Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


A fast-paced novel of conjecture and surprises



core definition

A hypothesis is a statement of a conjecture to be investigated.

explanatory context

A hypothesis may be vague or but if it is to be scientifically tested it needs to be in a form that is concise and testable. Often, in positivistic social science, this will be in the form of a null hypothesis.


Hypothesis is merely a statement to be tested it is not a theory, indeed a theory may generate many hypotheses to be tested or evaluated.


The adjective, hypothetical, refers to some idea that it not confirmed and has the status of a hypotheses to be tested.


In formal logic a hypothesis is the antecedent of a proposition, for example, "If P, then Q", then P would be the antecedent or hypothesis (Q would be the consequent).

analytical review

Colorado State University (1993–2013) defines hypothesis as:

A tentative explanation based on theory to predict a causal relationship between variables.


Elwell's Glossary of Sociology (undated) defines hypothesis as:

A tentative statement about a given state of affairs that predicts a relationship between the variables, usually put forward as a basis for empirical testing.

associated issues


related areas

See also


null hypothesis


Researching the Real World Section 8


Colorado State University, 1993–2013, Glossary of Key Terms available at, accessed 3 February 2013, still available 5 June 2019.

Elwell's Glossary of Sociology, undated, available at, page not available 20 December 2016.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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