The difference between research questions & hypothesis

Updated April 17, 2017

Research questions and hypothesis are tools used in similar ways for different research methods. Both hypothesis and research questions are written before research begins and are used to help guide the research. Hypothesis are used in deductive research, where researchers use logic and scientific findings to either prove or disprove assumptions. Heuristic research is based on experience, where researchers use observations to learn about the research subject.


A hypothesis is defined as an educated guess, while a research question is simply the researcher wondering about the world. Hypothesis are part of the scientific research method. They are employed in research in science, sociology, mathematics and more. Research questions are part of heuristic research methods, and are also used in many fields including literature, and sociology.


As its name suggests, research questions are always written as questions. Hypothesis are written as statements preceded with the words "I predict." For example, a research question would ask, "What is the effect of heat on the effectiveness of bleach?" A hypothesis would state, "I predict heat will diminish the effectiveness of bleach."

Before Writing

Before writing a hypothesis, the researcher must determine what others have discovered about this subject. On the other hand, a research question requires less preparation, but focus and structure is critical.

For example, a researcher using a hypothesis would look up studies about bleach, information on the chemical properties of the chemical when heated and data about its effectiveness before writing the hypothesis. When using a research question, the researcher would think about how to phrase the question to ensure its scope is not too broad, too narrow or impossible to answer.

Writing Conclusions

When writing the conclusion for research conducted using a hypothesis, the researcher will write whether the hypothesis was correct or incorrect, followed by an explanation of the results of the research. The researcher using only a research question will write the answer to the question, followed by the findings of the research.

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About the Author

Alane Michaelson began writing professionally in 2002. Her work has appeared in Michigan publications such as the "Detroit Free Press" and the "Flint Journal." Michaelson graduated from Oakland University in 2006, earning a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.