Setting research priorities is a difficult and recurring exercise for scientists. They must decide which investments have the greatest potential to achieve the objectives of the research effort. In this regard, Hypothesis Mapping is used.

Cognitive, causal and hypothesis maps

The term concept mapping in the evaluation and planning literature refers to a different approach to identifying concepts within a domain and representing their relationships.

In this approach, many participants group concepts together, and these results combine to form a more representative individual grouping. The results can also be used to build networks of undirected concepts for further analysis.

Cognitive Map

A cognitive map is a directed network that represents a person's claims about a limited conceptual domain. Cognitive map nodes denote qualitative or quantitative variables, and links between nodes are typically associated with a sign denoting positive or negative influence.

The maps have variable weights in the links between nodes that denote the degree of positive or negative influence between elements and have been used to obtain information on many phenomena, including ecological systems.

Causal Maps

They are similar to cognitive maps, but only contain links that represent statements of causality.

Hypothesis Mapping

We use the term hypothesis mapping to describe a variant of a causal map in which the links between the nodes represent known or hypothetical influences between factors in a research domain.

A link from one node to another indicates that there is at least one known or hypothetical way in which the first factor influences the second. All types of links are allowed in hypothesis maps; This includes cycles, such as when a node links to itself or when two nodes link to each other.

What is a real hypothesis?

A hypothesis is a tentative statement that proposes a possible explanation for some phenomenon or event. A useful hypothesis is a testable statement, which may include a prediction. It should not be confused with a theory. Theories are general explanations based on a large amount of data.

When are hypotheses used?

The keyword is verifiable. That is, it will perform a test of how two variables could be related. This is when you are doing a real experiment. You are testing variables. Generally, a hypothesis is based on some previous observation, such as realizing that in November many trees experience color changes in their leaves and that average daily temperatures are decreasing. Are these two events connected? How? Any laboratory procedure you follow without a hypothesis is not really an experiment. It is only an exercise or a demonstration of what is already known.

How are hypotheses written?

Here are some examples:

Chocolate can cause grains.

Salt in the soil can affect the growth of plants.

Plant growth can be affected by light color.

Bacterial growth can be affected by temperature.

Ultraviolet light can cause skin cancer.

Temperature can cause leaves to change color.

These are all examples of hypotheses because they use the tentative word "may". However, its shape is not particularly useful. Using the word "may" does not suggest how it would provide supporting evidence for the hypothesis. If these statements had not been carefully written, they may not even have been hypotheses.

How is Hypothesis Mapping performed?

Hypothesis Mapping (HM) is a diagram of the thinking involved in hypothesis research. In general terms, in HM we draw diagrams of boxes and arrows that link our main question with hypotheses, evidence, supporting arguments, etc. This recursive structure can be exploited to determine the best allocation of new research efforts to facilitate the flow of information through the graph.

Information can flow through the graph when it is not obstructed by any particular link, and the structure of the map will determine which links are most critical to the flow of information. By optimizing the flow of information through the hypothesis map to gradually increase the levels of investment in resources, we prioritize the links on the map to study.

What is data

Hypothesis Research

Hypothesis research (HI) tries to determine what is happening in some situation by evaluating various hypotheses or conjectures. The goal is to determine which hypothesis is most likely to be true. Hypothesis research may affect:

Factual situations: What are the current reserves of Saudi oil?

Causes: What killed the dinosaurs?

Functions or roles: What is the Anticitera mechanism for?

Future events: How will the economy be affected by Peak Oil?

Moods: What does the enemy plan to do?

Perpetrators: Who murdered Professor Plum?

Most of the research is based to some extent on hypotheses. The exception is situations in which the outcome is predetermined in some way (for example, impeachment) and the objective of the investigation is simply to accumulate evidence to support that determination.

A related, albeit subtly different, notion is that of hypothesis-driven research, in which a single hypothesis is selected relatively early in the process, and most effort is devoted to substantiating this hypothesis. It is a hypothesis-based investigation with all the attention focused on one conjecture, at least without forcing it to reject it and consider another.

Composition of the Hypothesis Research

Hypothesis research is made up of three main activities.

Generation: Proposing hypotheses;

Evaluation: assess the relative plausibility of the hypotheses given the available evidence

Testing: looking for more evidence.

HI determines which hypothesis is truer (or more likely to be true) in a given situation. It includes generating appropriate sets of hypotheses, hypothesis assessment (evaluating the relative plausibility of the hypotheses given the evidence), and hypothesis testing (determining what evidence to obtain to perform an appropriate assessment).

Hypothesis Mapping Features

It is an aid to diagnostic judgment. In a simple tripartite classification of judgments, the diagnostic judgment addresses the question, What is going on? (or What will happen?) Diagnostic processes attempt to determine "how things stand" based on available or obtainable evidence.

Other questions that help convey what diagnostic judgment is for can be What is happening? What is your strategy?  It makes the thinking involved in HI visual, and therefore can exploit the massive processing power of our visual systems. It imposes a structure on the thinking involved in HI, by requiring that the information be classified and positioned on the map. When done in a sophisticated way, it involves detailed articulation and argument evaluation, so it's based on argument mapping.

In particular, HM cannot be done with complete rigor without a proper appreciation of the role of co-premises in argument structures.

Advantages of Hypothesis Mapping

When done correctly, it imposes discipline on the HI process. There are rules or guidelines to follow; There is experience to be gained. HM can be done badly or it can be done well. Getting it right requires understanding and observing the rules. Most importantly, it promises to improve HI's "success rate" —that is, help you be more right more often in your conclusions about what's going on.

It also helps make the HI process more efficient and rigorous, share the thinking behind HI within a team, and make the findings more defensible and accountable. It is a general purpose method and can be used in almost any domain: medicine, engineering, science, business, etc. However, HM is particularly relevant to intelligence analysis. HM should be seen as a new addition to the Intelligence Analyst Toolkit.

Competitive Hypothesis Analysis

Competitive Hypothesis Analysis, abbreviated ACH, is a tool to help judge important questions that require careful evaluation of alternative explanations or conclusions. It helps an analyst overcome, or at least minimize, some of the cognitive limitations that make predictive intelligence analysis so difficult to accomplish.

ACH is an eight-step procedure based on a basic understanding of cognitive psychology, decision analysis, and the scientific method. It is an effective and proven process that helps analysts avoid common analytical difficulties.

Due to its thoroughness, it is particularly appropriate for controversial issues when analysts want to leave an audit trail to show what they considered and how they came to their judgment.

Hypothesis Mapping and Competitive Hypothesis Analysis

As such, HM is an alternative to the well-known Competitive Hypothesis Analysis (ACH) method. Of course, someone might want to use both methods, HM for some problems and ACH for others, or as two different frameworks to tackle the same problem. HM and ACH have complementary strengths and weaknesses. Basically, HM is based on a hierarchical structure, while ACH is based on a matrix or table structure.

Both share the idea that bringing rigor to thinking about hypotheses requires adapting that thinking to explicit external structures ("outside the mind"). Any type of structure will have certain advantages, but also certain costs. The expert professional will be able to use the most appropriate tool for the task, with deep knowledge and understanding of the tool's strengths and weaknesses.

Arguably, some of the advantages of HM over ACH, particularly its more intuitive nature and more attractive display, will lead HM to displace ACH as the default tool for HI in intelligence. Any questions? At we are here to help you. Send us a message. We are here to fulfill your dream.

Bibliographic References

De Miguel, M., “La evaluación de tesis doctorales. Propuesta de un modelo”. Relieve, Revista Electrónica de Investigación y Evaluación Educativa 16, no. 1 (2010): 1-18.

Scarano, E. R. Manual de redacción de escritos de investigación. 1ª ed. Buenos Aires: Macchi, 2004.

Spinak, E. Diccionario enciclopédico de bibliometría, cienciometría e informetría. Caracas: Unesco-CII/II, 1996.

Hypothesis Mapping

Mapeo de Hipótesis

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