Category: PhD Proposal/SynopsisHow to use variables while formulating hypothesis?

I’m in the process of formulating a research proposal for a study on the correlation between employee behaviour and organisational performance but am struggling with a few aspects of it. Until now I have been able to figure out some moderating/mediating variables like job satisfaction, employee rewards and recognition, leadership skills but I’m facing some issues in going ahead with the proposal. I still am not clear between the difference between a moderating and mediating variable and cannot figure out if the variables that I have selected should be mediating variables or moderating ones? I can’t figure out how to properly use the variables in the process of formulating the hypothesis either, whether I should test for direct relationships between the variables or that will be too simplistic? And how many hypotheses do I need to formulate at this stage in order to send a proposal that seems credible. I’m finding these aspects very confusing and would appreciate it if someone were to help me out with them as I’m running very behind on the work on my proposal. When I began writing the research proposal I didn’t imagine that all these minor confusions would pile up and become so bothersome for me. Please respond urgently!

asked on 23 Feb 18Lalit Mudra Lalit Mudra
3 Answers
answered on 27 Feb 18

I don’t know if I can help you in identifying which factors will fall under mediating variables and which ones will be moderating ones for your research but I can explain to you what mediating and moderating variables are-
You can understand the mediating variable as a quantitative or a qualitative parameter that affects the direction and/or strength of the relation between an independent variable and a dependent or variable. Specifically within a correlational analysis framework, a moderating variable that affects the zero-order correlation between two other variables. In general, a given variable may be called a mediating variable to the extent that it accounts for the relation between the independent factor and the dependent one. Mediating variables help in understanding how external physical events take on internal psychological significance. Whereas moderator variables specify when certain effects will hold, mediators speak to how or why such effects occur.

Anubhav Kumar Anubhav Kumar
answered on 11 Mar 18

I would just like to add to the last answer posted on this thread. You can understand the difference between a mediating or a moderating variable also in terms of the names they are referred to by, a mediating variable is one that plays a role similar to that of a middleman or mediator between the Independent variable(IV) and the Dependent Variable(DV). It can help in explaining the relationship between the two, for instance that the relationship is not one of direct influence but one that is perhaps ‘mediated’ by a factor which then becomes the mediating variable in this case. If the mediating variable is removed then the relationship between the dependent and independent variable becomes non-existent or doesn’t make sense. 
In case of the moderating variable, it can be understood as an external factor that alters the way the relationship between an independent and dependent variable is perceived. The key role of the moderator is to understand how the strength or weakness between the relationship varies, but a moderating variable is not as indispensable to the relationship between IV and DV,like the mediating variable is. Hope this helps!

Manpreet Jaiswal Manpreet Jaiswal
answered on 11 Mar 18

Hi Lalit!
I think in order to send in a decent proposal you should include atleast 3-4 broad hypothesis, and a few sub-hypotheses under each of them. But this is only a tentative number, do not take it to be written in stone. I would recommend that you go through existing research studies similar to the one that you are planning to do in order to figure out what would be a reasonable number of hypothesis to formulate and send in at this stage. Apart from that you should also consider asking a fellow researcher or academic from your field, to review the hypotheses that you have constructed for feasability, before you move to the next step and write an entire proposal around them. 

Rajshree Tamang Rajshree Tamang

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