How to Write the Hypothesis Chapter of a Dissertation or Thesis

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How to Write the Hypothesis Chapter of a Dissertation or Thesis

The hypothesis chapter of a dissertation or thesis informs the reader about what the author believes the end result of the research study will be.  In many cases, students write their hypothesis chapter last because they want to maintain a cohesive "beginning, middle, and end" structure for their document.  Doing so demonstrates that a particular goal was in sight at the beginning, research was undertaken in order to prove or disprove that aim, and the focus of the research was either proven or disproven by the facts that the research process unearthed.  In reality, you may start out trying to prove one thing and end up finding out something entirely different.  The topic of your dissertation may also change during the course of data collection.  Whether or not you decide to rewrite your first chapter, or to put off writing the first chapter until you have finished the process of research for your thesis, you should make sure that the structure of your paper makes sense to the reader.  The hypothesis chapter of the document should give your reader something to expect, and help to provide an initial guidepost that the reader can remember while working through the bulk of your research.

While outlining your hypothesis, you should give the reader a sense of the field in which your hypothesis is set.  Provide any relevant background details about the subject.  Your overview of the subject should be short and easily readable.  It should explain any specific aspects of the subject and any current conditions or historical conditions that will impinge upon the research process.  It should give the reader a framework within which the topic of your thesis research can be understood.  Your hypothesis gives the reader a sense of where you think you are going, and the reader will have that much better of a sense if you provide a clear picture of how the results that you look forward to seeing from your research tie into the greater world environment.  

Next, explain how you intend to prove or disprove your thesis.  What kind of evidence will you be collecting?  How will it show your hypothesis to be either true or untrue?  Will it be possible for you to determine a clear objective result and show whether the hypothesis is always positive or negative, or will there be shades of gray to navigate?  Will the results be for all aspects of the topic that you are researching, or will you limit your findings to one particular instance?  What are the strengths and limitations of the topic that you have selected to be the basis of your research, and what are the strengths and limitations that you foresee in the research process that will be used to evaluate your hypothesis?

By achieving these goals of clearly stating what you intend to prove, showing how it relates to the greater context, and demonstrating the techniques and methodology that you will use for the research, you can give the reader of your thesis a solid impression of your hypothesis in the hypothesis chapter of your reference project.

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