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Professional Development for State Employees

Formulate a Research Question or Hypothesis

"Once the research question is developed and the literature review is critiqued in terms of the level, strength, and quality of evidence available for the particular research question, the purpose, aims, or objectives of the study become focused so that the researcher can decide whether a hypothesis should be tested or a research question answered" (LoBiondo-Wood & Haber, Evolve Resources for Nursing Research, 9th Edition).

A research question poses a question while a hypothesis predicts the outcome of the research. 

Research Question

Whatever approach is taken in determining the research question, the researcher does need to be clear about the purpose, scope, and focus of the study; identify the subjects/population and the context in which they will be studied and the variables under consideration.

"Formulating a question that strikes a justifiable balance between the idea(s) for your study and the feasibility of answering them is important for success" (Forming research questions).


"A hypothesis is a proposition that is consistent with known data, but has been neither verified nor shown to be false.

In statistics, a hypothesis (Sometimes called a statistical hypothesis) refers to a statement on which hypothesis testing will be based. Particularly important statistical hypothesis include the null hypothesis and alternative hypothesis (WolframMathWorld > Hypothesis).

Research vs. Statistical Hypothesis: A research hypothesis (also known as a scientific hypothesis) is a statement about the expected relationship of the research variables. It indicates what the outcome is expected to be. If statistically significant findings are produced, the hypothesis is supported...A statistical hypothesis, also known as a null hypothesis, states that there is no relationship between the independent and dependent variables...If, in the data analysis, a statistically significant relationship emerges between the variables at a specified level of significance, the null hypothesis is rejected. Rejection of the statistical hypothesis is equivalent to acceptance of the research hypothesis" (Haber's "Nursing Research" (Ch. 2: Research questions, hypotheses, and clinical questions)).

Directional vs. Nondirectional Hypothesis: Formulate a directional hypothesis if there is support from a theory and previous research that leads you to expect/predict a specific outcome. A nondirectional hypothesis is suggested for when you have reason to expect differences but are not certain of the direction the difference will take.

Researcher's Bootcamp Training Archive by Reference Services

search key on keyboard

Delve into the world of research with the Researcher's Bootcamp. In these sessions you will learn how to create a search string, use reliable research resources, find law and legislation, and use reference managers to keep your research organized. The session order is as follows:

1. Conducting Internet Research Part 1

2. Conducting Internet Research Part 2

3. Finding Laws and Legislation

4. Reference Managers