UW Research

Develop Hypothesis/Question

All research projects should be designed to answer a specific question, usually by testing a well-formed hypothesis. Traditional application of the scientific method involves determining whether or not there exists a cause-and-effect relationship between observed phenomena. This is done by disproving the (“null”) hypothesis that there is no cause-and-effect relationship between the observed phenomena. Whatever process is used, it should not only result in a question or hypothesis statement that is both quantifiable and relevant to potential sponsors of the research.


  • The Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for developing the hypothesis and, throughout the research project, for testing the hypothesis, and analyzing and reporting results.


  • Reduce the research question to one or more individual hypotheses, each of which may be tested.
  • State the hypothesis(es) clearly for potential sponsors of the research.


  • Will the hypothesis, as stated, lend itself to experimental testing?
  • Will the results of testing the hypothesis, if successful, answer the research question of interest?