The Purpose Statement

The purpose statement serves as a specific communication for what the study is to explore and/or accomplish. Purpose statements are made for both quantitative and qualitative research studies. One example of each are as follows

  • Quantitative Example(s):
    1. "The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of an animated agent using Socratic-like questioning approach on student performance during a set of disassembly tasks performed in a CBI simulation program" (Perez & Solomon, 2005, p. 49).
    2. Star Wars : It has been witnessed on numerous occasions that Wookies may have a predisposed aggressive temperament towards droids (e.g., C3PO, R2D2). This study investigates whether or not Wookies have an elevated level of aggression towards droids.

  • Qualitative Example(s):

  1. "The purpose of this study is to explore parent stories regarding Internet communications with teachers about their students in one Midwestern school district" (Creswell, 2008, p. 121).
  2. Star Wars: "This study investigates the way in which wookies communicate with droids."

Research Questions

Research questions should narrow the focus of the purpose statement. They restate the purpose in more specific terms. It may be necessary to formulate several research questions.


Hypotheses are similar to quantitative research questions in that they narrow the focus of the purpose statement. They are different, however, in that they are predictive. Hypotheses explain the end result of a particular treatment, trial, and/or experiment. Hypotheses will be reported as Null and as Alternative. The Null hypothesis is stated to reflect that a dependant variable does not respond to an independent variable. OR, that there is no difference between the control group and experimental group following a given "treatment".

Guidelines for writing Purpose Statements, Research Questions, and Hypotheses (Quantitative Research):

Purpose Statement
Research Questions
Write the purpose statement in one sentence.
Pose a question.
State variables in this order: independent, dependent, and control.
Begin statement with key identifier words, such as "The purpose of this study..."
Begin with "how", "what" or "why".
If groups are being compared, explicitly state the groups; if variables are related, specify the relationship.
If you are testing a theory, make this apparent early in your writing.
Specify the independent, dependent, and mediating or control variables.
Make a prediction about the changes expected in the identified groups (e.g., less, more, no diff.), You will then test this prediction using validated statistical procedures.
When using variables, state the independent variable first in the sentence, followed by the dependent variable.
Use the words describe, compare, or relate to indicate the action or connection among the variables.

If variables are used, identify independent, dependent, control, and intervening variables.
Indicate the participants and the research site for the study.

Identify the participants to be studied and the research site at which they will be studied.
3 General Types of Questions:
(1) Descriptive - (e.g., "How frequently do participants X feel alienated at school Y?")
(2) Relationship - (e.g., How does perceived reading level relate to measured reading level in adolescents?")
(3) Comparison - (e.g., How do eastern european immigrants compare to latino immigrants in terms of english language acquisition?")


(1) Perez, R., & Solomon, H. (2005). Effect of a Socratic Animated Agent on Student Performance in a Computer-Simulated Disassembly Process. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia. Vol. 14 no. 1.
(2) Creswell, J. (2008). Educational Research - planning, conducting and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research.Pearson Education. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.