How to Write a Research Methodology for Dissertation?
Prior to clearing the concept of how to write a research methodology and the tips that can help you write a better methodology, let us first discuss what it is actually. To put it in a layman terms, it is this particular section of the research where you discuss the methodologies used for doing research.
In this particular section, you discuss about the methods of carrying out research work that explains what you did, how you did and enables the readers to evaluate the validity of research work.
A complete Research methodology includes the following:
- The type of research that you have carried out.
- How you have collected and analysed that data.
- Any materials and tools that you have used in that.
- Why you have chosen those methods.
Important to Note: Should be written in the past tense.
Purpose of Research Methodology
It is this part of the research paper that contains the description of ways and means for conducting research work. Basic aim of writing a research methodology is to explain the techniques used for obtaining the data or information. It portrays a good image of the research. Some people put their main focus on the literature review or Introduction but the main judgment of the Research depends on the methodologies used.
Step-by-Step Guide to writing research methodology
Step One: Explain Your Approach First
You should start by introducing over and all approach of the research. What research questions or problems do you want to investigate and what kind of data you have to answer.
- There are quantitative methods: Like surveys that are used for ranking, measuring, categorizing, helping you identify patterns and making generalizations.
- There are qualitative methods: Like interviews that used for describing, interpreting, contextualizing and gaining an insight into specific phenomena or concepts.
- There are mixed methods: Mixed methods enable the users to make use of in-depth exploration.
What kind of methods you would use in carrying out research work depends on your approach and discipline. It is good to get the formatting and styling needs of your department clear first.
- What is the aim of your research is? What it is going to address a theoretical or a practical research issue?
- Why it is the most appropriate approach in addressing your research questions?
- Is this just a standard methodology?
- Are there any philosophical or ethical considerations?
If it is a quantitative experimental study then it is aimed to produce general knowledge about the underlying causes of any phenomenon. If it is qualitative ethnographic case study, it would be aimed to produce contextual real-world knowledge about the social structures, behaviours and shared believes of the specific groups. This methodology is more interpretive and lesser controlled. It considers things like how your perception and participation have influenced the result.
Step Two: Describing the Data Collection Methodologies
After they are through with their over and all methodological approach, students need to give the full details of the methodologies they have used for conducting research work. Whatever procedures they have adopted, materials they have used to collect data, and the criteria to select the sources and participants.
- Surveys: This is just about how, when, where the survey is being conducted. How the questions are designed and what form these questions would take (are they multiple-choice or the objective types?) What particular sampling method is used for selecting the participants? Is the survey conducted by mail, phone or online and how long did the participants take to respond? What was the response rate and sample size?
A full questionnaire can be used in the appendix so that the readers can see what particular data is collected.
- Experiments: Here in this section, complete details of the tools, procedures and techniques used to conduct the experiments should be discussed. Answers to the following questions should be unravelled here like how is the experiment designed, how are the participants recruited? What particular tools and technologies are used in the experiments? And a lot more.
- Existing Data: This section explains how you have selected and gathered the materials for their inclusion in the analysis. Where did you source the materials? How were the data produced originally and what particular criteria are being used for the selection of materials?
Let us discuss a few qualitative methodologies here:
- Focus Groups or Interviews: How are the participants founded and chosen, how many people took part on that, what sort of interviews were they (structured, unstructured or semi-structured?), what the time period was and how they were recorded were some of the questions to be answered.
- Observation of the participants: In this particular section things like when, where and how you have conducted the observations need to be discussed. There are things like how long you spend in conducting research, how did you record the data and what group or community you observed?
- Existing Data: This section explains how students have selected the case study materials like the images and a text for the focus of analysis is being discussed. So, here in this section what type of materials did they analyse and how they collected that particular data is discussed.
Step Three: Describing the Data of Analysis
In this step, a complete evaluation of how the data is analysed and processed can be done. You should not discuss or present your results at this particular stage. Other things like which software have you used for analysing data, how the data has been analysed, which software is being used for analysing the data and which statistical methods are used etc. can be discussed here.
- Qualitative Methodologies: When qualitative research is conducted, the analysis is based on the images, observations and languages etc. The specific methods that can be used in this method are
- Content Analysis: That can be used for categorising and discussing the meaning of phrases, sentences and words.
- Thematic Analysis: Coding and closely examining the data for the purpose of identifying broad patterns and themes.
- Discourse Analysis: Examining and studying communication and meaning pertaining to the social context.
Step Four: Eventual step in which the entire methodology is evaluated
In the eventual step you should discuss why you have chosen the methodologies you have mentioned. Also, to make your dissertation more impactful you can discuss why you have not chosen other methodologies and why those methodologies are not suitable for meeting your objectives. You can also choose to show how your approach would contribute to a new understanding and knowledge.
In this section you can also acknowledge the limitations and weakness of your approach to make your dissertation more engaging. However, the limitations mentioned by you are outweighed by your strengths.
Important Tips to Follow for Writing Research Methodologies
It is good to remember that you should aim towards not describing the methods alone but you also need to explain how and why you have used them for demonstrating your research work.
- Be Focused on How Your Methods Suit Your Objectives: Always remember that a methodology section should be amply clear in showing why your chosen methodologies are the best ones and suit the objectives of convincing your readers. Throughout this section you should aim towards relating your choices to the main purpose of dissertation.
- Referencing Strengthens Your Research: If there is any existing research in the field make sure to cite it, it would strengthen your methodology. It is good to confirm that you have followed the set practices for the research; you can discuss how you have evaluated the different types of methodologies before deciding on the approach you have chosen.
- Last but not the least, you need to show that you have adopted a methodological approach and how it is helpful in addressing a gap in the literature researched.
- Keep in Mind Your Audience and Write for Them: It is good if you can captivate the interests of readers and do not go for the details which are not necessary. It is good not to give tons of background information or any sort of justification. However, if you embrace an approach which is not so common in your field you obviously have to justify your choice and need to explain why it was necessary.
Your methodology should be obviously clear and well-structured and should not appear just a list of technical procedures and details.
- Mention and Discuss the Difficulties: This is also a very important thing to be mentioned and discussed for gathering and analyzing your data. As the name indicates, it shows how you dealt with the problems and how you have faced that difficulty to minimise the influence of any unexpected hindrances. Discuss how you dealt with them successfully.
- Restate the Central Research Question: Methodology section of the thesis is followed by another important section of it which is a literature review. Hence to make sure that the readers are focused on the central research question, you need to restate briefly in a description. This will help the readers to realign their entire focus on the prime objective of their research.
- Make Sure that You are Organised: When you want to explain the techniques and the methodologies that you have used in the dissertation, you should be better planned and organised. Once you have restated the problem statement, you need to mention the context of the methodologies used also. You need to discuss all the methods used and make it easier to read and understand.
- Draft the Techniques and Methodologies As You Perform Them: You should aim to draft the techniques and methodologies as you perform them. It is good not to wait to finish all the research work if you want to ease down the entire task. Write down all the methods and mention all the possible details and tricks that you may have used in the method. Apart from that, the better the description, the better would be your methodology.
- Justify Your Chosen Methods: You need to justify your chosen methods. You need to give strong reasons for the methods you have opted for and not their counterparts. Also, the justification of your chosen methods will help you fetch good grades.
Take Care of the Order:
One of the most important tips to write a research methodology is to take care of the order. This tip is the most relevant one also because it is a commonly committed mistake. Students often forget to put the methodologies used and their respective findings in the same order. Putting the methodologies and their respective findings in the same order is a wise idea because of the two reasons.
Firstly, because the readers would be able to relate the methodologies to the findings easily, and secondly methodologies have a neater look. This also gives a thoroughly professional look to the dissertation.
Research methodology of any academic research paper is aimed towards convincing the readers that research is useful and would contribute to your studies. An effectively written methodology brings your qualitative and quantitative research to the fore and justify why you have chosen those methods over the others. These set of specific techniques or procedures are used to select, process, identify and analyse information of the topic.
Those who want to make their dissertation truly impressive should a put a special focus on writing this particular section as it is meant for evaluating study’s over and reliability and validity.