This blog will explain the research methods, the purpose of writing a research methods section or chapter, and its relevance to your thesis. In addition, it discusses what a research methods section should and should not include the different research methods that can be used, and the steps involved in writing a solid research methods section.
So you’ve identified your research topic and conducted a literature review – now it’s time to write the methodology part of your dissertation, dissertation or research paper. But what exactly is a methodology chapter – how do you go about writing it? In this post, we’ll break down the topics step by step.
What is (exactly) a dissertation methodology chapter?
The methodology chapter is where you emphasise the philosophical props of your research and outline the specific research design choices you have made. Finally, the dissertation methodology chapter aims to inform the reader exactly how you designed your study and justify your design choices.
The methodology chapter should fully describe and justify all the research design choices you have made. For example, the type of research you conduct (for example, qualitative or quantitative), how you collect data, how you analyse data, and where you collect data (sampling). We will explain all the major design options later in this article.
Why is method separation necessary?
The Methods chapter is vital for two reasons:
First, it demonstrates your understanding of research design theory, which is why you get points. A flawed research design or methodology can mean flawed results, so this chapter is crucial as it allows you to show that you know what you are doing and that your results are solid.
Second, separating methods helps make your study replicable—in other words, it allows other researchers to run your analysis using the same design and compare their results with yours. This is important in academic research because each study builds on previous research.
The dissertation methodology chapter is also important as it lets you identify and discuss any methodological issues or issues you encounter (such as limitations) and explain how these can be mitigated. Each research project has its limits and flaws, so it is important to openly acknowledge them and emphasise the value of your research despite its limitations. Also, this explains your understanding of the research structure, which will earn you points.
How to write a methodology chapter?
First, it should be noted that a methodology chapter’s exact structure and the content will vary by field of study (e.g. humanities vs chemistry vs engineering) and by the university. Therefore, it’s always a great idea to check the guidelines given by your institution for clarity and, if possible, look at previous papers and dissertations from your institution. Here we discuss the general structure of methodological categories common in the sciences, especially the social sciences (such as psychology).
Before you start writing, we always recommend making a rough outline so you have a clear direction. Then, only begin writing knowing what to write. If you do, you’ll likely end up with a disjointed and fluid narrative. So you’ll waste a lot of time rewriting and trying to string all the pieces together. Instead, begin with the end in mind.
Section 1 – Introduction
As with all chapters of your dissertation or dissertation, the methodology chapter should contain a short introduction. In this introduction, remind the reader what the focus of your research is, especially the research objectives. As we’ve mentioned earlier, your research design needs to be aligned with your research goals, objectives, and research questions, so it pays to upload it to remind readers (and yourself!) of what you’re trying to do—achieved through your design and method.
In this section, briefly mention how you will organise the course. This will help guide readers and provide a small roadmap so they know what to expect. In addition, the introduction provides a roadmap for separation methods.
Section 2 – Study Design
The next part of the methodology chapter should introduce the reader to your research design. In this section, you have to detail and justify all major design choices logically and intuitively. This is the core of your methodology chapter, so you need to be specific – keep details private here. This isn’t one of those “less is more” cases.
Section 3 – Methodological limitations
After having described and justified the main research structure, the next step is to analyse the limitations of the design. Of course, no research design or method is perfect: given their limitations, there will always be trade-offs between “ideal” designs and feasible ones. So, in this part of your methodology chapter, you discuss the trade-offs that have to be made and why you make them in context.
Methodological constraints vary from analysis to study, ranging from common issues such as time and budget constraints to sampling issues or selection bias.
For example, you may need to attract more respondents to achieve your desired sample size (so the results are statistically significant). Or that your sample may be heavily skewed towards certain demographic groups, which can impact representativeness. Negative impact.
In this section, you must critique the shortcomings of your studies. There’s no point hiding it (your label will recognise it anyway). By critiquing, you’re showing your labels that you have a solid understanding of search design, so don’t be shy here. At the same time, don’t beat your studio to death. Please explain the limitations, why they are justified, how you can do your best to mitigate them, and how your research still provides value despite these limitations.
Section 4 – Final Summary
Finally, it is time to conclude the methodology chapter with a summary. In this section, you must briefly summarise what you have presented in class. Here it can be helpful to use numbers to summarise key design decisions, especially if your university recommends a specific model.
It’s important to note that this section should be short: one or two paragraphs at most (it’s a summary, after all). Also, ensure that when writing your final abstract, you only include what you have already discussed in the chapter; do not add any new information.
Tips for Writing a Dissertation Methodology Chapter.
Remember, your goal is to describe your methodology and show how and why you apply them. Likewise, it is crucial to demonstrate that your research is thoroughly done and reproducible.
Focus on your research goals and questions
The methodology section should clearly state why your method is suitable for your objectives and give the reader confidence that you have chosen the best way to answer the problem statement and research question.
List relevant sources
Your approach can be enhanced by referring to existing research in your field. It can help you:
- Demonstrate that you have followed established practices for your type of investigation.
- Plus, also examine how you chose your approach by evaluating current research.
- It also introduces a new methodological approach to address gaps in the literature.
Write for your audience.
Consider the information you need to provide and avoid providing too much. For example, if you’re using a standard approach for your system, you can provide a little background or rationale.
Regardless, your approach should be transparent, well-organized text that provides a case for your practice, not just a list of technical points and procedures.
Keep things simple
There you have it: a methodology chapter in a nutshell. As mentioned earlier, this chapter’s exact content and structure may vary from university to university, so check with your institution before starting to write. Also, try to find a dissertation or dissertation from a graduate of your particular degree program; this will give you a strong indication of expectations and standards regarding the methodology chapter (and all other chapters!).
Also, remember the golden rule from the methodology chapter: justify every choice! Explain the “why” for each “what” and refer to reliable textbooks or academic sources to support your reasons.
Separation methods can make or break a research paper/dissertation score. It is one of the parts of research that leaves a memorable impression on the reader. Therefore, choosing an appropriate design and philosophical approach for your research will be beneficial.
If your research design or methodology is flawed, always use reliable academic resources and discuss your plans with your supervisor.
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