J Korean Med Sci.  2022 Apr;37(16):e121. 10.3346/jkms.2022.37.e121.

A Practical Guide to Writing Quantitative and Qualitative Research Questions and Hypotheses in Scholarly Articles

  • 1Department of General Education, Graduate School of Nursing Science, St. Luke’s International University, Tokyo, Japan
  • 2Department of Biological Sciences, Messiah University, Mechanicsburg, PA, USA


The development of research questions and the subsequent hypotheses are prerequisites to defining the main research purpose and specific objectives of a study. Consequently, these objectives determine the study design and research outcome. The development of research questions is a process based on knowledge of current trends, cutting-edge studies, and technological advances in the research field. Excellent research questions are focused and require a comprehensive literature search and in-depth understanding of the problem being investigated. Initially, research questions may be written as descriptive questions which could be developed into inferential questions. These questions must be specific and concise to provide a clear foundation for developing hypotheses. Hypotheses are more formal predictions about the research outcomes. These specify the possible results that may or may not be expected regarding the relationship between groups. Thus, research questions and hypotheses clarify the main purpose and specific objectives of the study, which in turn dictate the design of the study, its direction, and outcome. Studies developed from good research questions and hypotheses will have trustworthy outcomes with wide-ranging social and health implications.


Research Questions; Hypotheses; Quantitative Research; Qualitative Research


  • Fig. 1 General flow for constructing effective research questions and hypotheses prior to conducting research.

  • Fig. 2 Algorithm for building research question and hypothesis in quantitative research, and illustrative example based on the study of Higashihara and Horiuchi.16

  • Fig. 3 Algorithm for building research question and hypothesis in qualitative research, and illustrative example based on the study of Shimoda et al.17


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