The thesis hypothesis is a specification of a testable prediction about what a researcher expects as the outcome of the study. It comprises specific aspects i.e. the population, variables, and the relationship between the variables. It is a statement that states the specific role or the position of individual elements through first-hand verification (CCS University, 2020). While writing a thesis, a researcher makes assumptions based on a review of available studies and their own understanding. These assumptions reflect in the form of a hypothesis statement. The goal of a thesis hypothesis statement is to present the expected outcome in an understandable and testable manner. This would lead to exploring the different factors and determining the ultimate outcome based on either a formal theory or educated guess.
Clarity in a thesis hypothesis statement is essential
Among the many essential features of a thesis hypothesis, the first is clarity in a statement. Other essentials are shown in the figure below.
A typical thesis hypothesis statement is formulated according to the objectives and aims of the research. Therefore it is essential to reflect on the critical problem of the study.
- It should indicate the relationship between the problem statement and aspects identified in the literature review. For example, if the problem identified in your thesis is that organisations which face the problem of low levels of employee engagement are more likely to suffer productivity-wise, then the hypothesis statement will be; “employee engagement level has an impact on organizational productivity.”
- It should also reflect the main objective of the thesis. For example in the above case, the thesis objective is likely to be; “to determine the impact of employee engagement on organizational productivity.”
- A good thesis hypothesis reflects the abstract concepts in the study. For example, in the above case, the abstract concept is the relationship between employee engagement and productivity.
The main characteristics of a hypothesis statement
A thesis hypothesis should have at least one or all of the below characteristics.
- Conceptual: The statement of a thesis hypothesis is based on certain concept i.e. it could be either related to the theory or the pre-assumption of the researcher about certain variables i.e. educated guess. For example, people who shop at specialty store for casual wear tend to spend more on luxury brands as compared to the people who shop at department store.
- Verbal Statement: A thesis hypothesis is the specification of the verbal statement in declarative form. It reveals the idea, assumption, or concept of the researcher in the form of words which could be tested mathematically or statistically.
- Empirically testable: The hypothesis should use quantifiable concepts. This means, that there should be scope for empirical or first-hand investigation yielding data that can be tested statistically.
- Tool of Knowledge advancement: A good thesis hypothesis always leaves room for future improvement. It is a powerful tool which based on current knowledge. However, it should keep open the possibility of future researchers exploring the problem further by devising newer, extended hypotheses. For example, in the above case of the “impact of employee engagement on organizational productivity”, future researchers can examine specific aspects of productivity separately.
- Neither too specific nor too general: The thesis hypothesis should not be too general, nor should it be too specific. As the statement is based on the area that the researcher want to focus on and the concepts that the researcher is aware of and wants to make predictions, thus specification of the statement is required. For example, investigating the impact of exercise on the health of people, hypothesis “actions of an individual would impact the health” is too general, while “running would improve your health” is too specific. Thus, the hypothesis ideally is “exercise does have impact on the health of people”.
- Valuable but not moral: Regardless of the outcome, a thesis hypothesis is valuable. For example, a study assessing the impact of social factors on the satisfaction level of consumer. Rejection of the hypothesis that social factors do not have impact on satisfaction level of consumer depicts that there is linkage between the social factors and customer satisfaction.
On the other hand, a thesis hypothesis is not based on the consideration of moral values or ethics. It is based on the belief or assumption of the researcher.
A hypothesis statement helps to differentiate a blind research
The hypothesis statement plays a significant role in an investigation. It navigates the researcher to help them avoid blind research. It helps to test the theory, along with examining a legal or social phenomenon. Other main reasons why a thesis hypothesis is important are:
- Focused research: Instead of enabling unfocused or random writing, the hypothesis works as a necessary link between the theories or assumptions and the empirical findings.
- Platform for investigating shortcomings and further scope: It examines the conceptual or factual elements related to the problem of thesis. It provides the researcher with the framework for drawing effective conclusions and helps them identify scope for further research on the topic.
- Describes the phenomenon: Each time a thesis hypothesis is tested, more information about the concerned phenomenon is made available. With the empirical support by result of hypothesis testing, aspects which were unexplored about the phenomenon are made known.
Things to note for building a good thesis hypothesis
The following points are the key to a good thesis hypothesis.
- It should never be formulated in the form of question.
- It should be testable empirically.
- It should be clear and precise, representing critical elements/ variables
- It should not contradict the main findings of the literature review.
- A single hypothesis statement must not reflect two problems. It should reflect a singular aim/ problem/ question.
- It should not contradict the law of nature.
- It should be testable statistically.
- The hypothesis should be achievable within a reasonable time frame.
- CCS University (2020) Research Methodology, CCS University. Meerut. Available at: https://ccsuniversity.ac.in/bridge-library/pdf/MPhil Stats Research Methodology-Part1.pdf (Accessed: 18 August 2021).
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