Hypothesis is a proposed expression of experimental phenomena. A scientific hypothesis needs to be tested to qualify as a hypothesis. However, mathematically a hypothesis is referred to as an idea whose value needs assessment. Hypothesis can be used in prediction through reasoning. It can predict the result of a test or the observation of an event in the natural world. Some scientists have stated that a hypothesis should be able to prove false, and that a person can consider a propositional statement or theory as a science if it does not show the likelihood of falsity (Poincaire 1952)
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According to Aristotelian logic, a proposition is a statement explaining something expressing true or false, affirming or denying something. Proposition can be defined in an ontological way as an idea, concept, abstraction that are expressed in a word, mark or symbol. For example, all people are mortal. According to JSTOR (1920), a proposition is a well-structured subject matter constituted by matter and characteristics. In mathematic logic, a proposition, also known as “propositional formula” or “statement form”, is a statement which cannot be expressed quantitatively. Instead a proposition is made up of well-structured formula composing wholly atomic formula.
A model can refer to an abstract or conceptual material applied in teaching and making predictions. In general, a model is anything applied in any way to demonstrate something else. Models are applied to explain and teach issues they represent. In addition, models can be of different types depending on the terms of scope of the issues they represent (Keisler 1990).
Theory is an analytical tool for teaching, and making prediction on a certain issue. Theories are found in different disciplines from arts to sciences. According to Barry (2002), a theory is “syntactic in character and make sense when using it with a semantic component in the same context”. A theory is a set of sentences that is made up wholly of true statements on the issue been considered; although the truth of all these statements is in relevance to the entire theory.
Theory, model, proposition and hypothesis represent an observable phenomenon that cannot be quantified, but can be tested to ascertain the data truth or falsity, or its reliability. However, hypothesis can be applied as an antecedent of a proposition. For example, “in proposition, ‘if P then Q’, P denotes the hypothesis; Q can be referred to a consequent” (Binsardi 2010).
Hypothesis and theory are almost synonymous to each other, although they differ on the degree. Hypotheses are used to explain through observations that could otherwise not be explained by a theory. Unlike a proposition and a theory, a hypothesis is scientific in nature and invokes statistics and raises probabilities of occurrence of a phenomenon.
Both a model, theory and a hypothesis can be used to calculate the eventual results of an experimentation or phenomena in the natural setting. A theory can be expressed as a model since nature is a representation of scientific theories.
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According to Laurel (2003), the research design provides a structural presentation of the research process. Here is an illustration of the anticipated expected research design (Creswell 2003) (Next page).
A research design usually starts with the initial research problem the research is intended to uncover or demystify. The problem covers the subject matter and the issues under concern to the researcher. The researcher has to identify the research objective and questions from the initial problem or issue at hand, to define clearly what the scope and intentions of the research entail. The researcher should conduct a literature review and see whether the subject matter has been studied before, and if so whether necessary changes need to be made to the theories made. Then the researcher has to identify the methods of collecting data, needed in the research. These methods must be applicable, easily administered and easy to extract information (Hakim 2000).
The researcher should conduct a pilot survey of the research process, make necessary survey amendments and make preliminary analysis, which will also be applied in the final analysis. This helps the researcher to get an insight to the subject matter (Saunders and Thornhill 2007).
The next stage involves the researcher going to the field to conduct the exercise. If the researcher chooses interviews as his mode of collecting data, the researcher needs to decide whether to conduct structured, semi-structured or unstructured interviews depending on which is the most appropriate. The first step involves undertaking a pilot interview to familiarize with the respondents, and then make the necessary interview amendments before conducting the final interview.
After the data collection the researcher should perform a preliminary analysis of the data at hand. The researcher can also undertake a link analysis and provide a preliminary analysis of data collected (Binsardi 2008).
The final stage is doing a final analysis from the preliminary analyses done initially. This will involve data analysis, classification, compilation and reporting concrete information of the findings. The researcher has to provide the results and conclusions in writing, stating what the findings were (Bryman 2007).
Bryman (2004) defines the research question as a statement, which shows the event or fact under consideration. The research question provides a guideline for decisions taken on the research design and research process; thus, research process has to be modified to suit the research question which directs the inquiry. A successful research process depends on how it uncovers the research question (Bangali 1999).
In formulating a research question there are certain things to be considered: if the researcher knows the subject matter; the necessary research problem in the subject matter; identify whether the survey has been done before, and if it has can modifications be made to the existing study results; identify appropriate time for the question to be responded; and know if the study will impact on the subject matter. With this in mind, the researcher can formulate a specific research question (Lewis and Munn 1997).
There are three fields in research question development: First is to refine a wide subject in to a narrow certain, secondly, examinable question through data verification; and thirdly the features of a reliable research question (these include; the question should have a base in theory, research or practical, clearly defined variables and a hypothesis on the correlation among the variables, and the question should be informative.
A research question needs to show the sources of ideas that can be; theory confirmation, daily experiences, logical analysis analogy, researcher’s assumptions and previous research case studies.
The researcher should develop a hypothesis that revolves around the research question and highlight the objectives, that is, the steps to followed in testing the hypothesis (Bryman 2004).
Na example of a research question: Is mechanized packing in a production line less expensive than manual packing? The independent variable is the method of packing while the dependent variable is cost (Robitaille and Garden 1996).
Anderson, V. 2004. Research Methods in Human Resource Management. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD): London.
Bangali, L., 1999. Research questions. SCHEMA:
Barry, P. 2002. Beginning theory: an introduction to literary and cultural theory. Manchester University Press: Manchester.
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