A complete guide for writing a great methodology chapter of a dissertation

What is a methodology?

The methodology is the section of the dissertation that provides an outline for the research methods you intend to use in the research project. It gives the reader sufficient information to assess the reliability and validity of your research project. It comes immediately after the literature review and is connected to the research questions as well as the information obtained from the literature review. In most cases, the literature review informs the methods adopted for your research. The methods used in previous studies are likely to be employed in the current research because one already understands the potential benefits and limitations of the methods and how to address any drawbacks. In this article, we discuss the content of the methodology section of the dissertation and the methods for conducting research.

The contents of methodology chapter of dissertation

1.      Research design summary

One of the main components of a methodology chapter is the research design you intend to use in the project. This can be Experimental, Descriptive, or Review.

Experimental research design: This is a dominant research design in sciences such as health, medicine, computer science, psychology, and natural science. It involves testing two or more groups in relation to a particular phenomenon. It applies methods such as quasi-experiments or controlled experiments.

Descriptive research design: This research design is common in sociology, health, and business among other disciplines. It involves exploring the relationship between a phenomenon and its impact on a population. It applies methods such as surveys, case studies, ethnographic studies, and naturalistic observations.

Review: A review research design is less common and involves gathering and analyzing secondary research to draw new insights. It applies methods such as meta-analysis or systematic review. It is used in health and nursing among other disciplines.

2.      Reiterate the research Objectives

As you start your methodology, ensure that your reader can relate the methodologies with the research question. This where you reiterate the research topic and provide a summary of what you intend to study. This is also where you give details of the philosophical and ethical considerations related to the study.

3.      Identify and describe the methods for the study

Determine the right method for the study either qualitative or quantitative. Give the rationale behind selecting the method by explaining why it is more appropriate for your study.

For qualitative research methods, you will need to provide information such as:

Observations

  1. When and where was the observation conducted?
  2. Who or what was being observed
  3. What was the observed community or group?
  4. What was the duration for the observation?
  5. How were the findings recorded in video, audio, or written?

Focus group

  1. Indicate the time and place the focus group took place
  2. Describe the participants involved
  3. Indicate the criteria for selecting participants
  4. Indicate the number of people who participated
  5. Indicate whether the questions were structure or semi-structured

Interview

  1. Indicate the time and date of the interview
  2. Indicate the participants
  3. Indicate the selection criteria for the interviewees
  4. Indicate the types of questions
  5. Indicate the recording method and attach the questions

The following should be considered for quantitative research methods:

Existing information

  1. Indicate the sources of the materials
  2. Indicate the selection criteria for the materials
  3. What was the timeframe of data reviewed?

Experiments

  1. Indicate the tools used for the experiments
  2. Indicate the techniques used
  3. Provide dialed procedure for conducting the experiment

Surveys

  1. What type of questions were used?
  2. What was the number of questions?
  3. How long was the survey?
  4. What were the study demographics?
  5. Attach a copy of the survey

4.      Research philosophical approach

Research philosophies are important for strengthening and justifying the research model. There are different research philosophies including pragmatism, interpretivism, constructivism, positivism, and post-positivism. One’s choice of philosophy is determined by various factors such as the research complexity or academic subjective.

Positivism: The positivism philosophy assumes that there are objective truths that can be understood by objective research.

Pragmatism: it assumes that there are no fixed truths and that the responsibility of the researcher is to identify practical insight to solve people’s problems.

Critical realism: this philosophy assumes that the researcher acknowledges their biasnes while trying to be as objective as possible. The philosophy thus supports the study of social and historical data to discover the true social realities.

Interpretivism: Here, researchers assume that achieving objectivism is impossible because understanding the social world is difficult. As such, they depend primarily on their interpretation of data as a way of discovering and developing new theories.

5.      Methods of data analysis

Another key component of the methodology chapter of a dissertation is the methods used to analyze the collected data. For quantitative research methods indicate the data preparation methods and the tools used to analyze the data. For qualitative data, indicate the themes and ideas identified from the data as well as the analysis methods.

6.      Limitations and ethical considerations

Ethical considerations: Indicate how your study will impact other people especially in cases where human subjects are involved.

Limitations: Identify the key limiting factors to your research process for example if you only interviewed people from a certain area.

Types of dissertation methodology

Scientific study

The methodology of a scientific study is mainly focused on reproducibility and rigor. The researcher needs to employ robust research design and methods and should only include necessary information about the experimental procedure and laboratory setup in a way that can be easily reproduced. You also need to justify your statistical models and demonstrate the process of collecting, analyzing and drawing conclusions from the data.

Social and behavioral sciences

Social and behavioral sciences involve working directly with human subjects which introduces different sets of complexities. Factors such as ethics and representation are key. The reliability of your research depends on whether the selected groups of people accurately represent the behavior of the entire population. As for ethical factors, you should ascertain that you obtained the right authorization from appropriate bodies as well as the consent of the participants.

Art and humanities

The methodology in arts and humanities is more tied to the literature review as compared to other types of studies. However, this does not mean that the methodology section is ignored or given less attention. It is important to provide detailed justification of the research models and how they relate to the research question.

Sample dissertation methodology

Follow the link to download the sample of a methodology chapter

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