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How to Write a Hypothesis for a Thesis or Dissertation

A theory should give rise to one hypothesis at least. The best way to describe a hypothesis perhaps is to say it is a theory that is expressed in such a way that it is possible to measure it empirically. Let us say, for instance, that there is a theory that people are reluctant to vote because they do not trust politicians.  Then, using this theory, you could develop the following hypothesis, “If I look at the data from surveys, voting rates will be lower among those who say they do not trust politicians than those who say they trust those in public office.”

This hypothesis is not the only possibility for testing this particular theory. In fact, you could develop several hypotheses for the majority of theories. Therefore, it is best to be willing to put as many hypotheses as you think are needed to the test to show which of your theories are supportable with evidence and which ones are not. This could mean testing a single hypothesis for each theory or it could mean testing numerous hypotheses for each theory.   

Within the section you devote to designing your research, explain the methods you intend to use to collect the evidence you need for hypothesis testing. You should additionally say how you intend to analyze the collected evidence and describe what forms of evidence you will use to confirm or discount each of your hypotheses. Going back to the voting and mistrust of politicians’ example, if you find trust does not appear to be related to voter turnout, then that hypothesis can be discounted.

The methods you choose for analyzing evidence should be determined by the evidence types available for testing your various hypotheses. Where the evidence available for the most feasible hypotheses concerns observance via case studies (for example, elite marginal movements have a key role in bringing about social revolution), then this method is possibly the most suitable. Similarly, if statistical analysis seems the best test method, then that may well be the most suitable. Your hypotheses and theories should come before the analysis methods you choose to test them. 

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