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Research Questions & Hypotheses - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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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.

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What is a research question?

How does one develop one?

How does one evaluate one?

Objectives after today you should be able to
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.


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
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
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
Characteristics of a good research question



Adequate numbers of subjects?

Adequate technical expertise?

Affordable in time and money?

Is it possible to measure or manipulate the variables?


To the investigator?


To the field?


Potential harm to subjects?

Potential breech of subject confidentiality?


To scientific knowledge/theory?

To organizational, health or social management and policy?

To individual welfare?



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.

Good hypotheses
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? (can’t have a “more” without a “than”

Related (correlation)

The word “significant” is unnecessary

Good hypotheses construction
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


M will mediate the positive relationship between X and Y