How to develop a solid hypothesis in a nursing paper?

by Dr. Alan November 16, 2020

The hypothesis is an integral part of any research paper. It is especially important in nursing essays where students have to put forth their arguments in a logical way. With a solid hypothesis, you can provide insight into the topic in a myriad of ways

But before we get into the technicalities of the subject, let’s clear a few essential points first. What is the hypothesis? And why do we need them? Well, a hypothesis is a statement used to highlight a research question and propose an appropriate solution for it.

The primary feature of any hypothesis is that is must be testable. Your entire nursing paper develops on either trying to prove or disprove this first statement. Read on to know more about hypothesis development and how to integrate it in your essay.

Elements of a testable hypothesis

simple hypothesis has the following parts- cause, effect, and rationale. The purpose refers to problem statement that leads to the thesis. It forms the “if” part of the hypothesis, the premise upon which you base your argument. This section should come first in the hypothesis statement wherein you explain the purpose of the research

The “effect” forms the “then” aspect of the report. In layman terms, this section refers to the consequences of probable results that follow the causes. We can also understand the effect as the solution to the problem posed by the “cause.”

The rationale is the most critical part of the hypothesis, wherein you rationally defend your arguments. This is the section where you try to prove or disprove your theory, thereby elaborating on the key points of your research.

Structuring your hypothesis

The hypothesis forms the crux of any nursing essay or scientific research, for that matter. It comes at the very beginning of your paper, even before the introduction para. It sets your research in a specific context, giving you the space to outline the intent and purpose of the article.

Every hypothesis consists of two elements- facts and variables. Facts refer to the unchanging facts and figures in the nursing essay. This information referred to in “Facts” remain constant throughout the piece. With variables, you can change the data as an when necessary. The variable data also apply to assumptions that we take before beginning any nursing paper.   

Furthermore, the variables can be divided into two categories- dependent and independent. Independent variables are separate entities in their own right or the cause. The depended variables refer to the effect.

Here is a stepwise guide to structure your hypothesis.

Step 1: Theory construction

Theory construction is the first step to building the hypothesis. This is where you decide upon the topic of research and the various sources used for the study. The scientific enquiry is also the part where you check the credibility of the information presented.

There are various topics that you can base your nursing essay on. Most research papers take a specific case/instance, which can be either real or fictional. Here are a few questions you should ask before arriving at the hypothesis.

  • What subject or area of research do you plan to cover?
  • What is the basic premise of the case?
  • What is the case/instance all about?
  • What is the cause behind this?
  • What are its immediate and long-term effects?
  • How would you justify the results to the reader?

These are some of the questions the hypothesis and your paper aim to answer. Feel free to expand on this list and customize it as per your research. In this section, you try to look at the case from multiple perspectives. It gives you a more in-depth insight into the subject, making your essay holistic and credible.

Step 2: Empirical data collection

Empirical data collection is when you try to gather all your resources and studies. No research paper is ever written in isolation. Of course, you have to refer to other scholars and research studies done in the past

You must cite all these references in the nursing essay. I recommend students to follow the APA or Harvard in-text referencing as they’re ideal for stat-based papers. You can consult your peers or professors in case of any confusion.

This is also the section where you state the key takeaways from the hypothesis. Ensure that all the data you present is verified, authentic and error-free. It adds credibility to your research, building confidence in the reader to trust your analysis.

I also suggest students apply a few nursing theories and concepts relevant to your paper. Also, keep the hypothesis in the present tense.

Step 3: Conceptualization

This is the part where you arrange the different aspects of the hypothesis in an orderly way. Here you try to answer the four basic questions, applicable to every research project.

What: it refers to the fundamental question of- what is this paper all about. Here you talk about the critical points of the nursing case/idea and how it affects the industry

How: it refers to the technical aspects of the hypothesis. Here you talk about the research methodology and how you plan to prove or disprove the hypothesis

When: it sets your paper in a particular context. With the “when” question, you add relevance to your research. A hypothesis is built around limited information, the rest are but suppositions derived from these facts.

Why: it is the most critical aspect of the hypothesis that aims to delve into the reasons for writing this paper. This is where you outline the necessity of the research and how it adds value to the nursing community.


The research hypothesis usually deals with two or more variables

Step 4: Practical application

Practical application is crucial because it tests the effectiveness of your hypothesis. Without this step, your hypothesis loses any validity and remains but a mere assumption. There are two ways to test a theory– pure research and applied method.

The pure research method is where you collect all the information and review it academically. It is suitable for nursing students who want to analyze and interpret research studies in multiple ways. It also gives you more flexibility to delve into advance research if necessary.

The applied research method is set in the more practical ground. This is where you try to apply the data collected in the pure research section and apply it to realistic scenarios. Now, the practical application deals with both these aspects.

Here, the student learns how the theoretical aspects of nursing are used to improve everyday efficiency. The nursing student is usually interested in pure research, while the practitioner is concerned with the practical application.

Step 5: Conclusion and counterpoints

The last section of the hypothesis structure is where one presents counterpoints to refute your arguments. It is only fair that you give a complete view of the nursing subject. Think about all the possible critical alternatives that you can come up with.

In this section, I advise students to use a lot of infographics and stats to present a solid case. Your paper is but an extension of the hypothesis. It sets the ground for further research and opens new areas of exploration.

The conclusion is where you try to tie the loose ends together and reinstate your arguments. A hypothesis and its final analysis usually take a few paras. You can position it after the abstract section of the paper.  

Types of hypothesis

There are seven different types of theory, each following a separate structure and format. However, for the sake of convenience, I will focus on the three major types that you can use in your nursing essay.


Keep the hypothesis in the present tense.


Research hypothesis

The research hypothesis is usually applied to scientific papers. Here, students must provide substantial data to back up their claims and perceptions. Also, the language of the research hypothesis is more academic and pronounced.

The research hypothesis usually deals with two or more variables, and the student must find ways to connect them using stats.

Null hypothesis

The null hypothesis is when the student must prove the absence of a connection between the two proposed variables. In this case, the two or more variables bear no logical relationship. And as a student, you must try to prove the same with stats and in-depth research.  

Alternative hypothesis

An alternative hypothesis is when the research hypothesis fails to prove your line of argument. With the alternative explanation, you present the substitute. Ensure that you provide enough testing and results to prove it.

Quick links and references

I have curated a list of reading material and reference reading that you can check out. These sources were taken from the govt. Websites and university platforms. You can cite this for your paper for extra brownie points

Hypothesis structure

Hypothesis format guidelines

Nursing essay format

APA in-text referencing

Harvard reference guide

Citation generator- citethisforme

The Bottom Line

Hypothesis improves the arguments posed in any nursing essay. It sets the foundation for your research, giving you ample space to expand into the subject. With the hypothesis, you state the multiple variables and the connection between them.  

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