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- What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips
What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips
Published on August 25, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on June 22, 2023.
Your research methodology discusses and explains the data collection and analysis methods you used in your research. A key part of your thesis, dissertation , or research paper , the methodology chapter explains what you did and how you did it, allowing readers to evaluate the reliability and validity of your research and your dissertation topic .
It should include:
- The type of research you conducted
- How you collected and analyzed your data
- Any tools or materials you used in the research
- How you mitigated or avoided research biases
- Why you chose these methods
- Your methodology section should generally be written in the past tense .
- Academic style guides in your field may provide detailed guidelines on what to include for different types of studies.
- Your citation style might provide guidelines for your methodology section (e.g., an APA Style methods section ).
Table of contents
How to write a research methodology, why is a methods section important, step 1: explain your methodological approach, step 2: describe your data collection methods, step 3: describe your analysis method, step 4: evaluate and justify the methodological choices you made, tips for writing a strong methodology chapter, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about methodology.
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Your methods section is your opportunity to share how you conducted your research and why you chose the methods you chose. It’s also the place to show that your research was rigorously conducted and can be replicated .
It gives your research legitimacy and situates it within your field, and also gives your readers a place to refer to if they have any questions or critiques in other sections.
You can start by introducing your overall approach to your research. You have two options here.
Option 1: Start with your “what”
What research problem or question did you investigate?
- Aim to describe the characteristics of something?
- Explore an under-researched topic?
- Establish a causal relationship?
And what type of data did you need to achieve this aim?
- Quantitative data , qualitative data , or a mix of both?
- Primary data collected yourself, or secondary data collected by someone else?
- Experimental data gathered by controlling and manipulating variables, or descriptive data gathered via observations?
Option 2: Start with your “why”
Depending on your discipline, you can also start with a discussion of the rationale and assumptions underpinning your methodology. In other words, why did you choose these methods for your study?
- Why is this the best way to answer your research question?
- Is this a standard methodology in your field, or does it require justification?
- Were there any ethical considerations involved in your choices?
- What are the criteria for validity and reliability in this type of research ? How did you prevent bias from affecting your data?
Once you have introduced your reader to your methodological approach, you should share full details about your data collection methods .
In order to be considered generalizable, you should describe quantitative research methods in enough detail for another researcher to replicate your study.
Here, explain how you operationalized your concepts and measured your variables. Discuss your sampling method or inclusion and exclusion criteria , as well as any tools, procedures, and materials you used to gather your data.
Surveys Describe where, when, and how the survey was conducted.
- How did you design the questionnaire?
- What form did your questions take (e.g., multiple choice, Likert scale )?
- Were your surveys conducted in-person or virtually?
- What sampling method did you use to select participants?
- What was your sample size and response rate?
Experiments Share full details of the tools, techniques, and procedures you used to conduct your experiment.
- How did you design the experiment ?
- How did you recruit participants?
- How did you manipulate and measure the variables ?
- What tools did you use?
Existing data Explain how you gathered and selected the material (such as datasets or archival data) that you used in your analysis.
- Where did you source the material?
- How was the data originally produced?
- What criteria did you use to select material (e.g., date range)?
The survey consisted of 5 multiple-choice questions and 10 questions measured on a 7-point Likert scale.
The goal was to collect survey responses from 350 customers visiting the fitness apparel company’s brick-and-mortar location in Boston on July 4–8, 2022, between 11:00 and 15:00.
Here, a customer was defined as a person who had purchased a product from the company on the day they took the survey. Participants were given 5 minutes to fill in the survey anonymously. In total, 408 customers responded, but not all surveys were fully completed. Due to this, 371 survey results were included in the analysis.
- Information bias
- Omitted variable bias
- Regression to the mean
- Survivorship bias
- Undercoverage bias
- Sampling bias
In qualitative research , methods are often more flexible and subjective. For this reason, it’s crucial to robustly explain the methodology choices you made.
Be sure to discuss the criteria you used to select your data, the context in which your research was conducted, and the role you played in collecting your data (e.g., were you an active participant, or a passive observer?)
Interviews or focus groups Describe where, when, and how the interviews were conducted.
- How did you find and select participants?
- How many participants took part?
- What form did the interviews take ( structured , semi-structured , or unstructured )?
- How long were the interviews?
- How were they recorded?
Participant observation Describe where, when, and how you conducted the observation or ethnography .
- What group or community did you observe? How long did you spend there?
- How did you gain access to this group? What role did you play in the community?
- How long did you spend conducting the research? Where was it located?
- How did you record your data (e.g., audiovisual recordings, note-taking)?
Existing data Explain how you selected case study materials for your analysis.
- What type of materials did you analyze?
- How did you select them?
In order to gain better insight into possibilities for future improvement of the fitness store’s product range, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 8 returning customers.
Here, a returning customer was defined as someone who usually bought products at least twice a week from the store.
Surveys were used to select participants. Interviews were conducted in a small office next to the cash register and lasted approximately 20 minutes each. Answers were recorded by note-taking, and seven interviews were also filmed with consent. One interviewee preferred not to be filmed.
- The Hawthorne effect
- Observer bias
- The placebo effect
- Response bias and Nonresponse bias
- The Pygmalion effect
- Recall bias
- Social desirability bias
- Self-selection bias
Mixed methods research combines quantitative and qualitative approaches. If a standalone quantitative or qualitative study is insufficient to answer your research question, mixed methods may be a good fit for you.
Mixed methods are less common than standalone analyses, largely because they require a great deal of effort to pull off successfully. If you choose to pursue mixed methods, it’s especially important to robustly justify your methods.
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Next, you should indicate how you processed and analyzed your data. Avoid going into too much detail: you should not start introducing or discussing any of your results at this stage.
In quantitative research , your analysis will be based on numbers. In your methods section, you can include:
- How you prepared the data before analyzing it (e.g., checking for missing data , removing outliers , transforming variables)
- Which software you used (e.g., SPSS, Stata or R)
- Which statistical tests you used (e.g., two-tailed t test , simple linear regression )
In qualitative research, your analysis will be based on language, images, and observations (often involving some form of textual analysis ).
Specific methods might include:
- Content analysis : Categorizing and discussing the meaning of words, phrases and sentences
- Thematic analysis : Coding and closely examining the data to identify broad themes and patterns
- Discourse analysis : Studying communication and meaning in relation to their social context
Mixed methods combine the above two research methods, integrating both qualitative and quantitative approaches into one coherent analytical process.
Above all, your methodology section should clearly make the case for why you chose the methods you did. This is especially true if you did not take the most standard approach to your topic. In this case, discuss why other methods were not suitable for your objectives, and show how this approach contributes new knowledge or understanding.
In any case, it should be overwhelmingly clear to your reader that you set yourself up for success in terms of your methodology’s design. Show how your methods should lead to results that are valid and reliable, while leaving the analysis of the meaning, importance, and relevance of your results for your discussion section .
- Quantitative: Lab-based experiments cannot always accurately simulate real-life situations and behaviors, but they are effective for testing causal relationships between variables .
- Qualitative: Unstructured interviews usually produce results that cannot be generalized beyond the sample group , but they provide a more in-depth understanding of participants’ perceptions, motivations, and emotions.
- Mixed methods: Despite issues systematically comparing differing types of data, a solely quantitative study would not sufficiently incorporate the lived experience of each participant, while a solely qualitative study would be insufficiently generalizable.
Remember that your aim is not just to describe your methods, but to show how and why you applied them. Again, it’s critical to demonstrate that your research was rigorously conducted and can be replicated.
1. Focus on your objectives and research questions
The methodology section should clearly show why your methods suit your objectives and convince the reader that you chose the best possible approach to answering your problem statement and research questions .
2. Cite relevant sources
Your methodology can be strengthened by referencing existing research in your field. This can help you to:
- Show that you followed established practice for your type of research
- Discuss how you decided on your approach by evaluating existing research
- Present a novel methodological approach to address a gap in the literature
3. Write for your audience
Consider how much information you need to give, and avoid getting too lengthy. If you are using methods that are standard for your discipline, you probably don’t need to give a lot of background or justification.
Regardless, your methodology should be a clear, well-structured text that makes an argument for your approach, not just a list of technical details and procedures.
If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.
- Normal distribution
- Measures of central tendency
- Chi square tests
- Confidence interval
- Quartiles & Quantiles
- Cluster sampling
- Stratified sampling
- Thematic analysis
- Cohort study
- Peer review
- Implicit bias
- Cognitive bias
- Conformity bias
- Hawthorne effect
- Availability heuristic
- Attrition bias
Methodology refers to the overarching strategy and rationale of your research project . It involves studying the methods used in your field and the theories or principles behind them, in order to develop an approach that matches your objectives.
Methods are the specific tools and procedures you use to collect and analyze data (for example, experiments, surveys , and statistical tests ).
In shorter scientific papers, where the aim is to report the findings of a specific study, you might simply describe what you did in a methods section .
In a longer or more complex research project, such as a thesis or dissertation , you will probably include a methodology section , where you explain your approach to answering the research questions and cite relevant sources to support your choice of methods.
In a scientific paper, the methodology always comes after the introduction and before the results , discussion and conclusion . The same basic structure also applies to a thesis, dissertation , or research proposal .
Depending on the length and type of document, you might also include a literature review or theoretical framework before the methodology.
Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.
Quantitative methods allow you to systematically measure variables and test hypotheses . Qualitative methods allow you to explore concepts and experiences in more detail.
Reliability and validity are both about how well a method measures something:
- Reliability refers to the consistency of a measure (whether the results can be reproduced under the same conditions).
- Validity refers to the accuracy of a measure (whether the results really do represent what they are supposed to measure).
If you are doing experimental research, you also have to consider the internal and external validity of your experiment.
A sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population . Sampling means selecting the group that you will actually collect data from in your research. For example, if you are researching the opinions of students in your university, you could survey a sample of 100 students.
In statistics, sampling allows you to test a hypothesis about the characteristics of a population.
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Writing the Research Methodology Section of Your Thesis
This article explains the meaning of research methodology and the purpose and importance of writing a research methodology section or chapter for your thesis paper. It discusses what to include and not include in a research methodology section, the different approaches to research methodology that can be used, and the steps involved in writing a robust research methodology section.
What is a thesis research methodology?
A thesis research methodology explains the type of research performed, justifies the methods that you chose by linking back to the literature review , and describes the data collection and analysis procedures. It is included in your thesis after the Introduction section . Most importantly, this is the section where the readers of your study evaluate its validity and reliability.
What should the research methodology section in your thesis include?
- The aim of your thesis
- An outline of the research methods chosen (qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods)
- Background and rationale for the methods chosen, explaining why one method was chosen over another
- Methods used for data collection and data analysis
- Materials and equipment used—keep this brief
- Difficulties encountered during data collection and analysis. It is expected that problems will occur during your research process. Use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your problem-solving abilities by explaining how you overcame all obstacles. This builds your readers’ confidence in your study findings.
- A brief evaluation of your research explaining whether your results were conclusive and whether your choice of methodology was effective in practice
What should not be included in the research methodology section of your thesis?
- Irrelevant details, for example, an extensive review of methodologies (this belongs in the literature review section) or information that does not contribute to the readers’ understanding of your chosen methods
- A description of basic procedures
- Excessive details about materials and equipment used. If an extremely long and detailed list is necessary, add it as an appendix
Types of methodological approaches
The choice of which methodological approach to use depends on your field of research and your thesis question. Your methodology should establish a clear relationship with your thesis question and must also be supported by your literature review . Types of methodological approaches include quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods.
Quantitative studies generate data in the form of numbers to count, classify, measure, or identify relationships or patterns. Information may be collected by performing experiments and tests, conducting surveys, or using existing data. The data are analyzed using statistical tests and presented as charts or graphs. Quantitative data are typically used in the Sciences domain.
For example, analyzing the effect of a change, such as alterations in electricity consumption by municipalities after installing LED streetlights.
The raw data will need to be prepared for statistical analysis by identifying variables and checking for missing data and outliers. Details of the statistical software program used (name of the package, version number, and supplier name and location) must also be mentioned.
Qualitative studies gather non-numerical data using, for example, observations, focus groups, and in-depth interviews. Open-ended questions are often posed. This yields rich, detailed, and descriptive results. Qualitative studies are usually subjective and are helpful for investigating social and cultural phenomena, which are difficult to quantify. Qualitative studies are typically used in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) domain.
For example, determining customer perceptions on the extension of a range of baking utensils to include silicone muffin trays.
The raw data will need to be prepared for analysis by coding and categorizing ideas and themes to interpret the meaning behind the responses given.
Mixed methods use a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches to present multiple findings about a single phenomenon. T his enables triangulation: verification of the data from two or more sources.
Explain the rationale behind the sampling procedure you have chosen. This could involve probability sampling (a random sample from the study population) or non-probability sampling (does not use a random sample).
For quantitative studies, describe the sampling procedure and whether statistical tests were used to determine the sample size .
Following our example of analyzing the changes in electricity consumption by municipalities after installing LED streetlights, you will need to determine which municipal areas will be sampled and how the information will be gathered (e.g., a physical survey of the streetlights or reviewing purchase orders).
For qualitative research, describe how the participants were chosen and how the data is going to be collected.
Following our example about determining customer perceptions on the extension of a range of baking utensils to include silicone muffin trays, you will need to decide the criteria for inclusion as a study participant (e.g., women aged 20–70 years, bakeries, and bakery supply shops) and how the information will be collected (e.g., interviews, focus groups, online or in-person questionnaires, or video recordings) .
For quantitative research, describe what tests you plan to perform and why you have chosen them. Popular data analysis methods in quantitative research include:
- Descriptive statistics (e.g., means, medians, modes)
- Inferential statistics (e.g., correlation, regression, structural equation modeling)
For qualitative research, describe how the data is going to be analyzed and justify your choice. Popular data analysis methods in qualitative research include:
- Qualitative content analysis
- Thematic analysis
- Discourse analysis
- Narrative analysis
- Grounded theory
- Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA)
Evaluate and justify your methodological choices
You need to convince the reader that you have made the correct methodological choices. Once again, this ties back to your thesis question and literature review . Write using a persuasive tone, and use rhetoric to convince the reader of the quality, reliability, and validity of your research.
- The young researcher should maintain objectivity at all times
- All participants have the right to privacy and anonymity
- Research participation must be voluntary
- All subjects have the right to withdraw from the research at any time
- Consent must be obtained from all participants before starting the research
- Confidentiality of data provided by individuals must be maintained
- Consider how the interpretation and reporting of the data will affect the participants
Tips for writing a robust thesis research methodology
- Determine what kind of knowledge you are trying to uncover. For example, subjective or objective, experimental or interpretive.
- A thorough literature review is the best starting point for choosing your methods.
- Ensure that there is continuity throughout the research process. The authenticity of your research depends upon the validity of the research data, the reliability of your data measurements, and the time taken to conduct the analysis.
- Choose a research method that is achievable. Consider the time and funds available, feasibility, ethics, and access and availability of equipment to measure the phenomenon or answer your thesis question correctly.
- If you are struggling with a concept, ask for help from your supervisor, academic staff members, or fellow students.
A thesis methodology justifies why you have chosen a specific approach to address your thesis question. It explains how you will collect the data and analyze it. Above all, it allows the readers of your study to evaluate its validity and reliability.
A thesis is the most crucial document that you will write during your academic studies. For professional thesis editing and thesis proofreading services, visit Enago Thesis Editing for more information.
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Introduce your methodological approach , for example, quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods.
Explain why your chosen approach is relevant to the overall research design and how it links with your thesis question.
Justify your chosen method and why it is more appropriate than others.
Provide background information on methods that may be unfamiliar to readers of your thesis.
Introduce the tools that you will use for data collection , and explain how you plan to use them (e.g., surveys, interviews, experiments, or existing data).
Explain how you will analyze your results. The type of analysis used depends on the methods you chose. For example, exploring theoretical perspectives to support your explanation of observed behaviors in a qualitative study or using statistical analyses in a quantitative study.
Mention any research limitations. All studies are expected to have limitations, such as the sample size, data collection method, or equipment. Discussing the limitations justifies your choice of methodology despite the risks. It also explains under which conditions the results should be interpreted and shows that you have taken a holistic approach to your study.
What is the difference between methodology and methods? +
Methodology refers to the overall rationale and strategy of your thesis project. It involves studying the theories or principles behind the methods used in your field so that you can explain why you chose a particular method for your research approach. Methods , on the other hand, refer to how the data were collected and analyzed (e.g., experiments, surveys, observations, interviews, and statistical tests).
What is the difference between reliability and validity? +
Reliability refers to whether a measurement is consistent (i.e., the results can be reproduced under the same conditions). Validity refers to whether a measurement is accurate (i.e., the results represent what was supposed to be measured). For example, when investigating linguistic and cultural guidelines for administration of the Preschool Language Scales, Fifth Edition (PLS5) in Arab-American preschool children, the normative sample curves should show the same distribution as a monolingual population, which would indicate that the test is valid. The test would be considered reliable if the results obtained were consistent across different sampling sites.
What tense is used to write the methods section? +
The methods section is written in the past tense because it describes what was done.
What software programs are recommended for statistical analysis? +
Recommended programs include Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) , Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) , JMP , R software, MATLAB , Microsoft Excel, GraphPad Prism , and Minitab .
Dissertations 4: methodology: start.
- Introduction & Philosophy
The Methodology Chapter
The methodology chapter flows organically from the literature review. This means that at this stage you should have reviewed the literature in your field of study, analysed research that has been conducted and highlighted how it was conducted. In turn, this should reflect the foundation of your own project as you will have to link it to your chosen research method.
The methodology chapter also involves describing your method in detail and justifying the approach you are going to adopt, taking into consideration the limitations and ethical implications of your model. Your description should be detailed enough that someone reading your methodology can recreate your approach.
Therefore, the methodology requires you to:
- describe your methods
- demonstrate a clear connection between your research question (or hypothesis) and the means by which you will reach your conclusions
- present justification (strengths) and limitations (weaknesses) of your methods
What are Methods & Methodology?
In order to appreciate what methods are, let us remember what research is about. Research can be summarised into three points (Cottrell, 2014, p9):
Methods of arriving at an answer
Thus, methods are the means to research and answer the research question, or test the hypothesis. Methods include techniques and procedures used to obtain and analyse data (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2015, p4). Your methods can consist of primary and secondary sources, qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods, as illustrated in this guide.
Methodology is sometimes used interchangeably with methods, or as the set of methods used in a research. More specifically, as the name would suggest, methodo-logy is the logos, the reasoning, on the methods. It is also referred to as the theory of how research should be undertaken (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2015, p4). This is why you normally would have a methodology, rather than methods, chapter in a dissertation.
First Key Tip
We hope this guide will be helpful, but it is of fundamental importance that you also use a research methods book (or other authoritative source) for your discipline . The book will guide you on best methods for your research, give you practical guidance, and present critical insights and limitations of the methods.
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- Last Updated: Sep 14, 2022 12:58 PM
- URL: https://libguides.westminster.ac.uk/methodology-for-dissertations
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- PhD Research Methodology
How to Write a Research Methodology: Complete Guide for PhD Students
What is the methodology in research paper.
If you’re working on a PhD academic paper, you might be required to write a research methodology paper. And for those students who have never written it before, it can be confusing. That’s why we are here to explain how to write a methodology section of an academic paper. But, let’s start by figuring out the definition of methodology in research and why it is important to write a strong methodology paper.
In simple words, a methodology of research refers to the approach you chose to collect and analyze data. In a methodology chapter for an academic paper, a researcher has to explain what methods and materials they used and why these methods are the best for their type of investigation.
It is a critical section of any academic paper. A methodology paper demonstrates to the readers that the results presented in your academic paper are reliable and the methods you utilized are the most appropriate to conduct your study. Thus, you should explain how the methodological approaches you chose fit the goals and objectives.
Main Types of Research Methodology: What Method to Choose
It is obvious that to select the best way to conduct research, you must know the types of research methodology used in different fields of study. There are three main methodologies: quantitative, qualitative, and mixed.
The method that will be better for your research depends on your fields of study and main goals. Let’s take a closer look at each research paper methodology you can choose for your paper.
The first one, quantitative research, is used to prove theories and mainly focuses on analyzing statistics, numerical data, and graphs. Such research is always expressed in numbers and helps to test some assumptions and find the regularities regarding a certain problem. Usually, it is required to analyze a relatively big amount of data from different sources or many respondents to conduct quantitative research.
The second one, qualitative research, is the opposite of quantitative research. The results of such research are usually represented in new ideas or points of view on an existing topic. For qualitative research, a researcher analyzes texts, audio, videos, and other non-numerical data. Some of the data-gathering methods for this type of research can be interviews, direct observation, and analysis of documents, journal papers, etc.
The last type, mixed methods research, combines qualitative and quantitative methods. It is a widely used PhD research methodology, as in this way, it is possible to take advantage of both methods and conduct a more comprehensive research.
Preparing for Methodology Section of Research Paper Writing
Knowing different academic methodologies is not enough to write a clear methodology paper. To ensure the explanations of your methodology choice will be full and concise, you should spend some time figuring out what to include in the chapter (or section).
There are several points you should include when explaining the utilized academic methods:
- Your academic objectives and main questions.
- What data you need to collect (numerical, non-numerical, or both).
- All data gathering methods you used.
- All data analysis methods you used.
- Strengths and weaknesses of the chosen methodology.
It is important to prepare the material, as the main point of explaining your methodology in research proposal or academic paper is to justify chosen methods and prove they are valid. With rigorous preparation, it will be much easier to accurately explain why you used the exact methodology and not another.
How to Explain Your Methodology in Research Proposal Properly
Now, let’s move to the main thing we want to tell you about in the article — how to write a research methodology paper for a PhD paper. Once you understand what information this chapter should include, it’s time to start writing.
Presenting the information comprehensively and accurately in the paper is critical, as based on the information, the audience will evaluate the correctness of chosen academic methods. To write a well-structured paper, answer the questions below in the following sequence:
- What topic or question did you want to explore by carrying out the research?
- What type of data did you expect to collect?
- What methods did you choose to collect and analyze data?
- Did you use any alternative or unusual methods?
- What criteria did you use to evaluate different approaches?
- Why is the chosen methodology the most suitable for your research?
- What can reliable sources prove that your choice is correct?
Provide answers to these questions in different paragraphs (one paragraph for one question). In this way, your methodology research paper will be well-structured and easy to read for the audience.
If you have any instructions on methodology chapter writing from your supervisor, make sure you follow them. The instruction will help you to figure out how to format your paper.
Tips on Writing Research Paper Methodology Successfully
These tips will help you write an excellent methodology section of research paper and stick to the common writing requirements:
- Create an outline to make sure your methodology paper is well-structured and includes all needed information.
- It is better to write the paper in the past tense.
- To better demonstrate your academic methods, you can include materials(interviews, graphics, surveys, etc.) in the appendix of your paper.
- Make sure that you stick to your university’s instructions on academic paper writing.
- Focus not only on providing the list of all utilized methods and techniques but also on strong arguments that prove the validity of your methodological choice.
Keep in mind that it is always important to accurately explain and justify your methodology in research paper, as it is the way to show the audience that you followed valid and acceptable methods to conduct research. Be consistent and proofread your paper several times to avoid any mistakes.
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Writing the Methodology Chapter(s) for the Proposal
Posted by Rene Tetzner | Oct 12, 2021 | PhD Success | 0 |
3.3 Writing the Methodology Chapter(s) for the Proposal
The methodology used in a thesis is usually described in its own chapter (see Section 1.2.3 and Section 4.3), though, like the literature review, it can be blended with the introductory material, or the review of literature and description of methods can be combined, especially if reviewing the scholarship on a topic, problem or phenomenon is a main part of the methodology used. If two different types of methodology are used for comparative purposes or combined to produce more wide-ranging results, a chapter might be dedicated to each approach, but this is rare. Usually all methods are presented in a single chapter, which might simply be entitled ‘Methodology’ or feature a title more specific to the precise methods described. There are, of course, a great many different ways to pursue research of all kinds, and they are always increasing, with established methods undergoing alterations as scholars adjust and combine them, and new methods being developed to enable research that might not have been imagined only a few decades ago.
You may be planning to use quantitative methods focussing on prediction, explanation and statistical analysis, or you may be hoping to approach your research topic qualitatively, focussing on description and exploration via textual analysis; alternatively, you may wish to combine these two approaches to supplement the results of each with results of a different nature. You may intend to use tests, trials or experiments, or perhaps interviews, questionnaires and case studies; on the other hand, you may be planning to adopt a certain theoretical perspective (cultural historicism, for example, or deconstructionism) or hoping to rely on observation (in person and/or via audiovisual equipment and recordings) or intending to exercise your ability to transcribe, translate and interpret ancient languages and scripts.
The possibilities are virtually endless, and you may find it helpful as you design the methods you plan to use in your thesis to look back at your work in any research methodology classes you may have taken for ideas and techniques. Whatever research methods you might be considering for your thesis, the important point is that they will work effectively for investigating the topic, problem or phenomenon on which your thesis focuses, for answering any particular questions and testing any hypotheses you might have formulated regarding that topic and for meeting your aims and objectives. This is to say that your research methodology should arise from the topic, problem or phenomenon, not the other way around (unless perhaps the topic you are exploring is methodology). The design of your research may well affect the precise nature and wording of that topic, problem or phenomenon and what you can ask and discover about it, and you may have given a great deal of thought to your methodology before deciding upon exactly what you will investigate, but the methods you choose or devise should be determined by the requirements of researching the specific topic, problem or phenomenon you have chosen for your focus.
Once you have decided on the methods you will use, you need to describe them as clearly and precisely as you can, indicating the setting and subjects (texts, people, animals etc.) of your research, specifying the variables you are considering and the instruments you are using, and explaining in detail exactly how you plan to collect and analyse data at each stage of the research process, which may well involve a return to any research questions and hypotheses you introduced in your first chapter and a description of precisely how your procedures will answer and test them. You should also explain why your methodology is appropriate – indeed, the best methodology possible – and perhaps innovative for investigating the particular topic, problem or phenomenon, and this explanation will ideally involve a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of various aspects of your design, the reliability and limitations of your instruments and procedures, and the use of controls and other rigorous methods for checking and guaranteeing the validity of your results. If you are using unusual or complex equipment in your research, you may want to include figures to illustrate it, and diagrams can be extremely effective for showing readers the procedural processes you will be following (for information on designing figures, see Section 4.4.1).
Your supervisor and the other members of your thesis committee will no doubt prove particularly helpful when you are refining your methodology: as more experienced researchers, they have already conducted studies of the magnitude you are just beginning and will very likely have practical knowledge of at least some of the methods and instruments you are planning to use, as well as an understanding of the vital differences that can arise between intentions, processes and results. There will almost certainly be adjustments to your first ideas as you write your methodology chapter and receive feedback from your committee members, and while this might seem distressing if you have already given your methods a lot of thought and feel rather attached to your approaches, remember that the proposal process is itself designed to iron out potential problems, clarify procedures and determine an effective working design.
There may well be further adjustments down the road, of course, but it is absolutely essential that you design and refine your research methods to such a degree at this point that you are able to begin constructive research immediately after the proposal process. Data collection and analysis take a great deal of time which you do not want to waste, so you need to be sure that you are moving in the right direction. You also want to be sure that your methodology does not raise any ethical issues that may hinder your progress or render your research unusable. Your thesis committee should be able to help you avoid or resolve problems of this kind, so if you are in doubt and the topic does not arise, do ask your supervisor (and perhaps other committee members) if they anticipate any problems, and check relevant university regulations and guidelines as well to be sure that you will be able to obtain any approval you may require.
Unlike the literature review, for which you will already have read a great deal, your methods (for the most part) will not yet be tried as you describe them in your methodology chapter for the proposal, so, with the exception of any pilot studies or trials you may already have conducted, you should discuss your methods as future events – ‘I will do this,’ ‘I plan to use,’ ‘I intend to investigate’ and so on. This approach may be appropriate for certain aspects of your introductory chapter as well, particularly when you are referring to what you will ultimately do in the thesis as opposed to what you are doing in the proposal, and may perhaps apply to parts of your literature review too: you may, for instance, only review some of many publications on a subject at the proposal stage, but be planning to add further reviews in the thesis itself. The careful use of verb tenses and other temporal indicators will make your writing, your plans for the future and your reports of what you have already done much clearer for your readers (see also Section 5.4.7).
Let us say, for instance, that you have already conducted one of the trials that you describe in your methodology chapter and have obtained results that begin to support one or more of your key hypotheses. This is the sort of progress that you certainly want your committee members to know about, so you need to describe it in a way that indicates that it has already been done – ‘I have completed,’ ‘I conducted,’ ‘I analysed’ and so on – just as you need to describe procedures still in the future as not yet done. Since most doctoral supervisors and committee members do not have the time to help you with your written English, if the careful use of tense (or any other aspect of the language) presents challenges for you, it may be a good idea to seek additional help from a qualified English proofreader, a friend or colleague whose English is more accomplished or the writing centre (if there is one) at your university. Finally, like a literature review, a chapter describing methodology usually closes with a brief summary, especially if the description of the methods has been long and complicated.
Tables and figures often are not needed in thesis proposals, but if you happen to make use of tables or figures while describing your methodology (or in any other part of your proposal), you will want to be sure that they are carefully designed and work effectively for your purposes, which are, generally speaking, to clarify the material you provide in the text. For further information on constructing tables and figures, see Section 1.3 and Section 4.4.1. If you do use tables and figures, you may also need to include in the proposal a list of each; if so, see Sections 1.1.8 and 1.1.9 and Section 4.6.2 for advice. Finally, if you use a large number of nonstandard abbreviations in your proposal chapters, you may need or choose to provide a list of abbreviations and their definitions, in which case, further information on abbreviations can be found in Section 6.3, and lists of abbreviations are also discussed in Section 1.1.7 and Section 4.6.2. For more general information on constructing lists, see Section 5.5.2.
Why PhD Success?
To Graduate Successfully
This article is part of a book called "PhD Success" which focuses on the writing process of a phd thesis, with its aim being to provide sound practices and principles for reporting and formatting in text the methods, results and discussion of even the most innovative and unique research in ways that are clear, correct, professional and persuasive.
The assumption of the book is that the doctoral candidate reading it is both eager to write and more than capable of doing so, but nonetheless requires information and guidance on exactly what he or she should be writing and how best to approach the task. The basic components of a doctoral thesis are outlined and described, as are the elements of complete and accurate scholarly references, and detailed descriptions of writing practices are clarified through the use of numerous examples.
The basic components of a doctoral thesis are outlined and described, as are the elements of complete and accurate scholarly references, and detailed descriptions of writing practices are clarified through the use of numerous examples. PhD Success provides guidance for students familiar with English and the procedures of English universities, but it also acknowledges that many theses in the English language are now written by candidates whose first language is not English, so it carefully explains the scholarly styles, conventions and standards expected of a successful doctoral thesis in the English language.
Individual chapters of this book address reflective and critical writing early in the thesis process; working successfully with thesis supervisors and benefiting from commentary and criticism; drafting and revising effective thesis chapters and developing an academic or scientific argument; writing and formatting a thesis in clear and correct scholarly English; citing, quoting and documenting sources thoroughly and accurately; and preparing for and excelling in thesis meetings and examinations.
Completing a doctoral thesis successfully requires long and penetrating thought, intellectual rigour and creativity, original research and sound methods (whether established or innovative), precision in recording detail and a wide-ranging thoroughness, as much perseverance and mental toughness as insight and brilliance, and, no matter how many helpful writing guides are consulted, a great deal of hard work over a significant period of time. Writing a thesis can be an enjoyable as well as a challenging experience, however, and even if it is not always so, the personal and professional rewards of achieving such an enormous goal are considerable, as all doctoral candidates no doubt realise, and will last a great deal longer than any problems that may be encountered during the process.
Interested in Proofreading your PhD Thesis? Get in Touch with us
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Rene Tetzner's blog posts dedicated to academic writing. Although the focus is on How To Write a Doctoral Thesis, many other important aspects of research-based writing, editing and publishing are addressed in helpful detail.
PhD Success – How To Write a Doctoral Thesis
October 1, 2021
Table of Contents – PhD Success
October 2, 2021
The Essential – Preliminary Matter
October 3, 2021
The Main Body of the Thesis
October 4, 2021
- Manuscript Preparation
Know How to Structure Your PhD Thesis
- 4 minute read
- 21.8K views
Table of Contents
In your academic career, few projects are more important than your PhD thesis. Unfortunately, many university professors and advisors assume that their students know how to structure a PhD. Books have literally been written on the subject, but there’s no need to read a book in order to know about PhD thesis paper format and structure. With that said, however, it’s important to understand that your PhD thesis format requirement may not be the same as another student’s. The bottom line is that how to structure a PhD thesis often depends on your university and department guidelines.
But, let’s take a look at a general PhD thesis format. We’ll look at the main sections, and how to connect them to each other. We’ll also examine different hints and tips for each of the sections. As you read through this toolkit, compare it to published PhD theses in your area of study to see how a real-life example looks.
Main Sections of a PhD Thesis
In almost every PhD thesis or dissertation, there are standard sections. Of course, some of these may differ, depending on your university or department requirements, as well as your topic of study, but this will give you a good idea of the basic components of a PhD thesis format.
- Abstract : The abstract is a brief summary that quickly outlines your research, touches on each of the main sections of your thesis, and clearly outlines your contribution to the field by way of your PhD thesis. Even though the abstract is very short, similar to what you’ve seen in published research articles, its impact shouldn’t be underestimated. The abstract is there to answer the most important question to the reviewer. “Why is this important?”
- Introduction : In this section, you help the reviewer understand your entire dissertation, including what your paper is about, why it’s important to the field, a brief description of your methodology, and how your research and the thesis are laid out. Think of your introduction as an expansion of your abstract.
- Literature Review : Within the literature review, you are making a case for your new research by telling the story of the work that’s already been done. You’ll cover a bit about the history of the topic at hand, and how your study fits into the present and future.
- Theory Framework : Here, you explain assumptions related to your study. Here you’re explaining to the review what theoretical concepts you might have used in your research, how it relates to existing knowledge and ideas.
- Methods : This section of a PhD thesis is typically the most detailed and descriptive, depending of course on your research design. Here you’ll discuss the specific techniques you used to get the information you were looking for, in addition to how those methods are relevant and appropriate, as well as how you specifically used each method described.
- Results : Here you present your empirical findings. This section is sometimes also called the “empiracles” chapter. This section is usually pretty straightforward and technical, and full of details. Don’t shortcut this chapter.
- Discussion : This can be a tricky chapter, because it’s where you want to show the reviewer that you know what you’re talking about. You need to speak as a PhD versus a student. The discussion chapter is similar to the empirical/results chapter, but you’re building on those results to push the new information that you learned, prior to making your conclusion.
- Conclusion : Here, you take a step back and reflect on what your original goals and intentions for the research were. You’ll outline them in context of your new findings and expertise.
Tips for your PhD Thesis Format
As you put together your PhD thesis, it’s easy to get a little overwhelmed. Here are some tips that might keep you on track.
- Don’t try to write your PhD as a first-draft. Every great masterwork has typically been edited, and edited, and…edited.
- Work with your thesis supervisor to plan the structure and format of your PhD thesis. Be prepared to rewrite each section, as you work out rough drafts. Don’t get discouraged by this process. It’s typical.
- Make your writing interesting. Academic writing has a reputation of being very dry.
- You don’t have to necessarily work on the chapters and sections outlined above in chronological order. Work on each section as things come up, and while your work on that section is relevant to what you’re doing.
- Don’t rush things. Write a first draft, and leave it for a few days, so you can come back to it with a more critical take. Look at it objectively and carefully grammatical errors, clarity, logic and flow.
- Know what style your references need to be in, and utilize tools out there to organize them in the required format.
- It’s easier to accidentally plagiarize than you think. Make sure you’re referencing appropriately, and check your document for inadvertent plagiarism throughout your writing process.
PhD Thesis Editing Plus
Want some support during your PhD writing process? Our PhD Thesis Editing Plus service includes extensive and detailed editing of your thesis to improve the flow and quality of your writing. Unlimited editing support for guaranteed results. Learn more here , and get started today!
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- Preparing my thesis
- Incorporating your published work in your thesis
- Examples of thesis and chapter formats when including publications
The following examples are acceptable ways of formatting your thesis and chapters when including one or more publications.
All theses with publications must have the following:
- Preface – noting collaborations, and contributions to authorship
- Table of contents
- List of tables, figures & illustrations
- Main text/chapters
- Bibliography or list of references
Main text examples
- Chapter 1: Introduction
- Chapter 2: Literature review
- Chapter 3: Methods
- Chapter 4: Paper 1 & general discussion
- Chapter 5: Paper 2
- Chapter 6: Regular thesis chapter – results
- Chapter 7 : Regular thesis chapter/general discussion tying in published and unpublished work
- Chapter 8: Conclusion
- Appendices - May include CD, DVD or other material, also reviews & methods papers
- Chapter 2: Methods
- Chapter 3: Paper 1
- Chapter 4: Regular thesis chapter
- Chapter 6: Regular thesis chapter, final preliminary study
- Chapter 7: General discussion
- Chapter 5: Regular thesis chapter
- Chapter 6: Regular thesis chapter
- Chapter 7: Regular thesis chapter, final preliminary study
- Chapter 8: General discussion
- Chapter 4: Paper 2 - e.g. data paper, including meta analyses
- Chapter 5: Paper 3
- Chapter 6: Paper 4
- Chapter 7: Paper 5
- Chapter 3: Major paper
- Chapter 4: Normal thesis chapter, final preliminary study
- Chapter 5: General discussion
- Introduction – including specific aims and hypotheses
- Introduction – including specific aims, hypotheses
- Methods – results (including validation, preliminary) not included in the paper
- Results (including validation, preliminary) not included in paper
- Discussion – expansion of paper discussion, further method development
- Resources for candidates
- Orientation and induction
- Mapping my degree
- Principles for infrastructure support
- Peer activities
- Change my commencement date
- Meeting expectations
- Working with my supervisors
- Responsible Research & Research Integrity
- Guidelines for external supervisors
- At risk of unsatisfactory progress
- Unsatisfactory progress
- Add or drop coursework subjects
- Apply for leave
- Return from leave
- Apply for Study Away
- Return from Study Away
- Change my study rate
- Check my candidature status
- Change my current supervisors
- Request an evidence of enrolment or evidence of qualification statement
- Change my project details
- Change department
- Transfer to another graduate research degree
- Late submission
- Withdraw from my research degree
- Check the status of a request
- Advice on requesting changes
- Extension of candidature
- Lapse candidature
- How to cancel a form in my.unimelb
- Resolving issues
- Taking leave
- About Study Away
- Finishing on time
- Accepting an offer for a joint PhD online
- Tenured Study Spaces (TSS) Usage Guidelines
- Tenured Study Spaces Procedures
- Research skills
- Academic writing and communication skills
- Building professional and academic networks
- Research internships
- Commercialising my research
- Writing my thesis
- Thesis with creative works
- Research Integrity in my Thesis
- Graduate researchers and digital assistance tools
- TES Statuses
- Submitting my thesis
- Depositing multiple components for your final thesis record
- The Chancellor's Prize
- TES Graduate Researcher FAQs
- TES Examiner FAQs
- Career planning
- Publishing my research
- Getting support
- Key graduate research contacts
- Graduate research advice for returning to campus
- Melbourne Research Experience Survey
- Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT)
- International Student Barometer (ISB) and Student Barometer (SB)
- Current Students
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What Is A Dissertation Methodology Chapter
An essay on dissertation methodology is component of a research project that requires you to describe the methods you employed in your research and explain how you utilized the methods. The goal of a chapter on methodology is to demonstrate to a reader the credibility of a document he is likely to read, and it is a must for any dissertation or thesis.
In determining the methodological approach of a specific study, the researcher has to present only the methods which were used to conduct the study, in clear and in depth. It is required that you leave out methods you didn't actively employ in your research, and also not including any examples or examples of other authors as well as their work. The chapter on methodology is generally completed after the dissertation is finished, therefore students who choose to buying dissertations online can purchase this portion of their research separately.
What do I have for writing?
It is important to write as long as you can, but remain focussed on your subject The length is entirely up to you. Try to explain all the techniques you used and that should suffice. Make your choice, however, you must recognize that a couple of techniques are not enough to write a quality thesis. Pick the strategies that work best for your needs and in line with your area of study. This step can be very difficult and time-consuming for students, and they're often seeking volunteers to write or assist with the particular chapter they need help with.
What do I need to write for this section?
While you think about how to write your methodology section, it's essential to write down the methods you've employed and explain each technique clearly thoroughly and accurately You should also mention the way it helped you write your research. The methodology section in the dissertation should help make the outline of your research to those who aren't familiar with the dissertation is therefore accessible to everyone who reads it. The methodology section in a dissertation must be placed following the literature review. the aim of this chapter is to explain the methods that you came to your conclusion.
Methodologies for dissertations on secondary research
The methodology used to write dissertations can be divided into two broad categories: empirical and theoretical. You must plan to incorporate both kinds of dissertation as the subject matter for your dissertation is very large, and it requires to be supported and supported to cover every aspect; when deciding the method you'll be using, it is best to go through each and comprehend them at their fundamental.
Theories and methods
Theoretical techniques can be abstracted and generalized. They are responsible for the systemization of material facts. The methods of scientific research are classified into these categories: formalization, axiomatic dissertation abstract and general logical techniques. General logical techniques include cognitive synthesis, logical analysis essential deduction, as well as analogy.
Methods of empirical testing
Empirical methods allow us to study the practical aspect and the outcomes which are obtained. Based on these methods, specific data are recorded and tabulated. Various things can be discovered and explained. Empirical methods are observation and qualitative comparison, precise measurement and a unique experiment.
Observation is a method of observation that is defined by the activity and cognition. It is dependent on the human senses that are believed as the most primitive, basic and even reflexive. These observations yield outcomes that aren't solely based on desires, will and emotions. The observations are instructive in relation to the relation between them, and the characteristics of real objects, phenomena.
Comparison helps to establish of the similarities and differences between objects, phenomena and objects, while the measurement determines the numerical value for the unknown amount in units. The algorithm permits data to be gathered regarding the objects.
Through the use of the study, it's possible to discover the distinctive features and information about object: this algorithm is extremely helpful in dissertation writing. the AHEC's Ph.D dissertation writing service also employ it for writing.
At the very minimum, mention all of the methods in your outline of research. The research questionnaire indicates that an outline can assist students in dealing better with their thesis, and if it fails students may always seek the help of a thesis advisor. If you aren't sure how to structure this chapter this article can help in a way, whether it's a reference or just to ensure that you include the most important information.
Dissertation methodologies examples
Law dissertation methodology:
Theoretical: theoretic analysis of newspaper, books, and literature;
Empirical: interviews, questionnaires, opinion poll.
If you are required to write a thesis , you should take these strategies into consideration.
Frequently asked questions
How to structure a dissertation methodology .
- A brief summary of your research question
- Describe your design or method.
- The context and reasoning behind your design choice
- An assessment of your method of choice, as well as a statement of its limitations
What to Include in Your Dissertation Methodology ?
- Inquiry Logic (Qualitative or Quantitative)
- Participants and the research setting
- Data Collection Methods and Procedures
- Data Analysis Methods and Procedures
- Ethical Concerns
What is the difference between quantitative and qualitative research ?
What is the importance of research methodology in a phd , is research methodology hard , what is the purpose of methodology chapter in dissertation , what chapter is research methodology belong , what chapter is the methodology , what is a methodology chapter for a dissertation , how to start writing dissertation methodology .
- You must restate your research topic or question and provide an overview of how you intend to investigate it.
- Confirm whether you've chosen quantitative research, qualitative research, or a combination of the two.
- Explain your reasoning for selecting the research methods you did.
How to Write a Research Methodology ?
- Describe your methodological approach.
- Describe your data collection methods.
- Describe your research methods.
- Examine and defend your methodological choices.
- How to Write a Strong Methodology
- Methodology frequently asked questions
How long should a methodology section be in a dissertation ?
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Free Download 📥
Methodology chapter template.
If you’re struggling to get moving with the research methodology chapter for your dissertation or thesis, this template is just what you need. Fully editable, the template includes a recommended structure , detailed explanations and examples .
This template covers all the core components required in the research methodology chapter/section of a typical dissertation or thesis, including:
- The opening section
- Research philosophy
- Research type
- Research strategy
- Time horizon
- Sampling strategy
- Data collection methods
- Data analysis methods
- Conclusion & summary
The purpose of each section is explained in plain language, followed by an overview of the key elements that you need to cover. The template also includes practical examples to help you understand exactly what’s required, along with links to additional free resources (articles, videos, etc.) to help you along your research journey.
The cleanly-formatted Word document is fully editable , so you can use it as-is for your dissertation or thesis, copy over the contents to a fresh document, or convert it to LaTeX.
PS – if you’d like a high-level template for the entire thesis, you can grab that here .
Frequently Asked Questions
What format is the template (DOC, PDF, PPT, etc.)?
The methodology chapter template is provided in a fully editable MS Word document (.DOCX). You’re welcome to convert it to whatever format works best for you, such as LaTeX or PDF.
What types of dissertations/theses can this template be used for?
The methodology template follows the standard format for academic research projects, which means it will be suitable for the vast majority of dissertations and theses (especially those within the sciences), whether they adopt a qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-methods approach. The template is loosely based on Saunders’ research onion , which is recommended as a methodological framework by many universities.
Keep in mind that the exact requirements for the methodology chapter/section will vary between universities and degree programs. These are typically minor, but it’s always a good idea to double-check your university’s requirements before you finalize your structure.
Is this template for an undergrad, Master or PhD-level thesis?
This template can be used for a dissertation, thesis or research project at any level of study. Doctoral-level projects typically require the methodology chapter to be more extensive/comprehensive, but the structure will typically remain the same.
How long should the methodology chapter be?
This can vary a fair deal, depending on the level of study (undergrad, Master or Doctoral), the field of research, as well as your university’s specific requirements. Therefore, it’s best to check with your university or review past dissertations from your program to get an accurate estimate.
Can I share this template with my friends/colleagues?
Yes, you’re welcome to share this template in its original format (no editing allowed). If you want to post about it on your blog or social media, we kindly request that you reference this page as your source.
Do you have templates for the other chapters?
Yes, we do. We are constantly developing our collection of free resources to help students complete their dissertations and theses. You can view all of our template resources here .
Can Grad Coach help me with my methodology?
Yes, we can assist with your methodology chapter (or any other chapter) on a coaching basis. If you’re interested, feel free to get in touch to discuss our private coaching services .
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Written in simple language but educative and helpful, thank you.
I consulted this page when I was in the final stage of my PhD. Thank you so much! SHABANI
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What to Include in the METHODOLOGY Chapter of Your Thesis
Can you cook?
I will admit: I am a terrible cook. I know how to make a decent salad, incredible popcorn ( to me it counts as cooking. Do not judge. ) and the classic “scrambled eggs with a lot of cheese”. Apart from this, do not count on me for a fancy meal.
One day, I asked my mother ( true story, by the way! ) for a recipe for a lasagna. My friend, I swear I followed every single step she said and in the end what I had was so far from it that I was even embarrassed to call it a lasagna. The white sauce was not thick enough, the meat was raw and overall it all got a bit burnt.
Result? I ordered a burger with fries.
INSIGHT: The logic of a recipe is that if you follow every single step, you should be able to reproduce it exactly every time and make great meals. But as I just explained, it does not work exactly like that.
In science, the recipe is our methodology chapter. And the logic is: it should describe how your study was done, step by step to the point that anyone else would be able to replicate it.
Why Is The Methodology Chapter So Important?
The methodology is of extreme importance because it shows the recipe you followed during the development of your research.
So remember: in case you use an inaccurate or weak methodology, everything else in your thesis ( results, conclusions and managerial recommendations ) WILL BE WRONG .
Why? Because it is irrelevant that you had an incredible research question or aim. If you measured things incorrectly, if the data was collected incorrectly, if you did not apply the most suitable method and chose the right sample, EVERY RESULT WILL BE INACCURATE .
You will have findings, but they will have very little validity .
Imagine this bizarre scenario for a second: You go to the doctor because you are feeling weak and without energy (the research problem). The doctor will then apply a method to gather data , interpret it and come up with conclusions and recommendations to give you so that you can get better.
But imagine that in order to identify the causes and symptoms of your weakness, he/she takes an X-ray of your foot and tells you everything is fine. Would that be accurate? NO. And why? Because taking an X-ray of a foot will not tell you the causes and symptoms of a weakness. The doctor should at least measure your blood pressure or measure your heart (My friend, don’t judge my medical knowledge. I’m not a doctor, just trying to convey a point here!).
But do you get what I mean? What I am trying to say is that your methodology chapter is SUPER important because it will tell the reader HOW the research aim/question of your thesis or research paper was addressed.
So if it so important, what should you include in your methodology chapter? Now we get to the juicy part of this article.
Let me take you through it! Here we go!
Video Support: Methodology
In case you are enjoying the article, do not forget to watch the video with further support on how to write the methodology chapter in your thesis.
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT SECTIONS TO INCLUDE
If you noticed, I wrote the title of this section in capital letters. That means that the information is very important and that you must pay attention ( It’s like when your girlfriend texts you saying: “Francisco, I am NOT UPSET WITH YOU”. What does it mean? That she is extremely upset! CAPS LOCK can convey a lot of emotion ).
So yes, pay attention to what is about to come.
Oh, just one more thing (I promise): I am not here to try to explain to you what your methodology should be. The designs, methods, measurements, sample and so on of your study will depend on your RESEARCH AIM/QUESTION/HYPOTHESIS. So make sure to discuss with your supervisor the methodology you should apply to your study. I am simply making clear all the relevant sections you should include in your chapter so that you do not forget any relevant information, ok?
Finally, here we go:
Research Design (s)
This section will inform the reader of the NATURE of your study. In other words, broadly speaking: are you aiming to describe a phenomena ( descriptive design ), are you aiming to explore a topic ( exploratory design ), are you looking to identify causal relationships between factors ( causal design )?
PS: It is beyond the scope of this article to explain to you what every design is and how it should be applied. So make sure to gather good methodology books and do two things in this section:
– First, explain the research designs, using academic references ( use research methods books to reference it );
– Second, explain WHICH design you have used ( or more than one, in case it is a mixed-design study ) and WHY it suits your research aim.
PS: Should everyone include this section in their methodology chapter? YESSSSSS .
I have also created a mind map with an overview of research designs to help you!
DOWNLOAD: LiveInnovation.org - Defining the Research Plan Research Design Mind Map.pdf
2. Research Methods
Following the description of your research design, you should also devote a section to describing the research methods you applied during your study. Each design will provide you with many possibilities of methods to use.
Which one should you use? Read about it, reflect and discuss with your supervisor, ok?
PS: Should everyone include this section in their methodology chapter? MOST CERTAINLY YES.
Once you clarified the method you used, it is time to explain exactly WHAT you measured ( e.g. service quality, brand image, satisfaction, purchase intention ) and HOW you measured (e.g. 3, 5, 7 point-Likert scales, previously validated scales, references of authors from the scales you used, if you developed scale items).
In case you are developing interviews or open questions for focus groups, for example, I have written a series of suggestions here that can help you.
It is super important to once more be very detailed here. Always keep in mind: If someone wants to measure the same things, will they have enough information to replicate it?
Ps: Should everyone include this section in their methodology chapter? ARE YOU KIDDING? OF COURSE.
In this section you should detail (at least!) the population of your study, your sampling technique ( which technique you used to select the people who took part in your study ) and how you established your sample size .
PS: Should everyone include this section in their methodology chapter? WITHOUT A DOUBT.
I have also written in another article a few HACKS to understanding the methodology of your study. Download it !
DOWNLOAD: LiveInnovation.org - Defining the Research Plan Extra Hacks.pdf
5. Data Collection Process
Here you should detail exactly how the data collection process happened. You should detail, for example, when it took place (e.g. In which year and month, for how many days), in which places (e.g. if online, on which sites or platforms? If offline, where exactly and under which circumstances), what exactly was YOUR role (e.g. Did you have any participation? If so, how?), role of participants (e.g. what did they have to do?) and on average how long it took for each participant to be part of it.
PS: Should everyone include this section in their methodology chapter? ABSOLUTELY.
6. Validity and Reliability
Now, here is a SUPER important section that 99% get wrong(I completely made up this figure, simply because I want to convey a point!). Validity (that you measured what you intend to measure) and reliability (that the measurements used, such as your scales, are consistent and replicable) are two concepts that simply have to be addressed and have to do with your measurements.
Once again, describing what each concept is and how you should address them is beyond the scope of this article. So PLEASE go through them in research methods books, discuss it with your supervisor and write in this section WHAT the concepts are and HOW you address them in your thesis, ok?
Honestly, PLEASE do it. I have seen so many students in colloquiums that had absolutely no clue about this. They knew they had to write about it, but had no clue. PLEASE do not be one of those, ok?
PS: Should everyone include this section in their methodology chapter? Oh YES. No doubt.
7. Instruments or Equipment
Sometimes, especially in causal studies when researchers are developing experiments, it is important to detail the instruments or equipment that were used in the study.
For example, here at MusicStats.org we have done a series of studies on Virtual Reality (VR). During these studies, we used a particular type of VR glasses and specific VR apps.
If someone wants to replicate my study and uses different VR glasses, would this affect the results? Of course! So for others to replicate in the same way, they must use the same instruments. Got it?
Also, the results are affected by the instruments. If I used a super high-tech-mega-awesome VR glasses, would it influence the results? Of course! So it is also important for the reader to take it into consideration when reading your results.
PS: Should everyone include this section in their methodology chapter? NO . ONLY if your study involved a particular equipment that was relevant to it. usually, this applies to causal studies, running experiments.
8. Experimental Procedure
Once again, in case you are running a causal study and an experiment, it is important to detail the experimental procedure.
Explain, to the reader for example, what was the experimental task (what did the participants have to do?), the extraneous variables that were controlled (variables of the environment that could affect the cause and affect relationship).
Also discuss the manipulation of the independent variable (how were the experimental conditions different from one another), if it was a between-group design or a within group design .
PS: Should everyone include this section in their methodology chapter? NO . ONLY if your study involved an experiment.
Just to remind you: These are MY suggestions. Of course different supervisors will have other ways of defining what is relevant for you in this chapter. Nonetheless, the content I have described above is the most general that almost every management-related thesis should include in their methodology chapter.
Also remember: If you are reading this and your thesis is in a completely different field (biology, chemistry, mathematics), many things here do not apply. My focus is on management/marketing students, ok?
Another suggestion: NEVER be like those students who just send emails and ask straightaway what their methodology should be. This does not send a good signal! So go read a few research methods books, reflect and define what your methodology should be and once you have doubts, contact your supervisor ( Supervisors out there, you are welcome! ).
And one final thing: In case you want to thank me, do not send cooking books or books with recipes. I still do not enjoy cooking. Want to make me happy for helping you? Send me beer or coffee. Oh, and I do not like wheat beer (“Weizenbier”, in German). It has a strange smell and you need to have a specific glass to drink them (at least here in Germany). Too complex.
Have a great day!
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Writing the Dissertation Methodology Chapter & Help from Professional Writers
When you check out the structure of a PhD paper, you assume that the dissertation methodology is going to be the easy part. But when you start writing the outline for all chapters of dissertation , you realize that it’s the exact section that gets you overwhelmed.
The dissertation is a serious project. You can’t base your statements on “In my opinion.” Each statement has to be supported by facts. How will you find those facts? Will this be a research project based on analytics, or will you conduct case studies and lab experiments?
The dissertation methodology section should describe the methods that you’ll use to investigate the issue. You can’t choose random methods and list them. You must explain why they make sense in the context of your project. How are they better than other available methods?
We understand: writing your dissertation methodology is hard. That’s why we’re here for you. We’ll give you important tips on how to write dissertation methodology, and we’ll tell you what to do if nothing works.
What’s the Purpose of a Dissertation Methodology?
In its essence, the dissertation is a research paper. The chapter 3 methodology elaborates the research methods as the foundational aspect of the entire project.
Your methodology may involve information analysis, practical lab tests, questionnaires and interviews, social experiments, and more. Your sample has to be carefully sourced, so the research would make sense in a realistic setting.
The research methodology must justify your approach to the issue. Through the previous chapter (the literature review ), the reader understands the background of the issue. In this chapter, you’re basically saying: “You should trust me because I did this, this and this to come down to the findings that I present.”
Well you won’t say it exactly like that. You’ll find a more “academic” way to present your approach through the dissertation methodology writing process.
We’ll all agree with a fact: it’s not easy to write this section. It’s why most PhD candidates heed help from dissertation writing services .
Tips from Our Pros: Writing a Good Methodology for Dissertation
- Get Inspired by Samples That Work
When you’re wondering how to write methodology section of dissertation, you know that you already saw a few perfect samples. You’re working on this chapter after conducting the research process and writing the literature review. Throughout the research, you analyzed several studies that included a qualitative research methodology. Now, you have to write the same type of content for your own project.
- Explain What Types of Data You’ll Collect
In the dissertation introduction , you talked about the problem and you explained what results you expected to achieve through your research. When wondering how to write a methodology, you should answer the reader’s question: “What data will the researcher collect to prove the thesis statement?”
The type of data will lead you to the selection of your methods. Primary data is the type of information that you collect as an original researcher. You can do it through interviews, case studies, and lab experiments. Secondary data is also important. It’s the data you collect from previous studies, journals, articles, and books.
- Explain the Methods
The dissertation methodology structure doesn’t only list the methods. It must explain why you chose them.
- Edit the Chapter!
Before you proceed to the next chapter, you should edit this one. Our professional writers give you one of the most important tips for writing a dissertation methodology : edit individual chapters. It’s much easier to fix the issues now, before they lead you to more mistakes.
If you need assistance with this step, you can always rely on expert proofreading services .
What to Do If You Can’t Write the Dissertation Methodology Chapter
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