Understanding the importance of a research hypothesis

By Riya Jain and Priya Chetty on April 4, 2012

In research, certain assumptions are made by researchers based on the review of available studies or literature. Based on this review, the researcher identifies the critical gaps, and the expected outcome is presented in an understandable and testable manner. This is called a research hypothesis. A research hypothesis is a statement that specifies what the researcher is trying to test or prove in their study. It covers many aspects such as the study population, variables, and the relationship between the variables. It also states the specific role of the individual elements.

The main features of a research hypothesis

The classifying feature of a hypothesis is a clear statement that represents the study. This statement should indicate three components of the study:

Aspects identified by the research hypothesis
Figure 1: Aspects identified by the research hypothesis

A hypothesis is generally formulated based on secondary research findings. It will have the following characteristics.

Features of a research hypothesis
Figure 2: Features of a research hypothesis


The statement of the hypothesis is based on a concept. It could be related to a theory or a presumption of the researcher about certain variables i.e. an educated guess. Based on this assumption, the research question is framed and the assumption is tested.

For example, people who shop at specialty stores for casual wear tend to spend more on luxury brands as compared to the people who shop at a departmental store.

Verbal statement

A research hypothesis is the specification of the verbal statement in a declarative form. Sometimes a hypothesis is stated mathematically, but in most cases, the statement represents the idea, assumption, or concept of the researcher in the form of words that can be statistically tested.

For example, the capability of the students who are undergoing vocational training programs is not different from the students undergoing regular studies.

Empirical referent

A hypothesis builds a tentative relationship between the concepts stated in research. This enables the researcher to empirically test the relationships, i.e. through primary data examination. Quantifying the concepts and analyzing them adds value to the assumption of the researcher.

For example, quality of nursing education affects the quality of nursing practice skills.

Tentative relationship

A hypothesis is invalid until it is proven. The process of proving a hypothesis involves the examination of first-hand data. Therefore, until the hypothesis is proved, the relationship between variables is uncertain and even the researcher is unsure.

A tool of knowledge advancement

A hypothesis is based on the current knowledge derived from existing studies, reviews, or awareness. It furthers the scope of the field of study. Herein, the researcher has the opportunity of verifying the available knowledge and further study a concept. This enables the advancement of knowledge.


The hypothesis provides the benefit to the researcher in assessing the current or past available information and makes an appropriate prediction about the right or wrong aspect. By verifying and identifying false information, the researcher can establish the validity of his assumption. This requires statistically testing the numerical data.

Not moral

A hypothesis statement is not based on the consideration of moral values or ethics. The hypothesis is as per the belief or assumption of the researcher but still, the examination or prediction is not entirely based on the individual moral beliefs.

Neither too specific nor too general

The hypothesis stated by the researcher should not be too general and nor too specific. The statement is based on the area that the researcher wants to focus on and the concepts that the researcher is aware of and wants to make predictions. Therefore, it targets a specific set of elements with the ability to generalize the findings.

Prediction of consequences

A hypothesis is the statement of the researcher’s assumption that helps in predicting the outcome of the thesis. With the verification of the aspect that whether the given null hypothesis is true or not, the hypothesis testing predicts the consequence of the study.


Even if the assumption of the researcher is proven false in testing, the result derived from the examination is valuable. With the presence of null and alternative hypotheses, each assessment of the hypothesis yields a valuable conclusion. Herein, as the assessment is done for the null hypothesis i.e. the negation of the researcher assumption, thus falsifiability of it represents that researcher assumption is true.

The importance of a research hypothesis

A hypothesis plays a significant role in effectively concluding a thesis. It not only navigates the researcher but also prevents the researcher from veering far away from the topic. By guiding as light in the entire thesis, the hypothesis contributes to suggesting and testing the theories along with describing the legal or social phenomenon. A hypothesis is important in a thesis for the following reasons.

Importance of hypothesis in a thesis
Figure 3: Importance of hypothesis in a thesis

Navigates the research

A hypothesis irrespective of its source helps the researcher in identifying the areas that should be focused on solving a research problem. It aids in fulfilling the objectives. By providing information about the important concepts of the study, important variables, nature of data that need to be collected, organization of data in a meaningful and effective manner, and method of analysis; the hypothesis derive the adequate conclusions for the thesis and relevant empirical data. It helps the researcher from collecting any data and indulging in blind research of irrelevant information.

A platform for procedural investigation

With an examination of the conceptual or the factual elements related to the problem of the thesis, the hypothesis helps the researcher draw effective conclusions. It explains unknown facts and verifies the perception of the researcher, along with stimulating ideas for further research.

Every time a hypothesis is tested, more information about the concerned phenomenon is made available. With the empirical support from the result of hypothesis testing, aspects that were unexplored about the phenomenon can be understood.

Points to note while framing a research hypothesis

For deduction of accurate and reliable outcome from the analysis, below stated points should be noted:

  • A hypothesis should never be formulated in the form of a question.
  • Empirical testing, i.e. statistical testing of the hypothesis should be possible.
  • The statement of the concept should be precise and clear.
  • The hypothesis should not be contradictory to the identified concept and linkage between the variables
  • Clear specification of all the variables that are used for building relationships in a hypothesis should be present.
  • The focus of a single hypothesis should only be on one issue. No multi-issue consideration should be taken while building the hypothesis i.e. it can only be either relational or descriptive.
  • The hypothesis should not be conflicting with the defined law of nature which is already specified as true.
  • Effective tools and techniques need to be used for verifying the hypothesis.
  • The form of a hypothesis statement should be simple and understandable. Complex or conflicting statements reduces the applicability and reliability of the thesis results.
  • The hypothesis should be amendable in the form that testing can be completed within a specified reasonable time.

Riya Jain


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