Hypothesis Formulation in Different Study Types

Hypothesis formulation is a major and preliminary step in the research process. Hypothesis formulation is not compulsory for every research but having a hypothesis gives direction to your research. You need to solve a problem and you already have a hunch about it, this hunch will aid you in following one direction.

What is a hypothesis? A hypothesis is an expected answer to a research question, it provides direction to the research study. In reality, it determines the focal point of the study, in the absence of a valid and testable hypothesis the researcher can not concentrate on one direction. Many new researchers face the problem of summing up their research question in a precise and concise manner. The reason behind this problem is mainly lack of hypothesis or presence of an irrelevant one.

In some studies, though, hypothesis is not required and a valid as well as reliable study can be conducted in the absence of a hypothesis. These studies do not require testing of interaction between variables. In most of the other studies this is not so. In addition, a single hypothesis can be enough for many studies but some may require formulation of more than one. Such studies are as much valid, reliable and generalizable as studies that a have single one but it takes more time to test more than one hypothesis.

Hypothesis Formulation for Different Types of Research

The purpose of hypothesis formulation and the method by which it has to be formulated is different for different research studies. In one type of research, hypothesis is an integral part of the whole study, while in the other hypothesis testing is not compulsory, and still in another the purpose is to build hypothesis for future studies rather than testing it in reality.

Basically there are four types of research studies, purpose of hypothesis testing in each category is explained below.

Experimental Research Studies

Experimental Research Studies are based on critical scientific methods. In these studies, the purpose of hypothesis formulation is to build a proposition or to give possible reason for any phenomena that occurs. On the basis of this proposition hypothesis is tested to find out whether a particular phenomena occurs due to this reason or not.  In the absence of any suitable hypothesis the experimenter has to test various possible reasons for the phenomena to be interpreted.  It should be noted that possible rejection or acceptance of the hypothesis does not influence the credibility of hypothesis it rather concludes that the reason to be tested was true or false. In case the hypothesis does not proved to be true the researcher gets new ideas or new directions for further research to test what was the actual reason for the particular phenomena.


  1. Hypothesis formulation in experimental research helps in taking the study forward.
  2. It also gives direction to the study and clears the clutter so that the researcher can think in a direction and with greater confidence.
  3. It helps in removing any biases, uncertainties, prejudices and myths linked with a particular subject area.

Descriptive Research Studies

These studies often do not have any hypothesis because the purpose of the study is to describe a fact, figure, phenomena, situation or a person. Most of the facts are already there, the researcher bring those facts together rather than actually experimenting and finding answers. The descriptive studies usually use qualitative approaches to study and collect the data. An example of a descriptive study can be a study that studies the relationship between attitudes and behaviors. Such studies are often studied in their natural environment. 

A case study is a descriptive study. In a case study, rather than taking a sample and studying its characteristics, the researcher studies a particular individual, group, community, situation, or event as a whole. Hypothesis formulation is not required as the researcher does not need have a hunch rather he assumes that interviews and observation will bring into light details of the particular case under study.

Exploratory Research Studies

The purpose of exploratory research is to develop better understanding of a phenomena to be tested in future. Exploratory research studies are pure research rather than applied research the findings of applied research can be applied to the population at the current time but pure research does not aims so). In many of the exploratory research studies there is no hypothesis testing but it can be formulated by the researcher. Actually these research studies help researcher in formulating hypothesis for further researches. Exploratory research is characterized by its flexibility because the purpose is not to reach on conclusion but to provide a platform in the form of better and more suitable hypothesis, research design, and clarified concepts.

Explanatory Research Studies

The term explanatory is in reality self-explanatory, these studies determine cause and effect relationship. Explanatory research studies explain why there is a correlation between two or more than two phenomena, thus it explains the reason why rather than what or which. While experimental studies explain what is the relationship or which two phenomenons are related, explanatory studies determine why there is a relationship and test these kind of hypothesis.


  • Kumar, R., (2011) Research Methodology: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners, Sage Publications: 3rd Ed., New Delhi. Pp- 86-89.
  • “Types of Research Studies”. Boundless Psychology. <https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-psychology/chapter/types-of-research-studies/>. Retrieved on 2019/1/29.



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