1. General Question
The starting point of most new research is to formulate a general question about an area of research and begin the process of defining it.This initial question can be very broad, as the later research, observation and narrowing down will hone it into a hypothesis. For example, a broad question might ask 'whether fish stocks in the North Atlantic are declining or not', based upon general observations about smaller yields of fish across the whole area. Reviewing previous research will allow a general overview and will help to establish a more specialized area. Unless you have an unlimited budget and huge teams of scientists, it is impossible to research such a general field and it needs to be pared down. This is the method of trying to sample one small piece of the whole picture and gradually contribute to the wider question.
2. Formulate a question:
The question can refer to the explanation of a specific observation, as in "Why is the sky blue?", but can also be open-ended, as in "Does sound travel faster in air than in water?" or "How can I design a drug to cure this particular disease?" This stage also involves looking up and evaluating previous evidence from other scientists, as well as considering one's own experience. If the answer is already known, a different question that builds on the previous evidence can be posed. When applying the scientific method to scientific research, determining a good question can be very difficult and affects the final outcome of the investigation.
An hypothesis is a conjecture, based on the knowledge obtained while formulating the question, that may explain the observed behavior of a part of our universe. The hypothesis might be very specific, e.g., Einstein's equivalence principle or Francis Crick's "DNA makes RNA makes protein", or it might be broad, e.g., unknown species of life dwell in the unexplored depths of...