Hulley and colleagues 2 have suggested the use of the FINER criteria in the development of a good research question Box 1. The FINER criteria highlight useful points that may increase the chances of developing a successful research project. A good research question should specify the population of interest, be of interest to the scientific community and potentially to the public, have clinical relevance and further current knowledge in the field and of course be compliant with the standards of ethical boards and national research standards.
Adapted with permission from Wolters Kluwer Health. Whereas the FINER criteria outline the important aspects of the question in general, a useful format to use in the development of a specific research question is the PICO format — consider the population P of interest, the intervention I being studied, the comparison C group or to what is the intervention being compared and the outcome of interest O.
Knowing the specific population of interest, intervention and comparator and outcome of interest may also help the researcher identify an appropriate outcome measurement tool. Conversely, a broadly defined study population and inclusion criteria may be representative of practical clinical practice but may increase bias and reduce the internal validity of the study.
A poorly devised research question may affect the choice of study design, potentially lead to futile situations and, thus, hamper the chance of determining anything of clinical significance, which will then affect the potential for publication. Without devoting appropriate resources to developing the research question, the quality of the study and subsequent results may be compromised. During the initial stages of any research study, it is therefore imperative to formulate a research question that is both clinically relevant and answerable.
The primary research question should be driven by the hypothesis rather than the data. This sounds intuitive; however, if we take, for example, a database of information, it is potentially possible to perform multiple statistical comparisons of groups within the database to find a statistically significant association. Multiple statistical testing of associations from data previously collected could potentially lead to spuriously positive findings of association through chance alone. The research or clinical hypothesis is developed from the research question and then the main elements of the study — sampling strategy, intervention if applicable , comparison and outcome variables — are summarized in a form that establishes the basis for testing, statistical and ultimately clinical significance.
The investigative team would first state a research hypothesis. This could be expressed as a single outcome e. The null hypothesis for the preceding research hypothesis then would be that there is no difference in mean functional outcome between the computer-assisted insertion and free-hand placement techniques.
After forming the null hypothesis, the researchers would form an alternate hypothesis stating the nature of the difference, if it should appear. The alternate hypothesis would be that there is a difference in mean functional outcome between these techniques. At the end of the study, the null hypothesis is then tested statistically. If the findings of the study are not statistically significant i. In other words, hypothesis testing confirms or refutes the statement that the observed findings did not occur by chance alone but rather occurred because there was a true difference in outcomes between these surgical procedures.
The concept of statistical hypothesis testing is complex, and the details are beyond the scope of this article. Another important concept inherent in hypothesis testing is whether the hypotheses will be 1-sided or 2-sided. A 2-sided hypothesis states that there is a difference between the experimental group and the control group, but it does not specify in advance the expected direction of the difference. For example, we asked whether there is there an improvement in outcomes with computer-assisted surgery or whether the outcomes worse with computer-assisted surgery.
We presented a 2-sided test in the above example because we did not specify the direction of the difference. A 1-sided hypothesis states a specific direction e. A 2-sided hypothesis should be used unless there is a good justification for using a 1-sided hypothesis. The research hypothesis should be stated at the beginning of the study to guide the objectives for research.
Whereas the investigators may state the hypothesis as being 1-sided there is an improvement with treatment , the study and investigators must adhere to the concept of clinical equipoise. According to this principle, a clinical or surgical trial is ethical only if the expert community is uncertain about the relative therapeutic merits of the experimental and control groups being evaluated. Designing a research hypothesis is supported by a good research question and will influence the type of research design for the study.
Acting on the principles of appropriate hypothesis development, the study can then confidently proceed to the development of the research objective. The primary objective should be coupled with the hypothesis of the study. Study objectives define the specific aims of the study and should be clearly stated in the introduction of the research protocol.
Note that the study objective is an active statement about how the study is going to answer the specific research question. Objectives can and often do state exactly which outcome measures are going to be used within their statements.
They are important because they not only help guide the development of the protocol and design of study but also play a role in sample size calculations and determining the power of the study. For example, the most methodologically sound randomized controlled trial comparing 2 techniques of distal radial fixation would have little or no clinical impact if the primary objective was to determine the effect of treatment A as compared to treatment B on intraoperative fluoroscopy time.
However, if the objective was to determine the effect of treatment A as compared to treatment B on patient functional outcome at 1 year, this would have a much more significant impact on clinical decision-making.
Second, more meaningful surgeon—patient discussions could ensue, incorporating patient values and preferences with the results from this study. The following is an example from the literature about the relation between the research question, hypothesis and study objectives:.
Low-intensity pulsed ultrasound for chronic patellar tendinopathy: How does low-intensity pulsed ultrasound LIPUS compare with a placebo device in managing the symptoms of skeletally mature patients with patellar tendinopathy? The development of the research question is the most important aspect of a research project. A research project can fail if the objectives and hypothesis are poorly focused and underdeveloped.
Useful tips for surgical researchers are provided in Box 3. Designing and developing an appropriate and relevant research question, hypothesis and objectives can be a difficult task. The critical appraisal of the research question used in a study is vital to the application of the findings to clinical practice. Focusing resources, time and dedication to these 3 very important tasks will help to guide a successful research project, influence interpretation of the results and affect future publication efforts.
No funding was received in preparation of this paper. Quantitative Research Questions — Following is a resources that discusses the various types of research questions as well as the difference between a research question and a research hypothesis.
Planning My Research Question or Hypothesis — This resources contains a link to a PowerPoint presentation and a series of tutorials that contain examples and tips for writing research questions and hypotheses. Developing Hypothesis and Research Questions — The presentation below offers an indepth look at hypotheses and research questions and how they relate to the overall project and drive the research process. This pin will expire , on Change. This pin never expires. Select an expiration date.
About Us Contact Us. Search Community Search Community. Research Questions and Hypotheses The purpose of this module is to discuss research questions and research hypotheses and to provide definitions, comparisons and examples of both. Define research question and research hypothesis. Explain the difference between a research question and a research hypothesis and describe the appropriate use of each. Describe the purpose of each and understand the importance of a well-developed question or hypothesis.
Provide examples of research questions and research hypotheses. Used to analyze and investigate a topic. It is written as a question and is inquisitive in nature. A properly written question will be clear and concise. It should contain the topic being studied purpose , the variable s , and the population. Three main types of questions: Causal Questions — Compares two or more phenomena and determines if a relationship exists. Often called relationship research questions.
Does the amount of calcium in the diet of elementary school children effect the number of cavities they have per year? How often do college-aged students use Twitter? Comparative Questions — Aim to examine the difference between two or more groups in relation to one or more variables. What is the difference in caloric intake of high school girls and boys?
The type of research question will influence the research design. Once data has been collected, it will be analyzed and conclusions can be made. It is predictive in nature and typically used when significant knowledge already exists on the subject which allows the prediction to be made. Data is then collected, analyzed, and used to support or negate the hypothesis, arriving at a definite conclusion at the end of the research.
It is always written as a statement and should be developed before any data is collected. A complete hypothesis should include:
In this article, we discuss important considerations in the development of a research question and hypothesis and in defining objectives for research. By the end of this article, the reader will be able to appreciate the significance of constructing a good research question and developing hypotheses.
Research Questions and Hypotheses. The purpose of this module is to discuss research questions and research hypotheses and to provide definitions, comparisons and examples of both.
CHAPTER SEVEN Research Questions and Hypotheses I nvestigators place signposts to carry the reader through a plan for a study. The first signpost is the purpose statement, which establishes the. DEVELOPING HYPOTHESES & RESEARCH QUESTIONS Introduction Processes involved before formulating the hypotheses. Definition Nature of Hypothesis Types How to formulate a Hypotheses in Quantitative Research Qualitative Research Testing and Errors in Hypotheses Summary.
An overview of research questions and hypotheses for a dissertation or thesis. Research Hypotheses 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 .