Hypothesis and Methodology

Stating the hypothesis
A hypothesis is simply defined as an “educated guess”. It is the investigator’s prediction and explanation of the relationship between two or more variables. It states the likely outcome of the study. In other words, it states what the researcher expects in the conclusion of the study.

You can introduce your hypothesis based on observation of data (not necessarily by collecting the data) or on past events or knowledge about the issue under investigation. The hypothesis must be stated, either as a null hypothesis or an alternative hypothesis, but not both. Basically, the null hypothesis is always the negative,

e.g (Ho)”Osu, Accra, Ghana is not a globalized town” and the alternative hypothesis is stated as: (H1)“Osu is a globalized town”.

A justification is provided to support the statement of the hypothesis. For example, Osu is globalized because Oxford Street is characterized by foreign businesses, such as Standard Chartered Bank, Shoprite, etc, suggesting that the area could be globalized. Note the phrase “could be”, because one is not yet too sure in stating that Osu is a globalized town. Conditional phrases should therefore be used to state the hypothesis of any kind.

When analyzing the data, it is important to pay attention to the hypothesis stated in your introduction. Firstly, the data collected must take into consideration the variables stated in the hypothesis. By so doing, the analysis of the results can indicate whether the hypothesis should be accepted or rejected. This is usually done qualitatively and further tested quantitatively to give an accurate and complete picture of the data analyzed.

Testing the hypothesis – Statistical Tools
The statistical tools employed for testing a hypothesis include:

  • Chi-Squared Test
  • Spearman’s Rank Correlation
  • Pearson’s Product Moment
  • Regression

Stating the hypothesis in the conclusion

Make a statement about your hypothesis in your conclusion, stating whether it was accepted or rejected in your analysis. State which variable(s) indicate this, and the statistical evidence that justifies this conclusion. The conclusion must be brief. Thus, only the relevant data needs to be referred to as justification of your acceptance or rejection of your hypothesis.

Methods of investigation

In your write up of your Geography IA, you will have to include a description of the methodology used to collect the data. This constitutes Criterion B of the investigation. It includes, but not limited to, the sample design, methods of data collection, methods of data presentation and analysis and a copy of the questionnaire used to collect the data. The questionnaire must to be annotated with some attempt at justification of the variables used.

Sample Design

Your sample design takes into account two factors:

  • Sample Frame – The number of respondents eligible for data to be obtained from. This is the total number of people who qualify to be selected in your investigation.
  • Sample size – The actual number of the people you will select for data collection.

There are two main types of sampling:

  • Probability sampling: each member of the population has an equal chance of being selected. Examples of probability sampling include:
    • Simple Random Sampling
    • Stratified Sampling
    • Systematic Sampling
    • Cluster Sampling
  • Non-Probability sampling include:
    • Quota sampling
    • Purposive sampling
    • Snowballing
    • Convenience sampling

These are considered a sample design because it is done at the planning stages of the research process, before any attempt is made to embark on data collection.

Methods of data collection

Sources of data: This indicates where and how the data for the study will be/was collected. The two mains sources of data collection are primary and secondary sources

  1. Primary sources:

Direct ways data is obtained for the study. It is direct because it involves going to talk to people or making personal observations about the issue under investigation. The instruments for collecting such data include

      • Questionnaires:

There are two types of questionnaires- structured or closed- ended and unstructured or open-ended questionnaires.

Unstructured questionnaires provide a wide range of options to the respondent to answer. In this case, lines are provided for the respondent to provide as much information as possible. Before designing structured surveys, one must first collect reconnaissance data (in a pilot survey) to be familiar with the area. The pilot survey questionnaire should be open-ended in order to collect a wide range of responses as possible. These are then organized into structured or closed-ended responses before embarking on the final data collection exercise.

As part of the requirements for the investigation, it is important to keep in mind the rationale behind any of the choices made in any aspect of the investigation. This means that it is important to record all of the circumstances involved in the investigation or any factor that may influence the data collected e.g time of day, weather conditions at the time of data collection, contingency plans, unforeseen mishaps that may affect the survey or investigation etc.

      • Interviews
      • Personal observations
      • Focus group discussions
      • photographs

2. Secondary sources:

These are indirect sources of information that have already been undertaken by other investigators on the topic. Such information can be obtained from

  • Textbooks
  • Journal articles
  • Internet sources such as websites and databases
  • Videos and Television shows
  • Print and electronic publications

Methods of data presentation and analysis

The section describes how the data will be analyzed. It is best to present it in a way that is engaging and easy to understand. This is done using a wide range of techniques in the geography syllabus or other imaginative ways of doing so. Basically, it is presented using tables of percentages, charts and graphs, photographs etc. Useful software that may aid in analyzing your data is SPSS – Statistical Package for Social Sciences. You will be taught how to use this software in the course of the investigation.