What is a Research Hypothesis?
A 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 hypothesis. A minor flaw in the construction of your hypothesis could have an adverse effect on your experiment.
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 the 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.
How to Formulate an Effective Research Hypothesis
A testable hypothesis is not a simple statement. It is 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.
- State the problem that you are trying to solve.
- Make sure that the hypothesis clearly defines the topic and the focus of the experiment.
- 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.
- Define the variables
- In scientific experiments, a hypothesis proposes and examines the relationship between an independent variable and a dependent variable. The effect on the dependent variable (the idea being tested) depends on or is determined by what happens when you change the independent variable (the factor being changed). Let us take a look at this hypothesis example below:
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).
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. It enables us to understand the implication of the question and the different variables involved in the study. 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.
Use a Checklist
As we have stated, a hypothesis is the foundation of your scientific experiment. Before you begin to take the first steps in your experiment, you should make sure that you have a clear testable hypothesis. Using a checklist can help you make sure your experiment is on solid footing.
Here are some important questions to ask:
- Is the language clear and focused?
- Does the hypothesis introduce the research topic?
- Does the hypothesis include both an independent and dependent variable? Are they easy to identify?
- Can the hypothesis be tested through experimentation?
- Does the hypothesis explain what you expect to happen during your experiment?
This is an excellent list to refer to before you begin an experiment. It can help you identify weaknesses in your hypothesis and revise it if necessary.
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.