How to state your dissertation research questions and null hypotheses



Dissertation research begins with your hunches, guesses and questions you want to test out. The information below will help you to state your dissertation research questions and null hypothesis in a testable manner.

The research hypothesis states your expectations in a positive sense.

The null hypothesis is always stated in the negative. This is because you have to be able to prove something is indeed true. Technically speaking, the word “hypothesis” is a Greek word that means “an assumption subject to verification”.

The null hypothesis is what we test with statistics. This is how we decide whether to accept or reject the null hypothesis.

*You ACCEPT the null or you fail to reject it. This means that no differences or no relationships were found.

*You REJECT the null as false. This means that differences or relationships do exist. Furthermore, your research hypothesis is upheld.

There are two types of null hypotheses - directional or non-directional.

Attached to this are one or two tailed tests of statistical significance.

The probability level that we choose influences how liberal or conservative we want to be in testing our hypothesis. Based on the probability level we choose, there is a chance that either a Type I or Type II error can be committed. Here is some additional information on probability levels and errors.

Finally, there are ways to enhance the ability to reject the null. This is called Power Analysis.

From start to finish there is a method to the madness. These are the simple steps for hypothesis testing that you will become familiar with as your conduct your dissertation research.


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