When writing a dissertation or thesis, you will have to point out the methods you employed in carrying out your research. The methods section of a dissertation describes what you did and how you did it, helping readers assess your study’s dependability and validity.
A methodology is often written before presenting study findings. It details the methods you utilised and why and creates a roadmap towards your conclusions.
This post will outline the steps involved in developing a methodology and provide writing advice. We’ll also give a few examples of writing a methodology. But first, let’s take a deep look at what a methodology entails.
What is a methodology?
The methodology section simply offers the “what,” “how,” and “why” of your research. It explains your direction of study and the methods used to obtain results. If you’re wondering what to include in methods section of dissertation, here are some points below:
- The form of research you conducted
- How you acquired and selected your data
- Your data analysis structure
- Any tools or materials employed in the research
- The reason behind these methods
The methodology section is usually written in the past tense.
How long should the methods section of a dissertation be?
A methodology section can be between 1,500 to 2,000 words. This usually includes two or more chapters, each carrying specific information and descriptions.
However, this is a very generic range for methodology length. The main determinants of its length are your choice and rationales for using different data collection and analysis methods. These typically include sampling techniques, sampling size, and many more. The length of a methodology also depends on whether it is qualitative, quantitative or mixed research.
The importance of a methodology
Outlining your methodology gives your research credibility. An unreliable or incorrect approach yields inconsistent or inaccurate outcomes. The reader of your study expects you to have followed standard practices for your conclusions to be valid.
The approach you report on must be reproducible, which means that anybody who employs the procedures you describe should get the same conclusions you did. The methodology section dissertation must meet these criteria to be a valid and acceptable study. And without this section of a dissertation, the fundamental basis of the research is entirely flawed.
How to write a methodology section
The following steps below will help you write a methods section fast.
- Outline your methodological approach
Begin by introducing your general research strategy. For example, what problem or question did you look into, and what type of data did you need to get an answer? Quantitative approaches, such as surveys, are ideal for ranking, measuring, categorising, and generalising.
On the other hand, qualitative methods are ideal for explaining, analysing, contextualizing, and getting in-depth insight into certain concepts or occurrences. Lastly, mixed approaches provide a combination of numerical measurement and in-depth investigation.
Depending on your subject and approach, you may also want to start with an explanation of the reasons and assumptions that drive your technique.
- Explain your methods of data collection and selection
After introducing your overall methodological approach, you should go into the procedures you employed to perform the study exhaustively. Outline the data collection techniques, processes, and materials you employed and the criteria you used to identify participants or sources. Each research method represents different reasons for data collection and selection.
- Describe your analysis methods
In this step, you describe how you processed and analysed the data. Avoid getting into too much detail, presenting or discussing your findings. For example, your analysis will be based on statistics in quantitative research.
You may mention in the methods section: how you prepared the data before analysing it and what software you used to analyse it. It would help if you also mentioned the statistical approaches you utilised.
As for qualitative research, your analysis will revolve around language, visuals, and observations. Content analysis, including coding and categorising themes and ideas, narrative and discourse analysis, are examples of analysis methods.
- Justify your methodological decisions
Your methodology should explain why you picked these specific methods, especially if you did not take the most conventional approach. Discuss why other techniques were ineffective for your goals, and demonstrate how your approach adds new information or insight. You can recognize shortcomings or drawbacks in your strategy, but remember to explain why the advantages exceeded them.
APA Methods Section Format
The APA methods section is where you show how you performed your study. Dissertations in the social and natural sciences usually use the APA style. This portion of an APA document is generally divided into three subsections.
- Participants: who participated in the experiment and why?
- Materials: what materials did you use to experiment?
- Procedure: what steps were involved in the experiment?
You may add more subsections if required. Different schools have different criteria about which subsections should be included, so verify your institution’s standards before writing your Methods section.
APA Methods Section Example
A typical methodology example is given below:
The sample included 506 adults aged between 18 and 25. More than half of the participants were women (56%), and all participants had completed at least ten years of education.
The primary materials used were surveys and questionnaires. The secondary outcome measures were gender and parental education levels of participants and whether these characteristics provided better intelligence.
The participants were given different aptitude tests after answering the surveys and questionnaires. Data obtained from those tests were analyzed and used to determine if age, gender and home education factored in improved intelligence.
A methodology represents the lifeblood of research. It is the blueprint through which the research can be recreated, untested or improved for further applications. With the steps in this article, you should have no problem creating your methodology.