The entire hypotheses which are developed cannot be used. There are some usable hypotheses while the others are not. The characteristics of usable hypothesis are as under:
1. Conceptual clearness:
A usuable hypothesis must be conceptually clear. In this concepts should be clearly defined and such definitions should be given which are commonly acceptable and communicable rather than definitions which are the product of a private world.
In this regard it is better if concepts in the research outline are listed and then defined in terms of words, particular operation and with reference to other concepts. It will be better, if these concepts are talked out to fellow researchers and some systematic clarification is given where necessary to maintain clarity of concepts.
2. It should be capable of being tested:
A usuable hypothesis should be capable of being tested for this it is essential that the researcher may undertake some prior study to ensure that his hypothesis can be tested. By a testable hypothesis we mean that from its other deductions can be made, which can be established or refuted by observation.
It should also establish some relationship between variables. It is very essential that a hypothesis should be capable of being tested within a reasonable time. A hypothesis even though very excellent but not capable of being tested in a reasonable time should not be used. It should clearly state what it actually wishes to explain.
3. Should have empirical referents:
Then a usable hypothesis should have empirical referents. No usable hypothesis can have moral judgments. The concepts in the hypothesis must have empirical correspondence. All the concepts which express attitudes should be such as can be analysed.
4. Is should be easily understandable:
A usuable hypothesis should be easily understandable. As far as possible in it very simple terms should be used. Some time it is wrongly understood that using of simple terminology, makes hypothesis less significant. It is, however, a wrong notion; use of difficult technical jargons in no way enhances that value of hypothesis. To the extent possible it should be consistent with the known facts.
5. It must be specific:
Then another characteristic of a usuable hypothesis is that it must be specific. In other words, all the operations and predictions indicated in the hypothesis must be clearly spelled out. In the words of Goode and Hatt, After hypothesis are expressed in such general terms, and with so grandiose a scope, that they are simply not testable.
Because of their magnitude, such grand ideas are tempting because they seem impressive and important. It is better for the students to avoid such problems and instead develop his skills upon more tangible notions. In this regard it may be pointed out that for making the hypothesis specific it is necessary that indexes.
If any being used, must be clearly described. In other words, a hypothesis to be usable must include a statement of indexes which are to be used i.e. political office, occupation, effective income, education, etc. It is only then that research can become practical and significant and validity of research can then increases. It has been said that, “Scientific predictions and hypothesis must then, avoid the trap of selective evidence by being as definite and specific as possible.”
It is better if for making the hypothesis specific, that is divided into sub-hypothesis because it then becomes easy to clarify the relationship between the data sought and conclusions drawn on the one hand and make research task more specific and manageable on the other.
6. It should be related to available techniques:
A usable hypothesis can be one which is related to available techniques. It is because theory and methods cannot be opposite to each other. One who does not know what techniques are available to test his hypothesis cannot properly formulate usable questions. It is accepted that in our modern times hypothesis are too complex to be handled by contemporary techniques but all the more a hypothesis devoid of relation to available techniques cannot be a usable hypothesis but it does not mean that without knowledge of technique no usable hypothesis can be developed.
Socio-economic hypothesis of Marx, as one knows was not proved by his data because necessary techniques were not available then. Same can be said about Emile Durkheim’s work on suicide. Not only this, but posing of an impossible question may stimulate the growth of new techniques as well and in fact some impetus towards modern developments in techniques has come from criticisms against significant studies which were considered inadequate because of technical limitations.
7. It should be related to body of theory:
Usually a student is tempted to do some research on an interesting subject without finding out whether the research will really help to refute, qualify or support any existing theory of social relations. No subject can develop without building on an existing body of facts and theory. It can never develop, if each study is an isolated survey. In the words of Goode and Hatt, What is important is that, whatever the source of your hypothesis it must be logically derivable from and based upon a set of sociological propositions.
8. It should be closest to things observable:
Of a usuable hypothesis it is expected that it should be closest to the things observable. In case that is not so it will not be possible to test its accord with empirical facts. A good hypothesis should be formulated in such a manner that some deductions can be derived from it. In the words of Cohen and Nagel, Hypothesis must be formulated in such a manner that deductions can be made from it and that consequently a decision can be reached as to whether it does or does not explain the facts considered.
9. It should be simple and brief:
A good and usable hypothesis should be simple and brief. Simpler the hypothesis, better it will be both for the researcher as well as the research. It should be brief so that it is possible to observe that. A hypothesis can become brief if it is stated in scientific terms. Brevity will also help in better understanding of underlying concepts and meanings.