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Research Questions &

Hypotheses
Overview

What is a research question?


How does one develop one?
How does one evaluate one?
Objectives: After today you
should be able to ...
Understand the importance of a well-
developed research question.
Be aware of numerous methods for
generating a research question.
Develop a concise research question.
Be able to evaluate the quality of a research
question.
Understand the role and nature of
publishable replication research.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE
RESEARCH QUESTION
The research question is the starting point of
the study. Everything flows from the
research question. It will determine the
population to be studied, the setting for the
study, the data to be collected, and the time
period for the study. A clear and concisely
stated research question is the most
important requirement for a successful study.
PREREQUISITES

The most important prerequisite for this


research is a well-cultivated curiosity. This
seems to be a common characteristic
possessed by notable researchers. Beyond
being curious, these individuals also had the
patience and tenacity to follow a question
until satisfied with the answer.
Origins of a Research
Question
Careful Observation of People
Application of New Technology
The Annoyance Principle
Build on Experience
Scientific Communications
Skeptical Attitude (questioning peers and status quo)
Other Ideas and Inspirations

Question validity of commonly held beliefs


Question relationships
Direction of causality
Third variables unaccounted for?
Levels of analysis (can increase)
Boundaries (generalizability) - external validity
Question validity of existing studies
Change settings (e.g., situational specificity hypothesis)
Change types of individuals/units (children/adults; e.g., Zollo
study)
Characteristics of a good
research question
FINER
Feasible
Adequate numbers of subjects?
Adequate technical expertise?
Affordable in time and money?
Is it possible to measure or manipulate the variables?
Interesting
To the investigator?
Novel
To the field?
Ethical
Potential harm to subjects?
Potential breech of subject confidentiality?
Relevant
To scientific knowledge/theory?
To organizational, health or social management and policy?
To individual welfare?
Hypotheses

Examples

RQ: Is a happy worker a productive worker?


H1: Happier workers are more productive than unhappy
workers.

RQ: Does increasing the happiness of workers make them


more productive?
H1: Increasing the happiness of workers does not
increase productivity.
Hypotheses should be developed
before data are collected.
Good hypotheses

Constructs are clear


Relationship (sign, direction if experimental, type
of moderation) is clear
Population often included
Design/statistical method often clear
Mean differences
Compared to who? (cant have a more without a
than
Related (correlation)
The word significant is unnecessary
Good hypotheses construction

Statistical test is clear (usually one per


hypothesis)
With mediator hypothesis may be
X will positively relate to Y
M will positively relate to Y
X will positively relate to M
X will not relate to Y when controlling for M
OR
M will mediate the positive relationship between X
and Y