A hypothesis is a statement that provides a possible explanation for an event or phenomenon. It is not a statement of opinion; it is a statement that can be tested, which is why it is often used in science-related research essays. When formulating your hypothesis, consider whether others can test your statement and whether the statement is based on research and verifiable facts.
Write out the central question your essay will answer. If your essay is about ducks and how oil spills affect them, then the effect of oil spills on ducks is what is being tested.
Decide, based on your research, the point you are trying to prove. For example, your essay may try to prove that oil spills affect a duck's ability to reproduce, thereby significantly reducing the population of ducks.
Determine if your point is verifiable and can be proven based upon your research. The research in your essay must conclude that your hypothesis is true in order for the statement to be successful. Research that shows oil spills affect the lung capacity of ducks, for example, won't help you prove that oil spills minimize ducks' ability to reproduce.
Formalize your hypothesis. Write a clear and concrete statement about what your essay will prove. Often times, you can't write a true and formalized hypothesis until after you've completed the essay. An example of a formalized hypothesis would be: Oil spills in the Pacific Ocean have minimized the Pacific Ducks' ability to reproduce, which has contributed to a significant decrease in their population.
- Jetta Productions/Lifesize/Getty Images