Research Methods

Chapter 2 introduction.

Maybe you have already gained some experience in doing research, for example in your bachelor studies, or as part of your work.

The challenge in conducting academic research at masters level, is that it is multi-faceted.

The types of activities are:

  • Finding and reviewing literature on your research topic;
  • Designing a research project that will answer your research questions;
  • Collecting relevant data from one or more sources;
  • Analyzing the data, statistically or otherwise, and
  • Writing up and presenting your findings.

Some researchers are strong on some parts but weak on others.

We do not require perfection. But we do require high quality.

Going through all stages of the research project, with the guidance of your supervisor, is a learning process.

The journey is hard at times, but in the end your thesis is considered an academic publication, and we want you to be proud of what you have achieved!

Probably the biggest challenge is, where to begin?

  • What will be your topic?
  • And once you have selected a topic, what are the questions that you want to answer, and how?

In the first chapter of the book, you will find several views on the nature and scope of business research.

Since a study in business administration derives its relevance from its application to real-life situations, an MBA typically falls in the grey area between applied research and basic research.

The focus of applied research is on finding solutions to problems, and on improving (y)our understanding of existing theories of management.

Applied research that makes use of existing theories, often leads to amendments or refinements of these theories. That is, the applied research feeds back to basic research.

In the early stages of your research, you will feel like you are running around in circles.

You start with an idea for a research topic. Then, after reading literature on the topic, you will revise or refine your idea. And start reading again with a clearer focus ...

A thesis research/project typically consists of two main stages.

The first stage is the research proposal .

Once the research proposal has been approved, you can start with the data collection, analysis and write-up (including conclusions and recommendations).

Stage 1, the research proposal consists of he first three chapters of the commonly used five-chapter structure :

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • An introduction to the topic.
  • The research questions that you want to answer (and/or hypotheses that you want to test).
  • A note on why the research is of academic and/or professional relevance.
  • Chapter 2: Literature
  • A review of relevant literature on the topic.
  • Chapter 3: Methodology

The methodology is at the core of your research. Here, you define how you are going to do the research. What data will be collected, and how?

Your data should allow you to answer your research questions. In the research proposal, you will also provide answers to the questions when and how much . Is it feasible to conduct the research within the given time-frame (say, 3-6 months for a typical master thesis)? And do you have the resources to collect and analyze the data?

In stage 2 you collect and analyze the data, and write the conclusions.

  • Chapter 4: Data Analysis and Findings
  • Chapter 5: Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

This video gives a nice overview of the elements of writing a thesis.

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  • USC Libraries
  • Research Guides

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

  • 6. The Methodology
  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Applying Critical Thinking
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Research Process Video Series
  • Executive Summary
  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tiertiary Sources
  • Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Insiderness
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • USC Libraries Tutorials and Other Guides
  • Bibliography

The methods section describes actions taken to investigate a research problem and the rationale for the application of specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyze information applied to understanding the problem, thereby, allowing the reader to critically evaluate a study’s overall validity and reliability. The methodology section of a research paper answers two main questions: How was the data collected or generated? And, how was it analyzed? The writing should be direct and precise and always written in the past tense.

Kallet, Richard H. "How to Write the Methods Section of a Research Paper." Respiratory Care 49 (October 2004): 1229-1232.

Importance of a Good Methodology Section

You must explain how you obtained and analyzed your results for the following reasons:

  • Readers need to know how the data was obtained because the method you chose affects the results and, by extension, how you interpreted their significance in the discussion section of your paper.
  • Methodology is crucial for any branch of scholarship because an unreliable method produces unreliable results and, as a consequence, undermines the value of your analysis of the findings.
  • In most cases, there are a variety of different methods you can choose to investigate a research problem. The methodology section of your paper should clearly articulate the reasons why you have chosen a particular procedure or technique.
  • The reader wants to know that the data was collected or generated in a way that is consistent with accepted practice in the field of study. For example, if you are using a multiple choice questionnaire, readers need to know that it offered your respondents a reasonable range of answers to choose from.
  • The method must be appropriate to fulfilling the overall aims of the study. For example, you need to ensure that you have a large enough sample size to be able to generalize and make recommendations based upon the findings.
  • The methodology should discuss the problems that were anticipated and the steps you took to prevent them from occurring. For any problems that do arise, you must describe the ways in which they were minimized or why these problems do not impact in any meaningful way your interpretation of the findings.
  • In the social and behavioral sciences, it is important to always provide sufficient information to allow other researchers to adopt or replicate your methodology. This information is particularly important when a new method has been developed or an innovative use of an existing method is utilized.

Bem, Daryl J. Writing the Empirical Journal Article. Psychology Writing Center. University of Washington; Denscombe, Martyn. The Good Research Guide: For Small-Scale Social Research Projects . 5th edition. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press, 2014; Lunenburg, Frederick C. Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2008.

Structure and Writing Style

I.  Groups of Research Methods

There are two main groups of research methods in the social sciences:

  • The e mpirical-analytical group approaches the study of social sciences in a similar manner that researchers study the natural sciences . This type of research focuses on objective knowledge, research questions that can be answered yes or no, and operational definitions of variables to be measured. The empirical-analytical group employs deductive reasoning that uses existing theory as a foundation for formulating hypotheses that need to be tested. This approach is focused on explanation.
  • The i nterpretative group of methods is focused on understanding phenomenon in a comprehensive, holistic way . Interpretive methods focus on analytically disclosing the meaning-making practices of human subjects [the why, how, or by what means people do what they do], while showing how those practices arrange so that it can be used to generate observable outcomes. Interpretive methods allow you to recognize your connection to the phenomena under investigation. However, the interpretative group requires careful examination of variables because it focuses more on subjective knowledge.

II.  Content

The introduction to your methodology section should begin by restating the research problem and underlying assumptions underpinning your study. This is followed by situating the methods you used to gather, analyze, and process information within the overall “tradition” of your field of study and within the particular research design you have chosen to study the problem. If the method you choose lies outside of the tradition of your field [i.e., your review of the literature demonstrates that the method is not commonly used], provide a justification for how your choice of methods specifically addresses the research problem in ways that have not been utilized in prior studies.

The remainder of your methodology section should describe the following:

  • Decisions made in selecting the data you have analyzed or, in the case of qualitative research, the subjects and research setting you have examined,
  • Tools and methods used to identify and collect information, and how you identified relevant variables,
  • The ways in which you processed the data and the procedures you used to analyze that data, and
  • The specific research tools or strategies that you utilized to study the underlying hypothesis and research questions.

In addition, an effectively written methodology section should:

  • Introduce the overall methodological approach for investigating your research problem . Is your study qualitative or quantitative or a combination of both (mixed method)? Are you going to take a special approach, such as action research, or a more neutral stance?
  • Indicate how the approach fits the overall research design . Your methods for gathering data should have a clear connection to your research problem. In other words, make sure that your methods will actually address the problem. One of the most common deficiencies found in research papers is that the proposed methodology is not suitable to achieving the stated objective of your paper.
  • Describe the specific methods of data collection you are going to use , such as, surveys, interviews, questionnaires, observation, archival research. If you are analyzing existing data, such as a data set or archival documents, describe how it was originally created or gathered and by whom. Also be sure to explain how older data is still relevant to investigating the current research problem.
  • Explain how you intend to analyze your results . Will you use statistical analysis? Will you use specific theoretical perspectives to help you analyze a text or explain observed behaviors? Describe how you plan to obtain an accurate assessment of relationships, patterns, trends, distributions, and possible contradictions found in the data.
  • Provide background and a rationale for methodologies that are unfamiliar for your readers . Very often in the social sciences, research problems and the methods for investigating them require more explanation/rationale than widely accepted rules governing the natural and physical sciences. Be clear and concise in your explanation.
  • Provide a justification for subject selection and sampling procedure . For instance, if you propose to conduct interviews, how do you intend to select the sample population? If you are analyzing texts, which texts have you chosen, and why? If you are using statistics, why is this set of data being used? If other data sources exist, explain why the data you chose is most appropriate to addressing the research problem.
  • Provide a justification for case study selection . A common method of analyzing research problems in the social sciences is to analyze specific cases. These can be a person, place, event, phenomenon, or other type of subject of analysis that are either examined as a singular topic of in-depth investigation or multiple topics of investigation studied for the purpose of comparing or contrasting findings. In either method, you should explain why a case or cases were chosen and how they specifically relate to the research problem.
  • Describe potential limitations . Are there any practical limitations that could affect your data collection? How will you attempt to control for potential confounding variables and errors? If your methodology may lead to problems you can anticipate, state this openly and show why pursuing this methodology outweighs the risk of these problems cropping up.

NOTE :   Once you have written all of the elements of the methods section, subsequent revisions should focus on how to present those elements as clearly and as logically as possibly. The description of how you prepared to study the research problem, how you gathered the data, and the protocol for analyzing the data should be organized chronologically. For clarity, when a large amount of detail must be presented, information should be presented in sub-sections according to topic. If necessary, consider using appendices for raw data.

ANOTHER NOTE : If you are conducting a qualitative analysis of a research problem , the methodology section generally requires a more elaborate description of the methods used as well as an explanation of the processes applied to gathering and analyzing of data than is generally required for studies using quantitative methods. Because you are the primary instrument for generating the data [e.g., through interviews or observations], the process for collecting that data has a significantly greater impact on producing the findings. Therefore, qualitative research requires a more detailed description of the methods used.

YET ANOTHER NOTE :   If your study involves interviews, observations, or other qualitative techniques involving human subjects , you may be required to obtain approval from the university's Office for the Protection of Research Subjects before beginning your research. This is not a common procedure for most undergraduate level student research assignments. However, i f your professor states you need approval, you must include a statement in your methods section that you received official endorsement and adequate informed consent from the office and that there was a clear assessment and minimization of risks to participants and to the university. This statement informs the reader that your study was conducted in an ethical and responsible manner. In some cases, the approval notice is included as an appendix to your paper.

III.  Problems to Avoid

Irrelevant Detail The methodology section of your paper should be thorough but concise. Do not provide any background information that does not directly help the reader understand why a particular method was chosen, how the data was gathered or obtained, and how the data was analyzed in relation to the research problem [note: analyzed, not interpreted! Save how you interpreted the findings for the discussion section]. With this in mind, the page length of your methods section will generally be less than any other section of your paper except the conclusion.

Unnecessary Explanation of Basic Procedures Remember that you are not writing a how-to guide about a particular method. You should make the assumption that readers possess a basic understanding of how to investigate the research problem on their own and, therefore, you do not have to go into great detail about specific methodological procedures. The focus should be on how you applied a method , not on the mechanics of doing a method. An exception to this rule is if you select an unconventional methodological approach; if this is the case, be sure to explain why this approach was chosen and how it enhances the overall process of discovery.

Problem Blindness It is almost a given that you will encounter problems when collecting or generating your data, or, gaps will exist in existing data or archival materials. Do not ignore these problems or pretend they did not occur. Often, documenting how you overcame obstacles can form an interesting part of the methodology. It demonstrates to the reader that you can provide a cogent rationale for the decisions you made to minimize the impact of any problems that arose.

Literature Review Just as the literature review section of your paper provides an overview of sources you have examined while researching a particular topic, the methodology section should cite any sources that informed your choice and application of a particular method [i.e., the choice of a survey should include any citations to the works you used to help construct the survey].

It’s More than Sources of Information! A description of a research study's method should not be confused with a description of the sources of information. Such a list of sources is useful in and of itself, especially if it is accompanied by an explanation about the selection and use of the sources. The description of the project's methodology complements a list of sources in that it sets forth the organization and interpretation of information emanating from those sources.

Azevedo, L.F. et al. "How to Write a Scientific Paper: Writing the Methods Section." Revista Portuguesa de Pneumologia 17 (2011): 232-238; Blair Lorrie. “Choosing a Methodology.” In Writing a Graduate Thesis or Dissertation , Teaching Writing Series. (Rotterdam: Sense Publishers 2016), pp. 49-72; Butin, Dan W. The Education Dissertation A Guide for Practitioner Scholars . Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2010; Carter, Susan. Structuring Your Research Thesis . New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012; Kallet, Richard H. “How to Write the Methods Section of a Research Paper.” Respiratory Care 49 (October 2004):1229-1232; Lunenburg, Frederick C. Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2008. Methods Section. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Rudestam, Kjell Erik and Rae R. Newton. “The Method Chapter: Describing Your Research Plan.” In Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process . (Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications, 2015), pp. 87-115; What is Interpretive Research. Institute of Public and International Affairs, University of Utah; Writing the Experimental Report: Methods, Results, and Discussion. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Methods and Materials. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College.

Writing Tip

Statistical Designs and Tests? Do Not Fear Them!

Don't avoid using a quantitative approach to analyzing your research problem just because you fear the idea of applying statistical designs and tests. A qualitative approach, such as conducting interviews or content analysis of archival texts, can yield exciting new insights about a research problem, but it should not be undertaken simply because you have a disdain for running a simple regression. A well designed quantitative research study can often be accomplished in very clear and direct ways, whereas, a similar study of a qualitative nature usually requires considerable time to analyze large volumes of data and a tremendous burden to create new paths for analysis where previously no path associated with your research problem had existed.

To locate data and statistics, GO HERE .

Another Writing Tip

Knowing the Relationship Between Theories and Methods

There can be multiple meaning associated with the term "theories" and the term "methods" in social sciences research. A helpful way to delineate between them is to understand "theories" as representing different ways of characterizing the social world when you research it and "methods" as representing different ways of generating and analyzing data about that social world. Framed in this way, all empirical social sciences research involves theories and methods, whether they are stated explicitly or not. However, while theories and methods are often related, it is important that, as a researcher, you deliberately separate them in order to avoid your theories playing a disproportionate role in shaping what outcomes your chosen methods produce.

Introspectively engage in an ongoing dialectic between the application of theories and methods to help enable you to use the outcomes from your methods to interrogate and develop new theories, or ways of framing conceptually the research problem. This is how scholarship grows and branches out into new intellectual territory.

Reynolds, R. Larry. Ways of Knowing. Alternative Microeconomics . Part 1, Chapter 3. Boise State University; The Theory-Method Relationship. S-Cool Revision. United Kingdom.

Yet Another Writing Tip

Methods and the Methodology

Do not confuse the terms "methods" and "methodology." As Schneider notes, a method refers to the technical steps taken to do research . Descriptions of methods usually include defining and stating why you have chosen specific techniques to investigate a research problem, followed by an outline of the procedures you used to systematically select, gather, and process the data [remember to always save the interpretation of data for the discussion section of your paper].

The methodology refers to a discussion of the underlying reasoning why particular methods were used . This discussion includes describing the theoretical concepts that inform the choice of methods to be applied, placing the choice of methods within the more general nature of academic work, and reviewing its relevance to examining the research problem. The methodology section also includes a thorough review of the methods other scholars have used to study the topic.

Bryman, Alan. "Of Methods and Methodology." Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal 3 (2008): 159-168; Schneider, Florian. “What's in a Methodology: The Difference between Method, Methodology, and Theory…and How to Get the Balance Right?” PoliticsEastAsia.com. Chinese Department, University of Leiden, Netherlands.

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How to Write the Methodology Chapter: The Complete Guide

Author Image

by  Antony W

April 20, 2022

how to write chapter 2 research methodology

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to write the methodology chapter of a thesis, dissertation, or a research paper, step-by-step. So if you’ve reached this section in your assignment and you simply no idea how to proceed, this article will point you in the right direction.

You’ll learn what the methodology chapter is about and how you can go about writing one by following a systematic approach guaranteed to help you complete the project faster.

By definition, the methodology chapter of a thesis, dissertation, or research paper is the section where you explain about the specific research design options used in your research. It’s in the methodology chapter that you explain the process you used to design your research and give a justification for the research design.

In other words, the methodology section should clearly demonstrate:

  • Whether you conducted quantitative or qualitative research
  • The approach you used to collect the data
  • What your approach to analyzing the data was and
  • The kind of sampling that you did

With that said, let’s get into more details on dealing with the methodology chapter of your research work.

What is the Methodology Chapter for a Research Paper and Dissertation?

In your methodology chapter, you’ll explain the conceptual foundations of your study as well as the specific research design decisions you’ve made. The purpose of this chapter is to explain how you designed your research. 

There are two reasons why your research paper, thesis, and dissertation should have a methodology section:

  • It shows that you understand the concept of research design theory, that you understand what you’re doing in research, and that the results you’ll present have a high degree of credibility.
  • Because it outlines the steps you took to do and analyze your research, the methodology chapter is what sets your study apart from the others. It also allows you to identify and describe any methodological concerns or problems that you ran into, as well as explain how you dealt with them.

How to Write The Methodology Chapter – Step-by-Step

It’s worth mentioning that the methodology chapter’s specific format and contents will differ based on the study topic and the university. We strongly recommend that you check with your professor to find out what structure they would like you to use.

More often than not, they will allow you to use the standard structure for your paper, which should make the writing process easier for you. Ideally, the methodology chapter of your research paper, thesis, or dissertation should have the following sections:

  • Introduction
  • Research design
  • Methodological limitation
  • A concluding summary

Let’s look at each section in more details below:

The Introduction

The methodology chapter should contain a brief introduction of your dissertation or thesis. You should remind your readers about the emphasis of your study, particularly the research objectives.

Your research design must correspond with your research aims, objectives, and research questions, so include this up front to remind the reader what you intend to accomplish with your research design.

We strongly recommend that you explain how you’ve organized the chapter. Doing so will make it easy for the reader to have a clear roadmap of what to expect from reading the rest of the section of your methodology chapter.

Research Design

We like to refer to research design as the heart of the methodology chapter because it presents your research design in great depth to the reader. The information you provide here should be good enough to justify the design choices you made for your paper.

Here’s how to approach it: 

1. Describe Your Methodological Approach

Start by explaining the research subject or problem you looked into. It could be that you wanted to methodically define something’s qualities, investigate a little-studied issue, or prove a cause-and-effect relationship. Whatever it is, write it down because it will guide your reader throughout the other section of the research design.

Some questions to think about when working on your methodological approach include:

  • Did you require quantitative or qualitative data?
  • Was it necessary for you to obtain primary data personally, or did you rely on secondary data gathered by others?
  • Did you collect descriptive data by gathering observations without intervening, or did you collect experimental data by altering variables?
  • Were there any ethical factors involved in your decision-making?

2. Explain Your Methods of Data Collection

Next step in research design is to explain the data collection method you used to gather information for your research project.

The following table is a summary of the data collection methods as used in research writing:

3. Explain Your Data Analysis Methods

The next step is to describe how you processed and analyzed the data.

  • Quantitative analysis: Your analysis in quantitative research will be on numbers. You may include how you prepared the data for analysis, the computer software you used, and the statistical you employed.
  • Qualitative analysis:   Your analysis in qualitative research will be based on language, visuals, and observations (often involving some form of textual analysis).

4. Methodological Limitations 

You can admit to the approach’s limits or flaws, but explain why the advantages exceeded the disadvantages. Explain why prior strategies were ineffective in achieving your goals, and how this strategy adds new information or insight.

Your methodology should be a well-structured, unambiguous document that argues for your approach rather than a collection of technical information and processes.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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Writing The Methodology Chapter

5 Time-Saving Tips & Tools

By: David Phair (PhD) and Amy Murdock (PhD) | July 2022

The methodology chapter is a crucial part of your dissertation or thesis – it’s where you provide context and justification for your study’s design. This in turn demonstrates your understanding of research theory, which is what earns you marks .

Over the years, we’ve helped thousands of students navigate this tricky section of the research process. In this post, we’ll share 5 time-saving tips to help you effectively write up your research methodology chapter .

Overview: Writing The Methodology Chapter

  • Develop a (rough) outline before you start writing
  • Draw inspiration from similar studies in your topic area
  • Justify every research design choice that you make
  • Err on the side of too much detail , rather than too little
  • Back up every design choice by referencing literature

Free Webinar: Research Methodology 101

1. Develop an outline before you start writing 

The first thing to keep in mind when writing your methodology chapter (and the rest of your dissertation) is that it’s always a good idea to sketch out a rough outline of what you are going to write about before you start writing . This will ensure that you stay focused and have a clear structural logic – thereby making the writing process simpler and faster.

An easy method of finding a structure for this chapter is to use frameworks that already exist, such as Saunder’s “ research onion ” as an example. Alternatively, there are many free methodology chapter templates for you to use as a starting point, so don’t feel like you have to create a new one from scratch.

Next, you’ll want to consider what your research approach is , and how you can break it down from a top-down angle, i.e., from the philosophical down to the concrete/tactical level. For example, you’ll need to articulate the following:  

  • Are you using a positivist , interpretivist , or pragmatist approach ?
  • Are you using inductive or deductive reasoning?
  • Are you using a qualitative , quantitative, or mixed methods study?

Keep these questions front of mind to ensure that you have a clear, well-aligned line of argument that will maintain your chapter’s internal and external consistency.

Remember, it’s okay if you feel overwhelmed when you first start the methodology chapter. Nobody is born with an innate knowledge of how to do this, so be prepared for the learning curve associated with new research projects. It’s no small task to write up a dissertation or thesis, so be kind to yourself!

Starting the process with a chapter outline will help keep your writing focused and ensure that the chapter has a clear structural logic.

2. Take inspiration from other studies 

Generally, there are plenty of existing journal articles that will share similar methodological approaches to your study. With any luck, there will also be existing dissertations and theses that adopt a similar methodological approach and topic. So, consider taking inspiration from these studies to help curate the contents of your methodology chapter.

Students often find it difficult to choose what content to include in the methodology chapter and what to leave for the appendix. By reviewing other studies with similar approaches, you will get a clearer sense of your discipline’s norms and characteristics . This will help you, especially in terms of deciding on the structure and depth of discussion.  

While you can draw inspiration from other studies, remember that it’s vital to pay close attention to your university’s specific guidelines, so you can anticipate departmental expectations of this section’s layout and content (and make it easier to work with your supervisor). Doing this is also a great way to figure out how in-depth your discussion should be. For example, word-count guidelines can help you decide whether to include or omit certain information.

Need a helping hand?

how to write chapter 2 research methodology

3. Justify every design choice you make

The golden rule of the methodology chapter is that you need to justify each and every design choice that you make, no matter how small or inconsequential it may seem. We often see that students merely state what they did instead of why they did what they did – and this costs them marks.

Keep in mind that you need to illustrate the strength of your study’s methodological foundation. By discussing the “what”, “why” and “how” of your choices, you demonstrate your understanding of research design and simultaneously justify the relevancy and efficacy of your methodology – both of which will earn you marks.

It’s never an easy task to conduct research. So, it’s seldom the case that you’ll be able to use the very best possible methodology for your research (e.g. due to time or budgetary constraints ). That’s okay – but make sure that you explain and justify your use of an alternate methodology to help justify your approach.

Ultimately, if you don’t justify and explain the logic behind each of your choices, your marker will have to assume that you simply didn’t know any better . So, make sure that you justify every choice, especially when it is a subpar choice (due to a practical constraint, for example). You can see an example of how this is done here.

The golden rule of the methodology chapter is that you need to justify each and every design choice that you make, no matter how small.

4. Err on the side of too much detail

We often see a tendency in students to mistakenly give more of an overview of their methodology instead of a step-by-step breakdown . Since the methodology chapter needs to be detailed enough for another researcher to replicate your study, your chapter should be particularly granular in terms of detail. 

Whether you’re doing a qualitative or quantitative study, it’s crucial to convey rigor in your research. You can do this by being especially detailed when you discuss your data, so be absolutely clear about your:  

  • Sampling strategy
  • Data collection method(s)
  • Data preparation
  • Analysis technique(s)

As you will likely face an extensive period of editing at your supervisor/reviewer’s direction, you’ll make it much easier for yourself if you have more information than you’d need. Some supervisors expect extensive detail around a certain aspect of your dissertation (like your research philosophy), while others may not expect it at all.

Remember, it’s quicker and easier to remove/ trim down information than it is to add information after the fact, so take the time to show your supervisor that you know what you’re talking about (methodologically) and you’re doing your best to be rigorous in your research.

The methodology chapter needs to be detailed enough information for another researcher to replicate your study, so don't be shy on detail.

5. Provide citations to support each design choice

Related to the issue of poor justification (tip #3), it’s important include high-quality academic citations to support the justification of your design choices. In other words, it’s not enough to simply explain why you chose a specific approach – you need to support each justification with reference to academic material.  

Simply put, you should avoid thinking of your methodology chapter as a citation-less section in your dissertation. As with your literature review, your methods section must include citations for every decision you make, since you are building on prior research.  You must show that you are making decisions based on methods that are proven to be effective, and not just because you “feel” that they are effective.

When considering the source of your citations, you should stick to peer-reviewed academic papers and journals and avoid using websites or blog posts (like us, hehe). Doing this will demonstrate that you are familiar with the literature and that you are factoring in what credible academics have to say about your methodology.

As a final tip, it’s always a good idea to cite as you go . If you leave this for the end, then you’ll end up spending a lot of precious time retracing your steps to find your citations and risk losing track of them entirely. So, be proactive and drop in those citations as you write up . You’ll thank yourself later!

Let’s Recap…

In this post, we covered 5 time-saving tips for writing up the methodology chapter:

  • Look at similar studies in your topic area
  • Justify every design choice that you make
  • Back up every design choice by referencing methodology literature

If you’ve got any questions relating to the methodology chapter, feel free to drop a comment below. Alternatively, if you’re interested in getting 1-on-1 help with your thesis or dissertation, be sure to check out our private coaching service .

how to write chapter 2 research methodology

Psst... there’s more!

This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps . If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out ...

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Research Method

Home » Research Methodology – Types, Examples and writing Guide

Research Methodology – Types, Examples and writing Guide

Table of Contents

Research Methodology

Research Methodology

Definition:

Research Methodology refers to the systematic and scientific approach used to conduct research, investigate problems, and gather data and information for a specific purpose. It involves the techniques and procedures used to identify, collect , analyze , and interpret data to answer research questions or solve research problems . Moreover, They are philosophical and theoretical frameworks that guide the research process.

Structure of Research Methodology

Research methodology formats can vary depending on the specific requirements of the research project, but the following is a basic example of a structure for a research methodology section:

I. Introduction

  • Provide an overview of the research problem and the need for a research methodology section
  • Outline the main research questions and objectives

II. Research Design

  • Explain the research design chosen and why it is appropriate for the research question(s) and objectives
  • Discuss any alternative research designs considered and why they were not chosen
  • Describe the research setting and participants (if applicable)

III. Data Collection Methods

  • Describe the methods used to collect data (e.g., surveys, interviews, observations)
  • Explain how the data collection methods were chosen and why they are appropriate for the research question(s) and objectives
  • Detail any procedures or instruments used for data collection

IV. Data Analysis Methods

  • Describe the methods used to analyze the data (e.g., statistical analysis, content analysis )
  • Explain how the data analysis methods were chosen and why they are appropriate for the research question(s) and objectives
  • Detail any procedures or software used for data analysis

V. Ethical Considerations

  • Discuss any ethical issues that may arise from the research and how they were addressed
  • Explain how informed consent was obtained (if applicable)
  • Detail any measures taken to ensure confidentiality and anonymity

VI. Limitations

  • Identify any potential limitations of the research methodology and how they may impact the results and conclusions

VII. Conclusion

  • Summarize the key aspects of the research methodology section
  • Explain how the research methodology addresses the research question(s) and objectives

Research Methodology Types

Types of Research Methodology are as follows:

Quantitative Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the collection and analysis of numerical data using statistical methods. This type of research is often used to study cause-and-effect relationships and to make predictions.

Qualitative Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the collection and analysis of non-numerical data such as words, images, and observations. This type of research is often used to explore complex phenomena, to gain an in-depth understanding of a particular topic, and to generate hypotheses.

Mixed-Methods Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that combines elements of both quantitative and qualitative research. This approach can be particularly useful for studies that aim to explore complex phenomena and to provide a more comprehensive understanding of a particular topic.

Case Study Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves in-depth examination of a single case or a small number of cases. Case studies are often used in psychology, sociology, and anthropology to gain a detailed understanding of a particular individual or group.

Action Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves a collaborative process between researchers and practitioners to identify and solve real-world problems. Action research is often used in education, healthcare, and social work.

Experimental Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the manipulation of one or more independent variables to observe their effects on a dependent variable. Experimental research is often used to study cause-and-effect relationships and to make predictions.

Survey Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the collection of data from a sample of individuals using questionnaires or interviews. Survey research is often used to study attitudes, opinions, and behaviors.

Grounded Theory Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the development of theories based on the data collected during the research process. Grounded theory is often used in sociology and anthropology to generate theories about social phenomena.

Research Methodology Example

An Example of Research Methodology could be the following:

Research Methodology for Investigating the Effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Reducing Symptoms of Depression in Adults

Introduction:

The aim of this research is to investigate the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in reducing symptoms of depression in adults. To achieve this objective, a randomized controlled trial (RCT) will be conducted using a mixed-methods approach.

Research Design:

The study will follow a pre-test and post-test design with two groups: an experimental group receiving CBT and a control group receiving no intervention. The study will also include a qualitative component, in which semi-structured interviews will be conducted with a subset of participants to explore their experiences of receiving CBT.

Participants:

Participants will be recruited from community mental health clinics in the local area. The sample will consist of 100 adults aged 18-65 years old who meet the diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder. Participants will be randomly assigned to either the experimental group or the control group.

Intervention :

The experimental group will receive 12 weekly sessions of CBT, each lasting 60 minutes. The intervention will be delivered by licensed mental health professionals who have been trained in CBT. The control group will receive no intervention during the study period.

Data Collection:

Quantitative data will be collected through the use of standardized measures such as the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7). Data will be collected at baseline, immediately after the intervention, and at a 3-month follow-up. Qualitative data will be collected through semi-structured interviews with a subset of participants from the experimental group. The interviews will be conducted at the end of the intervention period, and will explore participants’ experiences of receiving CBT.

Data Analysis:

Quantitative data will be analyzed using descriptive statistics, t-tests, and mixed-model analyses of variance (ANOVA) to assess the effectiveness of the intervention. Qualitative data will be analyzed using thematic analysis to identify common themes and patterns in participants’ experiences of receiving CBT.

Ethical Considerations:

This study will comply with ethical guidelines for research involving human subjects. Participants will provide informed consent before participating in the study, and their privacy and confidentiality will be protected throughout the study. Any adverse events or reactions will be reported and managed appropriately.

Data Management:

All data collected will be kept confidential and stored securely using password-protected databases. Identifying information will be removed from qualitative data transcripts to ensure participants’ anonymity.

Limitations:

One potential limitation of this study is that it only focuses on one type of psychotherapy, CBT, and may not generalize to other types of therapy or interventions. Another limitation is that the study will only include participants from community mental health clinics, which may not be representative of the general population.

Conclusion:

This research aims to investigate the effectiveness of CBT in reducing symptoms of depression in adults. By using a randomized controlled trial and a mixed-methods approach, the study will provide valuable insights into the mechanisms underlying the relationship between CBT and depression. The results of this study will have important implications for the development of effective treatments for depression in clinical settings.

How to Write Research Methodology

Writing a research methodology involves explaining the methods and techniques you used to conduct research, collect data, and analyze results. It’s an essential section of any research paper or thesis, as it helps readers understand the validity and reliability of your findings. Here are the steps to write a research methodology:

  • Start by explaining your research question: Begin the methodology section by restating your research question and explaining why it’s important. This helps readers understand the purpose of your research and the rationale behind your methods.
  • Describe your research design: Explain the overall approach you used to conduct research. This could be a qualitative or quantitative research design, experimental or non-experimental, case study or survey, etc. Discuss the advantages and limitations of the chosen design.
  • Discuss your sample: Describe the participants or subjects you included in your study. Include details such as their demographics, sampling method, sample size, and any exclusion criteria used.
  • Describe your data collection methods : Explain how you collected data from your participants. This could include surveys, interviews, observations, questionnaires, or experiments. Include details on how you obtained informed consent, how you administered the tools, and how you minimized the risk of bias.
  • Explain your data analysis techniques: Describe the methods you used to analyze the data you collected. This could include statistical analysis, content analysis, thematic analysis, or discourse analysis. Explain how you dealt with missing data, outliers, and any other issues that arose during the analysis.
  • Discuss the validity and reliability of your research : Explain how you ensured the validity and reliability of your study. This could include measures such as triangulation, member checking, peer review, or inter-coder reliability.
  • Acknowledge any limitations of your research: Discuss any limitations of your study, including any potential threats to validity or generalizability. This helps readers understand the scope of your findings and how they might apply to other contexts.
  • Provide a summary: End the methodology section by summarizing the methods and techniques you used to conduct your research. This provides a clear overview of your research methodology and helps readers understand the process you followed to arrive at your findings.

When to Write Research Methodology

Research methodology is typically written after the research proposal has been approved and before the actual research is conducted. It should be written prior to data collection and analysis, as it provides a clear roadmap for the research project.

The research methodology is an important section of any research paper or thesis, as it describes the methods and procedures that will be used to conduct the research. It should include details about the research design, data collection methods, data analysis techniques, and any ethical considerations.

The methodology should be written in a clear and concise manner, and it should be based on established research practices and standards. It is important to provide enough detail so that the reader can understand how the research was conducted and evaluate the validity of the results.

Applications of Research Methodology

Here are some of the applications of research methodology:

  • To identify the research problem: Research methodology is used to identify the research problem, which is the first step in conducting any research.
  • To design the research: Research methodology helps in designing the research by selecting the appropriate research method, research design, and sampling technique.
  • To collect data: Research methodology provides a systematic approach to collect data from primary and secondary sources.
  • To analyze data: Research methodology helps in analyzing the collected data using various statistical and non-statistical techniques.
  • To test hypotheses: Research methodology provides a framework for testing hypotheses and drawing conclusions based on the analysis of data.
  • To generalize findings: Research methodology helps in generalizing the findings of the research to the target population.
  • To develop theories : Research methodology is used to develop new theories and modify existing theories based on the findings of the research.
  • To evaluate programs and policies : Research methodology is used to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and policies by collecting data and analyzing it.
  • To improve decision-making: Research methodology helps in making informed decisions by providing reliable and valid data.

Purpose of Research Methodology

Research methodology serves several important purposes, including:

  • To guide the research process: Research methodology provides a systematic framework for conducting research. It helps researchers to plan their research, define their research questions, and select appropriate methods and techniques for collecting and analyzing data.
  • To ensure research quality: Research methodology helps researchers to ensure that their research is rigorous, reliable, and valid. It provides guidelines for minimizing bias and error in data collection and analysis, and for ensuring that research findings are accurate and trustworthy.
  • To replicate research: Research methodology provides a clear and detailed account of the research process, making it possible for other researchers to replicate the study and verify its findings.
  • To advance knowledge: Research methodology enables researchers to generate new knowledge and to contribute to the body of knowledge in their field. It provides a means for testing hypotheses, exploring new ideas, and discovering new insights.
  • To inform decision-making: Research methodology provides evidence-based information that can inform policy and decision-making in a variety of fields, including medicine, public health, education, and business.

Advantages of Research Methodology

Research methodology has several advantages that make it a valuable tool for conducting research in various fields. Here are some of the key advantages of research methodology:

  • Systematic and structured approach : Research methodology provides a systematic and structured approach to conducting research, which ensures that the research is conducted in a rigorous and comprehensive manner.
  • Objectivity : Research methodology aims to ensure objectivity in the research process, which means that the research findings are based on evidence and not influenced by personal bias or subjective opinions.
  • Replicability : Research methodology ensures that research can be replicated by other researchers, which is essential for validating research findings and ensuring their accuracy.
  • Reliability : Research methodology aims to ensure that the research findings are reliable, which means that they are consistent and can be depended upon.
  • Validity : Research methodology ensures that the research findings are valid, which means that they accurately reflect the research question or hypothesis being tested.
  • Efficiency : Research methodology provides a structured and efficient way of conducting research, which helps to save time and resources.
  • Flexibility : Research methodology allows researchers to choose the most appropriate research methods and techniques based on the research question, data availability, and other relevant factors.
  • Scope for innovation: Research methodology provides scope for innovation and creativity in designing research studies and developing new research techniques.

Research Methodology Vs Research Methods

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Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

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Chapter 2. Research Design

Getting started.

When I teach undergraduates qualitative research methods, the final product of the course is a “research proposal” that incorporates all they have learned and enlists the knowledge they have learned about qualitative research methods in an original design that addresses a particular research question. I highly recommend you think about designing your own research study as you progress through this textbook. Even if you don’t have a study in mind yet, it can be a helpful exercise as you progress through the course. But how to start? How can one design a research study before they even know what research looks like? This chapter will serve as a brief overview of the research design process to orient you to what will be coming in later chapters. Think of it as a “skeleton” of what you will read in more detail in later chapters. Ideally, you will read this chapter both now (in sequence) and later during your reading of the remainder of the text. Do not worry if you have questions the first time you read this chapter. Many things will become clearer as the text advances and as you gain a deeper understanding of all the components of good qualitative research. This is just a preliminary map to get you on the right road.

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Research Design Steps

Before you even get started, you will need to have a broad topic of interest in mind. [1] . In my experience, students can confuse this broad topic with the actual research question, so it is important to clearly distinguish the two. And the place to start is the broad topic. It might be, as was the case with me, working-class college students. But what about working-class college students? What’s it like to be one? Why are there so few compared to others? How do colleges assist (or fail to assist) them? What interested me was something I could barely articulate at first and went something like this: “Why was it so difficult and lonely to be me?” And by extension, “Did others share this experience?”

Once you have a general topic, reflect on why this is important to you. Sometimes we connect with a topic and we don’t really know why. Even if you are not willing to share the real underlying reason you are interested in a topic, it is important that you know the deeper reasons that motivate you. Otherwise, it is quite possible that at some point during the research, you will find yourself turned around facing the wrong direction. I have seen it happen many times. The reason is that the research question is not the same thing as the general topic of interest, and if you don’t know the reasons for your interest, you are likely to design a study answering a research question that is beside the point—to you, at least. And this means you will be much less motivated to carry your research to completion.

Researcher Note

Why do you employ qualitative research methods in your area of study? What are the advantages of qualitative research methods for studying mentorship?

Qualitative research methods are a huge opportunity to increase access, equity, inclusion, and social justice. Qualitative research allows us to engage and examine the uniquenesses/nuances within minoritized and dominant identities and our experiences with these identities. Qualitative research allows us to explore a specific topic, and through that exploration, we can link history to experiences and look for patterns or offer up a unique phenomenon. There’s such beauty in being able to tell a particular story, and qualitative research is a great mode for that! For our work, we examined the relationships we typically use the term mentorship for but didn’t feel that was quite the right word. Qualitative research allowed us to pick apart what we did and how we engaged in our relationships, which then allowed us to more accurately describe what was unique about our mentorship relationships, which we ultimately named liberationships ( McAloney and Long 2021) . Qualitative research gave us the means to explore, process, and name our experiences; what a powerful tool!

How do you come up with ideas for what to study (and how to study it)? Where did you get the idea for studying mentorship?

Coming up with ideas for research, for me, is kind of like Googling a question I have, not finding enough information, and then deciding to dig a little deeper to get the answer. The idea to study mentorship actually came up in conversation with my mentorship triad. We were talking in one of our meetings about our relationship—kind of meta, huh? We discussed how we felt that mentorship was not quite the right term for the relationships we had built. One of us asked what was different about our relationships and mentorship. This all happened when I was taking an ethnography course. During the next session of class, we were discussing auto- and duoethnography, and it hit me—let’s explore our version of mentorship, which we later went on to name liberationships ( McAloney and Long 2021 ). The idea and questions came out of being curious and wanting to find an answer. As I continue to research, I see opportunities in questions I have about my work or during conversations that, in our search for answers, end up exposing gaps in the literature. If I can’t find the answer already out there, I can study it.

—Kim McAloney, PhD, College Student Services Administration Ecampus coordinator and instructor

When you have a better idea of why you are interested in what it is that interests you, you may be surprised to learn that the obvious approaches to the topic are not the only ones. For example, let’s say you think you are interested in preserving coastal wildlife. And as a social scientist, you are interested in policies and practices that affect the long-term viability of coastal wildlife, especially around fishing communities. It would be natural then to consider designing a research study around fishing communities and how they manage their ecosystems. But when you really think about it, you realize that what interests you the most is how people whose livelihoods depend on a particular resource act in ways that deplete that resource. Or, even deeper, you contemplate the puzzle, “How do people justify actions that damage their surroundings?” Now, there are many ways to design a study that gets at that broader question, and not all of them are about fishing communities, although that is certainly one way to go. Maybe you could design an interview-based study that includes and compares loggers, fishers, and desert golfers (those who golf in arid lands that require a great deal of wasteful irrigation). Or design a case study around one particular example where resources were completely used up by a community. Without knowing what it is you are really interested in, what motivates your interest in a surface phenomenon, you are unlikely to come up with the appropriate research design.

These first stages of research design are often the most difficult, but have patience . Taking the time to consider why you are going to go through a lot of trouble to get answers will prevent a lot of wasted energy in the future.

There are distinct reasons for pursuing particular research questions, and it is helpful to distinguish between them.  First, you may be personally motivated.  This is probably the most important and the most often overlooked.   What is it about the social world that sparks your curiosity? What bothers you? What answers do you need in order to keep living? For me, I knew I needed to get a handle on what higher education was for before I kept going at it. I needed to understand why I felt so different from my peers and whether this whole “higher education” thing was “for the likes of me” before I could complete my degree. That is the personal motivation question. Your personal motivation might also be political in nature, in that you want to change the world in a particular way. It’s all right to acknowledge this. In fact, it is better to acknowledge it than to hide it.

There are also academic and professional motivations for a particular study.  If you are an absolute beginner, these may be difficult to find. We’ll talk more about this when we discuss reviewing the literature. Simply put, you are probably not the only person in the world to have thought about this question or issue and those related to it. So how does your interest area fit into what others have studied? Perhaps there is a good study out there of fishing communities, but no one has quite asked the “justification” question. You are motivated to address this to “fill the gap” in our collective knowledge. And maybe you are really not at all sure of what interests you, but you do know that [insert your topic] interests a lot of people, so you would like to work in this area too. You want to be involved in the academic conversation. That is a professional motivation and a very important one to articulate.

Practical and strategic motivations are a third kind. Perhaps you want to encourage people to take better care of the natural resources around them. If this is also part of your motivation, you will want to design your research project in a way that might have an impact on how people behave in the future. There are many ways to do this, one of which is using qualitative research methods rather than quantitative research methods, as the findings of qualitative research are often easier to communicate to a broader audience than the results of quantitative research. You might even be able to engage the community you are studying in the collecting and analyzing of data, something taboo in quantitative research but actively embraced and encouraged by qualitative researchers. But there are other practical reasons, such as getting “done” with your research in a certain amount of time or having access (or no access) to certain information. There is nothing wrong with considering constraints and opportunities when designing your study. Or maybe one of the practical or strategic goals is about learning competence in this area so that you can demonstrate the ability to conduct interviews and focus groups with future employers. Keeping that in mind will help shape your study and prevent you from getting sidetracked using a technique that you are less invested in learning about.

STOP HERE for a moment

I recommend you write a paragraph (at least) explaining your aims and goals. Include a sentence about each of the following: personal/political goals, practical or professional/academic goals, and practical/strategic goals. Think through how all of the goals are related and can be achieved by this particular research study . If they can’t, have a rethink. Perhaps this is not the best way to go about it.

You will also want to be clear about the purpose of your study. “Wait, didn’t we just do this?” you might ask. No! Your goals are not the same as the purpose of the study, although they are related. You can think about purpose lying on a continuum from “ theory ” to “action” (figure 2.1). Sometimes you are doing research to discover new knowledge about the world, while other times you are doing a study because you want to measure an impact or make a difference in the world.

Purpose types: Basic Research, Applied Research, Summative Evaluation, Formative Evaluation, Action Research

Basic research involves research that is done for the sake of “pure” knowledge—that is, knowledge that, at least at this moment in time, may not have any apparent use or application. Often, and this is very important, knowledge of this kind is later found to be extremely helpful in solving problems. So one way of thinking about basic research is that it is knowledge for which no use is yet known but will probably one day prove to be extremely useful. If you are doing basic research, you do not need to argue its usefulness, as the whole point is that we just don’t know yet what this might be.

Researchers engaged in basic research want to understand how the world operates. They are interested in investigating a phenomenon to get at the nature of reality with regard to that phenomenon. The basic researcher’s purpose is to understand and explain ( Patton 2002:215 ).

Basic research is interested in generating and testing hypotheses about how the world works. Grounded Theory is one approach to qualitative research methods that exemplifies basic research (see chapter 4). Most academic journal articles publish basic research findings. If you are working in academia (e.g., writing your dissertation), the default expectation is that you are conducting basic research.

Applied research in the social sciences is research that addresses human and social problems. Unlike basic research, the researcher has expectations that the research will help contribute to resolving a problem, if only by identifying its contours, history, or context. From my experience, most students have this as their baseline assumption about research. Why do a study if not to make things better? But this is a common mistake. Students and their committee members are often working with default assumptions here—the former thinking about applied research as their purpose, the latter thinking about basic research: “The purpose of applied research is to contribute knowledge that will help people to understand the nature of a problem in order to intervene, thereby allowing human beings to more effectively control their environment. While in basic research the source of questions is the tradition within a scholarly discipline, in applied research the source of questions is in the problems and concerns experienced by people and by policymakers” ( Patton 2002:217 ).

Applied research is less geared toward theory in two ways. First, its questions do not derive from previous literature. For this reason, applied research studies have much more limited literature reviews than those found in basic research (although they make up for this by having much more “background” about the problem). Second, it does not generate theory in the same way as basic research does. The findings of an applied research project may not be generalizable beyond the boundaries of this particular problem or context. The findings are more limited. They are useful now but may be less useful later. This is why basic research remains the default “gold standard” of academic research.

Evaluation research is research that is designed to evaluate or test the effectiveness of specific solutions and programs addressing specific social problems. We already know the problems, and someone has already come up with solutions. There might be a program, say, for first-generation college students on your campus. Does this program work? Are first-generation students who participate in the program more likely to graduate than those who do not? These are the types of questions addressed by evaluation research. There are two types of research within this broader frame; however, one more action-oriented than the next. In summative evaluation , an overall judgment about the effectiveness of a program or policy is made. Should we continue our first-gen program? Is it a good model for other campuses? Because the purpose of such summative evaluation is to measure success and to determine whether this success is scalable (capable of being generalized beyond the specific case), quantitative data is more often used than qualitative data. In our example, we might have “outcomes” data for thousands of students, and we might run various tests to determine if the better outcomes of those in the program are statistically significant so that we can generalize the findings and recommend similar programs elsewhere. Qualitative data in the form of focus groups or interviews can then be used for illustrative purposes, providing more depth to the quantitative analyses. In contrast, formative evaluation attempts to improve a program or policy (to help “form” or shape its effectiveness). Formative evaluations rely more heavily on qualitative data—case studies, interviews, focus groups. The findings are meant not to generalize beyond the particular but to improve this program. If you are a student seeking to improve your qualitative research skills and you do not care about generating basic research, formative evaluation studies might be an attractive option for you to pursue, as there are always local programs that need evaluation and suggestions for improvement. Again, be very clear about your purpose when talking through your research proposal with your committee.

Action research takes a further step beyond evaluation, even formative evaluation, to being part of the solution itself. This is about as far from basic research as one could get and definitely falls beyond the scope of “science,” as conventionally defined. The distinction between action and research is blurry, the research methods are often in constant flux, and the only “findings” are specific to the problem or case at hand and often are findings about the process of intervention itself. Rather than evaluate a program as a whole, action research often seeks to change and improve some particular aspect that may not be working—maybe there is not enough diversity in an organization or maybe women’s voices are muted during meetings and the organization wonders why and would like to change this. In a further step, participatory action research , those women would become part of the research team, attempting to amplify their voices in the organization through participation in the action research. As action research employs methods that involve people in the process, focus groups are quite common.

If you are working on a thesis or dissertation, chances are your committee will expect you to be contributing to fundamental knowledge and theory ( basic research ). If your interests lie more toward the action end of the continuum, however, it is helpful to talk to your committee about this before you get started. Knowing your purpose in advance will help avoid misunderstandings during the later stages of the research process!

The Research Question

Once you have written your paragraph and clarified your purpose and truly know that this study is the best study for you to be doing right now , you are ready to write and refine your actual research question. Know that research questions are often moving targets in qualitative research, that they can be refined up to the very end of data collection and analysis. But you do have to have a working research question at all stages. This is your “anchor” when you get lost in the data. What are you addressing? What are you looking at and why? Your research question guides you through the thicket. It is common to have a whole host of questions about a phenomenon or case, both at the outset and throughout the study, but you should be able to pare it down to no more than two or three sentences when asked. These sentences should both clarify the intent of the research and explain why this is an important question to answer. More on refining your research question can be found in chapter 4.

Chances are, you will have already done some prior reading before coming up with your interest and your questions, but you may not have conducted a systematic literature review. This is the next crucial stage to be completed before venturing further. You don’t want to start collecting data and then realize that someone has already beaten you to the punch. A review of the literature that is already out there will let you know (1) if others have already done the study you are envisioning; (2) if others have done similar studies, which can help you out; and (3) what ideas or concepts are out there that can help you frame your study and make sense of your findings. More on literature reviews can be found in chapter 9.

In addition to reviewing the literature for similar studies to what you are proposing, it can be extremely helpful to find a study that inspires you. This may have absolutely nothing to do with the topic you are interested in but is written so beautifully or organized so interestingly or otherwise speaks to you in such a way that you want to post it somewhere to remind you of what you want to be doing. You might not understand this in the early stages—why would you find a study that has nothing to do with the one you are doing helpful? But trust me, when you are deep into analysis and writing, having an inspirational model in view can help you push through. If you are motivated to do something that might change the world, you probably have read something somewhere that inspired you. Go back to that original inspiration and read it carefully and see how they managed to convey the passion that you so appreciate.

At this stage, you are still just getting started. There are a lot of things to do before setting forth to collect data! You’ll want to consider and choose a research tradition and a set of data-collection techniques that both help you answer your research question and match all your aims and goals. For example, if you really want to help migrant workers speak for themselves, you might draw on feminist theory and participatory action research models. Chapters 3 and 4 will provide you with more information on epistemologies and approaches.

Next, you have to clarify your “units of analysis.” What is the level at which you are focusing your study? Often, the unit in qualitative research methods is individual people, or “human subjects.” But your units of analysis could just as well be organizations (colleges, hospitals) or programs or even whole nations. Think about what it is you want to be saying at the end of your study—are the insights you are hoping to make about people or about organizations or about something else entirely? A unit of analysis can even be a historical period! Every unit of analysis will call for a different kind of data collection and analysis and will produce different kinds of “findings” at the conclusion of your study. [2]

Regardless of what unit of analysis you select, you will probably have to consider the “human subjects” involved in your research. [3] Who are they? What interactions will you have with them—that is, what kind of data will you be collecting? Before answering these questions, define your population of interest and your research setting. Use your research question to help guide you.

Let’s use an example from a real study. In Geographies of Campus Inequality , Benson and Lee ( 2020 ) list three related research questions: “(1) What are the different ways that first-generation students organize their social, extracurricular, and academic activities at selective and highly selective colleges? (2) how do first-generation students sort themselves and get sorted into these different types of campus lives; and (3) how do these different patterns of campus engagement prepare first-generation students for their post-college lives?” (3).

Note that we are jumping into this a bit late, after Benson and Lee have described previous studies (the literature review) and what is known about first-generation college students and what is not known. They want to know about differences within this group, and they are interested in ones attending certain kinds of colleges because those colleges will be sites where academic and extracurricular pressures compete. That is the context for their three related research questions. What is the population of interest here? First-generation college students . What is the research setting? Selective and highly selective colleges . But a host of questions remain. Which students in the real world, which colleges? What about gender, race, and other identity markers? Will the students be asked questions? Are the students still in college, or will they be asked about what college was like for them? Will they be observed? Will they be shadowed? Will they be surveyed? Will they be asked to keep diaries of their time in college? How many students? How many colleges? For how long will they be observed?

Recommendation

Take a moment and write down suggestions for Benson and Lee before continuing on to what they actually did.

Have you written down your own suggestions? Good. Now let’s compare those with what they actually did. Benson and Lee drew on two sources of data: in-depth interviews with sixty-four first-generation students and survey data from a preexisting national survey of students at twenty-eight selective colleges. Let’s ignore the survey for our purposes here and focus on those interviews. The interviews were conducted between 2014 and 2016 at a single selective college, “Hilltop” (a pseudonym ). They employed a “purposive” sampling strategy to ensure an equal number of male-identifying and female-identifying students as well as equal numbers of White, Black, and Latinx students. Each student was interviewed once. Hilltop is a selective liberal arts college in the northeast that enrolls about three thousand students.

How did your suggestions match up to those actually used by the researchers in this study? It is possible your suggestions were too ambitious? Beginning qualitative researchers can often make that mistake. You want a research design that is both effective (it matches your question and goals) and doable. You will never be able to collect data from your entire population of interest (unless your research question is really so narrow to be relevant to very few people!), so you will need to come up with a good sample. Define the criteria for this sample, as Benson and Lee did when deciding to interview an equal number of students by gender and race categories. Define the criteria for your sample setting too. Hilltop is typical for selective colleges. That was a research choice made by Benson and Lee. For more on sampling and sampling choices, see chapter 5.

Benson and Lee chose to employ interviews. If you also would like to include interviews, you have to think about what will be asked in them. Most interview-based research involves an interview guide, a set of questions or question areas that will be asked of each participant. The research question helps you create a relevant interview guide. You want to ask questions whose answers will provide insight into your research question. Again, your research question is the anchor you will continually come back to as you plan for and conduct your study. It may be that once you begin interviewing, you find that people are telling you something totally unexpected, and this makes you rethink your research question. That is fine. Then you have a new anchor. But you always have an anchor. More on interviewing can be found in chapter 11.

Let’s imagine Benson and Lee also observed college students as they went about doing the things college students do, both in the classroom and in the clubs and social activities in which they participate. They would have needed a plan for this. Would they sit in on classes? Which ones and how many? Would they attend club meetings and sports events? Which ones and how many? Would they participate themselves? How would they record their observations? More on observation techniques can be found in both chapters 13 and 14.

At this point, the design is almost complete. You know why you are doing this study, you have a clear research question to guide you, you have identified your population of interest and research setting, and you have a reasonable sample of each. You also have put together a plan for data collection, which might include drafting an interview guide or making plans for observations. And so you know exactly what you will be doing for the next several months (or years!). To put the project into action, there are a few more things necessary before actually going into the field.

First, you will need to make sure you have any necessary supplies, including recording technology. These days, many researchers use their phones to record interviews. Second, you will need to draft a few documents for your participants. These include informed consent forms and recruiting materials, such as posters or email texts, that explain what this study is in clear language. Third, you will draft a research protocol to submit to your institutional review board (IRB) ; this research protocol will include the interview guide (if you are using one), the consent form template, and all examples of recruiting material. Depending on your institution and the details of your study design, it may take weeks or even, in some unfortunate cases, months before you secure IRB approval. Make sure you plan on this time in your project timeline. While you wait, you can continue to review the literature and possibly begin drafting a section on the literature review for your eventual presentation/publication. More on IRB procedures can be found in chapter 8 and more general ethical considerations in chapter 7.

Once you have approval, you can begin!

Research Design Checklist

Before data collection begins, do the following:

  • Write a paragraph explaining your aims and goals (personal/political, practical/strategic, professional/academic).
  • Define your research question; write two to three sentences that clarify the intent of the research and why this is an important question to answer.
  • Review the literature for similar studies that address your research question or similar research questions; think laterally about some literature that might be helpful or illuminating but is not exactly about the same topic.
  • Find a written study that inspires you—it may or may not be on the research question you have chosen.
  • Consider and choose a research tradition and set of data-collection techniques that (1) help answer your research question and (2) match your aims and goals.
  • Define your population of interest and your research setting.
  • Define the criteria for your sample (How many? Why these? How will you find them, gain access, and acquire consent?).
  • If you are conducting interviews, draft an interview guide.
  •  If you are making observations, create a plan for observations (sites, times, recording, access).
  • Acquire any necessary technology (recording devices/software).
  • Draft consent forms that clearly identify the research focus and selection process.
  • Create recruiting materials (posters, email, texts).
  • Apply for IRB approval (proposal plus consent form plus recruiting materials).
  • Block out time for collecting data.
  • At the end of the chapter, you will find a " Research Design Checklist " that summarizes the main recommendations made here ↵
  • For example, if your focus is society and culture , you might collect data through observation or a case study. If your focus is individual lived experience , you are probably going to be interviewing some people. And if your focus is language and communication , you will probably be analyzing text (written or visual). ( Marshall and Rossman 2016:16 ). ↵
  • You may not have any "live" human subjects. There are qualitative research methods that do not require interactions with live human beings - see chapter 16 , "Archival and Historical Sources." But for the most part, you are probably reading this textbook because you are interested in doing research with people. The rest of the chapter will assume this is the case. ↵

One of the primary methodological traditions of inquiry in qualitative research, ethnography is the study of a group or group culture, largely through observational fieldwork supplemented by interviews. It is a form of fieldwork that may include participant-observation data collection. See chapter 14 for a discussion of deep ethnography. 

A methodological tradition of inquiry and research design that focuses on an individual case (e.g., setting, institution, or sometimes an individual) in order to explore its complexity, history, and interactive parts.  As an approach, it is particularly useful for obtaining a deep appreciation of an issue, event, or phenomenon of interest in its particular context.

The controlling force in research; can be understood as lying on a continuum from basic research (knowledge production) to action research (effecting change).

In its most basic sense, a theory is a story we tell about how the world works that can be tested with empirical evidence.  In qualitative research, we use the term in a variety of ways, many of which are different from how they are used by quantitative researchers.  Although some qualitative research can be described as “testing theory,” it is more common to “build theory” from the data using inductive reasoning , as done in Grounded Theory .  There are so-called “grand theories” that seek to integrate a whole series of findings and stories into an overarching paradigm about how the world works, and much smaller theories or concepts about particular processes and relationships.  Theory can even be used to explain particular methodological perspectives or approaches, as in Institutional Ethnography , which is both a way of doing research and a theory about how the world works.

Research that is interested in generating and testing hypotheses about how the world works.

A methodological tradition of inquiry and approach to analyzing qualitative data in which theories emerge from a rigorous and systematic process of induction.  This approach was pioneered by the sociologists Glaser and Strauss (1967).  The elements of theory generated from comparative analysis of data are, first, conceptual categories and their properties and, second, hypotheses or generalized relations among the categories and their properties – “The constant comparing of many groups draws the [researcher’s] attention to their many similarities and differences.  Considering these leads [the researcher] to generate abstract categories and their properties, which, since they emerge from the data, will clearly be important to a theory explaining the kind of behavior under observation.” (36).

An approach to research that is “multimethod in focus, involving an interpretative, naturalistic approach to its subject matter.  This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them.  Qualitative research involves the studied use and collection of a variety of empirical materials – case study, personal experience, introspective, life story, interview, observational, historical, interactional, and visual texts – that describe routine and problematic moments and meanings in individuals’ lives." ( Denzin and Lincoln 2005:2 ). Contrast with quantitative research .

Research that contributes knowledge that will help people to understand the nature of a problem in order to intervene, thereby allowing human beings to more effectively control their environment.

Research that is designed to evaluate or test the effectiveness of specific solutions and programs addressing specific social problems.  There are two kinds: summative and formative .

Research in which an overall judgment about the effectiveness of a program or policy is made, often for the purpose of generalizing to other cases or programs.  Generally uses qualitative research as a supplement to primary quantitative data analyses.  Contrast formative evaluation research .

Research designed to improve a program or policy (to help “form” or shape its effectiveness); relies heavily on qualitative research methods.  Contrast summative evaluation research

Research carried out at a particular organizational or community site with the intention of affecting change; often involves research subjects as participants of the study.  See also participatory action research .

Research in which both researchers and participants work together to understand a problematic situation and change it for the better.

The level of the focus of analysis (e.g., individual people, organizations, programs, neighborhoods).

The large group of interest to the researcher.  Although it will likely be impossible to design a study that incorporates or reaches all members of the population of interest, this should be clearly defined at the outset of a study so that a reasonable sample of the population can be taken.  For example, if one is studying working-class college students, the sample may include twenty such students attending a particular college, while the population is “working-class college students.”  In quantitative research, clearly defining the general population of interest is a necessary step in generalizing results from a sample.  In qualitative research, defining the population is conceptually important for clarity.

A fictional name assigned to give anonymity to a person, group, or place.  Pseudonyms are important ways of protecting the identity of research participants while still providing a “human element” in the presentation of qualitative data.  There are ethical considerations to be made in selecting pseudonyms; some researchers allow research participants to choose their own.

A requirement for research involving human participants; the documentation of informed consent.  In some cases, oral consent or assent may be sufficient, but the default standard is a single-page easy-to-understand form that both the researcher and the participant sign and date.   Under federal guidelines, all researchers "shall seek such consent only under circumstances that provide the prospective subject or the representative sufficient opportunity to consider whether or not to participate and that minimize the possibility of coercion or undue influence. The information that is given to the subject or the representative shall be in language understandable to the subject or the representative.  No informed consent, whether oral or written, may include any exculpatory language through which the subject or the representative is made to waive or appear to waive any of the subject's rights or releases or appears to release the investigator, the sponsor, the institution, or its agents from liability for negligence" (21 CFR 50.20).  Your IRB office will be able to provide a template for use in your study .

An administrative body established to protect the rights and welfare of human research subjects recruited to participate in research activities conducted under the auspices of the institution with which it is affiliated. The IRB is charged with the responsibility of reviewing all research involving human participants. The IRB is concerned with protecting the welfare, rights, and privacy of human subjects. The IRB has the authority to approve, disapprove, monitor, and require modifications in all research activities that fall within its jurisdiction as specified by both the federal regulations and institutional policy.

Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods Copyright © 2023 by Allison Hurst is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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  • What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips

What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips

Published on 25 February 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 10 October 2022.

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.

It should include:

  • The type of research you conducted
  • How you collected and analysed your data
  • Any tools or materials you used in the research
  • 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 ).

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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, 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 ?

Once you have introduced your reader to your methodological approach, you should share full details about your data collection methods .

Quantitative methods

In order to be considered generalisable, you should describe quantitative research methods in enough detail for another researcher to replicate your study.

Here, explain how you operationalised your concepts and measured your variables. Discuss your sampling method or inclusion/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 4–8 July 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.

Qualitative methods

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 analyse?
  • How did you select them?

In order to gain better insight into possibilities for future improvement of the fitness shop’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.

Mixed methods

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 here.

Next, you should indicate how you processed and analysed 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 analysing 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 : Categorising 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 behaviours, but they are effective for testing causal relationships between variables .
  • Qualitative: Unstructured interviews usually produce results that cannot be generalised 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 generalisable.

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.

Methodology refers to the overarching strategy and rationale of your research. Developing your methodology involves studying the research methods used in your field and the theories or principles that underpin them, in order to choose the approach that best matches your objectives.

Methods are the specific tools and procedures you use to collect and analyse data (e.g. interviews, experiments , surveys , statistical tests ).

In a dissertation or scientific paper, the methodology chapter or methods section comes after the introduction and before the results , discussion and conclusion .

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 test a hypothesis by systematically collecting and analysing data, while qualitative methods allow you to explore ideas and experiences in depth.

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.

Statistical sampling allows you to test a hypothesis about the characteristics of a population. There are various sampling methods you can use to ensure that your sample is representative of the population as a whole.

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Dissertations 4: methodology: start.

  • Introduction & Philosophy
  • Methodology

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?

Methods 

In order to appreciate what methods are, let us remember what research is about. Research can be summarised into three points (Cottrell, 2014, p9): 

A question 

Methods of arriving at an answer 

The 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 

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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The study assessed the level of internet addiction exists among students of AMA Computer Colleges in Region III, Philippines and identified internet addiction management practices as strategies to address the problem, to lessen if not to eliminate, to prevent or cure level of internet addiction that exists. The descriptive analysis method of research was utilized. A total of one thousand five hundred fifteen student-respondents and one hundred fifty-eight administrator-respondents participated in the study. The researcher found out that there is a severe addiction level described as Often. There is a severe dependence on the internet as reflected in the internet addiction mean test scores of the student-respondents. There is a significant relationship between the level of internet addiction and the perceived level of implementation of the internet addiction management practices. There is a significant relationship between the internet addiction test scores and the perceived level of implementation of the internet addiction management practices. Overall findings conclude that there was a significant very strong negative relationship between the level of internet addiction and in-ternet addiction test scores of student-respondents and the perceived level of implementation of internet addiction management practices of administrator-respondents; hence, the negative relationship indicates that as the intensity of the perceived level of implementation increases, the level of internet addiction and internet addiction test scores among student-respondents decreases. This study is expected to provide a worthy contribution to the institution and to international literature on internet addiction; the result can be used in providing solution, actions and remedies to lessen if not to eliminate addiction in Internet usage.■

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finding answers to my querry about how the learners of today in the secondary best describe

ResearchGate.net

DR. DAVID C . BUENO

The course aims to give an understanding of some topical and contemporary issues in educational administration and how such issues have influenced the educational system. You are required to do and submit literature reviews or syntheses (IMRaD format) on the various current issues, trends or problems affecting the educational system in the Philippines.

Jong Azores

This study is aimed at assessing the data gathered from the survey of 102 musicians about their status and condition in working at the bars and restaurants in the city of Olongapo and the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and at identifying their collective aspirations. Based on its findings, the challenge to develop the adjacent localities of Olongapo City and Subic Bay Freeport Zone as a music tourism destination was identified.

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Key Elements of a Well-Written Dissertation Methodology – (Examples Included)

how to write chapter 2 research methodology

As a researcher, you need to write a perfect methodology chapter to describe your work to the reader like how you did it. Dissertation methodology comes after the literature review when writing your dissertation, research project, or thesis. This section is crucial for demonstrating the validity and reliability of the research. Therefore, it should be accurate, clear, and precise.

According to the University of Wolverhampton, for an 8000 to 10,000 words dissertation, your methodology chapter should be 1500 to 2000 words long. We understand your worries that summarising your whole research work, whether it is quantitative or qualitative becomes difficult. In such circumstances, getting an expert’s advice is crucial to explaining your burning research questions of research methodology dissertation.

In this article, we will discuss all the key elements that you must consider to write a well-written dissertation methodology. Furthermore, getting assistance from dissertation writing services is also a good way to ensure your success. Their highly skilled team solve student’s queries and design their work in the most professional way.

What is Dissertation Methodology?

During the dissertation writing journey, after introducing your topic and describing the literature review, the stage of methodology writing comes. In this part, students describe each step they have taken to investigate and study a particular problem. Its main purpose is to explain how you designed your study and why you chose that approach.

The University of Southampton states that dissertation methodology covers everything from the research methods used in your dissertation to the decisions you made and challenges you encountered during the process. Students should mainly focus on this part because it sets the stage for what follows your results and discussion.

Why is Dissertation Methodology Important in a Research Project?

Dissertation methodology is important because it explains to the readers about how you did your research and why you chose it that way. Firstly, it shows your understanding of the method you selected which is crucial for the credibility of results. Secondly, it creates a smooth path for other people to use your methods of study for their own. By doing so, they would be able to compare the results which is an important factor in academic research.

Furthermore, your dissertation methodology explains the whole journey of data collection, sampling strategies, experimentation, and data analysis techniques. Explaining everything clearly helps people to trust the conclusions made from your work. In other words, it is like a roadmap that guides your readers about what you have done and achieved in your research work.

If this seems stressful, don’t worry – we’ll break down these methodological choices in detail in this post.

9 Key Elements to Include in Your Dissertation Methodology

Wondering about what are the key elements of a dissertation methodology? Well, the structure of the methodology includes several important points, such as:

  • Introduction
  • Research Design

Sampling Strategy

  • Data Collection Methods
  • Data Analysis Procedures
  • Validity and Reliability
  • Ethical Considerations
  • Limitations

After getting an idea of the dissertation methodology structure, let’s now explore these essentials in detail.

Setting the Stage with Introduction

Just like starting everything with a brief introduction, the methodology also demands you to introduce your research aims and questions once again. You should remind your readers about what you are working on and what your aims are to accomplish from it. So, after describing it, you should just add a hint at the techniques you’ll be using during this whole procedure. In addition, if you really want to attract your reader’s attention, think about using an interesting starting sentence to create a hook.

Research design is of great importance in dissertation methodology as it describes the techniques, you’ll use to collect your data from different sources. Keep in mind that the techniques you select should directly answer your research questions. There are basically three types of research methods:

  • Quantitative Research Method: This method uses numbers and statistics to collect and analyse the given data. It is very common in science subjects which use experiments, surveys, tests or already existing data to get a clear picture.
  • Qualitative Research Method: It includes all non-numerical data and uses words and lengthy explanations to understand something in the dissertation methodology. For example, interviews, observations, and focus groups fall under this category and are commonly used in social science and theoretical humanities studies.
  • Mixed Research Method: It is the combination of both above-mentioned methods. It mixes statistical data with a brief explanation of everything to provide a well-rounded picture of everything.

A sampling strategy is a method used to select an appropriate number of subjects from a wider population to study. In this step, you should describe the process you used to choose study participants or data sources. It includes sample size, process of selection and any sampling methods you are using. We mostly divide sampling strategies of dissertation methodology into two types:

  • Probability Sampling: In this method, the group is chosen at random. Since each member of the population has a known probability of being selected, the results allow for more confident inferences about the entire group.
  • Non-Probability Sampling: In this form, the group is chosen based on the researcher’s choice. Although it’s quicker and simpler, the results could not accurately reflect the full population.

While describing the research methodology for the dissertation, you need to explain how you collected your data to give more credibility to your work. To do so, students often conduct interviews and surveys, keenly observe everything related to their work, and go through a deep analysis of the collected data. Such as:

  • Surveys and Questionnaires: Students conduct surveys and get the opinions of different people on a particular thing they are working on. Give an overview of the main features of your survey instrument, the sampling technique, and the survey medium.
  • Interviews: Describe the format of the interview in your dissertation methodology. Also, talk about how you created the whole interview setup and how the participants were chosen.
  • Observations: You should explain the observational context, data-gathering methods, and ethical issues if there are any.
  • Analysis of Pre-existing Data: If you use already existing datasets, describe their source, the selection criteria, and any steps taken to clean the data.

Methods of Data Analysis

Data analysis techniques are the methods that students use during their research to analyse the data and interpret results from it. It helps them better understand the collected data and draw purposeful conclusions from it. There are various different types of methods that you can use in your dissertation methodology, including:

  • Quantitative Methods: Give a brief description of the statistical instruments (such as hypothesis testing and descriptive statistics) that you will use to analyse your data.
  • Qualitative Methods: Describe the methodology you plan to use to analyse qualitative data (e.g., grounded theory, theme analysis).

During this step, you should avoid using too much technical language so that a non-technical person can also understand your written work. So, you should explain the techniques in a way that is understandable to a general academic audience. In addition, don’t forget to add citations to the information you get from others because it is crucial to back up your claims.

Trust-Building Factors

To write a solid dissertation methodology, there is no need just to explain the positive aspects of your study. Rather, you should prioritise explaining every potential flaw or restriction in your research work. It shows that you have critically analysed everything, being a neutral researcher, which builds confidence in your research. So, along with discussing the plus points of your methodology, you should also cover any limitations or disadvantages as well.

  • Advantages of Your Selected Strategies: You should discuss the benefits of the approaches you have chosen to answer your dissertation methodology research questions.
  • Restrictions and Possible Flaws: Find out any potential flaws in your methodology which can be either in small sample size or self-reported data and talk about how to address them.
  • Moral Aspects to Take into Account: You should also address any ethical issues that may arise from your data-gathering procedure. So, always prefer to get their permission to maintain work ethics.

At the end, you should summarise your whole dissertation methodology, including the main techniques you’ll use and how they relate to your study objectives. You should also discuss what were the circumstances when you conducted this study and how it went. After describing the methods, you can also give a hint about the next upcoming chapters to create suspense. If appropriate, you can also discuss a little about the methods of data analysis you’ll use in the following chapters.

At any step of dissertation writing, if you find something tough to work on, you can ask for dissertation help online from professionals in this field. Dissertation writers have all the expertise and knowledge to design your whole dissertation effectively including this methodology part.

Dissertation Methodology Examples

Before starting to write your own methodology chapter, you should first get an idea about it from different examples available on the Internet. It helps you to understand how to start and end it successfully and how to add some attractive visuals to explain each step. For example, in the thesis ”Quality Attribute Variability in Software Product Lines: Varying Performance and Security Purposefully”, the following visuals were added to explain the research design.

how to write chapter 2 research methodology

What are the 4 Steps of Research Methodology?

Research dissertation methodology is a wide chapter but if we summarise it into 4 steps, it would be:

  • Creating a hypothesis or research questions
  • Formulating your research design to conduct a study
  • Describing your data collection methods
  • Analysing and interpreting the data

What are the 7 Components of Research Methodology?

The following are the 7 main parts of the research methodology starting from the introduction and ending at the conclusion:

  • Data Analysis Techniques
  • Strengths and Limitations

What are the 4 Major Types of Research Methods?

There are many different methods by which you can conduct your research for dissertation methodology. Majorly, the 4 types of research methods are:

  • Descriptive research
  • Qualitative research
  • Quantitative research
  • Mixed research

Indeed, a well-written dissertation methodology is not everyone’s cup of tea that’s why many students search for a thorough guide to get assistance for it. Understanding your situation, we have built up this complete article on research methodology to help you ease your burden. By going through it, you will get to know everything from key elements to using effective methods and examples to perfectly write your methodology section.

This dissertation part is very time-consuming as well as demands your full focus on the subject. That’s why, most students buy dissertation online to save their time and as a result, earn top grades with expert assistance.

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Smart Note-Taking for Research Paper Writing

How to organize research notes using the Zettelkasten Method when writing academic papers

Smart Note-Taking for Research Paper Writing

With plenty of note-taking tips and apps available, online and in paper form, it’s become extremely easy to take note of information, ideas, or thoughts. As simple as it is to write down an idea or jot down a quote, the skill of academic research and writing for a thesis paper is on another level entirely. And keeping a record or an archive of all of the information you need can quickly require a very organized system.

female studying taking notes checking calendar

The use of index cards seems old-fashioned considering that note-taking apps (psst! Hypernotes ) offer better functionality and are arguably more user-friendly. However, software is only there to help aid our individual workflow and thinking process. That’s why understanding and learning how to properly research, take notes and write academic papers is still a highly valuable skill.

Let’s Start Writing! But Where to Start…

Writing academic papers is a vital skill most students need to learn and practice. Academic papers are usually time-intensive pieces of written content that are a requirement throughout school or at University. Whether a topic is assigned or you have to choose your own, there’s little room for variation in how to begin.

Popular and purposeful in analyzing and evaluating the knowledge of the author as well as assessing if the learning objectives were met, research papers serve as information-packed content. Most of us may not end up working jobs in academic professions or be researchers at institutions, where writing research papers is also part of the job, but we often read such papers. 

Despite the fact that most research papers or dissertations aren’t often read in full, journalists, academics, and other professionals regularly use academic papers as a basis for further literary publications or blog articles. The standard of academic papers ensures the validity of the information and gives the content authority. 

There’s no-nonsense in research papers. To make sure to write convincing and correct content, the research stage is extremely important. And, naturally, when doing any kind of research, we take notes.

Why Take Notes?

There are particular standards defined for writing academic papers . In order to meet these standards, a specific amount of background information and researched literature is required. Taking notes helps keep track of read/consumed literary material as well as keeps a file of any information that may be of importance to the topic. 

The aim of writing isn’t merely to advertise fully formed opinions, but also serves the purpose of developing opinions worth sharing in the first place. 

What is Note-Taking?

home office work desk

Note-taking (sometimes written as notetaking or note-taking ) is the practice of recording information from different sources and platforms. For academic writing, note-taking is the process of obtaining and compiling information that answers and supports the research paper’s questions and topic. Notes can be in one of three forms: summary, paraphrase, or direct quotation.

Note-taking is an excellent process useful for anyone to turn individual thoughts and information into organized ideas ready to be communicated through writing. Notes are, however, only as valuable as the context. Since notes are also a byproduct of the information we consume daily, it’s important to categorize information, develop connections, and establish relationships between pieces of information. 

What Type of Notes Can I Take?

  • Explanation of complex theories
  • Background information on events or persons of interest
  • Definitions of terms
  • Quotations of significant value
  • Illustrations or graphics

Note-Taking 101

taking notes in notebook

Taking notes or doing research for academic papers shouldn’t be that difficult, considering we take notes all the time. Wrong. Note-taking for research papers isn’t the same as quickly noting down an interesting slogan or cool quote from a video, putting it on a sticky note, and slapping it onto your bedroom or office wall.

Note-taking for research papers requires focus and careful deliberation of which information is important to note down, keep on file, or use and reference in your own writing. Depending on the topic and requirements of your research paper from your University or institution, your notes might include explanations of complex theories, definitions, quotations, and graphics. 

Stages of Research Paper Writing

5 Stages of Writing

1. Preparation Stage

Before you start, it’s recommended to draft a plan or an outline of how you wish to begin preparing to write your research paper. Make note of the topic you will be writing on, as well as the stylistic and literary requirements for your paper.

2. Research Stage

In the research stage, finding good and useful literary material for background knowledge is vital. To find particular publications on a topic, you can use Google Scholar or access literary databases and institutions made available to you through your school, university, or institution. 

Make sure to write down the source location of the literary material you find. Always include the reference title, author, page number, and source destination. This saves you time when formatting your paper in the later stages and helps keep the information you collect organized and referenceable.

Hypernotes Zettelkasten Note-taking Reference

In the worst-case scenario, you’ll have to do a backward search to find the source of a quote you wrote down without reference to the original literary material. 

3. Writing Stage

When writing, an outline or paper structure is helpful to visually break up the piece into sections. Once you have defined the sections, you can begin writing and referencing the information you have collected in the research stage.

Clearly mark which text pieces and information where you relied on background knowledge, which texts are directly sourced, and which information you summarized or have written in your own words. This is where your paper starts to take shape.  

4. Draft Stage

After organizing all of your collected notes and starting to write your paper, you are already in the draft stage. In the draft stage, the background information collected and the text written in your own words come together. Every piece of information is structured by the subtopics and sections you defined in the previous stages. 

5. Final Stage

Success! Well… almost! In the final stage, you look over your whole paper and check for consistency and any irrelevancies. Read through the entire paper for clarity, grammatical errors , and peace of mind that you have included everything important. 

Make sure you use the correct formatting and referencing method requested by your University or institution for research papers. Don’t forget to save it and then send the paper on its way.

Best Practice Note-Taking Tips

  • Find relevant and authoritative literary material through the search bar of literary databases and institutions.
  • Practice citation repeatedly! Always keep a record of the reference book title, author, page number, and source location. At best, format the citation in the necessary format from the beginning. 
  • Organize your notes according to topic or reference to easily find the information again when in the writing stage. Work invested in the early stages eases the writing and editing process of the later stages.
  • Summarize research notes and write in your own words as much as possible. Cite direct quotes and clearly mark copied text in your notes to avoid plagiarism.  

Take Smart Notes

Hypernotes Zettelkasten reference

Taking smart notes isn’t as difficult as it seems. It’s simply a matter of principle, defined structure, and consistency. Whether you opt for a paper-based system or use a digital tool to write and organize your notes depends solely on your individual personality, needs, and workflow.

With various productivity apps promoting diverse techniques, a good note-taking system to take smart notes is the Zettelkasten Method . Invented by Niklas Luhmann, a german sociologist and researcher, the Zettelkasten Method is known as the smart note-taking method that popularized personalized knowledge management. 

As a strategic process for thinking and writing, the Zettelkasten Method helps you organize your knowledge while working, studying, or researching. Directly translated as a ‘note box’, Zettelkasten is simply a framework to help organize your ideas, thoughts, and information by relating pieces of knowledge and connecting pieces of information to each other.

Hypernotes is a note-taking app that can be used as a software-based Zettelkasten, with integrated features to make smart note-taking so much easier, such as auto-connecting related notes, and syncing to multiple devices. In each notebook, you can create an archive of your thoughts, ideas, and information. 

Hypernotes Zettelkasten Knowledge Graph Reference

Using the tag system to connect like-minded ideas and information to one another and letting Hypernotes do its thing with bi-directional linking, you’ll soon create a web of knowledge about anything you’ve ever taken note of. This feature is extremely helpful to navigate through the enormous amounts of information you’ve written down. Another benefit is that it assists you in categorizing and making connections between your ideas, thoughts, and saved information in a single notebook. Navigate through your notes, ideas, and knowledge easily.

Ready, Set, Go!

Writing academic papers is no simple task. Depending on the requirements, resources available, and your personal research and writing style, techniques, apps, or practice help keep you organized and increase your productivity. 

Whether you use a particular note-taking app like Hypernotes for your research paper writing or opt for a paper-based system, make sure you follow a particular structure. Repeat the steps that help you find the information you need quicker and allow you to reproduce or create knowledge naturally.

Images from NeONBRAND , hana_k and Surface via Unsplash 

A well-written piece is made up of authoritative sources and uses the art of connecting ideas, thoughts, and information together. Good luck to all students and professionals working on research paper writing! We hope these tips help you in organizing the information and aid your workflow in your writing process.

Cheers, Jessica and the Zenkit Team

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IMAGES

  1. Chapter 2-Research Methodology

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  2. Summary Chapter 2 Research Methodology

    how to write chapter 2 research methodology

  3. chapter 2 research paper

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  4. (DOC) CHAPTER 2 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

    how to write chapter 2 research methodology

  5. 15 Research Methodology Examples (2023)

    how to write chapter 2 research methodology

  6. Research methodology Chapter 2

    how to write chapter 2 research methodology

VIDEO

  1. Expert Tips for WRITING an EXCELLENT Research Methodology

  2. RESEARCH II Q1 Module 4. Steps in Research Process (Part 1)

  3. Research Methodology-Chapter- 1 Introduction & how to find the research topic

  4. How To Write The Methodology For A Qualitative Paper

  5. Referencing Basics (Part 1b)

  6. WRITING THE CHAPTER 3|| Research Methodology (Research Design and Method)

COMMENTS

  1. How To Write The Methodology Chapter

    Do yourself a favour and start with the end in mind. Section 1 - Introduction. As with all chapters in your dissertation or thesis, the methodology chapter should have a brief introduction. In this section, you should remind your readers what the focus of your study is, especially the research aims. As we've discussed many times on the blog ...

  2. Chapter 2 Introduction

    Chapter 2 Introduction. Chapter 2. Introduction. Maybe you have already gained some experience in doing research, for example in your bachelor studies, or as part of your work. The challenge in conducting academic research at masters level, is that it is multi-faceted. The types of activities are: Writing up and presenting your findings.

  3. What Is a Research Methodology?

    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.

  4. Your Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Good Research Methodology

    2. Provide the rationality behind your chosen approach. Based on logic and reason, let your readers know why you have chosen said research methodologies. Additionally, you have to build strong arguments supporting why your chosen research method is the best way to achieve the desired outcome. 3.

  5. How to Write a Research Methodology in 4 Steps

    Learn how to write a strong methodology chapter that allows readers to evaluate the reliability and validity of the research. A good methodology chapter incl...

  6. How To Write The Methodology Chapter (With Examples)

    Section 2 - The Methodology. The next section of your click is where you'll present of actual methodology. In this section, you need on item and justify the key methodological choices you've made in a logical, intuitive fashion. Importantly, this is one heart of your methodology chapter, so you need to take specific - don't hold back on the details here.

  7. 6. The Methodology

    Bem, Daryl J. Writing the Empirical Journal Article. Psychology Writing Center. University of Washington; Denscombe, Martyn. The Good Research Guide: For Small-Scale Social Research Projects. 5th edition.Buckingham, UK: Open University Press, 2014; Lunenburg, Frederick C. Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences.

  8. How to Write an APA Methods Section

    To structure your methods section, you can use the subheadings of "Participants," "Materials," and "Procedures.". These headings are not mandatory—aim to organize your methods section using subheadings that make sense for your specific study. Note that not all of these topics will necessarily be relevant for your study.

  9. Research Methodology Guide: Writing Tips, Types, & Examples

    How to structure the research methods chapter. Wondering how to write the research methodology section? Follow these steps to create a strong methods chapter: Step 1: Explain your research methodology. At the start of a research paper, you would have provided the background of your research and stated your hypothesis or research problem. In ...

  10. Research Methodology Example (PDF + Template)

    Variables 101: an introductory video covering the different types of variables that exist within research. Sampling 101: an overview of the main sampling methods; Methodology tips: a video discussion covering various tips to help you write a high-quality methodology chapter; Private coaching: Get hands-on help with your research methodology

  11. How to Write the Methodology Chapter: The Complete Guide

    Here's how to approach it: 1. Describe Your Methodological Approach. Start by explaining the research subject or problem you looked into. It could be that you wanted to methodically define something's qualities, investigate a little-studied issue, or prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

  12. PDF Methodology Section for Research Papers

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    Research Methodology refers to the systematic and scientific approach used to conduct research, investigate problems, and gather data and information for a specific purpose. It involves the techniques and procedures used to identify, collect, analyze, and interpret data to answer research questions or solve research problems.

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    Introduction. Research is not conducted in a vacuum: it is framed within a research paradigm (Henning et al., 2004:12), viewed through the lens of a particular mindset and constructed using specific ap-proaches and techniques. This is referred to as the research methodology. It describes the way research is conducted.

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  19. Start

    Methodology. 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).

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    Methodology in research is defined as the systematic method to resolve a research problem through data gathering using various techniques, providing an interpretation of data gathered and drawing conclusions about the research data. Essentially, a research methodology is the blueprint of a research or study (Murthy & Bhojanna, 2009, p. 32).

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    Before starting to write your own methodology chapter, you should first get an idea about it from different examples available on the Internet. It helps you to understand how to start and end it successfully and how to add some attractive visuals to explain each step. ... A research methodology by the author Olasile Babatunde Adedoyin from the ...

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    2. Research Stage. In the research stage, finding good and useful literary material for background knowledge is vital. To find particular publications on a topic, you can use Google Scholar or access literary databases and institutions made available to you through your school, university, or institution.