Research Purpose, Hypotheses, and Questions

Four key components to a research project are the purpose statement, research questions, hypotheses, and research objectives. In this post, we will define each of these.

Definitions

The purpose statement provides the reader with the overall focus and direction of a study. Both quantitative and qualitative research use purpose statements. Purpose statements normally begin with the phrase “the purpose of this study…” Below is an example of a quantitative purpose statement.

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between college completion and organizational commitment of undergraduate students in Thailand. 

Here is an example of a qualitative purpose statement.

The purpose of this study is to explore student experiences at a university in Thailand about completing their tertiary degree.

Both of these examples are short one-sentence responses to what the study will attempt to do. This is a critical first step in shaping the study.

Research Question

The research question(s) in a quantitative or qualitative study narrows the purpose down to a specific question(s) for the researcher to find answers. Below are examples from both the quantitative and qualitative perspective. We are continuing the research themes from the previous section on the purpose statement.

Quantitative

Does organizational commitment affect college completion of students?

Qualitative

What kinds of experiences have students had while completing their degree?

On closer examination, you may have noticed that the research questions sound a lot like the purpose statement. Research questions often split a part a long complex purpose statement into several questions. This is why questions sound so redundant when compared to the purpose statement. Despite this apparent problem, this thought process helps researchers to organize their thinking and proceed in a manner that is much more efficient.

The next two components only relate to quantitative research and they are the hypotheses and research objective(s). For this reason our illustration of qualitative concepts will stop at this point.

Hypotheses

Hypotheses are statements a researcher makes about the potential outcome(s) of a study based on the examination of literature. Below is an example from the same theme as before.

Students who have a higher perception of organizational commitment will also have a higher likelihood of completing college.

Again, the wording of the research questions, hypotheses and purpose statement are similarly. The difference is only slightly and is due to context. Seeing these similarities quickly will help you to move faster in finishing a study. The difference between these elements is a matter of perspective rather than a strong difference, as they do sound awfully similar.

Research Objectives

Research objectives are the goals a researcher has for a study. This component is not always included in a study. Below is an example.

To examine the correlation between organizational commitment and the rate of college completion

Conclusion

The purpose statement, research questions, hypotheses, and research objectives help a researcher to focus on what he is studying about. With this focus comes a clearer understanding of what to do. Not all forms of study have all components nor are all components always required. The point is that attention to these details will help in the success of a study.

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8 thoughts on “Research Purpose, Hypotheses, and Questions

  1. J

    This is the wrong use of the word, it should be “their” not “there”.

    Here is an example of a qualitative purpose statement.

    The purpose of this study is to explore student experiences at a university in Thailand about completing there tertiary degree.

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  2. Pingback: Developing a Data Analysis Plan | educational research techniques

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