Basic training on hypotheses

  • A good hypothesis has six characteristics. A good hypothesis should
    • Be worded as an empirical statement that formalizes educated guesses about phenomena that exist in the political world, not as a statement about what the researcher wants to be true
    • Explain general phenomena rather than one particular occurrence of the phenomena
    • Be plausible—there should be a logical reason for thinking that the hypothesis might be confirmed by the data.
    • Be specific by stating the direction of the relationship between two phenomena, be it a positive or negative relationship
    • Be consistent with the data by using terms that are consistent with the manner of testing
    • Be testable—it should be feasible to obtain data that will indicate if the hypothesis is defensible
  • Hypotheses also specify a unit of analysis, or the level of political actor to which it applies (e.g., individuals, groups, states, organizations).
  • These materials take you through the though process of building viable research hypotheses and clarify what kind of hypotheses are possible for what questions.


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