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Research question/Hypothesis

Every research work must have

research question (s)/hypothesis.

Research question:
A Research Question is a statement
that identifies the phenomenon to be
Many studies have more than one
research question.

FINER Criteria for a Good RQ

Adequate number of subjects
Adequate technical expertise
Affordable in time and money
Manageable in scope
Getting the answer intrigues the investigator and her/his friends
Confirms, refutes or extends previous findings
Provides new findings
Amenable to a study that institutional review board will approve
To scientific knowledge
To clinical and health policy
To future research

Example of research question

For cross sectional descriptive studies:
What is the prevalence of dry eye
among the computer users of Dhaka
Who are the people mostly affected by
For case control studies:
Is there any association between
computer use and dry eye?
What are the risks of conjunctivitis?

For interventional study:

Does amitryptyline reduce frequency of
migraine attack compared with

Components of the clinical question

Population - type of person /patient
Intervention (exposure) - type of
Comparisons - type of control
Outcomes - type of outcome

Refining the clinical question

Type of exposure

Are anticoagulant agents useful in

patients who have had a stroke?

Type of patient

The well-formulated question

Type of exposure Type of outcomes

Do anticoagulant agents improve
outcomes in
Type of person

patients with acute ischemic stroke

Type of control

compared with no treatment?

A hypothesis is an educated guess about how things work.
Many study questions undergo a further transformation
into a final and most specific version, termed research
When Hypothesis?
Other than descriptive type of cross sectional study all
may have a hypothesis
Characteristics of a good hypothesis:
Stated in advance

When hypothesis should be


If any of the following terms appear in the

research question:
Greater than
Less than
Leads to
Compared with
More likely than
Associated with
Related to
Similar to
Correlated with

Chocolate may causes migraine
Bacterial growth may be affected by
Ultra violet light may cause cataract

Simple versus complex

Simple hypothesis:
One predictor and one outcome
E.g. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with an
increased risk of proteinurea in patients with
Complex hypothesis:
More than one predictor
(a sedentary lifestyle and alcohol consumption
are associated with an increased risk of
proteinuria in patients with diabetes) or
More than one outcome (alcohol consumption is
associated with an increased risk of proteinuria
and neuropathy in patients with diabetes)

Null hypothesis or hypothesis of no difference:

There is no association between the

predictor and outcome (e.g. there is no
difference in the frequency of dinking well
water between subjects who develop
peptic ulcer disease and those who do not)
Alternative hypothesis:

The proposition that there is an association

(e.g. the frequency of drinking well water is
different in subjects who develop peptic
ulcer than in those who do not)
In research only alternative hypothesis should be
written. The null hypothesis does not need to be
written in the dissertation/thesis.

One-and two-sided alternative

One sided: specifies the direction of
association between predictor and
E.g. drinking well water is more common
among subjects who develop peptic ulcers

Two-sided: specifies association; does not

specify direction
E.g. Subjects who develop peptic ulcer
disease have a different frequency of drinking
well water than those who do not.