Tag Archives: hypothesis

Predicting the future: Hypotheses

What is the difference between a research question and hypothesis?  A hypothesis is a predicted answer and focuses on testing whether a particular cause(s) actually creates a particular effect(s) (i.e., ASA lowers MI risk).   A hypothesis allows us to test whether we are telling the future correctly.  ( note: It may be written in interrogative form, but should not be confused with a research question.  If the terms cause, effect, or any of their synonyms occur you are dealing with a hypothesis: an educated prediction.)

On the other hand, we use a research question when we don’t know enough to predict possible cause and effect, & merely want to describe something.  A question may also be used to find out whether or not 2 things are related to each other, but we aren’t ready to identify one as causing the other (i.e., which came 1st, the chicken or the egg?—these are related, but which was the cause?)  Research questions allow us to gather information that may lead to hypotheses.

There you have it.  Consider yourself introduced to hypotheses and research questions.

What do you think?

Critical thinking question: One of the following is a hypothesis & one is a research question.  Which is which?

  1.  The purpose of this study was to describe the expectations for pain relief of patients with abdominal pain and how their communication with providers relates to their overall pain relief. (Yee et al 2006)
  2.  We investigated whether a brief pain communication/education strategy would improve patient pain communication skills. (Smith et al, 2010)

Happy research reading!

“What was the question, again?” Hypothesis vs. Research question

imagesCAGYW6WBWhat is the difference between a hypothesis and a research question?  I suppose some will ask: “Why should I care?”  

The answer is that knowing the difference is a clue to how strong the research findings are.  Experimental studies that use hypothesis create stronger evidence for practice, than do non-experimental studies that merely answer research questions.

  • hypothesis is a predicted answer and focuses on cause-and-effect , such as “Those who take 80mg ASA every day will have lower incidence of MI’s than those who do not.”  When we know a lot about a topic already, then we can hypothesize (in other words make an educated guess about how the experiment will turn out).  A researcher may word the hypothesis in interrogative form with a question mark, but you can still recognize it as a hypothesis if it uses any terms like cause, effect, impact, increase, improve, or their synonyms and has at least 2 variables.
  • Researchers ask only a research question when they don’t know enough to guess about the cause and effect, & so they either 1) want merely to describe something or 2) to figure out whether 2 things are related to each other, but aren’t ready to identify one as causing the other. For example no one knows which came 1st, the chicken or the egg?—you can see that chickens and eggs are related 100% of the time, but you may win a Nobel prize if you can figure out which one originally caused the other.

Cause and effect (experimental, hypothesis) studies create stronger evidence for practice than do descriptive or correlational (non-experimental, question) studies.

Critical thinking question: One of the following is a hypothesis & one is a research question.  Which is wquestionhich and why?

  1.  The purpose of this study was to describe the expectations for pain relief of patients with abdominal pain and how their communication with providers relates to their overall pain relief. (Yee et al 2006)
  2.  We investigated whether a brief pain communication/education strategy would improve patient pain communication skills. (Smith et al, 2010)