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Due to the inductive nature of qualitative studies, the generation of hypotheses does not take place at the outset of the study.Instead, hypotheses are only tentatively proposed during an iterative process of data collection and interpretation, and help guide the researcher in asking additional questions and searching for disconfirming evidence.
Hypotheses in Quantitative Studies Research hypotheses in quantitative studies take a familiar form: one independent variable, one dependent variable, and a statement about the expected relationship between them.
Generally the independent variable is mentioned first followed by language implying causality (terms such as explains, results in) and then the dependent variable; the ordering of the variables should be consistent across all hypotheses in a study so that the reader is not confused about the proposed causal ordering.
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In general, a qualitative study will have one or two central questions and a series of five to ten subquestions that further develop the central questions.
These questions are often asked directly of the study participants (through in-depth interviews, focus groups, etc.) in recognition of the fact that developing an understanding of a particular phenomenon is a collaborative experience between researchers and participants.
The research hypothesis is central to all research endeavors, whether qualitative or quantitative, exploratory or explanatory.
At its most basic, the research hypothesis states what the researcher expects to find – it is the tentative answer to the research question that guides the entire study.
This seemingly obvious aspect of research can be deceptively difficult to pin down, as researchers often have an unstated sense of what they want to achieve in a study (and excitement about doing so) that makes it challenging to clearly state a research question.
Glenn Firebaugh (2008) identified two key criteria for research questions: questions must be researchable and they must be interesting.