C H A P T E R S E V E N Research Questions and Hypotheses I nvestigators place signposts to carry the reader through a plan for a study. The first signpost is the purpose statement, which establishes the central direction for the study. From the broad, general purpose state- ment, the researcher narrows the focus to specific questions to be answered or predictions based on hypotheses to be tested. This chapter begins by advancing several principles in designing and scripts for writing qualitative research questions; quantitative research questions, objectives, and hypotheses; and mixed methods research questions. QUALITATIVE RESEARCH QUESTIONS In a qualitative study, inquirers state research questions, not objectives (i.e., specific goals for the research) or hypotheses (i.e., predictions that involve variables and statistical tests). These research questions assume two forms: a central question and associated subquestions. The central question is a broad question that asks for an exploration of the central phenomenon or concept in a study. The inquirer poses this question, consistent with the emerging methodology of qualitative research, as a general issue so as to not limit the inquiry. To arrive at this question, ask, “What is the broadest question that I can ask in the study?” Beginning researchers trained in quantitative research might struggle with this approach because they are accustomed to the reverse approach: iden- tifying specific, narrow questions or hypotheses based on a few variables. In qualitative research, the intent is to explore the complex set of factors surrounding the central phenomenon and present the varied perspectives or meanings that participants hold. The following are guidelines for writ- ing broad, qualitative research questions: ● Ask one or two central questions followed by no more than five to seven sub- questions . Several subquestions follow each general central question; the 129 07-Creswell (RD)-45593:07-Creswell (RD)-45593.qxd 6/20/2008 4:37 PM Page 129
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