How to write an methodology

Your dissertation or thesis will include a discussion of the research methods you used. The methodology or methods section tells readers what you did, and how it was done. It also allows them to assess the reliability of your research. It should include the following:

Type of research you did
How you selected and collected the data
How you analysed the data
Anything that you used in your research
These are your reasons for choosing these methods

The methodology section should usually be written using the past tense.
Step 1 Explain your methodological approach

Introduce your research approach. What problem were you trying to solve?

Quantitative methodologies (e.g. Surveys are ideal for measuring, ranking or categorising, identifying patterns, making generalisations and providing context.
Qualitative approaches (e.g. Interviews are best for describing and contextualizing concepts or phenomena.
Mixed methods allow for the combination of numerical measurement as well as in-depth exploratory.

Depending on how you approach the subject, you might also discuss the assumptions and reasoning behind your method.

Was the goal to address a technical or a philosophical problem?
This is the most appropriate approach to answering your research question.
Are you able to use this standard method in your field?
Was there any philosophical or ethical considerations in this matter?
What are the criteria for this type o research to be valid and rigorous?

Step 2: Give details about your methods for data collection or selection

After you have explained your overall methodology, you should detail the research methods you used. The tools, procedures, and materials you used in gathering data. The criteria you used when selecting sources and participants.
Quantitative techniques

Please describe where, when, and how you conducted the survey.

What was the form of your questions (e.g., multiple choice, rating scale)? Multiple choice, rating scale
How did the selection process work?
Are you able to conduct surveys online, over the phone, in person or by mail? What time did it take participants to respond?
What was the size of your sample and how high was your response rate

To make sure that the reader understands what data was collected, you might include the entire questionnaire as an attachment.

Provide complete details about the procedures, tools, and tools you used to conduct your experiment.

How did your experiment get designed (e.g. Which subsubjects were used?
How did the selection process work?
What tools or technologies did the experiment use?

Experimental research involves providing sufficient detail to allow other researchers to reproduce your results.

Existing data
Your explanation of how you gathered the material and which publications were used to support your analysis.

What was the source of the material?
How was the data first created?
What criteria did YOU use to pick material (e.g. Date range

Qualitative techniques

Interviews and focus groups
Describe the place, when, and how the interviews were conducted.

How did the selection process work?
How many people took part?
What type of interview format was used (structured vs. semi-structured vs. unstructured)
How long and how was the interview recorded?

Participant observation
Describe where, when, how and why you did the observation.

What group/community did you observe? And how did you get to them?
What length of time did you spend researching and where was it found?
How did data (e.g. Do you use audiovisual recordings or note-taking?

Existing data
How did you choose case study material (texts, images) as the focus of your analysis?

What type of materials were analysed?
How did these items come to be?

Step 3: Describe the methods you used to analyze.

Next, tell us how you analysed and processed the data. You shouldn’t get into too much detail. Do not discuss or present your results at this stage.
Quantitative techniques

Quantitative research is based on numbers. Here are some examples of what you might include in the methods section

How you prepared the data to be analysed (e.g. checking for missing data, removing outliers, transforming variables)
What software did the data analysis (e.g. SPSS or Stata
What statistical methods have you used (e.g. Regression analysis

Qualitative techniques

Qualitative research relies on observation, language and images. This could be used to:

Content analysis: Coding or categorizing themes and ideas
Narrative analysis. Analyzing storytelling tropes and structures, and understanding their meaning
Discourse analysis – Analyzing communication, meaning (including language and images) in relation their social context

Step 4 Evaluate your methods and justify them

It is important to present your methodology, especially if the method you used was not the most appropriate for your topic. This should be a discussion about why your chosen method was not appropriate for your objectives. Also, show how the approach contributes to new understanding or knowledge.

You can admit to the shortcomings of the approach, but you must also explain why these are outweighed by their strengths.
Tips for writing a strong approach

Don’t forget to mention your methods. Your aim should be to show how your research was conducted and to show that it was thorough.
Focus on your research and goals

The methodology section should show the reader why your methods work for you and explain how they can help answer your questions. The methodology section should tie your choices back into the central purpose and theme of your dissertation.
Cite relevant sources

The reference to other research in your field can enhance your methodology.

Confirm you used established research methods
Discuss how different approaches were evaluated and what you chose.
To address a gap identified in the literature, you must show that your methodological approach is novel.

Write for your audience

It is important to consider how much information you will need and not give too much detail. If you’re using standard methods in your field, then you probably don’t need to explain much. However, if you use a different approach to your field than is standard, you might need explanations and justifications.

In each case, your method should be a well-structured and clear text that argues for your approach.
Discuss potential obstacles

Please explain how you dealt when you had difficulties collecting or analysing data. Show how unexpected obstacles were minimized. Demonstrate that you have been as rigorous in your research as possible, and avoid any major criticisms.

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