Last Updated on August 11, 2020 by Chrisantus Oden
How to Make Assumptions in a Research Paper
In the academic environment, making assumptions is vital as the research statement of the problem when writing a project dissertation. Assumptions in an essay are those statements your audience will take as true or false. Today, we will be looking at making assumptions in research writing and errors to be avoided during this process.
What is assumption?
In academic writing, an assumption is regarded as unexamined belief; that is what we are considering without realizing it. Inarguably all research works conclude based on the assumption that the authors have not critically examined.
The Importance of Assumptions in a Thesis
Deciding what assumptions might arise in your readers’ minds is one of the primary functions to be carried out when writing a research paper. Without a doubt, assumptions are the foundation of any credible and valid research work. In fact, without assumptions, research problems cannot be found as they determine the conclusions that would be gotten from your research work.
It is essential to point out that the type of assumption will determine the conclusion gotten from the research. For this reason, you should critically consider the kinds of assumptions you make in your research. What then makes a proper assumption? Being able to be verified and justified. To give a reasonable assumption, you must not just state, but explain and cite examples to justify your premise’s validity. On the other hand, a wrong assumption is not easily valid and justified. Take, for instance, in case you are assuming that participants will provide honest answers to questions you ask them, explain how the data was gotten, and steps you will take to ensure their identity is protected to guarantee truthfulness.
Assumptions and Hypotheses: Similarities and differences
Many people tend to mix up an assumption with a hypothesis. Although these two concepts share specific characteristics, they are quite different. Below we list two significant similarities and differences between an assumption and thesis.
Similarities between assumption and thesis:
1. Both assumption and hypothesis can be proved and disapproved during the course of the research.
2. Like thesis an assumption must always be affirmative, never a question.
Differences between an assumption and hypothesis:
1. Unlike an assumption, the researcher consciously works towards proving the validity of the hypothesis used for the research.
2.The research work begins based on an assumption, whereas a theory is a goal the study aims to achieve.
Having differentiated between these two concepts, the question now evolves in many writers’ minds, what then is a premise in research?
Is Premise and Assumption the same?
A premise is commonly described as the assumption that the arguments depend on ”fly.” In essence, we are saying that an assumption is sometimes referred to as a premise of research work. Let’s check out the example below to understand better:
1. All men are mortal;
2. Socrates is a man;
3. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
From the above example, it is evident that the first two assertions are premises. Why are they assumptions? Because there is no attempt to prove their validity, everyone just accepts them as reality. However, the last statement depends on the first two sentences; if those are untrue, it is also inaccurate and vice versa.
Types of Assumptions
There are two types of Assumptions when writing a research paper: directly stated assumption (explicit) or indirectly stated but implied (Implicitly). So immediately, you pinpoint an assumption in research work, watch out for the two types.
Often, to make an efficient reading, it is necessary to go beyond what has been said, that is, read between the lines.
For example, observe this statement:
Patricia stopped drinking soda
The explicit assumption is, “Patricia stopped drinking soda.” The implicit assumption is, “Patricia used to drink soda before.”
Now, see this other example:
Fortunately, Patricia stopped drinking soda
The explicit assumption is, “Patricia stopped drinking soda.” The word “fortunately” indicates that the speaker has a positive opinion of the fact – that is the implicit assumption.
Common Assumptions in Research
Arguably, perhaps the most frequent assumption in any research is around the participants’ sincerity when answering the questions being asked. It is important to note that if the questions you ask the respondents are quite sensitive, it is best to assume plausible honesty when compared to answering impersonal questions. If there is element of subjectivity and compromise in the answer being provided, it should be listed as a limitation of the research, not an assumption. Limitations and assumptions of the study should not be in contrast to each other.
Another widespread assumption is the similarity of participants’ characteristics within the study. Another common assumption in research is determining the level of representation a sample size is for a population.
Four Ways to Deal with Assumptions
Like we earlier mentioned, regardless of the type of research being carried out, assumptions are vital to its success. Despite the critical role it plays in research writing when you re-evaluate the assumptions you have made, sometimes you feel like they are not accurate enough; hence you want to change the assumption. Below we have highlighted four tips on how to deal with assumptions in research writing.
1. Don’t touch them, leave them as they are;
When you see the assumptions, you have made in your research, you may think about leaving them. However, your confidence will be boosted about choosing not to touch them if carefully review them and the options available.
2. Explain them in more detail (make them explicit)
Indeed when you make an assumption, you will likely feel like that is the right thing to do; however, your research work will be more understood if you expound more about the assumption, although you don’t need to give examples to back it up.
3. Offer evidence (convert them into supported claims)
We know at this point; you are worried about the fact that we are asking you to provide evidence. Nevertheless, it is something you should consider if you think your audience will probably not agree with one of the assumptions you have made with an example to back it up. So, in this situation, it is ideal for you to turn your assumption into a claim that has proof.
4. Change them (revise the larger claim)
In certain situations, even you are not convinced by the assumption you are presenting to your audience even after several attempts to prove. In this case, the best thing to do is to review the assumption and the statement it serves as a backbone.
Three Common Mistakes about assumptions
When evaluating an assumption, there are inevitable mistakes to be careful of:
Mistake #1: The assumption is terrible because there is no evidence
Many people make a mistake of saying that when an assumption does not have proof, it will fail. However, if you look at the definition of assumption, you will notice that lack of evidence pops out.
Mistake #2: I can’t entirely agree because we cannot know if it’s true or not
Another common mistake about assumption is that if we cannot know whether it is true or false, we cannot say it is an assumption because there is no room for agreeing or disagreeing. But the reality is that even if we cannot ascertain the assumption, we can make an educated guess and explain the reasons for making the assumption.
Mistake #3: The assumption is reasonable because there is evidence
A lot of people express that when there is proof for an assumption, it is a good one. However, the truth is, when your supposed assumption has evidence, and the author tries to prove it, it is no longer an assumption.
From the above, it is evident that assumption is an integral part of research writing. We believe you can now identify what it is and make assumptions to back up your research.