How to draft a research hypothesis or research opening report?
My first chatter is about research hypothesis (rationale, justification of a given study, or opening report in Chinese), which is the first step for us to conduct high impact research.
If you have had a right and feasible hypothesis, your research could be more than half way done. It seems very silly to discuss it since we are all "scientists" by training.
It is true that during our training, we as students usually spend months and months of time to search literature and prepare or write a review in the field before performing any real experiments. We all know that the research hypothesis is sole important and directly determines our research impact.
But often time, we do ignore the importance of research rationale before and during experiments, data collection and summary, or manuscript preparation.
For biomedical research, we can propose our research hypothesis in the following ways, which doesn't matter whether you area basic, translational, or clinic researcher:
1) Focus on the risk factor-mediated gene alterations. For example, lung cancer is associated with tobacco smoke; thus, we may hypothesize tobacco carcinogen-caused gene alterations (gene mutations, methylation, and other epigenetic changes);
2) Gene pathway-related gene alterations, e.g., p53 is often mutated in lung cancer; how about the role of the p53 up- or down-stream genes in lung cancer progression;
3) Mechanism of gene or drug action in a particular disease or organ site. For example, a gene is mutated or a drug worked well in a disease, so we will rationalize how and why. This kind of study specifically suits for GWAS data to provide hypothesis for further study of a particular gene in a given disease.
Taking home message is whatever we like to do needs a justification. In other words, we will rationalize why we perform a study and what implication we will expect to be reached in a given study.
But we will not rationalize that
"A gene was abnormally expressed in one cancer but its expression is unknown in another cancer; thus, we performed this study";
or "A gene plays an important role in regulation of apoptosis in a cancer, but it is unknown whether this gene also plays a role in another cancer; thus, we performed the current study";
or "A gene is mutated in a cancer; thus, we assessed this gene mutation in another cancer".
These rationales were wrongly proposed because different diseases or cancers have the own risk factor, etiology, and pathogenesis. We can't just fish something for "novelty".