How do you write the methodology chapter
It’s important to note that the structure 0f the methodology differs from one university to university . It’s always a good idea to review the guidelines provided at your institution. Also, review past dissertations as well as theses from your university. We’ll be discussing a general structure for a methodology section that is common in the sciences, particularly the social sciences (e.g. psychology).
Before you begin writing, it is a good idea to draw a rough outline so you know where you are going. You shouldn’t start writing without knowing where it will lead. You’ll end up with a messy, poorly written narrative. In order to put the pieces together, you will waste lots of time rewriting. Keep the end in your mind.
1 – Introduction –
The methodology chapter, like all chapters of your thesis or dissertation, should include a brief introduction. You should briefly explain to your readers the main focus of your study, and the research goals. We’ve talked about many times, and your research design must align with research aims, objectives, and research questions. It’s a good idea to frontload this so that you can remind your reader (and yourself!) What you want to accomplish with your design.
You can also mention how you will structure this chapter in this section. This will assist in orienting the reader and give them a roadmap to help them know what to expect.
The Research Design
Your research design should be presented to the reader in the next section of your methodology chapter. This section should describe and justify the main design choices in an intuitive, logical manner. This section is the core of your methodology chapter. You must get specific . Don’t be shy about giving details. This is not one-size-fits-all.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular design options you will need to cover.
Design Selection #1 – Research Philosophy
Research philosophy is the core beliefs (i.e. The research philosophy is the underlying beliefs (i.e., world view) that guide how data should be collected, analysed, and used. Your research philosophy is the heart of your research and will underpin all other design choices. It’s crucial that you know what philosophy and why this choice was made. Take the time to understand this before you make any design decisions.
There are many research philosophies, but two that are most popularly used are positivism or interpretivism.
Positivism forms the basis of many quantitative research studies. It says that the researcher can observe reality objectively, and that there is only one reality that exists independently of the observer.
Contrary to this, interpretivism is the underlying research philosophy of qualitative studies. It assumes that the researcher plays a role in observing reality and that each observer is the only one. This means that reality is observed subjectively.
These are two philosophies (there’s many). However, they show significantly different approaches to research. They also have an impact on the design choices for research. It is important to clearly outline, and justify the research philosophy in your methodology chapter. This sets the stage for everything else.
Design Selection #2 – Research Type
In your methodology section, the next topic you should discuss is the research type. This is where you indicate the type of research that was conducted. Inductive research generates theory from the ground-up (i.e. Inductive research generates theory from the strong>ground up /strong> (i.e., using collected data). These studies are exploratory. The deductive approach, however, begins with established theory and adds to it using collected data. These studies are confirmatory.
You will also need to indicate whether your study uses a qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods method. This choice is strongly linked to your research philosophy. Make sure your choices are well aligned. Remember to justify your choices when writing this section. They are the basis of your research.
Design Selection #3 – Research Strategy
Next, discuss your research strategy, or your “action plan”. This is the design of your research that you use to achieve your study’s goals.
There are many research methods available, including ethnography, grounded theory and action research. Let’s compare two of these: ethnographic and experimental.
The scientific method is used to experiment. One group is called the control group, in which variables are not manipulated, and another group is called the experimental group. This type of research takes place in controlled, artificial environments, such as a laboratory. Experimental research allows researchers to establish causality between variables by having complete control of the environment. It is a great choice for research that aims to measure or identify cause and effect.
Ethnographic Research meanwhile, is the observation and recording of participants’ experiences and perceptions in their natural environments (such as at home or at work). This means that you can observe and record participants in an uncontrolled setting. This would mean that your research goals involve identifying causality. However, it could be extremely useful if you are looking to investigate or study group culture.
The right research strategy depends largely on your research goals and questions. In other words, what are you trying to find out. As with any other design decision, justify the reason you chose this research strategy.
Design Selection #4 – Time Horizon
Next, you will need to discuss the time horizon in your methodology chapter. You have two choices: longitudinal or cross-sectional. This means that the study data were collected at one time (i.e. Cross-sectional or at multiple times in time? (i.e. longitudinal).
Your research goals, objectives, and research questions will determine the choice you make. For example, if you want to evaluate how opinions on a particular topic change over the course of time you would likely use a longitudinal timeline.
Another important aspect is practical constraints. This means that you need to consider whether you have enough time to follow a longitudinal approach, which could require data collection over many years. Often, your degree program will force you to adopt a cross-sectional approach.
Design Choice #5 – Sampling Strategy
Next, discuss the chosen sampling strategy. There are two types of sampling: probability or nonprobability. Probability sampling is a random (and thus representative) selection of participants from an population. Non-Probability sampling is a nonrandomized selection of participants (and therefore not-representative). This is also known as convenience sampling.
It all depends on the purpose of your study. It is important to determine whether your findings are applicable to a larger population. Because it is often difficult to access a random sample, practicalities and resource constraints play an important role.
Design Option #6 – Data Collection Method
Next, you will need to describe how you intend to collect the data required for your study. The type of data you want to collect will determine the data collection method or methods that you use.
qualitative research typically relies on surveys and data generated using lab equipment, analysis software, or existing datasets. Qualitative research uses qualitative methods like interviews, focus groups and participant observations.
As you can see, this section is closely linked to the design choices that you made in previous sections. It is important to ensure that these sections align well.
Design Choice #7 – Data Analysis Methods/Techniques
The analysis methods is the last major design decision you should make. So, now that you have collected your data, what are you going to do about analysing it? It’s essential to be specific regarding your analysis methods and/or technologies. Don’t allow for interpretation. justify every choice, as you do with all the choices in this chapter.
The type of study (i.e. qualitative, quantitative or mixed) will determine what you talk about. Common analysis methods for qualitative studies include discourse analysis, content analysis, and thematic analysis. qualitative studies will almost always use descriptive statistics. In many cases, you may also use predictive statistical methods (e.g. Correlation and regression analysis.
This section also discusses the methods used to prepare data for analysis. For example, removing duplicate responses will be necessary for quantitative data. Remember to mention what did and why did it.
3 – Methodological Limitations
After you have made the most important research design decisions and are justified, it is time to discuss the limitations. No research design or methodology can be perfect. There will always be compromises between what is ideal and what is practical and feasible, given your constraints. This section of your methodology chapter will discuss the tradeoffs that you made and the reasons they were justified in the context.
There are many limitations to methodological analysis. These can range from common issues like time, budget constraints to issues like sample and selection bias. You might find that your sample is too small to get the desired number of respondents (and thus statistically significant results), and/or that it favors a particular demographic which could negatively impact representativeness.
Critical of any flaws in your study is essential for this section. It’s not worth hiding them, as your marker will notice them. Your marker will notice that you are critical and you will demonstrate a solid understanding of research design. Don’t abandon your study. Be clear about the limitations and explain why they were justified. Also, describe how you minimized their effects to the greatest extent possible. Finally, state how your study continues to provide value in spite of these limitations.
4 – Concluding Summary
It’s now time to conclude the methodology chapter with a short summary. This section will summarize the information presented in the chapter. It is possible to use an figure to summarize the design decisions. This is especially useful if your university recommends a particular model (e.g., Saunders’ Research Onion).
This section must be concise. It should not exceed a paragraph (it’s a summary). Make sure you only include what you have already covered in your chapter. Don’t add any additional information.
Here it is – the methodology section in its simplest form. The exact structure and contents of the chapter can differ between universities. As such, it is important to make sure you check with your institution before you begin writing. You should try to locate dissertations and theses written by former students in your degree program. This will give you an indication of the expectations as well as the norms for the methodology chapter. ).
Remember the golden rule in the methodology chapter: justify all choices! You must clearly explain every “what” and reference academic sources to support your justifications.
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