A hypothesis is an idea or concept that may be true. It is a statement about an investigation or study without assuming it is correct, which is used for further studies. On the other hand, a research question is a methodological point of departure of scholarly research in both natural and social sciences.
Hypotheses and research questions have several similarities and differences. For instance, they are similar in the sense that they both are research tools that are utilized in various research methods (Martin & Bridgmon, 2012). Moreover, they are both written prior to conducting any and are used as guidelines in research. In regards to differences, hypotheses are preferred during deductive research, where researchers use scientific finding and logic to either disapprove or prove assumptions. In contrast, research questions are based on experience where researchers use observation to learn more about their research subject. Research questions are a part of the research methods and are mostly used in research fields of sociology and literature. Hypotheses are often written as statements, while research questions are written as questions.
Creswell (2008) believes that a keen researcher should not experience any difficulties in determining when to use a hypothesis or a research question. In most cases, a research question is usually posed in the beginning of a research effort or in a specific area of study that has had a little formal research. A research question may take the form of a basic question about some issue or phenomena or a question about the relation between two or more variables (Creswell, 2008). Examples of a research question and a hypothesis are highlighted below.
Research question: What is the effectiveness of traditional and non-traditional early warning systems in arid and semi-arid areas in Africa?
Hypothesis: Traditional and non-traditional early warning systems are not effective in Africa ASALs.
Similarities: Both the research question and hypothesis force the researcher to clearly state the purpose of early warning systems in ASALs on drought management systems.
Differences: The research question focuses on the effectiveness of traditional and non-traditional early warning systems in ASAL areas, while the hypothesis forces the researcher to focus on the limitations of early warning systems in ASALs in Africa.