Assignment: Identifying the Variables and Writing a Hypothesis (1 page max)
After reading the week’s Lesson materials, you will develop a working hypothesis, building on the research topic . ( “Leaderless Resistance and Lone Wolf Terrorism.”) Remember that once you have identified a research question, you will propose some plausible explanation (answer to the question), which may turn out to be true or not. The point of this exercise is to identify some independent variables that lead to a dependent variable, which lead you to put a hypothesis into words.
The purpose for identifying a working hypothesis is to develop an assumption based on your preliminary research and then identify the variables that you will analyze to produce an empirical analysis. Sometimes there are two competing hypotheses and the key is to discover which answer is more correct through your research.
For example, if my research question was: What are the conditions that lead to the proliferation of demonstrations in Arab countries? and my preliminary research indicated that there was high unemployment among the young, discontent with the political process, poverty, I would diagram my variables like this:
IV + IV + IV = DV
Unemployment + discontent + poverty = popular demonstrations
From there, I might develop a simple hypothesis:
High rates of unemployment among the young, discontent with the political process, and poverty common to many of the Arab Spring nations contributed to widespread unrest and demonstrations.
However, a person could come up with another explanation for the same dependent variable: popular demonstrations.
IV + IV + IV = DV
Political Repression + Censorship + Extremist Agitation = Popular Demonstrations
For this assignment you are to develop one working hypothesis or, if more applicable for your topic, two alternative explanations for the same observed or predicted phenomenon. If the alternative explanations (hypotheses) are mutually exclusive of each other, only one of the explanations can be correct. You should provide a short review of the sources that pertain to your topic to enable the reader to see how you arrived at this working hypothesis.
Later in this class you will continue with your hypothesis as the basis of what will become the paper you deliver in the final week. In the weeks ahead, I will step you through the various steps to create that paper. For now, though, focus on the explanation (hypothesis development) for your research question. Research questions and hypotheses are usually within graduate papers/studies and incorporate information written according to qualitative, quantitative, or mixed studies approaches. Undergraduate papers usually incorporate research questions and hypotheses in the form of the thesis statement. But, please be aware of what a graduate paper will include.
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