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Advice on Statistics Research Paper
Formulating a Hypothesis

Steps in Formulating a Hypothesis
  • Decide what you want to explain: choose a dependent variable
    • Your dependent variable must show variation
    • Run Descriptives to see mean and dispersion statistics
    • Even better, run Frequencies, and call for a histogram along with the mean and std. dev (suppress the Frequency table itself)
  • Choose independent variables that also show variation
    • One can't explain variation in a dependent variable with an independent variable that doesn't vary.
    •  Moreover, the variation in the independent must match that in the dependent variable.
    • Otherwise, they can't possibly covary, which is needed for the covariation needed in correlation.
    •  Examples of lack of theoretical potential:
      • Voting for Clinton in 1996 in the suburb of Winnetka can't be explained by race, for race does not vary much in Winnetka.
      • Variation across time in deaths in domestic violence within nations can't be explained by ethnic diversity, for ethnicity doesn't change much across time within a nation.
      • However, variation in deaths across nations can be related to variation in ethnic diversity across nations.
  • Think of multiple causes of the dependent variable:
    • Do two or more independent variables combine to affect it?
      • Consider using multiple regression to deal with multiple causes. 
    • Does a relationship hold for some units of analysis but not others?
      • For northern states but not for southern ones?
      • For European nations but not for Third World nations?
      • For whites, but not for blacks?
      • For reformed cities, but not unreformed cities?
      • For multi-party states, but not single-party states?
    • Try to develop your analysis so that it considers all the cases, even if the relationship doesn't apply equally to them.
  • Consider alternative measures of both the dependent and independent variables.