A researcher might assume that research questions and hypotheses are identical concepts and should be treated equally in their approach to research. Are they really the same? Let’s find out!
While both are powerful research instruments that are determined in the initial experimental phase and help to guide the research planning and processes, the similarities end there. Read on to discover the differences between these two terms and understand how to accurately apply them in your research paper.
A hypothesis, specifically in academic research, is an educated guess or assumption about an expected relationship or occurrence that can be tested to determine if it’s correct. Essentially, you’ll make a statement—almost like a prediction—about a specific event or a relationship between two or more variables. You’ll then perform in-depth research into the topic and conduct experiments and tests to prove if the statement is true. A hypothesis is far more structured and requires you to have a fair amount of existing knowledge about your chosen topic. Using what you already know, you’ll follow a predetermined plan to prove or disprove your initial assumption.
A research question is simply an unanswered question the researcher has about a topic that intrigues them or a query about the world or life in general. You’ll pose this question at the start of your research paper. You’ll then accumulate as much information as possible to determine a reasonableanswer. Alternatively, with adequate proof, you can explain why the question should be left as is—unanswered. As you can see, research questions offer a more flexible approach since it’s essentially an investigation to appease your curiosity as a researcher. You don’t have to arrive at any specific answer, but your research should provide your readers with enough knowledge to draw their own conclusions.
At a Glance
● Hypotheses are used in mathematics, engineering, and every branch of science.
● Research questions are typically used when researching less calculable fields like literature, education, and sociology.
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● Prior knowledge is required to form a hypothesis, following a very structured approach to arrive at a definite answer—was the assumption correct or not?
● Researchers have more leniency when compiling papers based on research questions since the nature of the questions is more open-ended.
● For a hypothesis, your conclusion should state whether you were able to prove your hypothesis to be true or not based on the results of your research and testing.
● With a research question, you’ll use the conclusion section to summarize your answer based on your personal findings.
Now that you understand the correct way to incorporate these terms in your research papers, consider submitting a free sample to us! Our proofreaders are available 24/7 to help ensure that your hard work translates into a concise, error-free, and effective academic achievement.