When research is conducted hypothesis formulation is one of the most preliminary steps. Hypothesis formulation helps in formulating the research problem. Hypothesis formulation is not a necessary but an important step of the research. A valid and reasonable research can be conducted without any hypothesis. Hypothesis can be one and it can be as many as possible. Some studies are conducted to develop a hypothesis, like exploratory studies, so exploratory studies do not have a clear hypothesis. Descriptive studies can also be conducted without a hypothesis. In explanatory studies, that develop a relationship between dependent and independent variable, as well as, explain the type of relationship between the two variables, there is always a hypothesis.
Definition of Hypothesis
A hypothesis is a possible answer to a research question. It is a presumption or a hunch on the basis of which a study has to be conducted. This hypothesis is tested for possible rejection or approval. If the hypothesis get accepted it shows that your hunch was right if it get rejected it still does not mean that your research was not valid, but it means that it is the opposite way you thought and perceived. Whether it is approved or not it gives you some conclusion and adds to the available body of knowledge.
A hypothesis which has been tested again and again by various researchers can still be tested for making it more valid but if the hypothesis has been approved in such a manner that it has become a law that it is better to test something that adds to the available knowledge rather than approving something which has been approved many times before.
For example if you want to conduct a study on the Effects of Parental Depression on the Academic Performance of Children, you may like to conduct it without any hypothesis but then you will have many dimensions to think upon and will be more likely get distracted. If you formulate a hypothesis, that parental depression results in depression in children too and this depression leads to low grades, your research will get a direction and you will not think about the broader effects of depression everything is well defined you have to test the impact of depression on the children’s depression and as well as on the grades of children. You may not need to test the impacts on the extracurricular activities, class conduct, and other such things.
Characteristics of a Well-formulated Research Hypothesis:
Testable and Verifiable: A research hypothesis has to be checked for possible approval or rejection. This analysis is done statistically and, therefore it should be such that can be tested and analyzed. After analysis, the results can be obtained. Some hypothesis can not be tested because they are too subjective and they are not suitable for research. Research needs objectivity and evidences without these two things any research is impossible to conduct. For example you may want to conduct a research on the existence of God but to prove the existence of God is a far different phenomenon and even you may formulate a hypothesis is but you can not test it statistically, therefore, such hypothesis and research questions should be avoided.
Simple and Clear: The wording of the hypothesis should have to be simple and clear. Any complex ideas and wordings should be avoided. A simple hypothesis will make it easier for you to carry on throughout the research and will be easy to read and understand. In addition to the terminology and phrasing, the hypothesis should have to be clear in your mind from every perspective. If there are any ambiguities or questions in your mind, resolve them at this stage; if they are not clear you will find it hard to conduct the study in later stages.
Relevant: The hypothesis should have to be relevant to the study that you are about to conduct. An irrelevant hypothesis will lead to an invalid research. Hypothesis is the possible answer to your research question if your presumption or your presumed answer is wrong and irrelevant your method to find its accuracy too will not result in any relevant conclusions. Check whether your hypothesis is related to the direction in which you have planned to take your research or not.
Importance of Research Hypothesis:
For a new researcher, it is important to have a research hypothesis so as to be directional. Research hypothesis can be present in research and it may not be but if it is present it can have following benefits.
Clarity: Hypothesis brings clarity to research. It makes your mind clear about the way in which you have to carry on the research. Methodology of the research depends greatly on the research hypothesis. Clarity brings 50 % chances of success in research. At each step, you need to be clear about every aspect and dimension. If you are not clear about a single thing you should not go forward, stay where ever you are and resolve the issue and then move to the next step.
Focus: You formulate your research hypothesis and you get a focal point in your research. You need not go off the track and stay intact to the main objective which you set for the hypothesis. Your research becomes organized and haphazard actions are minimized.
Direction: Hypothesis sets a direction of research. This direction shows you what should be the objectives, methodology, mode of analysis and research design. With a hypothesis, you have a confidence that whatever you have presumed will be tested rather than testing something that is irrelevant to the research.
Objectivity: Every research requires objectivity but without hypothesis you may collect data which is not relevant to the research and hence decreases the objectivity of the research. When you know that your hypothesis only deals with a particular aspect of the phenomenon you will not collect data that is not required and the objectivity and validity of the research increases.
Add to the Body of Knowledge: A hypothesis adds to the available body of knowledge. For example you study different literature and you find out that this much work has already been done on this topic and you should concentrate on the gaps that are yet to be filled by new research you formulate a hypothesis and keep your direction towards it.