Creating Strong Hypothesis Statements

When writing the hypothesis statements for your dissertation, remember that simple is better. Your hypotheses should be clear,¬†direct, and able to be measured by your research. Let’s address each of these elements more fully:

Hypothesis statements should be clear.

This means they should be easy to read, short, and understandable. They should be written in simple English (or whatever is the primary language of your dissertation), and should be framed as if you are writing to a layperson. This is not the place for technical jargon or high level analysis.

Hypothesis statements should be simple.

This means they should be as brief as possible, while still being powerful. They should reflect a distillation and synthesis of the major factors, and need to be stated in an authoritative manner. In the dissertation, you need to take a stand for your position, and maintain that stance throughout the paper.

Hypothesis statements should be direct.

Again, this means you should convey your stance as clearly and powerfully as you can. Do not mix multiple hypotheses into one long, drawn out statement. Try to keep your hypotheses to 10 words or less.

Hypothesis statements should be measurable by your research.

While this seems self-evident, it is often missed. When you state your hypothesis, ask yourself, ‘And how would I prove this within the course of my research design? Am I collecting all the data necessary to prove this hypothesis?’ If you are, with reasonably great certainty, then you can move ahead. If you’re not sure, you may need to review or revise your research methodology to be sure you have made plans to collect all the data you will need.

I once had a client who was researching the effects of age in a particular group. She went through the first two months of vigorous, large scale data collection, and then realized she had forgotten to put a question asking for age on her demographic data sheet. She had completed her surveys in large group formats and it was not possible to match up contact details with surveys. She had collected two months worth of potentially fantastic data, but none of it could be used to answer one of her main research hypotheses. She needed to start over, and this meant her data collection lasted longer than it needed to.

(This illustrates two points: 1) the importance of double and triple checking your data collection instruments for completeness and 2) my main point, which is to make sure your research design and data collection instruments will allow you to collect the data you need to prove your hypotheses!)

If you’re at the stage of generating or refining your hypothesis statements, use the guidlines offered here to make them as compelling and dissertation-worthy as they can be.

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And here’s another post to help you with more tips on Hypothesis Statements

 

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