Phase 2. Theory and Hypothesis


This part of your paper involves a general process that explains your research question. This process contains two closely related concepts. You should focus on answering the following questions:


What is the theory involved in your research project? What is the theoretical connection between your concepts? In your theory section you may want to answer why concept Y (the dependent variable) is related to concept X (the independent variables).


Example: Your theory should include statements pertaining to why your selected groups are expected to be different. For instance, if your topic involves attitudes toward health care (National vs. Private), you must explain why people have different attitudes. Is it class difference? If so, what is it about class differences that would impact attitudes towards health care? Is it because some classes would benefit more from health care? In what ways would different classes benefit?


Although there may be multiple factors that are expected to influence the dependent variable, your focus should be on your main explanatory (i.e. independent) variable at this point. However, you should be thinking about how other factors (i.e. control variables) may also influence the dependent variable. In this way, you can add control variables to your model when you operationalize your hypotheses in Phase 3.


Write a directional hypothesis. For example, you could hypothesize that people from lower classes will support a national health care system more than people from higher classes because they will tend to benefit the most (Avoid a null hypothesis).

Example: Hypothesis 1: Lower class people will favor a national care policy more than high class people.


It is important to read and learn from professionally written quantitative papers. For example, see pp 917-8 of the sample paper that has been posted on the course web page.


1. Use academic sources to support your arguments.

2. Quotations should be used effectively. Avoid using them too many times. You should not have them more than 2-3 times in the theory section.

3. Make sure to read the descriptions of the previous phases again.

4. Null hypothesis is not acceptable. A directional hypothesis is required.

5. Avoid writing paragraphs that are not directly connected to your hypotheses. You should focus on writing paragraphs that support your hypothesis.

6. Do not write paragraphs about your control variables. Focus on the main independent variable(s).

7. Pay attention to the units of analysis.

8. This section is all about the causal mechanism.

9. Try to build your theory deductively. (It does not have to be mathmatical.)

10. Keep looking for data. You will not be able to complete your research paper without data.

11. This section should be about 5 pages.

12. Save your file and submit it to Blackboard. The instructors will only grade your hard copy.



1. At the end of the semester, you will turn in your paper by combining the phases. You will be asked to turn in the original phases with your final paper. In other words, you need to keep your original phases with my comments after I return them to you.

3. Make sure to have multiple backups of your file. You will be responsible for lost files.

4. Overall, present your paper professionally.