Developing Research Paper Hypotheses

If you’ve ever had the experience of writing a college paper, then chances are you’ve had to write a research paper. Professors love these kinds of papers. It makes you do the hard work of having to sift through different bits of information, think outside the box, and apply the knowledge you’ve gained in class with the information that you’ve gathered from your sources into a synthesized work that demonstrates your understanding of the material you’ve covered this semester. In short, it’s a great way to see what you’re thinking, and what you’ve learned.

But what if you can’t think of a proper paper hypothesis?

Well, then this guide is for you.

Gather Your Data

If you’re writing a research paper, then chances are you’re either in a class pertaining to the hard sciences, something like political science, or an English class. In the case of a science class, the first thing you’re want to do when trying to develop a paper hypothesis is to gather your data from different experiments—both those you’ve conducted or observed as well as any that you might be commenting on or using as an example. In the case of a political science class, you’re going to want to gather data as well. Charts and graphs go very nicely with studies that you’re going to cite, as these charts can be used as hard proof of your point and that point, in turn, can metamorphose into a paper hypothesis. Finally, if you’re writing a research paper for English, you’re going to want to re-read whatever book, play or poem you’re covering or using before going any further. You want to be perfectly clear on your work before you introduce outside sources.

Pattern Seeking

Now that you have your data, what patterns do you see? Finding commonalties between different sources can be a great way to find a thread or idea that’s strong enough to be developed into your hypothesis.

What Do You Really Think?

Take the time to ask that question. A hypothesis, after all, is a theory as to what you think is either a thesis that you think can be put to the test or a prospective outcome to an experiment. In either case, your thesis and hypothesis need to be your own.

Put another way—you have to really believe what you’re writing in if you’re going to develop a coherent and strong hypothesis. Look at the data objectively, form objective conclusions from that data, and then ask the subjective question—what do you think about that?

The answer to that question is likely going to be the foundation of your hypothesis.