Dissertation Hypothesis

The hypothesis in a dissertation is a statement of prediction concerning the concept or theory that is being researched. It is common practice for a doctoral student to test his or her dissertation hypothesis when they are undertaking this important project to defend their bid to graduate. This article explains what a hypothesis is, the different types, and how to write and test your hypothesis.

The Types of Hypotheses

When writing a dissertation, it is usual to develop a hypothesis that predicts particular relationships. There are two types of hypotheses – the “research” variety and the “alternative” variety. It is also usual to develop another type of hypothesis, called a “null,” which serves the purpose of balancing any findings. This latter type claims the non-existence of the particular relationship the writer is trying to prove in their research hypothesis. Experts say that the “null” hypothesis is subjected to direct tests and that no effects are predicted, and that the “alternative” hypothesis is contradictory to the null variety in that it does predict a particular effect. Furthermore, a research hypothesis can take one of two forms e.g. it can be “one-tailed” or “two-tailed.” The first type (one-tailed) indicates direction i.e. an increase or decrease in direction while the latter type (two-tailed) indicates change but not direction.

What Writing a Hypothesis Involves

A hypothesis should be written before you gather any data and analyze it. A good hypothesis should be testable and should contain both independent and dependent variables. The first type (the independent type) is under the writer’s control while the second type of variable (the dependent type) is measured and/or observed according to the independent type. If you were to take, for instance, the media handling of violence as your independent variable and aggressiveness as your dependent variable, your “null” hypothesis could therefore say, “The media handling of violence has no bearing on aggressiveness.” On the other hand, your “alternative” hypothesis could say that “the media handling of violence does have a bearing on aggressiveness.” Additionally, if you wished to include a “one-tailed” type of hypothesis, your statement could say, “the media handling of violence increases aggressiveness,” thereby indicating an (increased) direction. In any event, keep your hypothesis statements short and concise, and keep the results you will be measuring during your project to the forefront of your mind.

Hypothesis Testing

There are many experts who say that testing a hypothesis makes the assumption that both the “research” and “null” hypotheses look at every likely outcome and, eventually, accepts one and rejects the others. When all data is analyzed, you will have to decide whether your “null” hypothesis should be rejected and your “alternative” hypothesis accepted.

Look at Example Papers

It is possible to test numerous hypotheses in a dissertation with much dependent on the student’s focus and discipline. Some students give their dissertations the same title as their hypothesis. It can help to look at the various dissertations that have been published by your university or college to get examples of how to write a hypothesis, how to use independent and dependent variables, and how to present all of these in a dissertation.


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