What are hypotheses?
Hypotheses are tentative answers to research problems and are expressed in the form of a relationship between independent and dependent variables. Hypothesis are tentative, since their veracity can be evaluated only after they have been treated empirically. When researchers propose a hypothesis, they lack assurance that it will be verified. They construct a hypothesis and if it is rejected, they put forward another.
A hypothesis states what we are looking for when facts are assembled, ordered, and seen in a relationship, they constitute a theory. The theory is not speculation, but it is built upon facts. These various facts in a theory may be logically analyzed, and relationship other than those stated in the theory can be deduced. At this point, there is no knowledge as to whether such deductions are correct. The formulation however, constitutes a hypothesis. If verified, it becomes part of a future theoretical construction. From the above, we can deduce that the relationship between the hypothesis and theory is very close indeed. A hypothesis is forward looking, it is preposition which can be put to a test to determine its validity.
Hypothesis thus can be desired deductively from theories, directly from observations, intuitively, or from a combination of these. An important source of hypothesis construction is the state of knowledge in any particular science: where formal theories exist, hypotheses can be deduced. If the hypotheses are rejected, this would call for the modification of the theory. On the other hand, the failure to reject hypotheses increase the credibility of theories. Where formal theories are scarce, hypotheses are generated from Conceptual Frameworks. In such cases, the failure to reject hypotheses may lead to construction of a more systematic and rigorous theory. In either case, the hypotheses are related to the conceptual-theoretical level.
The continuity of the research process itself constitutes an important source of hypotheses. The rejection of some hypotheses engenders the construction of new ones capable of explaining certain depended variable. On the other hand, the failure to reject hypotheses leads to additional problems being brought up and treated.
Hypothesis must be clear. Clarity is obtained by means of definitions. The researcher has to supply valid operational definition for all the concepts in the research hypothesis. Scientific hypothesis are not value bearing. In principle, the researcher has to explicate the expected relationship between the variable and the conditions under which these relationships will hold. A hypothesis stating “X” is related to “Y” is over general. Relationship between variables may even be more complex. For an hypothesis to be researchable, the researcher must make sure that there are methods available for testing them.
Researchers can arrive at clear hypothesis, value or free and specific and find they lack the means to test them. However, even that lack methods of testing has a place in the scientific process if they are innovative. At the same time, their evaluation dependents on the ability to test them, which in turn depends on the techniques of research?