Developing the Research Questions
Research questions are developed to narrow the topic for a study. The research questions need to be clear in indicating what is being studied (Marcyzk, DeMatteo, and Festinger, 2010). Thus, the research questions need to identify clearly the variables that are going to be studied. This will ensure that any form of methodological confusion does not arise. The research questions need to describe the relationship between two variables. Further, the research questions should be able to be tested empirically (Marcyzk, DeMatteo, and Festinger, 2010). Good research questions need also to incorporate operational definitions, which specify key terms to be used in the study. These operational definitions ensure that there is no ambiguity about what is being studied. For example, a research question such as “what effects do large class sizes have on academic excellence of talented children in high population schools?”, uses operational definitions that are not clearly defined (Marcyzk, DeMatteo, and Festinger, 2010). The uses of words such as large classes need to be defined. One needs to specify the size of the large class since large provides a vague meaning. Further, terms such as gifted and academic performance also need to be clearly defined. Having operational definitions aids other researchers to replicate the study in the future. Additionally, the research questions need to specify the variable and the constants to be used in the study (Krysik and Finn, 2010).
Developing Research Hypothesis
Once the research questions have been prepared, the next step is to formulate research hypothesis. According to Krysik and Finn (2010), research hypothesis provide tentative answers to the research questions. Thus, the hypotheses have to written in a statement form and not in a question form. Hypotheses are warranted in studies where prior research suggests with confidence what the answer to a research question should be (Krysik and Finn, 2010). The hypothesis provides a statement that tries to show the relationship between two or more variables.
Types of Hypothesis
This is the hypothesis used to show that no relationship exists between two or more variables (Krysik and Finn, 2010). “There is no relationship that exists between age and drug abuse” is an example of a null hypothesis. The null hypothesis is the hypothesis that will be tested in the analysis of the data in the study. Thus, if the analysis of the data does not present any evidence to support the null hypothesis, the null hypothesis is rejected, and support is provided for the alternative hypothesis.
This is the opposite of the null hypothesis. The alternative hypothesis is used to show that a relationship exists between two or more variables (Krysik and Finn, 2010).
Process of refining the Research Question and Hypothesis
According to Krysik and Finn (2010), the major concepts used in the research questions need to be defined earlier to make certain that there is no confusion in understanding the study. Additionally, the research questions need to provide a unit of analysis, a specific time frame, and needs to be feasible. On the other hand, the research hypotheses need to be phrased as statements, and should be specifically stated (Krysik and Finn, 2010). Further, the hypotheses can be tested via research and are capable of being contested.
Krysik, J., & Finn, J. (2010). Research for effective social work practice (2nd ed.). New York,
Marczyk, G. R., DeMatteo, D., & Festinger, D. (2010). Essentials of Research Design and
Methodology. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.