" or "decrease"), make sure to specify this. You also need to think about how you will measure whether or not the outcome moved in the direction you predicted.
  • Keep it focused : One of the common pitfalls in hypothesis formulation is trying to answer too many questions at once. Keep your hypothesis focused on a specific issue or relationship.
  • Account for control variables : Identify any variables that could potentially impact the outcome and consider how you will control for them in your study.
  • Be ethical : Make sure your hypothesis and the methods for testing it comply with ethical standards , particularly if your research involves human or animal subjects.

how to make a hypothesis in research

Designing your study involves multiple key phases that help ensure the rigor and validity of your research. Here we discuss these crucial components in more detail.

Literature review

Starting with a comprehensive literature review is essential. This step allows you to understand the existing body of knowledge related to your hypothesis and helps you identify gaps that your research could fill. Your research should aim to contribute some novel understanding to existing literature, and your hypotheses can reflect this. A literature review also provides valuable insights into how similar research projects were executed, thereby helping you fine-tune your own approach.

how to make a hypothesis in research

Research methods

Choosing the right research methods is critical. Whether it's a survey, an experiment, or observational study, the methodology should be the most appropriate for testing your hypothesis. Your choice of methods will also depend on whether your research is quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-methods. Make sure the chosen methods align well with the variables you are studying and the type of data you need.

Preliminary research

Before diving into a full-scale study, it’s often beneficial to conduct preliminary research or a pilot study . This allows you to test your research methods on a smaller scale, refine your tools, and identify any potential issues. For instance, a pilot survey can help you determine if your questions are clear and if the survey effectively captures the data you need. This step can save you both time and resources in the long run.

Data analysis

Finally, planning your data analysis in advance is crucial for a successful study. Decide which statistical or analytical tools are most suited for your data type and research questions . For quantitative research, you might opt for t-tests, ANOVA, or regression analyses. For qualitative research , thematic analysis or grounded theory may be more appropriate. This phase is integral for interpreting your results and drawing meaningful conclusions in relation to your research question.

how to make a hypothesis in research

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How to Write a Great Hypothesis

Hypothesis Definition, Format, Examples, and Tips

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

how to make a hypothesis in research

Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.

how to make a hypothesis in research

Verywell / Alex Dos Diaz

  • The Scientific Method

Hypothesis Format

Falsifiability of a hypothesis.

  • Operationalization

Hypothesis Types

Hypotheses examples.

  • Collecting Data

A hypothesis is a tentative statement about the relationship between two or more variables. It is a specific, testable prediction about what you expect to happen in a study. It is a preliminary answer to your question that helps guide the research process.

Consider a study designed to examine the relationship between sleep deprivation and test performance. The hypothesis might be: "This study is designed to assess the hypothesis that sleep-deprived people will perform worse on a test than individuals who are not sleep-deprived."

At a Glance

A hypothesis is crucial to scientific research because it offers a clear direction for what the researchers are looking to find. This allows them to design experiments to test their predictions and add to our scientific knowledge about the world. This article explores how a hypothesis is used in psychology research, how to write a good hypothesis, and the different types of hypotheses you might use.

The Hypothesis in the Scientific Method

In the scientific method , whether it involves research in psychology, biology, or some other area, a hypothesis represents what the researchers think will happen in an experiment. The scientific method involves the following steps:

  • Forming a question
  • Performing background research
  • Creating a hypothesis
  • Designing an experiment
  • Collecting data
  • Analyzing the results
  • Drawing conclusions
  • Communicating the results

The hypothesis is a prediction, but it involves more than a guess. Most of the time, the hypothesis begins with a question which is then explored through background research. At this point, researchers then begin to develop a testable hypothesis.

Unless you are creating an exploratory study, your hypothesis should always explain what you  expect  to happen.

In a study exploring the effects of a particular drug, the hypothesis might be that researchers expect the drug to have some type of effect on the symptoms of a specific illness. In psychology, the hypothesis might focus on how a certain aspect of the environment might influence a particular behavior.

Remember, a hypothesis does not have to be correct. While the hypothesis predicts what the researchers expect to see, the goal of the research is to determine whether this guess is right or wrong. When conducting an experiment, researchers might explore numerous factors to determine which ones might contribute to the ultimate outcome.

In many cases, researchers may find that the results of an experiment  do not  support the original hypothesis. When writing up these results, the researchers might suggest other options that should be explored in future studies.

In many cases, researchers might draw a hypothesis from a specific theory or build on previous research. For example, prior research has shown that stress can impact the immune system. So a researcher might hypothesize: "People with high-stress levels will be more likely to contract a common cold after being exposed to the virus than people who have low-stress levels."

In other instances, researchers might look at commonly held beliefs or folk wisdom. "Birds of a feather flock together" is one example of folk adage that a psychologist might try to investigate. The researcher might pose a specific hypothesis that "People tend to select romantic partners who are similar to them in interests and educational level."

Elements of a Good Hypothesis

So how do you write a good hypothesis? When trying to come up with a hypothesis for your research or experiments, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your hypothesis based on your research on a topic?
  • Can your hypothesis be tested?
  • Does your hypothesis include independent and dependent variables?

Before you come up with a specific hypothesis, spend some time doing background research. Once you have completed a literature review, start thinking about potential questions you still have. Pay attention to the discussion section in the  journal articles you read . Many authors will suggest questions that still need to be explored.

How to Formulate a Good Hypothesis

To form a hypothesis, you should take these steps:

  • Collect as many observations about a topic or problem as you can.
  • Evaluate these observations and look for possible causes of the problem.
  • Create a list of possible explanations that you might want to explore.
  • After you have developed some possible hypotheses, think of ways that you could confirm or disprove each hypothesis through experimentation. This is known as falsifiability.

In the scientific method ,  falsifiability is an important part of any valid hypothesis. In order to test a claim scientifically, it must be possible that the claim could be proven false.

Students sometimes confuse the idea of falsifiability with the idea that it means that something is false, which is not the case. What falsifiability means is that  if  something was false, then it is possible to demonstrate that it is false.

One of the hallmarks of pseudoscience is that it makes claims that cannot be refuted or proven false.

The Importance of Operational Definitions

A variable is a factor or element that can be changed and manipulated in ways that are observable and measurable. However, the researcher must also define how the variable will be manipulated and measured in the study.

Operational definitions are specific definitions for all relevant factors in a study. This process helps make vague or ambiguous concepts detailed and measurable.

For example, a researcher might operationally define the variable " test anxiety " as the results of a self-report measure of anxiety experienced during an exam. A "study habits" variable might be defined by the amount of studying that actually occurs as measured by time.

These precise descriptions are important because many things can be measured in various ways. Clearly defining these variables and how they are measured helps ensure that other researchers can replicate your results.

Replicability

One of the basic principles of any type of scientific research is that the results must be replicable.

Replication means repeating an experiment in the same way to produce the same results. By clearly detailing the specifics of how the variables were measured and manipulated, other researchers can better understand the results and repeat the study if needed.

Some variables are more difficult than others to define. For example, how would you operationally define a variable such as aggression ? For obvious ethical reasons, researchers cannot create a situation in which a person behaves aggressively toward others.

To measure this variable, the researcher must devise a measurement that assesses aggressive behavior without harming others. The researcher might utilize a simulated task to measure aggressiveness in this situation.

Hypothesis Checklist

  • Does your hypothesis focus on something that you can actually test?
  • Does your hypothesis include both an independent and dependent variable?
  • Can you manipulate the variables?
  • Can your hypothesis be tested without violating ethical standards?

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 there is a relationship between one independent variable and one dependent variable.
  • Complex hypothesis : This type suggests a relationship between three or more variables, such as two independent and dependent variables.
  • Null hypothesis : This hypothesis suggests no relationship exists between two or more variables.
  • Alternative hypothesis : This hypothesis states the opposite of the null hypothesis.
  • Statistical hypothesis : This hypothesis uses statistical analysis to evaluate a representative population sample and then generalizes the findings to the larger group.
  • Logical hypothesis : This hypothesis assumes a relationship between variables without collecting data or evidence.

A hypothesis often follows a basic format of "If {this happens} then {this will happen}." One way to structure your hypothesis is to describe what will happen to the  dependent variable  if you change the  independent variable .

The basic format might be: "If {these changes are made to a certain independent variable}, then we will observe {a change in a specific dependent variable}."

A few examples of simple hypotheses:

  • "Students who eat breakfast will perform better on a math exam than students who do not eat breakfast."
  • "Students who experience test anxiety before an English exam will get lower scores than students who do not experience test anxiety."​
  • "Motorists who talk on the phone while driving will be more likely to make errors on a driving course than those who do not talk on the phone."
  • "Children who receive a new reading intervention will have higher reading scores than students who do not receive the intervention."

Examples of a complex hypothesis include:

  • "People with high-sugar diets and sedentary activity levels are more likely to develop depression."
  • "Younger people who are regularly exposed to green, outdoor areas have better subjective well-being than older adults who have limited exposure to green spaces."

Examples of a null hypothesis include:

  • "There is no difference in anxiety levels between people who take St. John's wort supplements and those who do not."
  • "There is no difference in scores on a memory recall task between children and adults."
  • "There is no difference in aggression levels between children who play first-person shooter games and those who do not."

Examples of an alternative hypothesis:

  • "People who take St. John's wort supplements will have less anxiety than those who do not."
  • "Adults will perform better on a memory task than children."
  • "Children who play first-person shooter games will show higher levels of aggression than children who do not." 

Collecting Data on Your Hypothesis

Once a researcher has formed a testable hypothesis, the next step is to select a research design and start collecting data. The research method depends largely on exactly what they are studying. There are two basic types of research methods: descriptive research and experimental research.

Descriptive Research Methods

Descriptive research such as  case studies ,  naturalistic observations , and surveys are often used when  conducting an experiment is difficult or impossible. These methods are best used to describe different aspects of a behavior or psychological phenomenon.

Once a researcher has collected data using descriptive methods, a  correlational study  can examine how the variables are related. This research method might be used to investigate a hypothesis that is difficult to test experimentally.

Experimental Research Methods

Experimental methods  are used to demonstrate causal relationships between variables. In an experiment, the researcher systematically manipulates a variable of interest (known as the independent variable) and measures the effect on another variable (known as the dependent variable).

Unlike correlational studies, which can only be used to determine if there is a relationship between two variables, experimental methods can be used to determine the actual nature of the relationship—whether changes in one variable actually  cause  another to change.

The hypothesis is a critical part of any scientific exploration. It represents what researchers expect to find in a study or experiment. In situations where the hypothesis is unsupported by the research, the research still has value. Such research helps us better understand how different aspects of the natural world relate to one another. It also helps us develop new hypotheses that can then be tested in the future.

Thompson WH, Skau S. On the scope of scientific hypotheses .  R Soc Open Sci . 2023;10(8):230607. doi:10.1098/rsos.230607

Taran S, Adhikari NKJ, Fan E. Falsifiability in medicine: what clinicians can learn from Karl Popper [published correction appears in Intensive Care Med. 2021 Jun 17;:].  Intensive Care Med . 2021;47(9):1054-1056. doi:10.1007/s00134-021-06432-z

Eyler AA. Research Methods for Public Health . 1st ed. Springer Publishing Company; 2020. doi:10.1891/9780826182067.0004

Nosek BA, Errington TM. What is replication ?  PLoS Biol . 2020;18(3):e3000691. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3000691

Aggarwal R, Ranganathan P. Study designs: Part 2 - Descriptive studies .  Perspect Clin Res . 2019;10(1):34-36. doi:10.4103/picr.PICR_154_18

Nevid J. Psychology: Concepts and Applications. Wadworth, 2013.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

How to Write a Research Hypothesis

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Since grade school, we've all been familiar with hypotheses. The hypothesis is an essential step of the scientific method. But what makes an effective research hypothesis, how do you create one, and what types of hypotheses are there? We answer these questions and more.

Updated on April 27, 2022

the word hypothesis being typed on white paper

What is a research hypothesis?

General hypothesis.

Since grade school, we've all been familiar with the term “hypothesis.” A hypothesis is a fact-based guess or prediction that has not been proven. It is an essential step of the scientific method. The hypothesis of a study is a drive for experimentation to either prove the hypothesis or dispute it.

Research Hypothesis

A research hypothesis is more specific than a general hypothesis. It is an educated, expected prediction of the outcome of a study that is testable.

What makes an effective research hypothesis?

A good research hypothesis is a clear statement of the relationship between a dependent variable(s) and independent variable(s) relevant to the study that can be disproven.

Research hypothesis checklist

Once you've written a possible hypothesis, make sure it checks the following boxes:

  • It must be testable: You need a means to prove your hypothesis. If you can't test it, it's not a hypothesis.
  • It must include a dependent and independent variable: At least one independent variable ( cause ) and one dependent variable ( effect ) must be included.
  • The language must be easy to understand: Be as clear and concise as possible. Nothing should be left to interpretation.
  • It must be relevant to your research topic: You probably shouldn't be talking about cats and dogs if your research topic is outer space. Stay relevant to your topic.

How to create an effective research hypothesis

Pose it as a question first.

Start your research hypothesis from a journalistic approach. Ask one of the five W's: Who, what, when, where, or why.

A possible initial question could be: Why is the sky blue?

Do the preliminary research

Once you have a question in mind, read research around your topic. Collect research from academic journals.

If you're looking for information about the sky and why it is blue, research information about the atmosphere, weather, space, the sun, etc.

Write a draft hypothesis

Once you're comfortable with your subject and have preliminary knowledge, create a working hypothesis. Don't stress much over this. Your first hypothesis is not permanent. Look at it as a draft.

Your first draft of a hypothesis could be: Certain molecules in the Earth's atmosphere are responsive to the sky being the color blue.

Make your working draft perfect

Take your working hypothesis and make it perfect. Narrow it down to include only the information listed in the “Research hypothesis checklist” above.

Now that you've written your working hypothesis, narrow it down. Your new hypothesis could be: Light from the sun hitting oxygen molecules in the sky makes the color of the sky appear blue.

Write a null hypothesis

Your null hypothesis should be the opposite of your research hypothesis. It should be able to be disproven by your research.

In this example, your null hypothesis would be: Light from the sun hitting oxygen molecules in the sky does not make the color of the sky appear blue.

Why is it important to have a clear, testable hypothesis?

One of the main reasons a manuscript can be rejected from a journal is because of a weak hypothesis. “Poor hypothesis, study design, methodology, and improper use of statistics are other reasons for rejection of a manuscript,” says Dr. Ish Kumar Dhammi and Dr. Rehan-Ul-Haq in Indian Journal of Orthopaedics.

According to Dr. James M. Provenzale in American Journal of Roentgenology , “The clear declaration of a research question (or hypothesis) in the Introduction is critical for reviewers to understand the intent of the research study. It is best to clearly state the study goal in plain language (for example, “We set out to determine whether condition x produces condition y.”) An insufficient problem statement is one of the more common reasons for manuscript rejection.”

Characteristics that make a hypothesis weak include:

  • Unclear variables
  • Unoriginality
  • Too general
  • Too specific

A weak hypothesis leads to weak research and methods . The goal of a paper is to prove or disprove a hypothesis - or to prove or disprove a null hypothesis. If the hypothesis is not a dependent variable of what is being studied, the paper's methods should come into question.

A strong hypothesis is essential to the scientific method. A hypothesis states an assumed relationship between at least two variables and the experiment then proves or disproves that relationship with statistical significance. Without a proven and reproducible relationship, the paper feeds into the reproducibility crisis. Learn more about writing for reproducibility .

In a study published in The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of India by Dr. Suvarna Satish Khadilkar, she reviewed 400 rejected manuscripts to see why they were rejected. Her studies revealed that poor methodology was a top reason for the submission having a final disposition of rejection.

Aside from publication chances, Dr. Gareth Dyke believes a clear hypothesis helps efficiency.

“Developing a clear and testable hypothesis for your research project means that you will not waste time, energy, and money with your work,” said Dyke. “Refining a hypothesis that is both meaningful, interesting, attainable, and testable is the goal of all effective research.”

Types of research hypotheses

There can be overlap in these types of hypotheses.

Simple hypothesis

A simple hypothesis is a hypothesis at its most basic form. It shows the relationship of one independent and one independent variable.

Example: Drinking soda (independent variable) every day leads to obesity (dependent variable).

Complex hypothesis

A complex hypothesis shows the relationship of two or more independent and dependent variables.

Example: Drinking soda (independent variable) every day leads to obesity (dependent variable) and heart disease (dependent variable).

Directional hypothesis

A directional hypothesis guesses which way the results of an experiment will go. It uses words like increase, decrease, higher, lower, positive, negative, more, or less. It is also frequently used in statistics.

Example: Humans exposed to radiation have a higher risk of cancer than humans not exposed to radiation.

Non-directional hypothesis

A non-directional hypothesis says there will be an effect on the dependent variable, but it does not say which direction.

Associative hypothesis

An associative hypothesis says that when one variable changes, so does the other variable.

Alternative hypothesis

An alternative hypothesis states that the variables have a relationship.

  • The opposite of a null hypothesis

Example: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Null hypothesis

A null hypothesis states that there is no relationship between the two variables. It is posed as the opposite of what the alternative hypothesis states.

Researchers use a null hypothesis to work to be able to reject it. A null hypothesis:

  • Can never be proven
  • Can only be rejected
  • Is the opposite of an alternative hypothesis

Example: An apple a day does not keep the doctor away.

Logical hypothesis

A logical hypothesis is a suggested explanation while using limited evidence.

Example: Bats can navigate in the dark better than tigers.

In this hypothesis, the researcher knows that tigers cannot see in the dark, and bats mostly live in darkness.

Empirical hypothesis

An empirical hypothesis is also called a “working hypothesis.” It uses the trial and error method and changes around the independent variables.

  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
  • Two apples a day keep the doctor away.
  • Three apples a day keep the doctor away.

In this case, the research changes the hypothesis as the researcher learns more about his/her research.

Statistical hypothesis

A statistical hypothesis is a look of a part of a population or statistical model. This type of hypothesis is especially useful if you are making a statement about a large population. Instead of having to test the entire population of Illinois, you could just use a smaller sample of people who live there.

Example: 70% of people who live in Illinois are iron deficient.

Causal hypothesis

A causal hypothesis states that the independent variable will have an effect on the dependent variable.

Example: Using tobacco products causes cancer.

Final thoughts

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What is and How to Write a Good Hypothesis in Research?

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One of the most important aspects of conducting research is constructing a strong hypothesis. But what makes a hypothesis in research effective? In this article, we’ll look at the difference between a hypothesis and a research question, as well as the elements of a good hypothesis in research. We’ll also include some examples of effective hypotheses, and what pitfalls to avoid.

What is a Hypothesis in Research?

Simply put, a hypothesis is a research question that also includes the predicted or expected result of the research. Without a hypothesis, there can be no basis for a scientific or research experiment. As such, it is critical that you carefully construct your hypothesis by being deliberate and thorough, even before you set pen to paper. Unless your hypothesis is clearly and carefully constructed, any flaw can have an adverse, and even grave, effect on the quality of your experiment and its subsequent results.

Research Question vs Hypothesis

It’s easy to confuse research questions with hypotheses, and vice versa. While they’re both critical to the Scientific Method, they have very specific differences. Primarily, a research question, just like a hypothesis, is focused and concise. But a hypothesis includes a prediction based on the proposed research, and is designed to forecast the relationship of and between two (or more) variables. Research questions are open-ended, and invite debate and discussion, while hypotheses are closed, e.g. “The relationship between A and B will be C.”

A hypothesis is generally used if your research topic is fairly well established, and you are relatively certain about the relationship between the variables that will be presented in your research. Since a hypothesis is ideally suited for experimental studies, it will, by its very existence, affect the design of your experiment. The research question is typically used for new topics that have not yet been researched extensively. Here, the relationship between different variables is less known. There is no prediction made, but there may be variables explored. The research question can be casual in nature, simply trying to understand if a relationship even exists, descriptive or comparative.

How to Write Hypothesis in Research

Writing an effective hypothesis starts before you even begin to type. Like any task, preparation is key, so you start first by conducting research yourself, and reading all you can about the topic that you plan to research. From there, you’ll gain the knowledge you need to understand where your focus within the topic will lie.

Remember that a hypothesis is a prediction of the relationship that exists between two or more variables. Your job is to write a hypothesis, and design the research, to “prove” whether or not your prediction is correct. A common pitfall is to use judgments that are subjective and inappropriate for the construction of a hypothesis. It’s important to keep the focus and language of your hypothesis objective.

An effective hypothesis in research is clearly and concisely written, and any terms or definitions clarified and defined. Specific language must also be used to avoid any generalities or assumptions.

Use the following points as a checklist to evaluate the effectiveness of your research hypothesis:

  • Predicts the relationship and outcome
  • Simple and concise – avoid wordiness
  • Clear with no ambiguity or assumptions about the readers’ knowledge
  • Observable and testable results
  • Relevant and specific to the research question or problem

Research Hypothesis Example

Perhaps the best way to evaluate whether or not your hypothesis is effective is to compare it to those of your colleagues in the field. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to writing a powerful research hypothesis. As you’re reading and preparing your hypothesis, you’ll also read other hypotheses. These can help guide you on what works, and what doesn’t, when it comes to writing a strong research hypothesis.

Here are a few generic examples to get you started.

Eating an apple each day, after the age of 60, will result in a reduction of frequency of physician visits.

Budget airlines are more likely to receive more customer complaints. A budget airline is defined as an airline that offers lower fares and fewer amenities than a traditional full-service airline. (Note that the term “budget airline” is included in the hypothesis.

Workplaces that offer flexible working hours report higher levels of employee job satisfaction than workplaces with fixed hours.

Each of the above examples are specific, observable and measurable, and the statement of prediction can be verified or shown to be false by utilizing standard experimental practices. It should be noted, however, that often your hypothesis will change as your research progresses.

Language Editing Plus

Elsevier’s Language Editing Plus service can help ensure that your research hypothesis is well-designed, and articulates your research and conclusions. Our most comprehensive editing package, you can count on a thorough language review by native-English speakers who are PhDs or PhD candidates. We’ll check for effective logic and flow of your manuscript, as well as document formatting for your chosen journal, reference checks, and much more.

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How to write a research hypothesis

Last updated

19 January 2023

Reviewed by

Miroslav Damyanov

Start with a broad subject matter that excites you, so your curiosity will motivate your work. Conduct a literature search to determine the range of questions already addressed and spot any holes in the existing research.

Narrow the topics that interest you and determine your research question. Rather than focusing on a hole in the research, you might choose to challenge an existing assumption, a process called problematization. You may also find yourself with a short list of questions or related topics.

Use the FINER method to determine the single problem you'll address with your research. FINER stands for:

I nteresting

You need a feasible research question, meaning that there is a way to address the question. You should find it interesting, but so should a larger audience. Rather than repeating research that others have already conducted, your research hypothesis should test something novel or unique. 

The research must fall into accepted ethical parameters as defined by the government of your country and your university or college if you're an academic. You'll also need to come up with a relevant question since your research should provide a contribution to the existing research area.

This process typically narrows your shortlist down to a single problem you'd like to study and the variable you want to test. You're ready to write your hypothesis statements.

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  • Types of research hypotheses

It is important to narrow your topic down to one idea before trying to write your research hypothesis. You'll only test one problem at a time. To do this, you'll write two hypotheses – a null hypothesis (H0) and an alternative hypothesis (Ha).

You'll come across many terms related to developing a research hypothesis or referring to a specific type of hypothesis. Let's take a quick look at these terms.

Null hypothesis

The term null hypothesis refers to a research hypothesis type that assumes no statistically significant relationship exists within a set of observations or data. It represents a claim that assumes that any observed relationship is due to chance. Represented as H0, the null represents the conjecture of the research.

Alternative hypothesis

The alternative hypothesis accompanies the null hypothesis. It states that the situation presented in the null hypothesis is false or untrue, and claims an observed effect in your test. This is typically denoted by Ha or H(n), where “n” stands for the number of alternative hypotheses. You can have more than one alternative hypothesis. 

Simple hypothesis

The term simple hypothesis refers to a hypothesis or theory that predicts the relationship between two variables - the independent (predictor) and the dependent (predicted). 

Complex hypothesis

The term complex hypothesis refers to a model – either quantitative (mathematical) or qualitative . A complex hypothesis states the surmised relationship between two or more potentially related variables.

Directional hypothesis

When creating a statistical hypothesis, the directional hypothesis (the null hypothesis) states an assumption regarding one parameter of a population. Some academics call this the “one-sided” hypothesis. The alternative hypothesis indicates whether the researcher tests for a positive or negative effect by including either the greater than (">") or less than ("<") sign.

Non-directional hypothesis

We refer to the alternative hypothesis in a statistical research question as a non-directional hypothesis. It includes the not equal ("≠") sign to show that the research tests whether or not an effect exists without specifying the effect's direction (positive or negative).

Associative hypothesis

The term associative hypothesis assumes a link between two variables but stops short of stating that one variable impacts the other. Academic statistical literature asserts in this sense that correlation does not imply causation. So, although the hypothesis notes the correlation between two variables – the independent and dependent - it does not predict how the two interact.

Logical hypothesis

Typically used in philosophy rather than science, researchers can't test a logical hypothesis because the technology or data set doesn't yet exist. A logical hypothesis uses logic as the basis of its assumptions. 

In some cases, a logical hypothesis can become an empirical hypothesis once technology provides an opportunity for testing. Until that time, the question remains too expensive or complex to address. Note that a logical hypothesis is not a statistical hypothesis.

Empirical hypothesis

When we consider the opposite of a logical hypothesis, we call this an empirical or working hypothesis. This type of hypothesis considers a scientifically measurable question. A researcher can consider and test an empirical hypothesis through replicable tests, observations, and measurements.

Statistical hypothesis

The term statistical hypothesis refers to a test of a theory that uses representative statistical models to test relationships between variables to draw conclusions regarding a large population. This requires an existing large data set, commonly referred to as big data, or implementing a survey to obtain original statistical information to form a data set for the study. 

Testing this type of hypothesis requires the use of random samples. Note that the null and alternative hypotheses are used in statistical hypothesis testing.

Causal hypothesis

The term causal hypothesis refers to a research hypothesis that tests a cause-and-effect relationship. A causal hypothesis is utilized when conducting experimental or quasi-experimental research.

Descriptive hypothesis

The term descriptive hypothesis refers to a research hypothesis used in non-experimental research, specifying an influence in the relationship between two variables.

  • What makes an effective research hypothesis?

An effective research hypothesis offers a clearly defined, specific statement, using simple wording that contains no assumptions or generalizations, and that you can test. A well-written hypothesis should predict the tested relationship and its outcome. It contains zero ambiguity and offers results you can observe and test. 

The research hypothesis should address a question relevant to a research area. Overall, your research hypothesis needs the following essentials:

Hypothesis Essential #1: Specificity & Clarity

Hypothesis Essential #2: Testability (Provability)

  • How to develop a good research hypothesis

In developing your hypothesis statements, you must pre-plan some of your statistical analysis. Once you decide on your problem to examine, determine three aspects:

the parameter you'll test

the test's direction (left-tailed, right-tailed, or non-directional)

the hypothesized parameter value

Any quantitative research includes a hypothesized parameter value of a mean, a proportion, or the difference between two proportions. Here's how to note each parameter:

Single mean (μ)

Paired means (μd)

Single proportion (p)

Difference between two independent means (μ1−μ2)

Difference between two proportions (p1−p2)

Simple linear regression slope (β)

Correlation (ρ)

Defining these parameters and determining whether you want to test the mean, proportion, or differences helps you determine the statistical tests you'll conduct to analyze your data. When writing your hypothesis, you only need to decide which parameter to test and in what overarching way.

The null research hypothesis must include everyday language, in a single sentence, stating the problem you want to solve. Write it as an if-then statement with defined variables. Write an alternative research hypothesis that states the opposite.

  • What is the correct format for writing a hypothesis?

The following example shows the proper format and textual content of a hypothesis. It follows commonly accepted academic standards.

Null hypothesis (H0): High school students who participate in varsity sports as opposed to those who do not, fail to score higher on leadership tests than students who do not participate.

Alternative hypothesis (H1): High school students who play a varsity sport as opposed to those who do not participate in team athletics will score higher on leadership tests than students who do not participate in athletics.

The research question tests the correlation between varsity sports participation and leadership qualities expressed as a score on leadership tests. It compares the population of athletes to non-athletes.

  • What are the five steps of a hypothesis?

Once you decide on the specific problem or question you want to address, you can write your research hypothesis. Use this five-step system to hone your null hypothesis and generate your alternative hypothesis.

Step 1 : Create your research question. This topic should interest and excite you; answering it provides relevant information to an industry or academic area.

Step 2 : Conduct a literature review to gather essential existing research.

Step 3 : Write a clear, strong, simply worded sentence that explains your test parameter, test direction, and hypothesized parameter.

Step 4 : Read it a few times. Have others read it and ask them what they think it means. Refine your statement accordingly until it becomes understandable to everyone. While not everyone can or will comprehend every research study conducted, any person from the general population should be able to read your hypothesis and alternative hypothesis and understand the essential question you want to answer.

Step 5 : Re-write your null hypothesis until it reads simply and understandably. Write your alternative hypothesis.

What is the Red Queen hypothesis?

Some hypotheses are well-known, such as the Red Queen hypothesis. Choose your wording carefully, since you could become like the famed scientist Dr. Leigh Van Valen. In 1973, Dr. Van Valen proposed the Red Queen hypothesis to describe coevolutionary activity, specifically reciprocal evolutionary effects between species to explain extinction rates in the fossil record. 

Essentially, Van Valen theorized that to survive, each species remains in a constant state of adaptation, evolution, and proliferation, and constantly competes for survival alongside other species doing the same. Only by doing this can a species avoid extinction. Van Valen took the hypothesis title from the Lewis Carroll book, "Through the Looking Glass," which contains a key character named the Red Queen who explains to Alice that for all of her running, she's merely running in place.

  • Getting started with your research

In conclusion, once you write your null hypothesis (H0) and an alternative hypothesis (Ha), you’ve essentially authored the elevator pitch of your research. These two one-sentence statements describe your topic in simple, understandable terms that both professionals and laymen can understand. They provide the starting point of your research project.

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How to Write a Research Hypothesis: Good & Bad Examples

how to make a hypothesis in research

What is a research hypothesis?

A research hypothesis is an attempt at explaining a phenomenon or the relationships between phenomena/variables in the real world. Hypotheses are sometimes called “educated guesses”, but they are in fact (or let’s say they should be) based on previous observations, existing theories, scientific evidence, and logic. A research hypothesis is also not a prediction—rather, predictions are ( should be) based on clearly formulated hypotheses. For example, “We tested the hypothesis that KLF2 knockout mice would show deficiencies in heart development” is an assumption or prediction, not a hypothesis. 

The research hypothesis at the basis of this prediction is “the product of the KLF2 gene is involved in the development of the cardiovascular system in mice”—and this hypothesis is probably (hopefully) based on a clear observation, such as that mice with low levels of Kruppel-like factor 2 (which KLF2 codes for) seem to have heart problems. From this hypothesis, you can derive the idea that a mouse in which this particular gene does not function cannot develop a normal cardiovascular system, and then make the prediction that we started with. 

What is the difference between a hypothesis and a prediction?

You might think that these are very subtle differences, and you will certainly come across many publications that do not contain an actual hypothesis or do not make these distinctions correctly. But considering that the formulation and testing of hypotheses is an integral part of the scientific method, it is good to be aware of the concepts underlying this approach. The two hallmarks of a scientific hypothesis are falsifiability (an evaluation standard that was introduced by the philosopher of science Karl Popper in 1934) and testability —if you cannot use experiments or data to decide whether an idea is true or false, then it is not a hypothesis (or at least a very bad one).

So, in a nutshell, you (1) look at existing evidence/theories, (2) come up with a hypothesis, (3) make a prediction that allows you to (4) design an experiment or data analysis to test it, and (5) come to a conclusion. Of course, not all studies have hypotheses (there is also exploratory or hypothesis-generating research), and you do not necessarily have to state your hypothesis as such in your paper. 

But for the sake of understanding the principles of the scientific method, let’s first take a closer look at the different types of hypotheses that research articles refer to and then give you a step-by-step guide for how to formulate a strong hypothesis for your own paper.

Types of Research Hypotheses

Hypotheses can be simple , which means they describe the relationship between one single independent variable (the one you observe variations in or plan to manipulate) and one single dependent variable (the one you expect to be affected by the variations/manipulation). If there are more variables on either side, you are dealing with a complex hypothesis. You can also distinguish hypotheses according to the kind of relationship between the variables you are interested in (e.g., causal or associative ). But apart from these variations, we are usually interested in what is called the “alternative hypothesis” and, in contrast to that, the “null hypothesis”. If you think these two should be listed the other way round, then you are right, logically speaking—the alternative should surely come second. However, since this is the hypothesis we (as researchers) are usually interested in, let’s start from there.

Alternative Hypothesis

If you predict a relationship between two variables in your study, then the research hypothesis that you formulate to describe that relationship is your alternative hypothesis (usually H1 in statistical terms). The goal of your hypothesis testing is thus to demonstrate that there is sufficient evidence that supports the alternative hypothesis, rather than evidence for the possibility that there is no such relationship. The alternative hypothesis is usually the research hypothesis of a study and is based on the literature, previous observations, and widely known theories. 

Null Hypothesis

The hypothesis that describes the other possible outcome, that is, that your variables are not related, is the null hypothesis ( H0 ). Based on your findings, you choose between the two hypotheses—usually that means that if your prediction was correct, you reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternative. Make sure, however, that you are not getting lost at this step of the thinking process: If your prediction is that there will be no difference or change, then you are trying to find support for the null hypothesis and reject H1. 

Directional Hypothesis

While the null hypothesis is obviously “static”, the alternative hypothesis can specify a direction for the observed relationship between variables—for example, that mice with higher expression levels of a certain protein are more active than those with lower levels. This is then called a one-tailed hypothesis. 

Another example for a directional one-tailed alternative hypothesis would be that 

H1: Attending private classes before important exams has a positive effect on performance. 

Your null hypothesis would then be that

H0: Attending private classes before important exams has no/a negative effect on performance.

Nondirectional Hypothesis

A nondirectional hypothesis does not specify the direction of the potentially observed effect, only that there is a relationship between the studied variables—this is called a two-tailed hypothesis. For instance, if you are studying a new drug that has shown some effects on pathways involved in a certain condition (e.g., anxiety) in vitro in the lab, but you can’t say for sure whether it will have the same effects in an animal model or maybe induce other/side effects that you can’t predict and potentially increase anxiety levels instead, you could state the two hypotheses like this:

H1: The only lab-tested drug (somehow) affects anxiety levels in an anxiety mouse model.

You then test this nondirectional alternative hypothesis against the null hypothesis:

H0: The only lab-tested drug has no effect on anxiety levels in an anxiety mouse model.

hypothesis in a research paper

How to Write a Hypothesis for a Research Paper

Now that we understand the important distinctions between different kinds of research hypotheses, let’s look at a simple process of how to write a hypothesis.

Writing a Hypothesis Step:1

Ask a question, based on earlier research. Research always starts with a question, but one that takes into account what is already known about a topic or phenomenon. For example, if you are interested in whether people who have pets are happier than those who don’t, do a literature search and find out what has already been demonstrated. You will probably realize that yes, there is quite a bit of research that shows a relationship between happiness and owning a pet—and even studies that show that owning a dog is more beneficial than owning a cat ! Let’s say you are so intrigued by this finding that you wonder: 

What is it that makes dog owners even happier than cat owners? 

Let’s move on to Step 2 and find an answer to that question.

Writing a Hypothesis Step 2:

Formulate a strong hypothesis by answering your own question. Again, you don’t want to make things up, take unicorns into account, or repeat/ignore what has already been done. Looking at the dog-vs-cat papers your literature search returned, you see that most studies are based on self-report questionnaires on personality traits, mental health, and life satisfaction. What you don’t find is any data on actual (mental or physical) health measures, and no experiments. You therefore decide to make a bold claim come up with the carefully thought-through hypothesis that it’s maybe the lifestyle of the dog owners, which includes walking their dog several times per day, engaging in fun and healthy activities such as agility competitions, and taking them on trips, that gives them that extra boost in happiness. You could therefore answer your question in the following way:

Dog owners are happier than cat owners because of the dog-related activities they engage in.

Now you have to verify that your hypothesis fulfills the two requirements we introduced at the beginning of this resource article: falsifiability and testability . If it can’t be wrong and can’t be tested, it’s not a hypothesis. We are lucky, however, because yes, we can test whether owning a dog but not engaging in any of those activities leads to lower levels of happiness or well-being than owning a dog and playing and running around with them or taking them on trips.  

Writing a Hypothesis Step 3:

Make your predictions and define your variables. We have verified that we can test our hypothesis, but now we have to define all the relevant variables, design our experiment or data analysis, and make precise predictions. You could, for example, decide to study dog owners (not surprising at this point), let them fill in questionnaires about their lifestyle as well as their life satisfaction (as other studies did), and then compare two groups of active and inactive dog owners. Alternatively, if you want to go beyond the data that earlier studies produced and analyzed and directly manipulate the activity level of your dog owners to study the effect of that manipulation, you could invite them to your lab, select groups of participants with similar lifestyles, make them change their lifestyle (e.g., couch potato dog owners start agility classes, very active ones have to refrain from any fun activities for a certain period of time) and assess their happiness levels before and after the intervention. In both cases, your independent variable would be “ level of engagement in fun activities with dog” and your dependent variable would be happiness or well-being . 

Examples of a Good and Bad Hypothesis

Let’s look at a few examples of good and bad hypotheses to get you started.

Good Hypothesis Examples

Bad hypothesis examples, tips for writing a research hypothesis.

If you understood the distinction between a hypothesis and a prediction we made at the beginning of this article, then you will have no problem formulating your hypotheses and predictions correctly. To refresh your memory: We have to (1) look at existing evidence, (2) come up with a hypothesis, (3) make a prediction, and (4) design an experiment. For example, you could summarize your dog/happiness study like this:

(1) While research suggests that dog owners are happier than cat owners, there are no reports on what factors drive this difference. (2) We hypothesized that it is the fun activities that many dog owners (but very few cat owners) engage in with their pets that increases their happiness levels. (3) We thus predicted that preventing very active dog owners from engaging in such activities for some time and making very inactive dog owners take up such activities would lead to an increase and decrease in their overall self-ratings of happiness, respectively. (4) To test this, we invited dog owners into our lab, assessed their mental and emotional well-being through questionnaires, and then assigned them to an “active” and an “inactive” group, depending on… 

Note that you use “we hypothesize” only for your hypothesis, not for your experimental prediction, and “would” or “if – then” only for your prediction, not your hypothesis. A hypothesis that states that something “would” affect something else sounds as if you don’t have enough confidence to make a clear statement—in which case you can’t expect your readers to believe in your research either. Write in the present tense, don’t use modal verbs that express varying degrees of certainty (such as may, might, or could ), and remember that you are not drawing a conclusion while trying not to exaggerate but making a clear statement that you then, in a way, try to disprove . And if that happens, that is not something to fear but an important part of the scientific process.

Similarly, don’t use “we hypothesize” when you explain the implications of your research or make predictions in the conclusion section of your manuscript, since these are clearly not hypotheses in the true sense of the word. As we said earlier, you will find that many authors of academic articles do not seem to care too much about these rather subtle distinctions, but thinking very clearly about your own research will not only help you write better but also ensure that even that infamous Reviewer 2 will find fewer reasons to nitpick about your manuscript. 

Perfect Your Manuscript With Professional Editing

Now that you know how to write a strong research hypothesis for your research paper, you might be interested in our free AI proofreader , Wordvice AI, which finds and fixes errors in grammar, punctuation, and word choice in academic texts. Or if you are interested in human proofreading , check out our English editing services , including research paper editing and manuscript editing .

On the Wordvice academic resources website , you can also find many more articles and other resources that can help you with writing the other parts of your research paper , with making a research paper outline before you put everything together, or with writing an effective cover letter once you are ready to submit.

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What Is A Research (Scientific) Hypothesis? A plain-language explainer + examples

By:  Derek Jansen (MBA)  | Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2020

If you’re new to the world of research, or it’s your first time writing a dissertation or thesis, you’re probably noticing that the words “research hypothesis” and “scientific hypothesis” are used quite a bit, and you’re wondering what they mean in a research context .

“Hypothesis” is one of those words that people use loosely, thinking they understand what it means. However, it has a very specific meaning within academic research. So, it’s important to understand the exact meaning before you start hypothesizing. 

Research Hypothesis 101

  • What is a hypothesis ?
  • What is a research hypothesis (scientific hypothesis)?
  • Requirements for a research hypothesis
  • Definition of a research hypothesis
  • The null hypothesis

What is a hypothesis?

Let’s start with the general definition of a hypothesis (not a research hypothesis or scientific hypothesis), according to the Cambridge Dictionary:

Hypothesis: an idea or explanation for something that is based on known facts but has not yet been proved.

In other words, it’s a statement that provides an explanation for why or how something works, based on facts (or some reasonable assumptions), but that has not yet been specifically tested . For example, a hypothesis might look something like this:

Hypothesis: sleep impacts academic performance.

This statement predicts that academic performance will be influenced by the amount and/or quality of sleep a student engages in – sounds reasonable, right? It’s based on reasonable assumptions , underpinned by what we currently know about sleep and health (from the existing literature). So, loosely speaking, we could call it a hypothesis, at least by the dictionary definition.

But that’s not good enough…

Unfortunately, that’s not quite sophisticated enough to describe a research hypothesis (also sometimes called a scientific hypothesis), and it wouldn’t be acceptable in a dissertation, thesis or research paper . In the world of academic research, a statement needs a few more criteria to constitute a true research hypothesis .

What is a research hypothesis?

A research hypothesis (also called a scientific hypothesis) is a statement about the expected outcome of a study (for example, a dissertation or thesis). To constitute a quality hypothesis, the statement needs to have three attributes – specificity , clarity and testability .

Let’s take a look at these more closely.

Need a helping hand?

how to make a hypothesis in research

Hypothesis Essential #1: Specificity & Clarity

A good research hypothesis needs to be extremely clear and articulate about both what’ s being assessed (who or what variables are involved ) and the expected outcome (for example, a difference between groups, a relationship between variables, etc.).

Let’s stick with our sleepy students example and look at how this statement could be more specific and clear.

Hypothesis: Students who sleep at least 8 hours per night will, on average, achieve higher grades in standardised tests than students who sleep less than 8 hours a night.

As you can see, the statement is very specific as it identifies the variables involved (sleep hours and test grades), the parties involved (two groups of students), as well as the predicted relationship type (a positive relationship). There’s no ambiguity or uncertainty about who or what is involved in the statement, and the expected outcome is clear.

Contrast that to the original hypothesis we looked at – “Sleep impacts academic performance” – and you can see the difference. “Sleep” and “academic performance” are both comparatively vague , and there’s no indication of what the expected relationship direction is (more sleep or less sleep). As you can see, specificity and clarity are key.

A good research hypothesis needs to be very clear about what’s being assessed and very specific about the expected outcome.

Hypothesis Essential #2: Testability (Provability)

A statement must be testable to qualify as a research hypothesis. In other words, there needs to be a way to prove (or disprove) the statement. If it’s not testable, it’s not a hypothesis – simple as that.

For example, consider the hypothesis we mentioned earlier:

Hypothesis: Students who sleep at least 8 hours per night will, on average, achieve higher grades in standardised tests than students who sleep less than 8 hours a night.  

We could test this statement by undertaking a quantitative study involving two groups of students, one that gets 8 or more hours of sleep per night for a fixed period, and one that gets less. We could then compare the standardised test results for both groups to see if there’s a statistically significant difference. 

Again, if you compare this to the original hypothesis we looked at – “Sleep impacts academic performance” – you can see that it would be quite difficult to test that statement, primarily because it isn’t specific enough. How much sleep? By who? What type of academic performance?

So, remember the mantra – if you can’t test it, it’s not a hypothesis 🙂

A good research hypothesis must be testable. In other words, you must able to collect observable data in a scientifically rigorous fashion to test it.

Defining A Research Hypothesis

You’re still with us? Great! Let’s recap and pin down a clear definition of a hypothesis.

A research hypothesis (or scientific hypothesis) is a statement about an expected relationship between variables, or explanation of an occurrence, that is clear, specific and testable.

So, when you write up hypotheses for your dissertation or thesis, make sure that they meet all these criteria. If you do, you’ll not only have rock-solid hypotheses but you’ll also ensure a clear focus for your entire research project.

What about the null hypothesis?

You may have also heard the terms null hypothesis , alternative hypothesis, or H-zero thrown around. At a simple level, the null hypothesis is the counter-proposal to the original hypothesis.

For example, if the hypothesis predicts that there is a relationship between two variables (for example, sleep and academic performance), the null hypothesis would predict that there is no relationship between those variables.

At a more technical level, the null hypothesis proposes that no statistical significance exists in a set of given observations and that any differences are due to chance alone.

And there you have it – hypotheses in a nutshell. 

If you have any questions, be sure to leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help you. If you need hands-on help developing and testing your hypotheses, consider our private coaching service , where we hold your hand through the research journey.

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16 Comments

Lynnet Chikwaikwai

Very useful information. I benefit more from getting more information in this regard.

Dr. WuodArek

Very great insight,educative and informative. Please give meet deep critics on many research data of public international Law like human rights, environment, natural resources, law of the sea etc

Afshin

In a book I read a distinction is made between null, research, and alternative hypothesis. As far as I understand, alternative and research hypotheses are the same. Can you please elaborate? Best Afshin

GANDI Benjamin

This is a self explanatory, easy going site. I will recommend this to my friends and colleagues.

Lucile Dossou-Yovo

Very good definition. How can I cite your definition in my thesis? Thank you. Is nul hypothesis compulsory in a research?

Pereria

It’s a counter-proposal to be proven as a rejection

Egya Salihu

Please what is the difference between alternate hypothesis and research hypothesis?

Mulugeta Tefera

It is a very good explanation. However, it limits hypotheses to statistically tasteable ideas. What about for qualitative researches or other researches that involve quantitative data that don’t need statistical tests?

Derek Jansen

In qualitative research, one typically uses propositions, not hypotheses.

Samia

could you please elaborate it more

Patricia Nyawir

I’ve benefited greatly from these notes, thank you.

Hopeson Khondiwa

This is very helpful

Dr. Andarge

well articulated ideas are presented here, thank you for being reliable sources of information

TAUNO

Excellent. Thanks for being clear and sound about the research methodology and hypothesis (quantitative research)

I have only a simple question regarding the null hypothesis. – Is the null hypothesis (Ho) known as the reversible hypothesis of the alternative hypothesis (H1? – How to test it in academic research?

Tesfaye Negesa Urge

this is very important note help me much more

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How to Write a Hypothesis – Steps & Tips

Published by Alaxendra Bets at August 14th, 2021 , Revised On October 26, 2023

What is a Research Hypothesis?

You can test a research statement with the help of experimental or theoretical research, known as a hypothesis.

If you want to find out the similarities, differences, and relationships between variables, you must write a testable hypothesis before compiling the data, performing analysis, and generating results to complete.

The data analysis and findings will help you test the hypothesis and see whether it is true or false. Here is all you need to know about how to write a hypothesis for a  dissertation .

Research Hypothesis Definition

Not sure what the meaning of the research hypothesis is?

A research hypothesis predicts an answer to the research question  based on existing theoretical knowledge or experimental data.

Some studies may have multiple hypothesis statements depending on the research question(s).  A research hypothesis must be based on formulas, facts, and theories. It should be testable by data analysis, observations, experiments, or other scientific methodologies that can refute or support the statement.

Variables in Hypothesis

Developing a hypothesis is easy. Most research studies have two or more variables in the hypothesis, particularly studies involving correlational and experimental research. The researcher can control or change the independent variable(s) while measuring and observing the independent variable(s).

“How long a student sleeps affects test scores.”

In the above statement, the dependent variable is the test score, while the independent variable is the length of time spent in sleep. Developing a hypothesis will be easy if you know your research’s dependent and independent variables.

Once you have developed a thesis statement, questions such as how to write a hypothesis for the dissertation and how to test a research hypothesis become pretty straightforward.

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Step-by-Step Guide on How to Write a Hypothesis

Here are the steps involved in how to write a hypothesis for a dissertation.

Step 1: Start with a Research Question

  • Begin by asking a specific question about a topic of interest.
  • This question should be clear, concise, and researchable.

Example: Does exposure to sunlight affect plant growth?

Step 2: Do Preliminary Research

  • Before formulating a hypothesis, conduct background research to understand existing knowledge on the topic.
  • Familiarise yourself with prior studies, theories, or observations related to the research question.

Step 3: Define Variables

  • Independent Variable (IV): The factor that you change or manipulate in an experiment.
  • Dependent Variable (DV): The factor that you measure.

Example: IV: Amount of sunlight exposure (e.g., 2 hours/day, 4 hours/day, 8 hours/day) DV: Plant growth (e.g., height in centimetres)

Step 4: Formulate the Hypothesis

  • A hypothesis is a statement that predicts the relationship between variables.
  • It is often written as an “if-then” statement.

Example: If plants receive more sunlight, then they will grow taller.

Step 5: Ensure it is Testable

A good hypothesis is empirically testable. This means you should be able to design an experiment or observation to test its validity.

Example: You can set up an experiment where plants are exposed to varying amounts of sunlight and then measure their growth over a period of time.

Step 6: Consider Potential Confounding Variables

  • Confounding variables are factors other than the independent variable that might affect the outcome.
  • It is important to identify these to ensure that they do not skew your results.

Example: Soil quality, water frequency, or type of plant can all affect growth. Consider keeping these constant in your experiment.

Step 7: Write the Null Hypothesis

  • The null hypothesis is a statement that there is no effect or no relationship between the variables.
  • It is what you aim to disprove or reject through your research.

Example: There is no difference in plant growth regardless of the amount of sunlight exposure.

Step 8: Test your Hypothesis

Design an experiment or conduct observations to test your hypothesis.

Example: Grow three sets of plants: one set exposed to 2 hours of sunlight daily, another exposed to 4 hours, and a third exposed to 8 hours. Measure and compare their growth after a set period.

Step 9: Analyse the Results

After testing, review your data to determine if it supports your hypothesis.

Step 10: Draw Conclusions

  • Based on your findings, determine whether you can accept or reject the hypothesis.
  • Remember, even if you reject your hypothesis, it’s a valuable result. It can guide future research and refine questions.

Three Ways to Phrase a Hypothesis

Try to use “if”… and “then”… to identify the variables. The independent variable should be present in the first part of the hypothesis, while the dependent variable will form the second part of the statement. Consider understanding the below research hypothesis example to create a specific, clear, and concise research hypothesis;

If an obese lady starts attending Zomba fitness classes, her health will improve.

In academic research, you can write the predicted variable relationship directly because most research studies correlate terms.

The number of Zomba fitness classes attended by the obese lady has a positive effect on health.

If your research compares two groups, then you can develop a hypothesis statement on their differences.

An obese lady who attended most Zumba fitness classes will have better health than those who attended a few.

How to Write a Null Hypothesis

If a statistical analysis is involved in your research, then you must create a null hypothesis. If you find any relationship between the variables, then the null hypothesis will be the default position that there is no relationship between them. H0 is the symbol for the null hypothesis, while the hypothesis is represented as H1. The null hypothesis will also answer your question, “How to test the research hypothesis in the dissertation.”

H0: The number of Zumba fitness classes attended by the obese lady does not affect her health.

H1: The number of Zumba fitness classes attended by obese lady positively affects health.

Also see:  Your Dissertation in Education

Hypothesis Examples

Research Question: Does the amount of sunlight a plant receives affect its growth? Hypothesis: Plants that receive more sunlight will grow taller than plants that receive less sunlight.

Research Question: Do students who eat breakfast perform better in school exams than those who don’t? Hypothesis: Students who eat a morning breakfast will score higher on school exams compared to students who skip breakfast.

Research Question: Does listening to music while studying impact a student’s ability to retain information? Hypothesis 1 (Directional): Students who listen to music while studying will retain less information than those who study in silence. Hypothesis 2 (Non-directional): There will be a difference in information retention between students who listen to music while studying and those who study in silence.

How can ResearchProspect Help?

If you are unsure about how to rest a research hypothesis in a dissertation or simply unsure about how to develop a hypothesis for your research, then you can take advantage of our dissertation services which cover every tiny aspect of a dissertation project you might need help with including but not limited to setting up a hypothesis and research questions,  help with individual chapters ,  full dissertation writing ,  statistical analysis , and much more.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 5 rules for writing a good hypothesis.

  • Clear Statement: State a clear relationship between variables.
  • Testable: Ensure it can be investigated and measured.
  • Specific: Avoid vague terms, be precise in predictions.
  • Falsifiable: Design to allow potential disproof.
  • Relevant: Address research question and align with existing knowledge.

What is a hypothesis in simple words?

A hypothesis is an educated guess or prediction about something that can be tested. It is a statement that suggests a possible explanation for an event or phenomenon based on prior knowledge or observation. Scientists use hypotheses as a starting point for experiments to discover if they are true or false.

What is the hypothesis and examples?

A hypothesis is a testable prediction or explanation for an observation or phenomenon. For example, if plants are given sunlight, then they will grow. In this case, the hypothesis suggests that sunlight has a positive effect on plant growth. It can be tested by experimenting with plants in varying light conditions.

What is the hypothesis in research definition?

A hypothesis in research is a clear, testable statement predicting the possible outcome of a study based on prior knowledge and observation. It serves as the foundation for conducting experiments or investigations. Researchers test the validity of the hypothesis to draw conclusions and advance knowledge in a particular field.

Why is it called a hypothesis?

The term “hypothesis” originates from the Greek word “hypothesis,” which means “base” or “foundation.” It’s used to describe a foundational statement or proposition that can be tested. In scientific contexts, it denotes a tentative explanation for a phenomenon, serving as a starting point for investigation or experimentation.

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Developing a Hypothesis

Rajiv S. Jhangiani; I-Chant A. Chiang; Carrie Cuttler; and Dana C. Leighton

Learning Objectives

  • Distinguish between a theory and a hypothesis.
  • Discover how theories are used to generate hypotheses and how the results of studies can be used to further inform theories.
  • Understand the characteristics of a good hypothesis.

Theories and Hypotheses

Before describing how to develop a hypothesis, it is important to distinguish between a theory and a hypothesis. A  theory  is a coherent explanation or interpretation of one or more phenomena. Although theories can take a variety of forms, one thing they have in common is that they go beyond the phenomena they explain by including variables, structures, processes, functions, or organizing principles that have not been observed directly. Consider, for example, Zajonc’s theory of social facilitation and social inhibition (1965) [1] . He proposed that being watched by others while performing a task creates a general state of physiological arousal, which increases the likelihood of the dominant (most likely) response. So for highly practiced tasks, being watched increases the tendency to make correct responses, but for relatively unpracticed tasks, being watched increases the tendency to make incorrect responses. Notice that this theory—which has come to be called drive theory—provides an explanation of both social facilitation and social inhibition that goes beyond the phenomena themselves by including concepts such as “arousal” and “dominant response,” along with processes such as the effect of arousal on the dominant response.

Outside of science, referring to an idea as a theory often implies that it is untested—perhaps no more than a wild guess. In science, however, the term theory has no such implication. A theory is simply an explanation or interpretation of a set of phenomena. It can be untested, but it can also be extensively tested, well supported, and accepted as an accurate description of the world by the scientific community. The theory of evolution by natural selection, for example, is a theory because it is an explanation of the diversity of life on earth—not because it is untested or unsupported by scientific research. On the contrary, the evidence for this theory is overwhelmingly positive and nearly all scientists accept its basic assumptions as accurate. Similarly, the “germ theory” of disease is a theory because it is an explanation of the origin of various diseases, not because there is any doubt that many diseases are caused by microorganisms that infect the body.

A  hypothesis , on the other hand, is a specific prediction about a new phenomenon that should be observed if a particular theory is accurate. It is an explanation that relies on just a few key concepts. Hypotheses are often specific predictions about what will happen in a particular study. They are developed by considering existing evidence and using reasoning to infer what will happen in the specific context of interest. Hypotheses are often but not always derived from theories. So a hypothesis is often a prediction based on a theory but some hypotheses are a-theoretical and only after a set of observations have been made, is a theory developed. This is because theories are broad in nature and they explain larger bodies of data. So if our research question is really original then we may need to collect some data and make some observations before we can develop a broader theory.

Theories and hypotheses always have this  if-then  relationship. “ If   drive theory is correct,  then  cockroaches should run through a straight runway faster, and a branching runway more slowly, when other cockroaches are present.” Although hypotheses are usually expressed as statements, they can always be rephrased as questions. “Do cockroaches run through a straight runway faster when other cockroaches are present?” Thus deriving hypotheses from theories is an excellent way of generating interesting research questions.

But how do researchers derive hypotheses from theories? One way is to generate a research question using the techniques discussed in this chapter  and then ask whether any theory implies an answer to that question. For example, you might wonder whether expressive writing about positive experiences improves health as much as expressive writing about traumatic experiences. Although this  question  is an interesting one  on its own, you might then ask whether the habituation theory—the idea that expressive writing causes people to habituate to negative thoughts and feelings—implies an answer. In this case, it seems clear that if the habituation theory is correct, then expressive writing about positive experiences should not be effective because it would not cause people to habituate to negative thoughts and feelings. A second way to derive hypotheses from theories is to focus on some component of the theory that has not yet been directly observed. For example, a researcher could focus on the process of habituation—perhaps hypothesizing that people should show fewer signs of emotional distress with each new writing session.

Among the very best hypotheses are those that distinguish between competing theories. For example, Norbert Schwarz and his colleagues considered two theories of how people make judgments about themselves, such as how assertive they are (Schwarz et al., 1991) [2] . Both theories held that such judgments are based on relevant examples that people bring to mind. However, one theory was that people base their judgments on the  number  of examples they bring to mind and the other was that people base their judgments on how  easily  they bring those examples to mind. To test these theories, the researchers asked people to recall either six times when they were assertive (which is easy for most people) or 12 times (which is difficult for most people). Then they asked them to judge their own assertiveness. Note that the number-of-examples theory implies that people who recalled 12 examples should judge themselves to be more assertive because they recalled more examples, but the ease-of-examples theory implies that participants who recalled six examples should judge themselves as more assertive because recalling the examples was easier. Thus the two theories made opposite predictions so that only one of the predictions could be confirmed. The surprising result was that participants who recalled fewer examples judged themselves to be more assertive—providing particularly convincing evidence in favor of the ease-of-retrieval theory over the number-of-examples theory.

Theory Testing

The primary way that scientific researchers use theories is sometimes called the hypothetico-deductive method  (although this term is much more likely to be used by philosophers of science than by scientists themselves). Researchers begin with a set of phenomena and either construct a theory to explain or interpret them or choose an existing theory to work with. They then make a prediction about some new phenomenon that should be observed if the theory is correct. Again, this prediction is called a hypothesis. The researchers then conduct an empirical study to test the hypothesis. Finally, they reevaluate the theory in light of the new results and revise it if necessary. This process is usually conceptualized as a cycle because the researchers can then derive a new hypothesis from the revised theory, conduct a new empirical study to test the hypothesis, and so on. As  Figure 2.3  shows, this approach meshes nicely with the model of scientific research in psychology presented earlier in the textbook—creating a more detailed model of “theoretically motivated” or “theory-driven” research.

how to make a hypothesis in research

As an example, let us consider Zajonc’s research on social facilitation and inhibition. He started with a somewhat contradictory pattern of results from the research literature. He then constructed his drive theory, according to which being watched by others while performing a task causes physiological arousal, which increases an organism’s tendency to make the dominant response. This theory predicts social facilitation for well-learned tasks and social inhibition for poorly learned tasks. He now had a theory that organized previous results in a meaningful way—but he still needed to test it. He hypothesized that if his theory was correct, he should observe that the presence of others improves performance in a simple laboratory task but inhibits performance in a difficult version of the very same laboratory task. To test this hypothesis, one of the studies he conducted used cockroaches as subjects (Zajonc, Heingartner, & Herman, 1969) [3] . The cockroaches ran either down a straight runway (an easy task for a cockroach) or through a cross-shaped maze (a difficult task for a cockroach) to escape into a dark chamber when a light was shined on them. They did this either while alone or in the presence of other cockroaches in clear plastic “audience boxes.” Zajonc found that cockroaches in the straight runway reached their goal more quickly in the presence of other cockroaches, but cockroaches in the cross-shaped maze reached their goal more slowly when they were in the presence of other cockroaches. Thus he confirmed his hypothesis and provided support for his drive theory. (Zajonc also showed that drive theory existed in humans [Zajonc & Sales, 1966] [4] in many other studies afterward).

Incorporating Theory into Your Research

When you write your research report or plan your presentation, be aware that there are two basic ways that researchers usually include theory. The first is to raise a research question, answer that question by conducting a new study, and then offer one or more theories (usually more) to explain or interpret the results. This format works well for applied research questions and for research questions that existing theories do not address. The second way is to describe one or more existing theories, derive a hypothesis from one of those theories, test the hypothesis in a new study, and finally reevaluate the theory. This format works well when there is an existing theory that addresses the research question—especially if the resulting hypothesis is surprising or conflicts with a hypothesis derived from a different theory.

To use theories in your research will not only give you guidance in coming up with experiment ideas and possible projects, but it lends legitimacy to your work. Psychologists have been interested in a variety of human behaviors and have developed many theories along the way. Using established theories will help you break new ground as a researcher, not limit you from developing your own ideas.

Characteristics of a Good Hypothesis

There are three general characteristics of a good hypothesis. First, a good hypothesis must be testable and falsifiable . We must be able to test the hypothesis using the methods of science and if you’ll recall Popper’s falsifiability criterion, it must be possible to gather evidence that will disconfirm the hypothesis if it is indeed false. Second, a good hypothesis must be logical. As described above, hypotheses are more than just a random guess. Hypotheses should be informed by previous theories or observations and logical reasoning. Typically, we begin with a broad and general theory and use  deductive reasoning to generate a more specific hypothesis to test based on that theory. Occasionally, however, when there is no theory to inform our hypothesis, we use  inductive reasoning  which involves using specific observations or research findings to form a more general hypothesis. Finally, the hypothesis should be positive. That is, the hypothesis should make a positive statement about the existence of a relationship or effect, rather than a statement that a relationship or effect does not exist. As scientists, we don’t set out to show that relationships do not exist or that effects do not occur so our hypotheses should not be worded in a way to suggest that an effect or relationship does not exist. The nature of science is to assume that something does not exist and then seek to find evidence to prove this wrong, to show that it really does exist. That may seem backward to you but that is the nature of the scientific method. The underlying reason for this is beyond the scope of this chapter but it has to do with statistical theory.

  • Zajonc, R. B. (1965). Social facilitation.  Science, 149 , 269–274 ↵
  • Schwarz, N., Bless, H., Strack, F., Klumpp, G., Rittenauer-Schatka, H., & Simons, A. (1991). Ease of retrieval as information: Another look at the availability heuristic.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61 , 195–202. ↵
  • Zajonc, R. B., Heingartner, A., & Herman, E. M. (1969). Social enhancement and impairment of performance in the cockroach.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 13 , 83–92. ↵
  • Zajonc, R.B. & Sales, S.M. (1966). Social facilitation of dominant and subordinate responses. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2 , 160-168. ↵

A coherent explanation or interpretation of one or more phenomena.

A specific prediction about a new phenomenon that should be observed if a particular theory is accurate.

A cyclical process of theory development, starting with an observed phenomenon, then developing or using a theory to make a specific prediction of what should happen if that theory is correct, testing that prediction, refining the theory in light of the findings, and using that refined theory to develop new hypotheses, and so on.

The ability to test the hypothesis using the methods of science and the possibility to gather evidence that will disconfirm the hypothesis if it is indeed false.

Developing a Hypothesis Copyright © by Rajiv S. Jhangiani; I-Chant A. Chiang; Carrie Cuttler; and Dana C. Leighton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Home » What is a Hypothesis – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

What is a Hypothesis – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

What is a Hypothesis

Definition:

Hypothesis is an educated guess or proposed explanation for a phenomenon, based on some initial observations or data. It is a tentative statement that can be tested and potentially proven or disproven through further investigation and experimentation.

Hypothesis is often used in scientific research to guide the design of experiments and the collection and analysis of data. It is an essential element of the scientific method, as it allows researchers to make predictions about the outcome of their experiments and to test those predictions to determine their accuracy.

Types of Hypothesis

Types of Hypothesis are as follows:

Research Hypothesis

A research hypothesis is a statement that predicts a relationship between variables. It is usually formulated as a specific statement that can be tested through research, and it is often used in scientific research to guide the design of experiments.

Null Hypothesis

The null hypothesis is a statement that assumes there is no significant difference or relationship between variables. It is often used as a starting point for testing the research hypothesis, and if the results of the study reject the null hypothesis, it suggests that there is a significant difference or relationship between variables.

Alternative Hypothesis

An alternative hypothesis is a statement that assumes there is a significant difference or relationship between variables. It is often used as an alternative to the null hypothesis and is tested against the null hypothesis to determine which statement is more accurate.

Directional Hypothesis

A directional hypothesis is a statement that predicts the direction of the relationship between variables. For example, a researcher might predict that increasing the amount of exercise will result in a decrease in body weight.

Non-directional Hypothesis

A non-directional hypothesis is a statement that predicts the relationship between variables but does not specify the direction. For example, a researcher might predict that there is a relationship between the amount of exercise and body weight, but they do not specify whether increasing or decreasing exercise will affect body weight.

Statistical Hypothesis

A statistical hypothesis is a statement that assumes a particular statistical model or distribution for the data. It is often used in statistical analysis to test the significance of a particular result.

Composite Hypothesis

A composite hypothesis is a statement that assumes more than one condition or outcome. It can be divided into several sub-hypotheses, each of which represents a different possible outcome.

Empirical Hypothesis

An empirical hypothesis is a statement that is based on observed phenomena or data. It is often used in scientific research to develop theories or models that explain the observed phenomena.

Simple Hypothesis

A simple hypothesis is a statement that assumes only one outcome or condition. It is often used in scientific research to test a single variable or factor.

Complex Hypothesis

A complex hypothesis is a statement that assumes multiple outcomes or conditions. It is often used in scientific research to test the effects of multiple variables or factors on a particular outcome.

Applications of Hypothesis

Hypotheses are used in various fields to guide research and make predictions about the outcomes of experiments or observations. Here are some examples of how hypotheses are applied in different fields:

  • Science : In scientific research, hypotheses are used to test the validity of theories and models that explain natural phenomena. For example, a hypothesis might be formulated to test the effects of a particular variable on a natural system, such as the effects of climate change on an ecosystem.
  • Medicine : In medical research, hypotheses are used to test the effectiveness of treatments and therapies for specific conditions. For example, a hypothesis might be formulated to test the effects of a new drug on a particular disease.
  • Psychology : In psychology, hypotheses are used to test theories and models of human behavior and cognition. For example, a hypothesis might be formulated to test the effects of a particular stimulus on the brain or behavior.
  • Sociology : In sociology, hypotheses are used to test theories and models of social phenomena, such as the effects of social structures or institutions on human behavior. For example, a hypothesis might be formulated to test the effects of income inequality on crime rates.
  • Business : In business research, hypotheses are used to test the validity of theories and models that explain business phenomena, such as consumer behavior or market trends. For example, a hypothesis might be formulated to test the effects of a new marketing campaign on consumer buying behavior.
  • Engineering : In engineering, hypotheses are used to test the effectiveness of new technologies or designs. For example, a hypothesis might be formulated to test the efficiency of a new solar panel design.

How to write a Hypothesis

Here are the steps to follow when writing a hypothesis:

Identify the Research Question

The first step is to identify the research question that you want to answer through your study. This question should be clear, specific, and focused. It should be something that can be investigated empirically and that has some relevance or significance in the field.

Conduct a Literature Review

Before writing your hypothesis, it’s essential to conduct a thorough literature review to understand what is already known about the topic. This will help you to identify the research gap and formulate a hypothesis that builds on existing knowledge.

Determine the Variables

The next step is to identify the variables involved in the research question. A variable is any characteristic or factor that can vary or change. There are two types of variables: independent and dependent. The independent variable is the one that is manipulated or changed by the researcher, while the dependent variable is the one that is measured or observed as a result of the independent variable.

Formulate the Hypothesis

Based on the research question and the variables involved, you can now formulate your hypothesis. A hypothesis should be a clear and concise statement that predicts the relationship between the variables. It should be testable through empirical research and based on existing theory or evidence.

Write the Null Hypothesis

The null hypothesis is the opposite of the alternative hypothesis, which is the hypothesis that you are testing. The null hypothesis states that there is no significant difference or relationship between the variables. It is important to write the null hypothesis because it allows you to compare your results with what would be expected by chance.

Refine the Hypothesis

After formulating the hypothesis, it’s important to refine it and make it more precise. This may involve clarifying the variables, specifying the direction of the relationship, or making the hypothesis more testable.

Examples of Hypothesis

Here are a few examples of hypotheses in different fields:

  • Psychology : “Increased exposure to violent video games leads to increased aggressive behavior in adolescents.”
  • Biology : “Higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will lead to increased plant growth.”
  • Sociology : “Individuals who grow up in households with higher socioeconomic status will have higher levels of education and income as adults.”
  • Education : “Implementing a new teaching method will result in higher student achievement scores.”
  • Marketing : “Customers who receive a personalized email will be more likely to make a purchase than those who receive a generic email.”
  • Physics : “An increase in temperature will cause an increase in the volume of a gas, assuming all other variables remain constant.”
  • Medicine : “Consuming a diet high in saturated fats will increase the risk of developing heart disease.”

Purpose of Hypothesis

The purpose of a hypothesis is to provide a testable explanation for an observed phenomenon or a prediction of a future outcome based on existing knowledge or theories. A hypothesis is an essential part of the scientific method and helps to guide the research process by providing a clear focus for investigation. It enables scientists to design experiments or studies to gather evidence and data that can support or refute the proposed explanation or prediction.

The formulation of a hypothesis is based on existing knowledge, observations, and theories, and it should be specific, testable, and falsifiable. A specific hypothesis helps to define the research question, which is important in the research process as it guides the selection of an appropriate research design and methodology. Testability of the hypothesis means that it can be proven or disproven through empirical data collection and analysis. Falsifiability means that the hypothesis should be formulated in such a way that it can be proven wrong if it is incorrect.

In addition to guiding the research process, the testing of hypotheses can lead to new discoveries and advancements in scientific knowledge. When a hypothesis is supported by the data, it can be used to develop new theories or models to explain the observed phenomenon. When a hypothesis is not supported by the data, it can help to refine existing theories or prompt the development of new hypotheses to explain the phenomenon.

When to use Hypothesis

Here are some common situations in which hypotheses are used:

  • In scientific research , hypotheses are used to guide the design of experiments and to help researchers make predictions about the outcomes of those experiments.
  • In social science research , hypotheses are used to test theories about human behavior, social relationships, and other phenomena.
  • I n business , hypotheses can be used to guide decisions about marketing, product development, and other areas. For example, a hypothesis might be that a new product will sell well in a particular market, and this hypothesis can be tested through market research.

Characteristics of Hypothesis

Here are some common characteristics of a hypothesis:

  • Testable : A hypothesis must be able to be tested through observation or experimentation. This means that it must be possible to collect data that will either support or refute the hypothesis.
  • Falsifiable : A hypothesis must be able to be proven false if it is not supported by the data. If a hypothesis cannot be falsified, then it is not a scientific hypothesis.
  • Clear and concise : A hypothesis should be stated in a clear and concise manner so that it can be easily understood and tested.
  • Based on existing knowledge : A hypothesis should be based on existing knowledge and research in the field. It should not be based on personal beliefs or opinions.
  • Specific : A hypothesis should be specific in terms of the variables being tested and the predicted outcome. This will help to ensure that the research is focused and well-designed.
  • Tentative: A hypothesis is a tentative statement or assumption that requires further testing and evidence to be confirmed or refuted. It is not a final conclusion or assertion.
  • Relevant : A hypothesis should be relevant to the research question or problem being studied. It should address a gap in knowledge or provide a new perspective on the issue.

Advantages of Hypothesis

Hypotheses have several advantages in scientific research and experimentation:

  • Guides research: A hypothesis provides a clear and specific direction for research. It helps to focus the research question, select appropriate methods and variables, and interpret the results.
  • Predictive powe r: A hypothesis makes predictions about the outcome of research, which can be tested through experimentation. This allows researchers to evaluate the validity of the hypothesis and make new discoveries.
  • Facilitates communication: A hypothesis provides a common language and framework for scientists to communicate with one another about their research. This helps to facilitate the exchange of ideas and promotes collaboration.
  • Efficient use of resources: A hypothesis helps researchers to use their time, resources, and funding efficiently by directing them towards specific research questions and methods that are most likely to yield results.
  • Provides a basis for further research: A hypothesis that is supported by data provides a basis for further research and exploration. It can lead to new hypotheses, theories, and discoveries.
  • Increases objectivity: A hypothesis can help to increase objectivity in research by providing a clear and specific framework for testing and interpreting results. This can reduce bias and increase the reliability of research findings.

Limitations of Hypothesis

Some Limitations of the Hypothesis are as follows:

  • Limited to observable phenomena: Hypotheses are limited to observable phenomena and cannot account for unobservable or intangible factors. This means that some research questions may not be amenable to hypothesis testing.
  • May be inaccurate or incomplete: Hypotheses are based on existing knowledge and research, which may be incomplete or inaccurate. This can lead to flawed hypotheses and erroneous conclusions.
  • May be biased: Hypotheses may be biased by the researcher’s own beliefs, values, or assumptions. This can lead to selective interpretation of data and a lack of objectivity in research.
  • Cannot prove causation: A hypothesis can only show a correlation between variables, but it cannot prove causation. This requires further experimentation and analysis.
  • Limited to specific contexts: Hypotheses are limited to specific contexts and may not be generalizable to other situations or populations. This means that results may not be applicable in other contexts or may require further testing.
  • May be affected by chance : Hypotheses may be affected by chance or random variation, which can obscure or distort the true relationship between variables.

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Formulating Hypotheses for Different Study Designs

Durga prasanna misra.

1 Department of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, India.

Armen Yuri Gasparyan

2 Departments of Rheumatology and Research and Development, Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust (Teaching Trust of the University of Birmingham, UK), Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley, UK.

Olena Zimba

3 Department of Internal Medicine #2, Danylo Halytsky Lviv National Medical University, Lviv, Ukraine.

Marlen Yessirkepov

4 Department of Biology and Biochemistry, South Kazakhstan Medical Academy, Shymkent, Kazakhstan.

Vikas Agarwal

George d. kitas.

5 Centre for Epidemiology versus Arthritis, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.

Generating a testable working hypothesis is the first step towards conducting original research. Such research may prove or disprove the proposed hypothesis. Case reports, case series, online surveys and other observational studies, clinical trials, and narrative reviews help to generate hypotheses. Observational and interventional studies help to test hypotheses. A good hypothesis is usually based on previous evidence-based reports. Hypotheses without evidence-based justification and a priori ideas are not received favourably by the scientific community. Original research to test a hypothesis should be carefully planned to ensure appropriate methodology and adequate statistical power. While hypotheses can challenge conventional thinking and may be controversial, they should not be destructive. A hypothesis should be tested by ethically sound experiments with meaningful ethical and clinical implications. The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has brought into sharp focus numerous hypotheses, some of which were proven (e.g. effectiveness of corticosteroids in those with hypoxia) while others were disproven (e.g. ineffectiveness of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin).

Graphical Abstract

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DEFINING WORKING AND STANDALONE SCIENTIFIC HYPOTHESES

Science is the systematized description of natural truths and facts. Routine observations of existing life phenomena lead to the creative thinking and generation of ideas about mechanisms of such phenomena and related human interventions. Such ideas presented in a structured format can be viewed as hypotheses. After generating a hypothesis, it is necessary to test it to prove its validity. Thus, hypothesis can be defined as a proposed mechanism of a naturally occurring event or a proposed outcome of an intervention. 1 , 2

Hypothesis testing requires choosing the most appropriate methodology and adequately powering statistically the study to be able to “prove” or “disprove” it within predetermined and widely accepted levels of certainty. This entails sample size calculation that often takes into account previously published observations and pilot studies. 2 , 3 In the era of digitization, hypothesis generation and testing may benefit from the availability of numerous platforms for data dissemination, social networking, and expert validation. Related expert evaluations may reveal strengths and limitations of proposed ideas at early stages of post-publication promotion, preventing the implementation of unsupported controversial points. 4

Thus, hypothesis generation is an important initial step in the research workflow, reflecting accumulating evidence and experts' stance. In this article, we overview the genesis and importance of scientific hypotheses and their relevance in the era of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

DO WE NEED HYPOTHESES FOR ALL STUDY DESIGNS?

Broadly, research can be categorized as primary or secondary. In the context of medicine, primary research may include real-life observations of disease presentations and outcomes. Single case descriptions, which often lead to new ideas and hypotheses, serve as important starting points or justifications for case series and cohort studies. The importance of case descriptions is particularly evident in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic when unique, educational case reports have heralded a new era in clinical medicine. 5

Case series serve similar purpose to single case reports, but are based on a slightly larger quantum of information. Observational studies, including online surveys, describe the existing phenomena at a larger scale, often involving various control groups. Observational studies include variable-scale epidemiological investigations at different time points. Interventional studies detail the results of therapeutic interventions.

Secondary research is based on already published literature and does not directly involve human or animal subjects. Review articles are generated by secondary research. These could be systematic reviews which follow methods akin to primary research but with the unit of study being published papers rather than humans or animals. Systematic reviews have a rigid structure with a mandatory search strategy encompassing multiple databases, systematic screening of search results against pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria, critical appraisal of study quality and an optional component of collating results across studies quantitatively to derive summary estimates (meta-analysis). 6 Narrative reviews, on the other hand, have a more flexible structure. Systematic literature searches to minimise bias in selection of articles are highly recommended but not mandatory. 7 Narrative reviews are influenced by the authors' viewpoint who may preferentially analyse selected sets of articles. 8

In relation to primary research, case studies and case series are generally not driven by a working hypothesis. Rather, they serve as a basis to generate a hypothesis. Observational or interventional studies should have a hypothesis for choosing research design and sample size. The results of observational and interventional studies further lead to the generation of new hypotheses, testing of which forms the basis of future studies. Review articles, on the other hand, may not be hypothesis-driven, but form fertile ground to generate future hypotheses for evaluation. Fig. 1 summarizes which type of studies are hypothesis-driven and which lead on to hypothesis generation.

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STANDARDS OF WORKING AND SCIENTIFIC HYPOTHESES

A review of the published literature did not enable the identification of clearly defined standards for working and scientific hypotheses. It is essential to distinguish influential versus not influential hypotheses, evidence-based hypotheses versus a priori statements and ideas, ethical versus unethical, or potentially harmful ideas. The following points are proposed for consideration while generating working and scientific hypotheses. 1 , 2 Table 1 summarizes these points.

Evidence-based data

A scientific hypothesis should have a sound basis on previously published literature as well as the scientist's observations. Randomly generated (a priori) hypotheses are unlikely to be proven. A thorough literature search should form the basis of a hypothesis based on published evidence. 7

Unless a scientific hypothesis can be tested, it can neither be proven nor be disproven. Therefore, a scientific hypothesis should be amenable to testing with the available technologies and the present understanding of science.

Supported by pilot studies

If a hypothesis is based purely on a novel observation by the scientist in question, it should be grounded on some preliminary studies to support it. For example, if a drug that targets a specific cell population is hypothesized to be useful in a particular disease setting, then there must be some preliminary evidence that the specific cell population plays a role in driving that disease process.

Testable by ethical studies

The hypothesis should be testable by experiments that are ethically acceptable. 9 For example, a hypothesis that parachutes reduce mortality from falls from an airplane cannot be tested using a randomized controlled trial. 10 This is because it is obvious that all those jumping from a flying plane without a parachute would likely die. Similarly, the hypothesis that smoking tobacco causes lung cancer cannot be tested by a clinical trial that makes people take up smoking (since there is considerable evidence for the health hazards associated with smoking). Instead, long-term observational studies comparing outcomes in those who smoke and those who do not, as was performed in the landmark epidemiological case control study by Doll and Hill, 11 are more ethical and practical.

Balance between scientific temper and controversy

Novel findings, including novel hypotheses, particularly those that challenge established norms, are bound to face resistance for their wider acceptance. Such resistance is inevitable until the time such findings are proven with appropriate scientific rigor. However, hypotheses that generate controversy are generally unwelcome. For example, at the time the pandemic of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and AIDS was taking foot, there were numerous deniers that refused to believe that HIV caused AIDS. 12 , 13 Similarly, at a time when climate change is causing catastrophic changes to weather patterns worldwide, denial that climate change is occurring and consequent attempts to block climate change are certainly unwelcome. 14 The denialism and misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic, including unfortunate examples of vaccine hesitancy, are more recent examples of controversial hypotheses not backed by science. 15 , 16 An example of a controversial hypothesis that was a revolutionary scientific breakthrough was the hypothesis put forth by Warren and Marshall that Helicobacter pylori causes peptic ulcers. Initially, the hypothesis that a microorganism could cause gastritis and gastric ulcers faced immense resistance. When the scientists that proposed the hypothesis themselves ingested H. pylori to induce gastritis in themselves, only then could they convince the wider world about their hypothesis. Such was the impact of the hypothesis was that Barry Marshall and Robin Warren were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2005 for this discovery. 17 , 18

DISTINGUISHING THE MOST INFLUENTIAL HYPOTHESES

Influential hypotheses are those that have stood the test of time. An archetype of an influential hypothesis is that proposed by Edward Jenner in the eighteenth century that cowpox infection protects against smallpox. While this observation had been reported for nearly a century before this time, it had not been suitably tested and publicised until Jenner conducted his experiments on a young boy by demonstrating protection against smallpox after inoculation with cowpox. 19 These experiments were the basis for widespread smallpox immunization strategies worldwide in the 20th century which resulted in the elimination of smallpox as a human disease today. 20

Other influential hypotheses are those which have been read and cited widely. An example of this is the hygiene hypothesis proposing an inverse relationship between infections in early life and allergies or autoimmunity in adulthood. An analysis reported that this hypothesis had been cited more than 3,000 times on Scopus. 1

LESSONS LEARNED FROM HYPOTHESES AMIDST THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

The COVID-19 pandemic devastated the world like no other in recent memory. During this period, various hypotheses emerged, understandably so considering the public health emergency situation with innumerable deaths and suffering for humanity. Within weeks of the first reports of COVID-19, aberrant immune system activation was identified as a key driver of organ dysfunction and mortality in this disease. 21 Consequently, numerous drugs that suppress the immune system or abrogate the activation of the immune system were hypothesized to have a role in COVID-19. 22 One of the earliest drugs hypothesized to have a benefit was hydroxychloroquine. Hydroxychloroquine was proposed to interfere with Toll-like receptor activation and consequently ameliorate the aberrant immune system activation leading to pathology in COVID-19. 22 The drug was also hypothesized to have a prophylactic role in preventing infection or disease severity in COVID-19. It was also touted as a wonder drug for the disease by many prominent international figures. However, later studies which were well-designed randomized controlled trials failed to demonstrate any benefit of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19. 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 Subsequently, azithromycin 27 , 28 and ivermectin 29 were hypothesized as potential therapies for COVID-19, but were not supported by evidence from randomized controlled trials. The role of vitamin D in preventing disease severity was also proposed, but has not been proven definitively until now. 30 , 31 On the other hand, randomized controlled trials identified the evidence supporting dexamethasone 32 and interleukin-6 pathway blockade with tocilizumab as effective therapies for COVID-19 in specific situations such as at the onset of hypoxia. 33 , 34 Clues towards the apparent effectiveness of various drugs against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in vitro but their ineffectiveness in vivo have recently been identified. Many of these drugs are weak, lipophilic bases and some others induce phospholipidosis which results in apparent in vitro effectiveness due to non-specific off-target effects that are not replicated inside living systems. 35 , 36

Another hypothesis proposed was the association of the routine policy of vaccination with Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) with lower deaths due to COVID-19. This hypothesis emerged in the middle of 2020 when COVID-19 was still taking foot in many parts of the world. 37 , 38 Subsequently, many countries which had lower deaths at that time point went on to have higher numbers of mortality, comparable to other areas of the world. Furthermore, the hypothesis that BCG vaccination reduced COVID-19 mortality was a classic example of ecological fallacy. Associations between population level events (ecological studies; in this case, BCG vaccination and COVID-19 mortality) cannot be directly extrapolated to the individual level. Furthermore, such associations cannot per se be attributed as causal in nature, and can only serve to generate hypotheses that need to be tested at the individual level. 39

IS TRADITIONAL PEER REVIEW EFFICIENT FOR EVALUATION OF WORKING AND SCIENTIFIC HYPOTHESES?

Traditionally, publication after peer review has been considered the gold standard before any new idea finds acceptability amongst the scientific community. Getting a work (including a working or scientific hypothesis) reviewed by experts in the field before experiments are conducted to prove or disprove it helps to refine the idea further as well as improve the experiments planned to test the hypothesis. 40 A route towards this has been the emergence of journals dedicated to publishing hypotheses such as the Central Asian Journal of Medical Hypotheses and Ethics. 41 Another means of publishing hypotheses is through registered research protocols detailing the background, hypothesis, and methodology of a particular study. If such protocols are published after peer review, then the journal commits to publishing the completed study irrespective of whether the study hypothesis is proven or disproven. 42 In the post-pandemic world, online research methods such as online surveys powered via social media channels such as Twitter and Instagram might serve as critical tools to generate as well as to preliminarily test the appropriateness of hypotheses for further evaluation. 43 , 44

Some radical hypotheses might be difficult to publish after traditional peer review. These hypotheses might only be acceptable by the scientific community after they are tested in research studies. Preprints might be a way to disseminate such controversial and ground-breaking hypotheses. 45 However, scientists might prefer to keep their hypotheses confidential for the fear of plagiarism of ideas, avoiding online posting and publishing until they have tested the hypotheses.

SUGGESTIONS ON GENERATING AND PUBLISHING HYPOTHESES

Publication of hypotheses is important, however, a balance is required between scientific temper and controversy. Journal editors and reviewers might keep in mind these specific points, summarized in Table 2 and detailed hereafter, while judging the merit of hypotheses for publication. Keeping in mind the ethical principle of primum non nocere, a hypothesis should be published only if it is testable in a manner that is ethically appropriate. 46 Such hypotheses should be grounded in reality and lend themselves to further testing to either prove or disprove them. It must be considered that subsequent experiments to prove or disprove a hypothesis have an equal chance of failing or succeeding, akin to tossing a coin. A pre-conceived belief that a hypothesis is unlikely to be proven correct should not form the basis of rejection of such a hypothesis for publication. In this context, hypotheses generated after a thorough literature search to identify knowledge gaps or based on concrete clinical observations on a considerable number of patients (as opposed to random observations on a few patients) are more likely to be acceptable for publication by peer-reviewed journals. Also, hypotheses should be considered for publication or rejection based on their implications for science at large rather than whether the subsequent experiments to test them end up with results in favour of or against the original hypothesis.

Hypotheses form an important part of the scientific literature. The COVID-19 pandemic has reiterated the importance and relevance of hypotheses for dealing with public health emergencies and highlighted the need for evidence-based and ethical hypotheses. A good hypothesis is testable in a relevant study design, backed by preliminary evidence, and has positive ethical and clinical implications. General medical journals might consider publishing hypotheses as a specific article type to enable more rapid advancement of science.

Disclosure: The authors have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.

Author Contributions:

  • Data curation: Gasparyan AY, Misra DP, Zimba O, Yessirkepov M, Agarwal V, Kitas GD.

Research Hypothesis In Psychology: Types, & Examples

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Editor-in-Chief for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Saul Mcleod, PhD., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years of experience in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Learn about our Editorial Process

Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

On This Page:

A research hypothesis, in its plural form “hypotheses,” is a specific, testable prediction about the anticipated results of a study, established at its outset. It is a key component of the scientific method .

Hypotheses connect theory to data and guide the research process towards expanding scientific understanding

Some key points about hypotheses:

  • A hypothesis expresses an expected pattern or relationship. It connects the variables under investigation.
  • It is stated in clear, precise terms before any data collection or analysis occurs. This makes the hypothesis testable.
  • A hypothesis must be falsifiable. It should be possible, even if unlikely in practice, to collect data that disconfirms rather than supports the hypothesis.
  • Hypotheses guide research. Scientists design studies to explicitly evaluate hypotheses about how nature works.
  • For a hypothesis to be valid, it must be testable against empirical evidence. The evidence can then confirm or disprove the testable predictions.
  • Hypotheses are informed by background knowledge and observation, but go beyond what is already known to propose an explanation of how or why something occurs.
Predictions typically arise from a thorough knowledge of the research literature, curiosity about real-world problems or implications, and integrating this to advance theory. They build on existing literature while providing new insight.

Types of Research Hypotheses

Alternative hypothesis.

The research hypothesis is often called the alternative or experimental hypothesis in experimental research.

It typically suggests a potential relationship between two key variables: the independent variable, which the researcher manipulates, and the dependent variable, which is measured based on those changes.

The alternative hypothesis states a relationship exists between the two variables being studied (one variable affects the other).

A hypothesis is a testable statement or prediction about the relationship between two or more variables. It is a key component of the scientific method. Some key points about hypotheses:

  • Important hypotheses lead to predictions that can be tested empirically. The evidence can then confirm or disprove the testable predictions.

In summary, a hypothesis is a precise, testable statement of what researchers expect to happen in a study and why. Hypotheses connect theory to data and guide the research process towards expanding scientific understanding.

An experimental hypothesis predicts what change(s) will occur in the dependent variable when the independent variable is manipulated.

It states that the results are not due to chance and are significant in supporting the theory being investigated.

The alternative hypothesis can be directional, indicating a specific direction of the effect, or non-directional, suggesting a difference without specifying its nature. It’s what researchers aim to support or demonstrate through their study.

Null Hypothesis

The null hypothesis states no relationship exists between the two variables being studied (one variable does not affect the other). There will be no changes in the dependent variable due to manipulating the independent variable.

It states results are due to chance and are not significant in supporting the idea being investigated.

The null hypothesis, positing no effect or relationship, is a foundational contrast to the research hypothesis in scientific inquiry. It establishes a baseline for statistical testing, promoting objectivity by initiating research from a neutral stance.

Many statistical methods are tailored to test the null hypothesis, determining the likelihood of observed results if no true effect exists.

This dual-hypothesis approach provides clarity, ensuring that research intentions are explicit, and fosters consistency across scientific studies, enhancing the standardization and interpretability of research outcomes.

Nondirectional Hypothesis

A non-directional hypothesis, also known as a two-tailed hypothesis, predicts that there is a difference or relationship between two variables but does not specify the direction of this relationship.

It merely indicates that a change or effect will occur without predicting which group will have higher or lower values.

For example, “There is a difference in performance between Group A and Group B” is a non-directional hypothesis.

Directional Hypothesis

A directional (one-tailed) hypothesis predicts the nature of the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable. It predicts in which direction the change will take place. (i.e., greater, smaller, less, more)

It specifies whether one variable is greater, lesser, or different from another, rather than just indicating that there’s a difference without specifying its nature.

For example, “Exercise increases weight loss” is a directional hypothesis.

hypothesis

Falsifiability

The Falsification Principle, proposed by Karl Popper , is a way of demarcating science from non-science. It suggests that for a theory or hypothesis to be considered scientific, it must be testable and irrefutable.

Falsifiability emphasizes that scientific claims shouldn’t just be confirmable but should also have the potential to be proven wrong.

It means that there should exist some potential evidence or experiment that could prove the proposition false.

However many confirming instances exist for a theory, it only takes one counter observation to falsify it. For example, the hypothesis that “all swans are white,” can be falsified by observing a black swan.

For Popper, science should attempt to disprove a theory rather than attempt to continually provide evidence to support a research hypothesis.

Can a Hypothesis be Proven?

Hypotheses make probabilistic predictions. They state the expected outcome if a particular relationship exists. However, a study result supporting a hypothesis does not definitively prove it is true.

All studies have limitations. There may be unknown confounding factors or issues that limit the certainty of conclusions. Additional studies may yield different results.

In science, hypotheses can realistically only be supported with some degree of confidence, not proven. The process of science is to incrementally accumulate evidence for and against hypothesized relationships in an ongoing pursuit of better models and explanations that best fit the empirical data. But hypotheses remain open to revision and rejection if that is where the evidence leads.
  • Disproving a hypothesis is definitive. Solid disconfirmatory evidence will falsify a hypothesis and require altering or discarding it based on the evidence.
  • However, confirming evidence is always open to revision. Other explanations may account for the same results, and additional or contradictory evidence may emerge over time.

We can never 100% prove the alternative hypothesis. Instead, we see if we can disprove, or reject the null hypothesis.

If we reject the null hypothesis, this doesn’t mean that our alternative hypothesis is correct but does support the alternative/experimental hypothesis.

Upon analysis of the results, an alternative hypothesis can be rejected or supported, but it can never be proven to be correct. We must avoid any reference to results proving a theory as this implies 100% certainty, and there is always a chance that evidence may exist which could refute a theory.

How to Write a Hypothesis

  • Identify variables . The researcher manipulates the independent variable and the dependent variable is the measured outcome.
  • Operationalized the variables being investigated . Operationalization of a hypothesis refers to the process of making the variables physically measurable or testable, e.g. if you are about to study aggression, you might count the number of punches given by participants.
  • Decide on a direction for your prediction . If there is evidence in the literature to support a specific effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable, write a directional (one-tailed) hypothesis. If there are limited or ambiguous findings in the literature regarding the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable, write a non-directional (two-tailed) hypothesis.
  • Make it Testable : Ensure your hypothesis can be tested through experimentation or observation. It should be possible to prove it false (principle of falsifiability).
  • Clear & concise language . A strong hypothesis is concise (typically one to two sentences long), and formulated using clear and straightforward language, ensuring it’s easily understood and testable.

Consider a hypothesis many teachers might subscribe to: students work better on Monday morning than on Friday afternoon (IV=Day, DV= Standard of work).

Now, if we decide to study this by giving the same group of students a lesson on a Monday morning and a Friday afternoon and then measuring their immediate recall of the material covered in each session, we would end up with the following:

  • The alternative hypothesis states that students will recall significantly more information on a Monday morning than on a Friday afternoon.
  • The null hypothesis states that there will be no significant difference in the amount recalled on a Monday morning compared to a Friday afternoon. Any difference will be due to chance or confounding factors.

More Examples

  • Memory : Participants exposed to classical music during study sessions will recall more items from a list than those who studied in silence.
  • Social Psychology : Individuals who frequently engage in social media use will report higher levels of perceived social isolation compared to those who use it infrequently.
  • Developmental Psychology : Children who engage in regular imaginative play have better problem-solving skills than those who don’t.
  • Clinical Psychology : Cognitive-behavioral therapy will be more effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety over a 6-month period compared to traditional talk therapy.
  • Cognitive Psychology : Individuals who multitask between various electronic devices will have shorter attention spans on focused tasks than those who single-task.
  • Health Psychology : Patients who practice mindfulness meditation will experience lower levels of chronic pain compared to those who don’t meditate.
  • Organizational Psychology : Employees in open-plan offices will report higher levels of stress than those in private offices.
  • Behavioral Psychology : Rats rewarded with food after pressing a lever will press it more frequently than rats who receive no reward.

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How to Get Started on Your First Psychology Experiment

Acquiring even a little expertise in advance makes science research easier..

Updated May 16, 2024 | Reviewed by Ray Parker

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  • Students often struggle at the beginning of research projects—knowing how to begin.
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  • Becoming something of an "expert" on a topic in advance makes designing a study go more smoothly.

ARENA Creative/Shutterstock

One of the most rewarding and frustrating parts of my long career as a psychology professor at a small liberal arts college has been guiding students through the senior capstone research experience required near the end of their college years. Each psychology major must conduct an independent experiment in which they collect data to test a hypothesis, analyze the data, write a research paper, and present their results at a college poster session or at a professional conference.

The rewarding part of the process is clear: The students' pride at seeing their poster on display and maybe even getting their name on an article in a professional journal allows us professors to get a glimpse of students being happy and excited—for a change. I also derive great satisfaction from watching a student discover that he or she has an aptitude for research and perhaps start shifting their career plans accordingly.

The frustrating part comes at the beginning of the research process when students are attempting to find a topic to work on. There is a lot of floundering around as students get stuck by doing something that seems to make sense: They begin by trying to “think up a study.”

The problem is that even if the student's research interest is driven by some very personal topic that is deeply relevant to their own life, they simply do not yet know enough to know where to begin. They do not know what has already been done by others, nor do they know how researchers typically attack that topic.

Students also tend to think in terms of mission statements (I want to cure eating disorders) rather than in terms of research questions (Why are people of some ages or genders more susceptible to eating disorders than others?).

Needless to say, attempting to solve a serious, long-standing societal problem in a few weeks while conducting one’s first psychology experiment can be a showstopper.

Even a Little Bit of Expertise Can Go a Long Way

My usual approach to helping students get past this floundering stage is to tell them to try to avoid thinking up a study altogether. Instead, I tell them to conceive of their mission as becoming an “expert” on some topic that they find interesting. They begin by reading journal articles, writing summaries of these articles, and talking to me about them. As the student learns more about the topic, our conversations become more sophisticated and interesting. Researchable questions begin to emerge, and soon, the student is ready to start writing a literature review that will sharpen the focus of their research question.

In short, even a little bit of expertise on a subject makes it infinitely easier to craft an experiment on that topic because the research done by others provides a framework into which the student can fit his or her own work.

This was a lesson I learned early in my career when I was working on my own undergraduate capstone experience. Faced with the necessity of coming up with a research topic and lacking any urgent personal issues that I was trying to resolve, I fell back on what little psychological expertise I had already accumulated.

In a previous psychology course, I had written a literature review on why some information fails to move from short-term memory into long-term memory. The journal articles that I had read for this paper relied primarily on laboratory studies with mice, and the debate that was going on between researchers who had produced different results in their labs revolved around subtle differences in the way that mice were released into the experimental apparatus in the studies.

Because I already had done some homework on this, I had a ready-made research question available: What if the experimental task was set up so that the researcher had no influence on how the mouse entered the apparatus at all? I was able to design a simple animal memory experiment that fit very nicely into the psychological literature that was already out there, and this prevented a lot of angst.

Please note that my undergraduate research project was guided by the “expertise” that I had already acquired rather than by a burning desire to solve some sort of personal or social problem. I guarantee that I had not been walking around as an undergraduate student worrying about why mice forget things, but I was nonetheless able to complete a fun and interesting study.

how to make a hypothesis in research

My first experiment may not have changed the world, but it successfully launched my research career, and I fondly remember it as I work with my students 50 years later.

Frank T. McAndrew Ph.D.

Frank McAndrew, Ph.D., is the Cornelia H. Dudley Professor of Psychology at Knox College.

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How to Craft Your Ideal Thesis Research Topic

How to Craft Your Ideal Thesis Research Topic

Table of contents

how to make a hypothesis in research

Catherine Miller

Writing your undergraduate thesis is probably one of the most interesting parts of studying, especially because you get to choose your area of study. But as both a student and a teacher who’s helped countless students develop their research topics, I know this freedom can be just as intimidating as it is liberating.

Fortunately, there’a a step-by-step process you can follow that will help make the whole process a lot easier. In this article, I’ll show you how to choose a unique, specific thesis topic that’s true to your passions and interests, while making a contribution to your field.

how to make a hypothesis in research

Choose a topic that you’re interested in

First things first: double-check with your teachers or supervisor if there are any constraints on your research topic. Once your parameters are clear, it’s time to identify what lights you up — after all, you’re going to be spending a lot of time thinking about it.

Within your field of study, you probably already have some topics that have grabbed your attention more than others. This can be a great place to start. Additionally, consider using the rest of your academic and extra-curricular interests as a source of ideas. At this stage, you only need a broad topic before you narrow it down to a specific question. 

If you’re feeling stuck, here are some things to try:

  • Look back through old course notes to remind yourself of topics you previously covered. Do any of these inspire you?
  • Talk to potential supervisors about your ideas, as they can point you toward areas you might not have considered.
  • Think about the things you enjoy in everyday life — whether that’s cycling, cinema, cooking, or fashion — then consider if there are any overlaps with your field of study.
  • Imagine you have been asked to give a presentation or record a podcast in the next three days. What topics would you feel confident discussing?
  • Watch a selection of existing lectures or explainer videos, or listen to podcasts by experts in your field. Note which topics you feel curious to explore further.
  • Discuss your field of study with teachers friends and family, some with existing knowledge and some without. Which aspects do you enjoy talking about? 

By doing all this, you might uncover some unusual and exciting avenues for research. For example, when writing my Master’s dissertation, I decided to combine my field of study (English teaching methodology) with one of my passions outside work (creative writing). In my undergraduate course, a friend drew on her lived experience of disability to look into the literary portrayal of disability in the ancient world. 

Do your research

Once you’ve chosen your topic of interest, it’s time to dive into research. This is a really important part of this early process because it allows you to:

  • See what other people have written about the topic — you don’t want to cover the same old ground as everyone else.
  • Gain perspective on the big questions surrounding the topic. 
  • Go deeper into the parts that interest you to help you decide where to focus.
  • Start building your bibliography and a bank of interesting quotations. 

A great way to start is to visit your library for an introductory book. For example, the “A Very Short Introduction” series from the Oxford University Press provides overviews of a range of themes. Similar types of overviews may have the title “ A Companion to [Subject]” or “[Subject] A Student Companion”. Ask your librarian or teacher if you’re not sure where to begin. 

Your introductory volume can spark ideas for further research, and the bibliography can give you some pointers about where to go next. You can also use keywords to research online via academic sites like JStor or Google Scholar. Check which subscriptions are available via your institution.

At this stage, you may not wish to read every single paper you come across in full — this could take a very long time and not everything will be relevant. Summarizing software like Wordtune could be very useful here.

Just upload a PDF or link to an online article using Wordtune, and it will produce a summary of the whole paper with a list of key points. This helps you to quickly sift through papers to grasp their central ideas and identify which ones to read in full. 

Screenshot of Wordtune's summarizing tool

Get Wordtune for free > Get Wordtune for free >

You can also use Wordtune for semantic search. In this case, the tool focuses its summary around your chosen search term, making it even easier to get what you need from the paper.

how to make a hypothesis in research

As you go, make sure you keep organized notes of what you’ve read, including the author and publication information and the page number of any citations you want to use. 

Some people are happy to do this process with pen and paper, but if you prefer a digital method, there are several software options, including Zotero , EndNote , and Mendeley . Your institution may have an existing subscription so check before you sign up.

Narrowing down your thesis research topic

Now you’ve read around the topic, it’s time to narrow down your ideas so you can craft your final question. For example, when it came to my undergraduate thesis, I knew I wanted to write about Ancient Greek religion and I was interested in the topic of goddesses. So, I:

  • Did some wide reading around the topic of goddesses
  • Learned that the goddess Hera was not as well researched as others and that there were some fascinating aspects I wanted to explore
  • Decided (with my supervisor’s support) to focus on her temples in the Argive region of Greece

how to make a hypothesis in research

As part of this process, it can be helpful to consider the “5 Ws”: why, what, who, when, and where, as you move from the bigger picture to something more precise. 

Why did you choose this research topic?

Come back to the reasons you originally chose your theme. What grabbed you? Why is this topic important to you — or to the wider world? In my example, I knew I wanted to write about goddesses because, as a woman, I was interested in how a society in which female lives were often highly controlled dealt with having powerful female deities. My research highlighted Hera as one of the most powerful goddesses, tying into my key interest.

What are some of the big questions about your topic?

During your research, you’ll probably run into the same themes time and time again. Some of the questions that arise may not have been answered yet or might benefit from a fresh look. 

Equally, there may be questions that haven’t yet been asked, especially if you are approaching the topic from a modern perspective or combining research that hasn’t been considered before. This might include taking a post-colonial, feminist, or queer approach to older texts or bringing in research using new scientific methods.

In my example, I knew there were still controversies about why so many temples to the goddess Hera were built in a certain region, and was keen to explore these further.

Who is the research topic relevant to?

Considering the “who” might help you open up new avenues. Is there a particular audience you want to reach? What might they be interested in? Is this a new audience for this field? Are there people out there who might be affected by the outcome of this research — for example, people with a particular medical condition — who might be able to use your conclusions?

Which period will you focus on?

Depending on the nature of your field, you might be able to choose a timeframe, which can help narrow the topic down. For example, you might focus on historical events that took place over a handful of years, look at the impact of a work of literature at a certain point after its publication, or review scientific progress over the last five years. 

With my thesis, I decided to focus on the time when the temples were built rather than considering the hundreds of years for which they have existed, which would have taken me far too long.

Where does your topic relate to?

Place can be another means of narrowing down the topic. For example, consider the impact of your topic on a particular neighborhood, city, or country, rather than trying to process a global question. 

In my example, I chose to focus my research on one area of Greece, where there were lots of temples to Hera. This meant skipping other important locations, but including these would have made the thesis too wide-ranging.

Create an outline and get feedback

Once you have an idea of what you are going to write about, create an outline or summary and get feedback from your teacher(s). It’s okay if you don’t know exactly how you’re going to answer your thesis question yet, but based on your research you should have a rough plan of the key points you want to cover. So, for me, the outline was as follows:

  • Context: who was the goddess Hera?
  • Overview of her sanctuaries in the Argive region
  • Their initial development 
  • Political and cultural influences
  • The importance of the mythical past

In the final thesis, I took a strong view on why the goddess was so important in this region, but it took more research, writing, and discussion with my supervisor to pin down my argument.

To choose a thesis research topic, find something you’re passionate about, research widely to get the big picture, and then move to a more focused view. Bringing a fresh perspective to a popular theme, finding an underserved audience who could benefit from your research, or answering a controversial question can make your thesis stand out from the crowd.

For tips on how to start writing your thesis, don’t miss our advice on writing a great research abstract and a stellar literature review . And don’t forget that Wordtune can also support you with proofreading, making it even easier to submit a polished thesis.

How do you come up with a research topic for a thesis?

To help you find a thesis topic, speak to your professor, look through your old course notes, think about what you already enjoy in everyday life, talk about your field of study with friends and family, and research podcasts and videos to find a topic that is interesting for you. It’s a good idea to refine your topic so that it’s not too general or broad.  

Do you choose your own thesis topic?

Yes, you usually choose your own thesis topic. You can get help from your professor(s), friends, and family to figure out which research topic is interesting to you. 

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The Power of Parks to Strengthen Community

The Power of Parks to Strengthen Community: A Special Report

Primary Author: Lisa W Foderaro , Senior Writer and Researcher, Trust for Public Land

Published May, 2024

High-quality park systems possess the transformative power to help mend America’s fraying social fabric.

  • Executive Summary

Americans’ sense of community is being sorely tested. Studies show that people are experiencing extreme levels of loneliness, polarization, and division. Places that historically brought people of different backgrounds together have faded in importance or have themselves become battlegrounds, from houses of worship to social clubs to school boards of education. Parks remain a neutral public gathering place where community members can meet, collaborate, and become empowered. Park leaders can foster those connections through a variety of approaches, programs, and partnerships.

how to make a hypothesis in research

Dakai Brown of Bridgeport, Connecticut, like children around the country, benefits tremendously from communities where social connections are strong. High-quality parks are a contributing factor to social capital, which can deliver lower mortality, reduced depression, and increased economic mobility.

The Findings: Parks can strengthen communities and help bridge divides

Recommendations: Parks departments can deploy strategies to build community

It is no longer enough for cities to create high-quality green spaces. To create strong connections with the community and between residents, parksdepartments must activate those spaces with culturally representative programs.

It is no longer enough for cities to create high-quality green spaces. To create strong connections with the community and between residents, parks departments must activate those spaces with culturally representative programs. Photo: Andy Richter

how to make a hypothesis in research

Sherry Taylor, a participant in Raleigh’s On Common Ground program, attended an outdoor viewing party for the Women’s Soccer World Cup at the city’s Moore Square and met several neighbors, including one who has since become a good friend. Photo: Paul Atkinson

THE PROBLEM: America’s Declining Social Capital

“My daughter fell in love with women’s soccer that night,” Taylor recalls. And Taylor, herself, forged a new and critical friendship with a woman she might never have met otherwise. Also a single mother, the other woman and Sherry have grown close and now regularly carpool and help each other with childcare.

“I’m able to pick her daughter up if she can’t, whether because of work or a medical appointment, and vice versa,” Taylor explained. “It’s hard being a single parent, and it’s just good to have someone else to lean on and bond with.”

This kind of neighborly camaraderie is known as social capital , “the ways in which our lives are made more productive by social ties.” Many studies, including Social Capital and Health and Social Capital and Economic Development: A Neighborhood Perspective , show that it’s associated with several significant community-wide benefits, including improved health, social resilience, civic participation, environmental volunteering, and economic well-being. Communities with more social connections see numerous positive outcomes, including lower mortality, reduced depression, and increased economic mobility, and are more resilient to disasters.

But studies also show that social capital has declined in recent decades and that Americans confront polarization along political , economic , ideological , racial and ethnic lines.

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THE HYPOTHESIS: Parks Can Help Community Cohesion

At a time when Americans’ trust in many public institutions has sunk to disturbing levels, parkgoers report more positive attitudes.

For example, almost two-thirds of American adults express little to no confidence in the future of our political system. By contrast, people who live near parks are more likely to be satisfied with their local government .

In the Assembly Civic Engagement Survey of over 5,000 people in 26 U.S. communities, those living near popular public parks reported 29 percent greater satisfaction with their parks and recreation departments, 14 percent greater satisfaction with their police, and 13 percent greater satisfaction with their mayor, compared with to people not living near parks—an effect that was even stronger when parks were well-maintained and easily accessible. The findings were controlled for age, Hispanic origin, number of children, political party affiliation, health status, and other factors.

So in 2024 TPL endeavored to explore and expand the existing body of evidence that suggests a link between high-quality park systems and measures of social connectivity.

Parks departments are increasingly creating programming within their green spaces to attract community participation. Free or low-cost exerciseprograms, like the one at Denver’s Mestizo-Curtis Park, are a great way to get community members moving while fostering social connection.

Parks departments are increasingly creating programming within their green spaces to attract community participation. Free or low-cost exercise programs, like the one at Denver’s Mestizo-Curtis Park, are a great way to get community members moving while fostering social connection.

Students at The Pacific School in Brooklyn, New York, explore the new plants in the renovated Community Schoolyard® garden during the ribboncutting ceremony in June 2023. These spaces are not just for students. The schoolyards are open to the public after school hours and on weekends to ensure that neighbors have close-to-home access to high-quality park space. Photo: Alexa Hoyer

Students at The Pacific School in Brooklyn, New York, explore the new plants in the renovated Community Schoolyard® garden during the ribbon cutting ceremony in June 2023. These spaces are not just for students. The schoolyards are open to the public after school hours and on weekends to ensure that neighbors have close-to-home access to high-quality park space. Photo: Alexa Hoyer

AN EXPLORATION: Methodology

First, TPL’s annual ParkScore® index ranks parks systems in the 100 most populous U.S. cities based on five factors: access, equity, acreage, investment, and amenities. Additional information on the methodology can be found at tpl.org/parkscore/about .

Second, this year TPL surveyed all public and private organizations managing publicly accessible parks across the 100 most populous U.S. cities to learn how they’re activating their systems to bridge divides between groups that, at best, have little contact with each other and, at worst, experience tension or hostility. A total of 868 examples were submitted from 208 different organizations. Additional details on this survey of park agencies, including methodology and additional findings, can be found here .

Third, data scientists at TPL’s Land and People Lab investigated the association between cities’ ParkScore index rankings and their social capital, as measured by two indicators from the Social Capital Atlas : economic connectedness and rates of volunteering. The researchers behind the Social Capital Atlas developed these indicators by analyzing billions of Facebook relationships for the 72 million U.S. adults aged 25–44 who use Facebook (84% of all U.S. adults aged 25–44). Economic connectedness, or “cross-group” relationships, measures the percentage of friendships between low- and high-income individuals in a given geography, while the volunteering rate measures the percentage of people who are affiliated with a volunteering group. The statistical analysis evaluated the association between a city’s park system quality and social capital while controlling for other factors such as race/ethnicity, urbanicity, transiency, poverty, education, and family structure.

Fourth, with support from the Walmart Foundation, TPL collaborated with nine smaller cities to field-test several tactics for activating park systems and programs in order to strengthen social capital. The Walmart Foundation’s Caring and Connected Communities grant program focuses on bringing people together for meaningful encounters and giving them the skills to build trust and empathy.

“Parks and public spaces are part of that focus,” said Melissa Rhodes Carter, the Walmart Foundation’s senior manager for Community Resilience. “They can play an important role in providing opportunities for people to form relationships that have the potential to help us all live better.”

A Caring and Connected Communities grant helped TPL launch its On Common Ground program in 2023. That program began with the release of “ The Common Ground Framework: Building Community Power Through Park and Green Space Engagement, ” a paper that presented a theoretical three-part model for building community relationships, community identity, and community power.

Following the paper, TPL launched an intensive effort to engage park agencies in nine communities across the United States to test methods of uniting residents of different socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and generational backgrounds.

“We want to learn from the projects and then share data, tools, and best practices with a wide swath of practitioners,” said Cary Simmons, director of Community Strategies at TPL, who is leading the On Common Ground program. “Essentially, we’re field-testing activities that we hypothesize will have broad applications.” Trust for Public Land is currently evaluating and plans to publish the results of each city’s efforts, but early case studies from several communities are included in the next section.

Mariano Rodriguez (left) and Collin McSpirit stroll on the boardwalk in Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Seaside Park. At a time when Americans expressfeelings of loneliness, isolation, and disconnection from neighbors, shared public spaces are important in helping people form and maintain relationships. Photo: Kristyn Miller

Mariano Rodriguez (left) and Collin McSpirit stroll on the boardwalk in Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Seaside Park. At a time when Americans express feelings of loneliness, isolation, and disconnection from neighbors, shared public spaces are important in helping people form and maintain relationships. Photo: Kristyn Miller

THE RESULTS: Key Strategies & Case Studies

Table 1: Data source: TPL analysis comparing two measures of social capital from the Social Capital Atlas (https://socialcapital.org/), economic connectedness (‘cross-group’ relationships) and volunteering rate, with TPL’s measure of park system quality—the ParkScore Index.

Table 1 Data source: TPL analysis comparing two measures of social capital from the Social Capital Atlas (https://socialcapital.org/), economic connectedness (‘cross-group’ relationships) and volunteering rate, with TPL’s measure of park system quality—the ParkScore Index.

In the top 25 ParkScore cities, for example, there were, on average, 26 percent more social connections between low- and high-income individuals (“cross-group” relationships) than in lower-ranked cities.

Also in the top 25 ParkScore cities, people were 60 percent more likely to volunteer than those living in lower-ranked cities.

These patterns held after controlling for race/ethnicity, education, poverty, urbanicity, family structure, and transiency.

In layering those findings with TPL’s 2024 survey responses and with reports from the nine On Common Ground communities, four key strategies for building social connections emerged. They are:

Each of these strategies is discussed in the subsections that follow, accompanied by illustrative case studies from ParkScore and On Common Ground cities.

Dr. Hahrie Han, a professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University who studies democracy and civic engagement, said that over the past half-century, American society has seen a withering of the sorts of common spaces that allow people to engage with one another.

“The audacious, beautiful, and exciting promise at the heart of democracy is the idea that putting people into community with each other creates opportunities to learn the capacities, skills, and motivations needed to forge a common life together,” she said. “So it’s ever more important that we have places like parks where people naturally encounter other people. It’s through those encounters that common interests can emerge that are grounded in, but also transcend, self-interest. I see things like parks as an integral part of our civic infrastructure. When we don’t have a multiplicity of those spaces, we know that people can revert back to more parochial tendencies that can create the kind of divisiveness we see in some parts of our society.”

This idea—that parks are an integral part of our civic infrastructure—is more than an accidental by-product. In the ParkScore survey, nearly all cities (91 of 100) reported they’re actively developing civic infrastructure, such as hosting voter registration drives and polling sites in their park systems (Table 2). Other examples include training community members in civic engagement, allowing public protests at park facilities, and welcoming community organizers. These efforts engage people as citizens and thereby revive the democratic ideal of the public square.

Table 2: Data source: 2024 TPL City Park Facts Survey of all public and private park organizations across the 100 most populous cities. The counts reflect the number of cities with at least one organization reporting the given activity.

Table 2 Data source: 2024 TPL City Park Facts Survey of all public and private park organizations across the 100 most populous cities. The counts reflect the number of cities with at least one organization reporting the given activity.

how to make a hypothesis in research

The 15 advisory council members reflect the city’s rich racial and ethnic diversity. Using some of their On Common Ground funds, BREC compensated committee members with $1,000 stipends, hired a consultant to lead conversations, and paired up the council members to plan community engagement events.

“It was really important for us to introduce the council to [the issue of racism] as soon as possible,” said Andrea Roberts, BREC’s chief operating officer. “We have an unfortunate history here in Baton Rouge, where segregation was a thing even after the federal government said it was illegal. This continued in our community for years. So people are hurting from that and there’s resentment. Those things need to be talked about.”

The work of the community advisory council, which met every month for a year, included a series of community events, each hosted by two council members from different geographic areas and different racial or ethnic backgrounds. BREC provided a budget and guidance, but the teams were given creative freedom. Events ranged from a party for children to make mini-Mardi Gras floats to a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in a local park.

In most ParkScore cities, park agencies’ primary community engagement tools are public meetings. This can result in a top-down approach in which the community is only superficially engaged.

Some parks departments employ the International Association for Public Participation’s (IAP2) “ Spectrum of Public Participation ” model, which features a continuum of citizen engagement: inform, consult, involve, collaborate, empower. In the 2024 TPL survey of the nation’s 100 largest cities, public park agencies were nearly five times more likely to inform the public (“always” or “most of the time”) than to empower the public (Table 3). Only 18 percent of responding cities said they empower the local residents by placing final decision-making in the hands of the public.

Table 3: When planning park projects, systems, and recreation programs, how often does your agency inform, consult, involve, collaborate, and/or empower local residents?

Table 3: When planning park projects, systems, and recreation programs, how often does your agency inform, consult, involve, collaborate, and/or empower local residents? Data source: 2024 TPL City Park Facts Survey of all public and private park organizations in the 100 most populous cities. The percentages in this table reflect only each city’s primary park and recreation agency. Sample size = 81 unique cities.

According to TPL data, these trends are on the upswing as park officials actively engage resident collaborators. TPL’s research suggests that cities that shift their efforts toward the right end of the spectrum are more likely to move the needle on measures of social capital.

Across the country, about two-thirds of ParkScore cities are investing in community engagement, either paying community members for their input or hiring full-time community engagement staff (55). Park leaders are hiring and training community organizers and activators to pro- gram their green spaces as hubs for community connection.

“If you show up and say, ‘Here is your brick box of a rec center,’ for example, and the community says they hate it, you won’t get any buy-in to whatever it is you’re building,” he explains. “If you include the community from the outset, you build in participation, volunteerism, advocacy, and stewardship.”

Baltimore City Recreation and Parks now includes the community at every stage. It holds periodic “participatory urbanism” forums, giving residents an opportunity to weigh in on big-picture issues like policy and capital programs. It also invites community members to charrettes—design workshops with park professionals and landscape architects to brainstorm ideas for new green spaces or park renovations. Increasingly, Baltimore is asking children what they think, too.

“When we did playground designs, there was a roomful of adults,” Almaguer says of past projects. “But what do the kids want?” For two new playgrounds at Leon Day Park and Alhambra Park, the department held charrettes at a local rec center for 5- to 12-year-olds. The children designed and built their own playgrounds using popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, marshmallows, and gumdrops. “We gave them dot stickers to place on things they wanted, like swings and tall towers for climbing,” he added, “and they also voted.”

Baltimore is also taking steps to strengthen its network of park friends groups—and to nurture new ones. The parks department invites 30 such groups to quarterly “Grow” workshops. Each meeting has a different theme—permits, say, or maintenance. “Even though we have a topic, we leave it open for cross-pollination between the groups,” Almaguer added. “So they might say, ‘Hey, what do you do about insurance?’ or ‘How do you write a grant or run an event?’ It’s an opportunity for peer-to-peer conversations.”

Since 2019, the department has also helped three under-resourced neighborhoods start new friends groups. “We all cherish and love parks,” he said. “It is your place of social capital; it’s your respite; it’s your oasis.

TPL has sought to elevate community in all its projects, whether large-scale land protections or small city parks. Community engagement—in public meetings, at farmers markets, in classrooms, and elsewhere—begins long before a formal park design is created or a shovel goes in the ground. It often endures—to propel programming and stewardship—after officials snip the ribbon on opening day. Increasingly, TPL is identifying resident experts in the communities where it works, compensating them for conducting surveys, assisting in workshops, or serving as a liaison with fellow residents.

A little more than half of ParkScore cities (51) are responding to division and polarization by activating their parks—creating programs or facilitating events—with a heavy focus on bringing unlikely groups together, through a series of creative and culturally specific programs that engage new audiences and park user groups. The data suggest that creating high-quality, accessible parks isn’t enough. If cities want to improve and grow social cohesion, they need to create opportunities for residents to come together, and those opportunities should reflect the cultures, interests, and priorities unique to that community.

Tulsa’s weekly Global Gatherings, which drew nearly 4,500 people, highlighted traditions from around the country and the world, including Native American dress and dancing in order to immerse community members in the many rich cultures present throughout the city. Photo: Courtesy of Gathering Place

Tulsa’s weekly Global Gatherings, which drew nearly 4,500 people, highlighted traditions from around the country and the world, including Native American dress and dancing in order to immerse community members in the many rich cultures present throughout the city. Photo: Courtesy of Gathering Place

One of the 100 cities evaluated by TPL’s ParkScore® index, Tulsa developed its five-year-old Gathering Place park with the goal of uniting Tulsans of all backgrounds. The 66-acre park, which had a $465 million price tag, may well be the most expensive local park in U.S. history. (About $200 million of the cost was covered by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, while the city, as well as other foundations and businesses, picked up the rest.)

All programs are free. Chief among them is Global Gatherings, a 13-week program that last year featured weekly events highlighting traditions from more than a dozen regions of the world—Southeast Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Native America, and others. The program drew nearly 4,500 people and involved more than 80 community partners in activities that featured food, music, dance, traditional attire, storytelling, and crafts.

“Global Gatherings is a collaborative celebration of cultures, and we were ecstatic with the community’s response to the multi-week program,” said Julio Badin, executive director of Gathering Place. “Tulsans of all global backgrounds gathered at the park to share and highlight their traditions to immerse other community members in their rich cultures through art, storytelling, food, music, and dance.”

Jacque Riggs, a jewelry designer and silversmith, arrived in Tulsa from Peru in 2002. Last summer, Riggs and her daughter, Zadith Rodriguez, a 28-year-old printmaker, participated in Global Gatherings. Riggs, 50, helped children make bracelets from brightly colored huayruro seeds. Such bracelets are considered protective amulets, given to newborns to ward off evil spirits. Zadith, for her part, showed children how to make prints of llamas and mountain scenes using paper and inks. There was even a map of Peru.

“It’s always nice to be able to talk a bit about your culture,” Riggs said. “The children were excited and seemed really interested in what we were doing. I also took some bracelets to people at the festival who were from Brazil and Venezuela and said, ‘Hey, I want to give this to you for good luck.’” Building Partnerships In 2023, TPL celebrated its 50th anniversary, and CEO Diane Regas reflected on the organization’s earliest days and earliest partnerships in the San Francisco Bay Area. The organization’s founders, she noted, partnered with the Black Panthers to reclaim vacant lots to create dozens of miniparks throughout the city. “Those early efforts in Oakland were more than just creating parks and green spaces,” she said. “They were about building community, fostering collaboration, and shaping a legacy of hope that continues to influence our work to this day.”

Park leaders across the country report employing partnerships with organizations that deliver park stewardship (74), arts and culture (61), public health (55), and literacy (45) programming. But partnerships that leverage green spaces to address underlying community- level challenges like housing stability (15) and immigrant inclusion (22) are relatively scant (Table 4).

Trust for Public Land examined the connection between a city’s ParkScore ranking and two key indicators of social capital, including volunteerism rates . Parks systems that create and facilitate opportunities for residents to volunteer in their communities can contribute to greater cohesion among neighbors . Photo: Justin Bartels

Trust for Public Land examined the connection between a city’s ParkScore ranking and two key indicators of social capital, including volunteerism rates . Parks systems that create and facilitate opportunities for residents to volunteer in their communities can contribute to greater cohesion among neighbors . Photo: Justin Bartels

Table 4: Data source: 2024 TPL City Park Facts Survey of all public and private park organizations across the 100 most populous cities. The counts reflect the number of cities with at least one organization reporting the given activity.

Table 4 Data source: 2024 TPL City Park Facts Survey of all public and private park organizations across the 100 most populous cities. The counts reflect the number of cities with at least one organization reporting the given activity.

Trust for Public Land research indicates that parks departments should engage residents at every phase of park development, from design to programming. Such was the case at San Geronimo Commons, a former golf course turned community green space in California. Photo: Kevin Quach

Trust for Public Land research indicates that parks departments should engage residents at every phase of park development, from design to programming. Such was the case at San Geronimo Commons, a former golf course turned community green space in California. Photo: Kevin Quach

CONCLUSION: Community on the Cusp — What Can Be Done

Parks hold tremendous potential for repairing our frayed social fabric, making it incumbent upon the entire parks and recreation field, as well as nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, government agencies, the private sector, and private citizens, to lean into funding and programming opportunities.

The following strategies can optimize the power of parks to elevate social connectedness.

At the local level: Prioritize community engagement. This must be a priority, included in master plans and set forth in local park policy. The process of reaching out to residents and cultivating relationships takes time and intention, so local governments need to dedicate adequate resources in the form of staff, money, and training.

Parks departments should engage residents at every phase of park development, from the spark of an idea for a new park to the creation of park-based programming. This can happen through a one-time design workshop, for example, or through an advisory council or planning committee that meets for months or years. Park professionals should also make full use of friends groups and help establish new ones in under-resourced neighborhoods. And they should consider compensating resident liaisons.

The TPL survey found evidence that there’s a strong public will for funding these efforts. Parks budgets were up across the board in the past year. Total public and private spending on parks and recreation in the 100 most populous cities climbed to $11.2 billion, up from $9.7 billion in 2022 and $8.7 billion five years ago. In fact, after adjusting for inflation, it was the most spent annually on local parks in the largest U.S. cities since before the Great Recession in 2007. This year’s record high was primarily driven by increased capital funding for park renovations and acquisitions from a one-time infusion of federal funds via COVID-19 stimulus money and the Inflation Reduction Act. More cities are investing in their park systems, too, as an outcome of the pent-up demand for green space witnessed during the pandemic.  Private philanthropies, such as the Walmart Foundation and others, have also stepped in and should continue to help towns and cities heal divides and strengthen community.

At the federal level: Park advocates, administrators, and users can support the Outdoors for All Act (O4A). Among other things, O4A would improve the Outdoor Recreation

Legacy Partnership (ORLP), a grant program run by the National Park Service that provides funding for communities that need parks the most.  Specifically, the legislation, which TPL is championing in Congress, would make ORLP permanent, avoiding the need to renew the program annually. If passed, the bill would also allow federally recognized tribes to apply to the funding program for the first time, while letting tribes, cities, and nonprofits apply directly to the National Park Service (instead of having to go through their state governments). Finally, the legislation would lower the population requirement to 25,000, meaning smaller cities and towns would be eligible for funding.

how to make a hypothesis in research

Trust for Public Land is working in close collaboration with several partners, city officials, and community groups on a new park on a former brownfield in San Francisco. When completed, the 10-acre India Basin Waterfront Park , in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, will offer boat access, as well as walking and bike paths, an extensive picnic area, basketball courts, playgrounds, restrooms, a food pavilion, a history museum and community center, lawns, piers, and a floating dock. The park also features restoration of wetlands, expansion of wildlife habitat, and naturalization of the waterfront edge. The park was designed with extensive community input and will protect residents from sea level rise, as well as offer needed resources.

The park is emerging in an area that, from the 1850s to the 1900s, thrived as its shoreline was used as a civilian and military shipyard and slaughterhouse. Those industries, now defunct, left significant environmental damage, however, impacting the land and cutting off residents from the waterfront. The neighborhood, which is one of the few remaining historically Black neighborhoods in San Francisco, has also suffered from deep neglect of basic infrastructure and generations of social injustice.

The goal in developing the new park is as much to create a spectacular new green space as it is to strengthen the neighborhood—economically, socially, and politically. To achieve that, an Equitable Development Plan informs every aspect of the project and was developed by the community and the four project partners: TPL, the San Francisco Parks Alliance, the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, and the A. Philip Randolph Institute. Local residents receive training in construction jobs through a robust workforce development program. And a tech hub within the park is now providing free Wi-Fi, loaner laptops, and tech support, even before the park’s official opening.

Get The Power of Parks to Strengthen Community

Contributors Tim Almaguer , Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, Community Engagement and Strategic Partnership Division | Julio Badin , Gathering Place | Melissa Rhodes Carter , Walmart Foundation | Howard Frumkin | Dr Hahrie Han , Johns Hopkins University | Will Klein | Hannah Kohut | Keith Maley | Kevin Niu |  Cary Simmons | Sherry Taylor | Diane Regas | Jacque Riggs | Andrea Roberts , East Baton Rouge Parish Parks and Recreation Department (BREC) | Levar Robinson , BREC Community Advisory Council | Zadith Rodriguez | Geneva Vest | Šárka Volejníková | Dan Walsh | Deborah Williams

  • The Problem
  • An Exploration
  • The Results
  • Study: Baton Rouge
  • Study: Baltimore
  • Study: Tulsa
  • Study: San Francisco
  • Back to Top

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  1. How to Write a Strong Hypothesis

    Learn how to formulate a hypothesis for your research project, based on a research question, existing theories and data. Find out how to phrase your hypothesis in different ways, write a null hypothesis and see examples.

  2. What is a Research Hypothesis and How to Write a Hypothesis

    Learn what is a research hypothesis, its characteristics, types, and how to formulate it. Follow the steps and examples to write a testable hypothesis for your scientific experiments.

  3. How to Write a Strong Hypothesis

    Learn how to formulate hypotheses for your research project based on existing theories and data. Follow the six steps and see examples of different types of hypotheses and null hypotheses.

  4. What is a Research Hypothesis: How to Write it, Types, and Examples

    Learn what a research hypothesis is, how to create one, and what types of hypotheses exist. A research hypothesis is a testable statement that proposes a possible explanation for a phenomenon and guides the study design and analysis.

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  6. How to Write a Hypothesis

    Learn what a hypothesis is, what types of hypotheses exist, and how to formulate an effective one for your research. This article provides examples, tips, and considerations for crafting hypotheses in your study.

  7. Hypothesis: Definition, Examples, and Types

    A hypothesis is a tentative statement about the relationship between two or more variables. It is a specific, testable prediction about what you expect to happen in a study. It is a preliminary answer to your question that helps guide the research process. Consider a study designed to examine the relationship between sleep deprivation and test ...

  8. How to Write a Hypothesis w/ Strong Examples

    In research, the hypothesis is what you the researcher expects the outcome of an experiment, a study, a test, or a program to be. ... A well-formulated hypothesis can lead to groundbreaking research or make significant contributions to knowledge in different fields. As we have shown you with our examples, the hypothesis is more than a mere ...

  9. How to Write a Research Hypothesis

    Learn what a research hypothesis is, how to create one, and what types of hypotheses are there. Follow a step-by-step guide with examples and tips to write a clear, testable, and relevant hypothesis for your study.

  10. What is and How to Write a Good Hypothesis in Research?

    Learn the difference between a hypothesis and a research question, and the elements of a good hypothesis in research. See examples of effective hypotheses, and avoid common pitfalls and assumptions.

  11. How to Write a Research Hypothesis

    Learn how to define, test, and write a research hypothesis for your study. Find out the types, essentials, and steps of developing a hypothesis, with examples and tips.

  12. How to Write a Research Hypothesis: Good & Bad Examples

    Another example for a directional one-tailed alternative hypothesis would be that. H1: Attending private classes before important exams has a positive effect on performance. Your null hypothesis would then be that. H0: Attending private classes before important exams has no/a negative effect on performance.

  13. What Is A Research Hypothesis? A Simple Definition

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    Step 8: Test your Hypothesis. Design an experiment or conduct observations to test your hypothesis. Example: Grow three sets of plants: one set exposed to 2 hours of sunlight daily, another exposed to 4 hours, and a third exposed to 8 hours. Measure and compare their growth after a set period.

  15. How To Write An A-Grade Research Hypothesis (+ Examples ...

    Learn what exactly a research (or scientific) hypothesis is and how to write high-quality hypothesis statements for any dissertation, thesis, or research pro...

  16. Developing a Hypothesis

    The first is to raise a research question, answer that question by conducting a new study, and then offer one or more theories (usually more) to explain or interpret the results. This format works well for applied research questions and for research questions that existing theories do not address. The second way is to describe one or more ...

  17. What is a Hypothesis

    Definition: Hypothesis is an educated guess or proposed explanation for a phenomenon, based on some initial observations or data. It is a tentative statement that can be tested and potentially proven or disproven through further investigation and experimentation. Hypothesis is often used in scientific research to guide the design of experiments ...

  18. Formulating Hypotheses for Different Study Designs

    Formulating Hypotheses for Different Study Designs. Generating a testable working hypothesis is the first step towards conducting original research. Such research may prove or disprove the proposed hypothesis. Case reports, case series, online surveys and other observational studies, clinical trials, and narrative reviews help to generate ...

  19. Research Hypothesis In Psychology: Types, & Examples

    A research hypothesis, in its plural form "hypotheses," is a specific, testable prediction about the anticipated results of a study, established at its outset. It is a key component of the scientific method. Hypotheses connect theory to data and guide the research process towards expanding scientific understanding.

  20. How to Write a Strong Hypothesis in 6 Simple Steps

    Learning how to write a hypothesis comes down to knowledge and strategy. So where do you start? Learn how to make your hypothesis strong step-by-step here. ... proposal or prediction. For example, a research hypothesis is formatted in an if/then statement: If a person gets less than eight hours of sleep, then they will be less motivated at work ...

  21. How to Get Started on Your First Psychology Experiment

    Even a Little Bit of Expertise Can Go a Long Way. My usual approach to helping students get past this floundering stage is to tell them to avoid thinking up a study altogether. Instead, I tell ...

  22. SCI 100 Module Four Activity Template (docx)

    Psychology document from Southern New Hampshire University, 2 pages, SCI 100 Module Four Activity Template: Turning Questions into Hypotheses Instructions Write a hypothesis that is directly related to the research question you finalized in the previous module. Use instructor feedback on that activity and the knowledge you.

  23. Your Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing a Thesis Research Topic.

    Choose a topic that you're interested in. First things first: double-check with your teachers or supervisor if there are any constraints on your research topic. Once your parameters are clear, it's time to identify what lights you up — after all, you're going to be spending a lot of time thinking about it.

  24. The Power of Parks to Strengthen Community

    THE HYPOTHESIS: Parks Can Help Community Cohesion. ... Trust for Public Land research indicates that parks departments should engage residents at every phase of park development, from design to programming. Such was the case at San Geronimo Commons, a former golf course turned community green space in California. ...