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No dissertation (or research paper) is complete without the methods section. Since this is the chapter where you enumerate how you carried out your research, this is where all the meat is! Here’s where you clearly lay out the steps you have taken to test your hypothesis or research problem. Conventionally, this is Chapter 3 in your dissertation, before you detail the results of the study and after you provide a literature review for your research problem. 

Let’s take a closer look at how this is done! 

Research methodology vs. research methods 

Before we get into the details of this chapter, let’s get one thing out of the way. For the novice researcher, “methods” and “methodology” in research may seem one and the same. But to equate the two is a folly that you must quickly rid yourself of. (Don’t worry, we’ve made such mistakes too; we were all once in the dark.) 

The research methodology or design is the overall strategy and rationale that you used to carry out the research. Methodology in research is important because it determines the broader framework of the whole project, and will be defined on terms such as qualitative vs. quantitative, descriptive, analytical, and exploratory. 

Research methods are the specific tools and processes you used to gather and understand the data you need to test your hypothesis. Some examples of research methods are interviews, experiments, online surveys, case studies, and participant observation. 

To put it simply, research methods are a subset of the research methodology. 

What goes into this chapter

Needless to say, the methodology and methods of study for each dissertation differ; they are dependent on what field of study you are in and what your hypothesis is. There are three types of research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. 

Many research projects also see the use of multiple methods to test the same hypothesis — this is known as mixed methods research and is a pretty well-rounded approach to ensure that the hypothesis holds up in different conditions. (Research methods in psychology, for example, are often like this.)

But regardless of what your dissertation is on, there are some broad things you should cover in your chapter: 

Why is the research methodology important? 

Explaining the methodology in detail shows that your study is reliable and scientifically valid. It provides legitimacy to your research and tells your readers that you have used methods that are ethical and repeatable . 

The research process you undertook may have gone on for months or even years. So there’s a lot to go through here. Your writing must be concise and crystal clear about the rationale and procedure of your research.

Your aim here, beyond getting the grade that lets you graduate, is to share knowledge. It is to tell your evaluators and fellow researchers about the processes you followed to test your hypothesis in such a way that they can replicate it. In other words, if another researcher adopts your methodology, they should ideally reach the same conclusion(s) you have. 

Language and style guidelines for this chapter 

Since you’re enumerating the process of how you tested your hypothesis, you must write this chapter in the simple past tense . 

Many academic style guides also provide specific guidelines for this chapter, based on what method you have chosen for the project. Even if your university has not been specific about what guidelines to follow, it’s a good idea to do some research about how researchers with similar studies as yours have structured their methods chapter. This will give you a good idea of what you need to include in yours. 

Remember who you are writing for. While it is conventional for research papers to provide definitions and contextual information about the concepts and procedures used, you must tailor it for the audience reading your paper. For example, you do not need to elaborate upon ideas that your evaluator or fellow researchers in your subject are already familiar with. 

How to structure the research methods chapter 

Let’s see how to write the methodology section step-by-step. Follow these steps to create a strong methods chapter:

Step 1: Explain your research methodology

In the dissertation introduction , you will have provided the background of your research and stated your hypothesis or research problem. In this section, you will elaborate on your research strategy. 

Begin by restating your research question and proceed to explain what type of research you opted for to test it. Depending on your research, here are some questions you can consider: 

These questions will help you establish the rationale for your study on a broader level, which you will follow up by elaborating on the specific methods you used to collect and understand your data. 

Step 2: Explain the methods you used to test your hypothesis 

Now that you have told your reader what type of research you’ve undertaken for the dissertation, it’s time to dig into specifics. State what specific methods you used and explain the conditions and variables involved. Explain what the theoretical framework behind the method was, what samples you used for testing it, and what tools and materials you used to collect the data. 

Step 3: Explain how you analyzed the results

Once you have explained the data collection process, explain how you analyzed and studied the data. Here, your focus is simply to explain the methods of analysis, not the results of the study. (You’ll have noticed by now that the next chapter of your dissertation is the “Results” chapter; that’s where you explain the results and the implications of your study.

Here are some questions you can answer at this stage: 

Your mode of analysis will change depending on whether you used a quantitative or qualitative research methodology in your study. If you’re working within the hard sciences or physical sciences, you are likely to use a quantitative research methodology (relying on numbers and hard data). If you’re doing a qualitative study, in the social sciences or humanities, your analysis may rely on understanding language and socio-political contexts around your topic. This is why it’s important to establish what kind of study you’re undertaking at the onset. 

Step 4: Defend your choice of methodology 

Now that you have gone through your research process in detail, you’ll also have to make a case for it. Justify your choice of methodology and methods, explaining why it is the best choice for your research question. This is especially important if you have chosen an unconventional approach or you’ve simply chosen to study an existing research problem from a different perspective. Compare it with other methodologies, especially ones attempted by previous researchers, and discuss what contributions using your methodology makes.  

Step 5: Discuss the obstacles you encountered and how you overcame them 

No matter how thorough a methodology is, it doesn’t come without its hurdles. This is a natural part of scientific research that is important to document so that your peers and future researchers are aware of them. Writing about this aspect of your research process also tells your evaluator that you have actively worked to overcome the pitfalls that came your way and you have refined the research process. 

Tips to write an effective methodology chapter

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methodology section of a dissertation

Writing your dissertation methodology

(Last updated: 12 May 2021)

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What is a methodology?

Your methodology section appears immediately after the literature review in your dissertation, and should flow organically from it. Up until the point of writing your methodology, you will have defined your research question and conducted a detailed review of what other scholars in the field have to say about your topic. You’ll have also reviewed the ways in which these scholars have arrived at their conclusions – the assumptions on which their work is based, the theoretical frameworks they've used, and the methods they've used to gather, marshal and present their data. You will have used these observations, along with discussions with your supervisor, to plan how you're going to tackle your research question. This could be planning how you'll gather data, or what models you'll use to process it, or what philosophical positions most inform your work. Following this, your dissertation methodology provides a detailed account of both how you'll approach your dissertation and why you've taken the decision to approach it in the way you have.

What should my methodology look like?

Your methodology needs to establish a clear relationship between your research question, the existing scholarship in your field that you have surveyed as part of your literature review, and the means by which you'll come to your conclusions. Therefore, no matter what subject area you're working in, your methodology section will include the following:

Key to justifying your methodology is demonstrating that it is fit for the purpose of answering the research problem or questions you posed at the start. You should recap the key questions you want to answer when introducing your methodology, but this doesn't have to be a word-for-word restatement; you might want to reword the problem in a way that bridges your literature review and methodology.

This is the heart of the methodology but is not, by itself, a methodology. This is the part of your methodology where you clearly explain your process for gathering and analysing data, or for approaching your research question. This should be clear and detailed enough that another scholar is able to read it and apply it in some way, outside of the immediate context of your dissertation. If you're offering a new theoretical take on a literary work or a philosophical problem, your reader should be able to understand your theory enough that they can apply it to another text or problem. If you're describing a scientific experiment, your reader should have all they need to recreate your experiment in a lab. If you're introducing a new type of statistical model, your reader should be able to apply this model to their own data set after reading your methodology section.

Your methodology doesn't just describe your method; it discusses the reasons why you've chosen it, and why you believe it will yield the best results, the most insightful set of analyses and conclusions, or the most innovative perspective. This will draw in part from your literature review , presenting your choices as informed and rooted in sound scholarship, while ideally also displaying innovation and creativity. You should also ensure that you relate the rationale for your method explicitly to your research problem; it should be very clear to your reader that the methodology you've chosen is a thoughtful and tailored response to the questions you're trying to answer.

No research method is perfect, and it's likely that the one you've chosen comes with certain trade-offs. You might, for instance, have chosen a small-scale set of interviews because the individual perspectives of a set of interviewees on the problem you're exploring is more valuable to you than a larger set of data about responses to the same question. But that means you've nevertheless sacrificed a quantitative approach to your problem that might have yielded its own set of important insights. Be honest and upfront – but not apologetic – about the limitations of your chosen method, and be ready to justify why it's the best approach for your purposes.

While the outline of your methodology section will look much the same regardless of your discipline, the details are liable to be quite different depending on the subject area in which you're studying. Let's take a look at some of the most common types of dissertation, and the information required in a methodology section for each of them.

Common types of dissertation methodology

A scientific study The methodology section for a scientific study needs to emphasise rigour and reproducibility above all else. Your methods must appear robust to the reader, with no obvious flaws in the design or execution. You should not only include the necessary information about your equipment, lab setup, and procedure to allow another researcher to reproduce your method; you should also demonstrate that you've factored any variables that are likely to distort your data (for example, by introducing false positives into your design), and that you have a plan to handle these either in collecting, analysing, or drawing conclusions from your data.

Your methodology should also include details of – and justifications for – the statistical models you'll use to analyse your data. Remember that a scholar might use any single part of your methodology as a departure point for their own work; they might follow your experiment design but choose a different model for analysing the results, or vice versa!

methodology section of a dissertation

A study in the social or behavioural sciences As with a scientific study, a social or behavioural sciences methodology needs to demonstrate both rigour and reproducibility, allowing another researcher to reproduce your study in whole or in part for their own ends. However, the complexity of working with human subjects means there are a number of additional questions to consider. First of all, you'll want to answer certain broad questions about the kind of analysis you're undertaking: is it qualitative or quantitative, or a mixed approach that uses qualitative data to provide context and background to quantitative data (or vice versa)? Will you be conducting recorded interviews with your subjects, asking them to complete a written questionnaire, or observing them undertaking some activity or other? Or will you avoid doing your own research with human subjects at all, and base your research on documentary evidence or a pre-existing data set? What is the scope of your data and conclusions? Is there reason to believe it can be generalised to other contexts, or is it highly specific to the particular location or cultural context in which you conducted your research?

In addition to answering all these questions, you must satisfy your reader that you have considered all the ethical questions associated with your research. Part of this, of course, entails obtaining sign-off for your design from the appropriate ethics bodies, but even then there might be aspects of your study – inviting subjects to relive episodes of grief and trauma, for instance, or broaching culturally sensitive matters within a particular target group – that some readers could consider contentious or problematic. Make sure you address such concerns head-on, and if necessary justify your methods by emphasising the potential value of your conclusions.

methodology section of a dissertation

A critical dissertation in the arts or humanities Methodological rigour is just as valuable in the arts and humanities as in the sciences and social sciences. However, if you're writing an arts or humanities dissertation the way in which you convey this rigour – and convince your audience of it - is a little different. The methodology section in an arts or humanities dissertation is likely to be much more closely linked to the literature review than a scientific or social sciences study; even the most innovative dissertation in the arts or humanities typically involves applying X's theories in a new context, or combining X and Y's insights to yield a new theoretical framework. For this reason it can be tempting to gloss over the methodology section in an arts or humanities dissertation, and move more or less seamlessly from literature review into analysis. But it's crucial that you provide a detailed justification of your chosen frameworks and how they relate to your research question here too; without this justification a critical reader may very well take issue with your entire analysis because you've failed to convince them of the appropriateness of your theoretical underpinnings to the material you're analysing.

In particular, it's vitally important that your dissertation methodology shows an appreciation of the historical and cultural contexts of the theoretical frameworks you use, especially where there's fundamental disagreement between theorists. If you use the work of theorists from differing or even opposing schools of thought to support your readings, your methodology section should show a clear understanding of how these schools of thought disagree and a justification of why there are nevertheless aspects of each approach that you've decided to use in your own work.

methodology section of a dissertation

A creative arts dissertation Many programmes in the arts offer the option of completing a creative rather than critical dissertation; that is, of submitting a piece of creative writing or a portfolio of artworks, rather than an extended critical project, for the dissertation component of the programme. However, in virtually all cases, your creative project must be accompanied by a substantial critical essay (or introduction, or commentary) that theorises your creative practice. Critically engaging with one's own work is a notoriously difficult thing to do, which makes the development and adherence to a rigorous methodology especially important in this context. You need to not only show that you're capable of detaching yourself from your own creative work and viewing it through an objective lens, but that you are able to see your own creative practice as methodology – as a method of creating work that is grounded in theory and research and that can be evaluated against clear target goals.

methodology section of a dissertation

What should my methodology not contain?

No part of your dissertation should be hermetically sealed off from the others, and there will undoubtedly be some overlap between your methodology and literature review section, for example. You might even find yourself moving material back and forth between sections during edits. But you should resist the temptation to include the following in your dissertation methodology, even if they seem to belong there quite naturally:

It's likely you'll want to refer to precedents for your dissertation methodology, and to the theorists or practitioners upon whose work it is based, as you describe your own methodology. However, this is not the place for an exhaustive review of methodologies you're not using – that work belongs in your literature review chapter , and you should refer back to that chapter for context on why you're taking (or not taking) a particular approach.

Your methodology section should equip a reader to reproduce your research, but it should also be a readable chapter of your dissertation and should retain the interest of somebody who doesn't necessarily want to reproduce your experiment from start to finish. If it's possible to convey all the information another scholar would need in order to recreate your work in the body of your dissertation, do so; however if your methodology section starts to look like a shopping list, you should move some very detailed content into an appendix and refer to that.

The methodology section is not the place to reproduce any data, even if you're illustrating how a questionnaire or other data-gathering mechanic works. Again, you can place such information in an appendix and refer to it.

Deciding on your methodology

When you start your dissertation project, you may already have some broad ideas about the methodology you want to use. You'll refine these ideas in conversation with your supervisor and develop them further as you read about the previous work that has been done in your field, and other scholars' approach to your subject area. If you're completing a postgraduate dissertation , the chances are you already have a broad awareness of the different theoretical positions and schools of thought in your field, and you may well have a good idea of the schools of thought with which you most closely identify (and, just as importantly, those you don't identify with). If you're writing an undergraduate dissertation , this may very well be the first time you've been asked to engage with such a broad field of literature, and categorising this into distinct approaches and schools of thought may seem like an overwhelming task at first.

Regardless of your level, your dissertation methodology will develop as you review the literature in your field and refine your initial research questions. Your literature review and methodology will therefore develop in tandem with each other. Your response to the literature will help you decide on the approach you want to take to your research question, but your methodology will probably already be decided by the time you actually write up your literature review, meaning that you can frame it so as to position the methodology as a clear, organic and natural progression from your survey of the field. It should be noted, of course, that your methodology won't only be determined by the modes of inquiry or schools of thought that appeal to you most; there are likely to be practical considerations that determine how you approach your problem. Unless you happen to have access to a particle accelerator at your university, the chances are your quantum physics project will be based on theoretical projections rather than physical experimental data.

What makes a great methodology?

The answer to this question depends in part upon whether you're writing an undergraduate or postgraduate dissertation. For most students, an undergraduate dissertation is their first opportunity to engage in detail with scholarship in their fields and to design and conduct a rigorous research project. In an undergraduate dissertation, you therefore need to show a capacity to engage with a broad field of research, to synthesise diverse and even opposing approaches to a problem, and to distil this down into a design for a research project that will address your research questions with the appropriate level of scholarly level. The ability to synthesise what you've learned from scholars in your discipline, and to shape that into a methodology that you can use to shed light on your research question, is, therefore, key to a successful undergraduate dissertation. The best undergraduate dissertations will of course show originality of thought and may even be able to make an original contribution to their field – but the focus will generally be on demonstrating that you have the fundamental research skills to undertake investigative work in your field.

"The ability to synthesise what you've learned from scholars in your discipline, and to shape that into a methodology that sheds light on your research question, is key to a successful undergraduate dissertation."

A postgraduate dissertation , by contrast, can be expected to make a substantial contribution of high-quality, original research to its field. The best postgraduate dissertations will be publishable by leading journals, or even as scholarly monographs. As you build your career as an early career researcher, the impact of your dissertation on its field – as measured by citations in the work of other scholars – will be crucial to enhancing your academic reputation. It's important to remember that the dissertation's value to other scholars won't just be its findings or conclusions, and that your research's emerging importance to the field will be measured by the number of scholars who engage with it, not those who agree with it. Although some scholars may well cite your conclusions as a basis for their own work, a far greater number of citations is likely to result (regardless of discipline) from your development of a framework that other scholars can use as a point of departure for their own work. If you've come up with a methodology that is both original and grounded in the research, this will probably be the aspect of your work that other scholars value the most. Their own work might build upon, develop or modify your methodology in some way; they might apply your methodology to a different data set in order to contest your findings, or they might even take it and apply it in a new context that hadn't even occurred to you!

The best postgraduate dissertations are those that convince at every level – that are based on a rigorous engagement with the field, that develop reproducible frameworks for engaging with that field, and that supply high-quality and convincing results and conclusions. But the methodology is the central point around which the dissertation – and its potential impact to the field – pivots. When developing and presenting your dissertation methodology, you should therefore think not just about how well it can answer your particular question, but also about how transferable it is – whether it can be used by other scholars to answer related questions, or whether it can be made more adaptable with just a few tweaks (without compromising your own use of it, of course). And when presenting your dissertation, don't forget to emphasise the value of the methodological framework you develop, if it is indeed adaptable to other related contexts. You're underselling your research if you suggest its only value lies in its conclusions, when the approach it takes to your data or source material in arriving at those conclusions is potentially of equal if not greater value.

methodology section of a dissertation

Presenting your methodology

Your dissertation methodology, as we've now discussed in some detail, is the engine that drives your dissertation, and as such it needs to be grounded, theoretically rigorous, and, where possible, sufficiently adaptable to be used in other contexts to answer different research questions within your field. However, in focusing on all this it's easy to forget that all dissertations – even the seemingly driest, most scientific of them – are fundamentally pieces of persuasive writing: their primary purpose is to convince readers of the quality of your research, the validity of your methods, and the merit of your conclusions. A crucial but often neglected component of this persuasive function is the role of rhetoric in persuading your audience of the merits of your work. Rhetoric has acquired something of a bad name in mainstream discourse (phrases like "pure rhetoric" or "empty rhetoric" tend to signify superficiality and/or dishonesty – and certainly nothing positive!) but it's an important component of all types of academic writing, and it's particularly valuable when you're attempting to convince your reader of the validity of a particular choice – like your choice of methodology.

In their seminal book on scholarly writing, "They Say / I Say": The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing , Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein discuss what they call the art of metacommentary, "a way of commenting on your claims and telling others how – and how not – to think about them". This kind of commentary allows you to control the agenda for discussion of your work, and to head off potential objections to your arguments and methods at the pass. Sound rhetorical presentation of your methodology is not just "decoration" – it forms an integral part of its overall rigour and structural soundness, and can make the difference between a 2:1 and a First, or between a merit and a Distinction. Here are some of the ways in which you can use metacommentary to shape your audience's response to your methodology.

The roads not taken It's very likely that the approach you've taken to your research question is one of many approaches you could have taken – and in your literature review you probably engaged with or read about lots of approaches that, for one reason or another, you decided not to take. Your methodology chapter is not the place to go into detail about these methodologies (hopefully your literature review does this), but you should remind your reader that you actively considered these other methodologies before deciding on your own. Even if you decided on your methodology early on in your research process, it should appear rhetorically as the result of a careful weighing of competing factors, before you decided on the most logical choice.

A little reassurance goes a long way Judicious use of metacommentary can also help to make up for any shortcomings in your methodology section, or simply create a sense of balance between scholarly groundedness and innovation if your methodology might seem to veer a little too much in one direction or another. If your methodology takes a bold new step that some may find off-putting, you can acknowledge this whilst taking extra care to emphasise its grounded relationship to established work in the field. You might, for instance, ensure that you refer back to your literature review frequently and use phrases like, "This approach may seem like a significant departure from established approaches to this field, but it combines the proven data-gathering techniques of X with the statistical analysis model of Y, along with the following innovations". Conversely, if your methodology is mostly derivative or a synthesis of what has come before, use the opportunity to spell out why this synthesis is in itself innovative, for example, "This project's key innovation does not lie in its approach to human subjects or in the statistical models it employs, but rather in the combination of approach of theory X and approach Y to problem Z”.

Signposting Flagging what each section of an argument is doing is vital throughout the dissertation, but nowhere more so than in the methodology section. You can significantly strengthen the justification you provide for your dissertation methodology by referring back to your literature review and reminding your reader of conclusions you've drawn – and if you're feeling really confident you can gently hint to your readers that they agreed with you, using a formulation like, "As we have seen, method X is extremely useful for approaching questions related to Y, but less applicable to problem Z". You should be careful with this approach, of course – claiming you've proved something when this transparently isn't the case isn't going to bring your readers onside – but if your argumentation is already strong, rhetorical techniques like this can help underline the structural coherence of your work.

Defining your own terms If you don't define your own measures for success and failure, readers can infer from the overall structure of your argument the terms on which it was trying to succeed, and judge it accordingly. On the other hand, defining your own set of success criteria and help (within reason) helps to ensure that your readers evaluate your work on these terms. Again, your dissertation methodology is a critical space in which to establish these criteria: "This research does not make any claims about human social behaviour while consuming alcohol beyond the current context of X. It may, however, be possible to adapt the methodology to examine similar phenomena in contexts Y and Z”. By the same token, you can also prevent your readers from drawing unintended inferences from your work by anticipating them: "By adopting this methodology I am not suggesting that the statistical analysis of responses will be a reliable predictor of X; I do, however, believe that the strong correlation between Y and Z is in and of itself a valuable insight”.

In summary…

methodology section of a dissertation

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methodology section of a dissertation

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methodology section of a dissertation

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What Is A Dissertation

Dissertation Methodology

Last updated on: Jan 3, 2023

How to Write a Dissertation Methodology with Examples

By: Caleb S.

Reviewed By: Rylee W.

Published on: Jan 3, 2023

Dissertation Methodology

The methodology builds the skeleton of the research work. It gives a reader a clear roadmap and outline of the research methods.

Moreover, the dissertation methodology is linked back to the literature review. It explains why you chose a certain data collection method for your dissertation.

Are you confused about writing a dissertation methodology? Are you stuck at the first step and can’t move forward? Then this blog is for you!

Read on and get to know about the dissertation methodology in detail.

Dissertation Methodology

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What is Dissertation Methodology?

The dissertation methodology is one of the most challenging parts of the research project. In the methodology section, you will define the research question. Also, give a detailed review of the methods used within your research.

The main purpose of the dissertation methodology is to:

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Moreover, it helps the readers understand the broad philosophical approach behind the methods you used for your research work. Also, with methodology, you will be required to justify why you chose this method over others.

In the dissertation methodology, you should include:

Normally, it comes after the literature review and explains data gathering techniques. Also, describe in which ways and how the research was conducted. It is a part of  dissertation writing  and it is an important part of it.

Types of Dissertation Methodology

The dissertation methodology describes the philosophical research methods you use, their advantages, results, and how you conduct research. Also, it helps the readers to assess the validity and reliability of the research.

Also, the dissertation methodology has the following types:

In this methodology type, you need to elaborate on the reliability and show close attention to detail more than anything else. However, if your methods have flaws, no one is impressed. Therefore, make sure that your chosen dissertation methodology is powerful.

Furthermore, the information should clearly state the procedure, setup, and equipment. Therefore, researchers of the same field of study can work with the same method in the future.

The statistical models that are part of your scientific study should be included in the methodology. Also, the variables expected to falsify your data must hold into the equation to avoid vagueness. Therefore, it is better to use a comprehensive strategy to deal with these variables when collecting and analyzing the data.

The behavioral or social sciences methodology is built on the same lines as scientific or lab-based research. This type of methodology exhibits both firmness and reproducibility. Therefore, the other scientists can use your complete research methodology or recreate your examination according to their own research needs.

However, there are some inquiries to consider when working with human subjects. First, you need to decide if your analysis will be based on quantitative, qualitative, or blended research methodology.

The following are the questions that you need to consider:

Therefore, you will be required to show that you have taken care of the above questions. Also, you must address your research study’s ethical issues.

However, you have to get formal approval for your research design from suitable ethical committees.

For humanities and arts-based dissertations, the thoroughness and dependability of the research methods employed remain unquestionable. However, the convincing strategy you will use to convince the readers is slightly different.

Furthermore, the humanities and arts-based dissertations must be directly linked to the literature review. However, the dissertation for humanities and arts is less complex, and there is no need to justify it in detail.

However, ensure that you have provided enough information about the theoretical frameworks your research methodology is based on.

Numerous degree programs in the arts allow the students to take the portfolio of artworks or creative writing. Other than presenting the long dissertation research work.

However, your creative research will be required to be submitted along with a comprehensive evaluative paper. Also, as a scholar, you will be expected to show the ability to analyze your methodology critically. Besides, you are capable of critically evaluating your creative work.

Therefore, keep these types of research methodology in mind and choose the one according to your needs.

Dissertation Methodology Structure

There are several ways in which you can structure your dissertation methodology. Below are some steps that will help you structure the dissertation methodology.

1. Give Research Overview

In this step, reiterate the topic of your research. You can also describe your data collection and analysis process. Also, discuss and answer the research question clearly in this section.

2. Research Design

You have to explain which data collection method (interviews, surveys, etc.) you used for your research work. Also, include the sample size and any attempts to defeat bias.

3. Data Analysis

In this step, you will have to describe what type of data you were working on. Also, your results are conclusive or not.

What to Include in Dissertation Methodology?

Here are the elements that you should include in the dissertation methodology.

How to Write a Dissertation Methodology?

Writing a dissertation methodology chapter is not difficult if you follow proper steps and guidelines. For your help, we compiled some steps that you will use to create a well-written dissertation methodology.

1. Explain Your Methodological Approach

It is the first step of writing the dissertation methodology. In this step, you need to explain your methodological approach like qualitative research, quantitative research, or any other.

2. Describe Data Collection Methods

After explaining the methodological approach, you should explain the data collection methods, such as interviews, surveys, etc., that you will use.

3. Describe Data Analysis Methods

Now, discuss how you processed and analyzed the quantitative or qualitative data. However, do not give too much information and the results at this stage.

4. Evaluate and Justify Your Methodological Choices

In this section of the dissertation, you describe why you chose these particular methods. Also, explain why other research methods were not suitable for your research goal and show how this approach contributes new knowledge.

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Literature Based Dissertation Methodology

This type of methodology is also known as the secondary research methodology. The  literature review dissertation  methodology involves 4 steps:

1. Develop your research question(s):  Like any other type of research, you have to develop a research question first. Then specify the general research area in which you research will fall. Finally, aim to fill the gaps in your literature review.

2. Identify a secondary data set:  Look for some more past data that could be useful for your research. For example, you might need an author's permission to use their data.

3. Evaluate a secondary data set:  Address the following questions:

Prepare and analyze secondary data:  You will prepare and analyze the secondary data by:

Following is an example that explains how to write a dissertation methodology of secondary research:

Dissertation Methodology Secondary Research (PDF)

Read the next section for some more examples to understand the dissertation methodology.

Dissertation Methodology Examples

Here are some examples of the dissertation methodology for your ease.

Undergraduate Dissertation Methodology Example (PDF)

Masters Dissertation Methodology Example (PDF)

Qualitative Dissertation Methodology Example (PDF)

Quantitative Dissertation Methodology Example (PDF)

Dissertation Methodology Checklist Sample (PDF)

Sample Dissertation Methodology Template (PDF)

Related:   Dissertation Examples for Different Academic Levels & Fields

What Not to Include in the Dissertation Methodology?

You might get tempted to overlap between literature review and dissertation methodology. You will find yourself moving back and forth and editing between the literature review and methodology sections.

Resist the urge of including the following in your dissertation methodology:

Hopefully, this blog must have helped in writing a great dissertation methodology. However, if you still have any issues in writing a dissertation methodology, you can contact GradSchoolGenius.com and get help from our professional writers.

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Dissertation Methodology

Dissertation Methodology

Dissertation Methodology

Dissertation Methodology

Dissertation Methodology

Dissertation Methodology

Dissertation Methodology

Dissertation Methodology

Dissertation Methodology

Dissertation Methodology

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Writing A Methodology For Your Dissertation | Complete Guide & Steps

What is a methodology.

The methodology is perhaps the most challenging and laborious part of the dissertation . Essentially, the methodology helps in understanding the broad, philosophical approach behind the methods of research you chose to employ in your study. The research methodology elaborates on the ‘how’ part of your research.

This means that your methodology chapter should clearly state whether you chose to use quantitative or qualitative data collection techniques or a mix of both.

Your research methodology should explain the following:

You will be required to provide justifications as to why you preferred a certain method over the others. If you are trying to figure out exactly how to write methodology or the structure of a methodology for a dissertation, this article will point you in the right direction.

Students must be sure of why they chose a certain research method over another. “I figured out” or “In my opinion” statements will not be an acceptable justification. So, you will need to come up with concrete academic reasons for your selection of research methods.

What Are The Standard Contents Of A Research Methodology?

The methodology generally acts as a guideline or plan for exactly how you intend to carry out your research. This is especially true for students who must submit their methodology chapter before carrying out the research.

Your methodology should link back to the literature review and clearly state why you chose certain data collection and analysis methods for your research/dissertation project.

The methodology chapter consists of the following:

For those who are submitting their dissertation as a single paper, their methodology should also touch on any modifications they had to make as their work progressed.

However, it is essential to provide academic justifications for all choices made by the researcher.

How To Choose Your Dissertation Methodology And Research Design?

The theme of your research methodology chapter should be related to your literature review and research question (s).

You can visit your college or university library to find textbooks and articles that provide information about the commonly employed research methods .

An intensive reading of such books can help you devise your research philosophy and choose the appropriate methods. Any limitations or weaknesses of your chosen research approach should also be explained, as well as the strategies to overcome them.

To research well, you should read well! Read as many research articles (from reputed journals) as you can. Seeing how other researchers use methods in their studies and why will help you justify, in the long run, your own research method(s).

Regardless of the chosen research approach, you will find researchers who either support it or don’t. Use the arguments for and against articulated in the literature to clarify why you decided to choose the selected research design and why the research limitations are irrelevant to your research.

How To Structure Your Dissertation Methodology?

The typical structure of the methodology chapter is as follows:

Methods Of Data Collection And Data Analysis

In research jargon, generalisability is termed external validity . It means how generalisable your research findings are to other contexts, places, times, people, etc. External validity is expected to be significantly high, especially in quantitative studies.

According to USC-Research Guides (2017) , a research design’s primary function is to enable the researcher to answer the research questions through evidence effectively. Generally, this section will shed light on how you collected your data.

The researcher will have to justify their choice of data collection methods, such as the one that was reviewed, the use of data tools (interviews, phone surveys, questionnaires, observation, online surveys , etc.) and the like.

Moreover, data sampling choice should also be clearly explained with a focus on how you chose the ethnicity, group, profession and age of the participants.

It is recommended to prepare these questions at the start of your research. You should develop your research problem and questions. This approach can allow the room to change or modify research questions if your data collection methods do not give the desired results.

It’s a good practice to keep referring to your research questions whilst planning or writing the research design section. This will help your reader recall what the research is about; why you have done what you did. Even though this technique is recommended to be applied at the start of every section within a dissertation, it’s especially beneficial in the methodology section.

In short, you will need to make sure that the data you are going to collect relates to the topic you are exploring. The complexity and length of the research design section will vary depending on your academic subject and the scope of your research, but a well-written research design will have the following characteristics:

Philosophical Approach Behind Writing A Methodology

This will discuss your chosen philosophy to strengthen your research and the research model. Commonly employed philosophies in academia are

There are several other research philosophies that you could adopt.

The choice of philosophy will depend on many factors, including your academic subject and the type and complexity of the research study. Regardless of which philosophy is used, you will be required to make different assumptions about the world.

Once you have chosen your research philosophy, the next step will describe your research context to answer all the questions, including when, where, why, how and what of your research.

Essentially, as a researcher, you will be required to decide whether you will be using a qualitative method, a quantitative method or a mix of both.

Did you know?

Using both qualitative and quantitative methods leads to the use of a mixed-methods approach. This approach also goes by another seldom-used name: eclectic approach.

The process of data collection is different for each method. Typically, you would want to decide whether you will adopt the positivist approach, defining your hypothesis and testing it against reality.

If this is the case, you will be required to take the quantitative approach, collecting numerical data at a large scale (from 30 or more respondents) and testing your hypotheses with this data.

Collecting data from at least 30 respondents/participants ensures reliable statistical analysis . This is especially true for quantitative studies. If the data contains less than 30 responses, it won’t be enough to carry out reliable statistical analyses on such data.

The other option for you would be to base your research on a qualitative approach, which will point you in a direction where you will be investigating broader areas by identifying people’s emotions and perceptions of a subject.

With a qualitative approach, you will have to collect responses from respondents and look at them in all their richness to develop theories about the field you are exploring.

Finally, you can also use a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods (which is becoming increasingly popular among researchers these days). This method is beneficial if you are interested in putting quantitative data into a real-world context or reflecting different perspectives on a subject.

Research philosophy in the ‘research onion.’

This section will require you to clearly specify how you gathered the data and briefly discuss the tools you used to analyse it. For example, you may choose to conduct surveys and/or interviews as part of the data collection process.

Similarly, if you used software such as Excel or SPSS to process the data , you will have to justify your software choice. In this section of your methodology chapter , you will also have to explain how you arrived at your findings and how reliable they are.

It is important to note that your readers or supervisor would want to see a correlation between your findings and the hypothesis/research questions you based your study on at the very beginning.

Your supervisor or dissertation research assistant can play a key role in helping you write the methodology chapter according to established research standards. So, keep your supervisor in the loop to get their contributions and recommendations throughout the process.

In this section, you should briefly describe the methods you’ve used to analyse the data you’ve collected.

Qualitative Methods

The qualitative method includes analysing language, images, audio, videos, or any textual data (textual analysis). The following types of methods are used in textual analysis .

Discourse analysis:

Discourse analysis is an essential aspect of studying a language and its uses in day-to-day life.

Content analysis:

It is a method of studying and retrieving meaningful information from documents Thematic analysis:

It’s a method of identifying patterns of themes in the collected information, such as face-to-face interviews, texts, and transcripts.

Example: After collecting the data, it was checked thoroughly to find the missing information. The interviews were transcribed, and textual analysis was conducted. The repetitions of the text, types of colours displayed, and the tone of the speakers was measured.

Quantitative Methods

Quantitative data analysis is used for analysing numerical data. Include the following points:

Ethical Considerations, Reliability And Limitations Of A Dissertation Methodology

Other important sections of your methodology are:

Ethical Considerations

Always consider how your research will influence other individuals who are beyond the scope of the study. This is especially true for human subjects. As a researcher, you are always expected to make sure that your research and ideas do not harm anyone in any way.Discussion concerning data protection, data handling and data confidentiality will also be included in this brief segment.

Even though there is no established rule to include ethical considerations and limitations within the methodology section, it’s generally recommended to include it in this section, as it makes more sense than including it, say, after the discussions section or within the conclusion.

This is mainly because limitations almost always occur in the methodology stage of research. And ethical considerations need to be taken while sampling, an important aspect of the research methodology.

Here are some examples of ethical issues that you should be mindful of

All such issues should be categorically addressed and a justification provided for your chosen research methodology by highlighting the study’s benefits.


Is your research study and findings reliable for other researchers in your field of work? To establish yourself as a reliable researcher, your study should be both authentic and reliable.

Reliability means the extent to which your research can yield similar results if it was replicated in another setting, at a different time, or under different circumstances. If replication occurs and different findings come to light, your (original) research would be deemed unreliable.


Good dissertation writers will always acknowledge the limitations of their research study. Limitations in data sampling can decrease your results’ reliability.

A classic example of research limitation is collecting responses from people of a certain age group when you could have targeted a more representative cross-section of the population.Be humble and admit to your own study’s limitations. Doing so makes your referees, editors, supervisors, readers and anyone else involved in the research enterprise aware that you were also aware of the things that limited your study.

Limitations are NOT the same as implications. Sometimes, the two can be confused. Limitations lead to implications, that is, due to a certain factor being absent in the study (limitation) for instance, future research could be carried out in a setting where that factor is present (implication).

Dissertation Methodology Example

At this point, you might have a basic understanding of how to craft a well-written, organised, accurate methodology section for your dissertation. An example might help bring all the aforementioned points home. Here is a dissertation methodology example in pdf to better understand how to write methodology for a dissertation.

Sample Dissertation Methodology

Types of Methodologies

A scientific or lab-based study.

A methodology section for a scientific study will need to elaborate on reproducibility and meticulousness more than anything else. If your methods have obvious flaws, the readers are not going to be impressed. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your chosen research methodology is vigorous in nature.

Any information related to the procedure, setup and equipment should be clearly stated so other researchers in your field of study can work with the same method in the future if needed.

Variables that are likely to falsify your data must be taken into the equation to avoid ambiguities. It is recommended to present a comprehensive strategy to deal with these variables when gathering and analysing the data and drawing conclusions.

Statistical models employed as part of your scientific study will have to be justified, and so your methodology should include details of those statistical models.

Another scholar in the future might use any aspect of your methodology as the starting point for their research. For example, they might base their research on your methodology but analyse the data using other statistical models. Hence, this is something you should be mindful of.

Behavioural Or Social Sciences-Based Dissertation

Like scientific or lab-based research, a behavioural and social sciences methodology needs to be built along the same lines. The chosen methodology should demonstrate reproducibility and firmness so other scholars can use your whole dissertation methodology or a part of it based on their research needs.

But there are additional issues that the researcher must take into consideration when working with human subjects. As a starting point, you will need to decide whether your analysis will be based on qualitative data, quantitative data or mixed-method of research, where qualitative data is used to provide contextual background to quantitative data or the other way around.

Here are some questions for you to consider:

While you will be required to demonstrate that you have taken care of the above questions, it is equally important to make sure that you address your research study’s ethical issues side-by-side.

Of course, the first step in that regard will be to obtain formal approval for your research design from the ethics bodies (such as IRBs – institutional review boards), but still, there will be many more issues that could trigger a sense of grief and discomfort among some of the readers.

Humanities And Arts Dissertation Project

The rigour and dependability of the methods of research employed remain undisputed and unquestionable for humanities and arts-based dissertations as well. However, the way you convince your readers of your dissertation’s thoroughness is slightly different.

Unlike social science dissertation or a scientific study, the methodology of dissertations in arts and humanities subjects needs to be directly linked to the literature review regardless of how innovative your dissertation’s topic might be.

For example, you could demonstrate the relationship between A and B to discover a new theoretical background or use existing theories in a new framework.

The methodology section of humanities and arts-based dissertations is less complex, so there might be no need to justify it in detail. Students can achieve a seamless transition from the literature review to the analysis section.

However, like with every other type of research methodology, it is important to provide a detailed justification of your chosen methodology and relate it to the research problem.

Failing to do so could leave some readers unconvinced of your theoretical foundations’ suitability, which could potentially jeopardise your whole research.

Make sure that you are paying attention to and giving enough information about the social and historical background of the theoretical frameworks your research methodology is based on. This is especially important if there is an essential difference of opinion between your research and the research done on the subject in the past.

A justification of why opposing schools of thought disagree and why you still went ahead to use aspects of these schools of thought in your methodology should be clearly presented for the readers to understand how they would support your readings.

A Dissertation In Creative Arts

Some degree programs in the arts allow students to undertake a portfolio of artworks or creative writing rather than produce an extended dissertation research project.However, in practice, your creative research will be required to be submitted along with a comprehensive evaluative paper, including background information and an explanation that hypothesises your innovative exercise.

While this might seem like an easy thing to do, critical evaluation of someone’s work is highly complex and notorious in nature. This further reinforces the argument of developing a rigorous methodology and adhering to it.

As a scholar, you will be expected to showcase the ability to critically analyse your methodology and show that you are capable of critically evaluating your own creative work.Such an approach will help you justify your method of creating the work, which will give the readers the impression that your research is grounded in theory.

What To Avoid In Methodology?

All chapters of a dissertation paper are interconnected. This means that there will undoubtedly be some information that would overlap between the different chapters of the dissertation .

For example, some of the text material may seem appropriate to both the literature review and methodology sections; you might even end up moving information from pillar to post between different chapters as you edit and improve your dissertation .

However, make sure that you are not making the following a part of your dissertation methodology, even though it may seem appropriate to fit them in there:

A Long Review Of Methods Employed By Previous Researchers

It might seem relevant to include details of the models your dissertation methodology is based on. However, a detailed review of models and precedents used by other scholars and theorists will better fit in the literature review chapter, which you can link back to. This will help the readers understand why you decided to go in favour of or against a certain tactic.

Unnecessary Details Readers Might Not Be Interested In

There is absolutely no need to provide extensive details of things like lab equipment and experiment procedures. Having such information in the methodology chapter would discourage some readers who might not be interested in your equipment, setup, lab environment, etc.

Your aim as the author of the document will be to retain the readers’ interest and make the methodology chapter as readable as possible.

While it is important to get all the information relating to how others can reproduce your experiment, it is equally important to ensure your methodology section isn’t unnecessarily long. Again, additional information is better to be placed within the appendices chapter.

The methodology is not the section to provide raw data, even if you are only discussing the data collection process. All such information should be moved to the appendices section.

Even if you feel some finding or numerical data is crucial to be presented within the methodology section, you can, at most, make brief comments about such data. Its discussion, however, is only allowed in the discussions section .

What Makes Your Methodology Stand Out?

The factors which can determine if your dissertation methodology is ‘great’ depend on many factors, including the level of study you are currently enrolled in.

Undergraduate dissertations are, of course, less complex and less demanding. At most universities in the UK, undergraduate students are required to exhibit the ability to conduct thorough research as they engage for the first time with theoretical and conceptual frameworks in their chosen research area.

As an undergraduate student, you will be expected to showcase the capacity to reproduce what you have learnt from theorists in your academic subject, transform your leanings into a methodology that would help you address the research problem, and test the research hypothesis, as mentioned in the introduction chapter.

A great undergraduate-level dissertation will incorporate different schools of thought and make a valuable contribution to existing knowledge. However, in general, undergraduate-level dissertations’ focus should be to show thorough desk-based and independent research skills.

Postgraduate dissertation papers are much more compound and challenging because they are expected to make a substantial contribution to existing knowledge.

Depending on the academic institute, some postgraduate students are even required to develop a project published by leading academic journals as an approval of their research skills.

It is important to recognise the importance of a postgraduate dissertation towards building your professional career, especially if your work is considered impactful in your area of study and receives citations from multiple scholars, enhancing your reputation in academic communities.

Even if some academics cite your literature review and conclusion in their own work, it is a well-known fact that your methodology framework will result in many more citations regardless of your academic subject.

Other scholars and researchers in your area of study are likely to give much more value to a well-crafted methodology, especially one they can use as the starting point for their own research.

Of course, they can alter, refine and enhance your methodology in one way or another. They can even apply your methodological framework to a new data set or apply it in a completely new situation that is irrelevant to your work.

Finally, postgraduate dissertations are expected to be highly convincing and demonstrate in-depth engagement. They should be reproducible and show rigour, so the findings and conclusions can be regarded as authentic and reliable among scientific and academic communities.

The methodology is the door to success when it comes to dissertation projects. An original methodology that takes into consideration all aspects of research is likely to have an impact on the field of study.

As a postgraduate student, you should ask yourself, Is my dissertation methodology reproducible and transferable? Producing a methodology that others can reproduce in the future is as important as answering research questions .

The methodology chapter can either make or break the grade of your research/dissertation paper. It’s one of the research elements that leave a memorable impression on your readers. So, it would help if you took your time when it comes to choosing the right design and philosophical approach for your research.

Always use authentic academic sources and discuss your plans in detail with your supervisor if you believe your research design or approach has flaws in it.

Did this article help you learn how to write a dissertation methodology and how to structure a dissertation methodology? Let us know in your comments.

Are you struggling to create a thorough and well-rounded dissertation methodology?

Avail of our dissertation writing services ! At Research Prospect, we have Master’s and PhD qualified dissertation writers for all academic subjects, so you can be confident that the writer we will assign to your dissertation order will be an expert in your field of study. They can help you with your whole dissertation or just a part of it. You decide how much or how little help you need.

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How To Write The Methodology Chapter

The what, why & how explained simply (with examples).

By: Jenna Crossley (PhD). Reviewed By: Dr. Eunice Rautenbach | September 2021

So, you’ve pinned down your research topic and undertaken a review of the literature – now it’s time to write up the methodology section of your dissertation, thesis or research paper. But what exactly is the methodology chapter all about – and how do you go about writing one? In this post, we’ll unpack the topic, step by step .

Overview: The Methodology Chapter

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What (exactly) is the methodology chapter?

Your methodology chapter is where you highlight the philosophical underpinnings of your research and outline the specific research design choices you’ve made. The point of the methodology chapter is to tell the reader exactly how you designed your research and to justify your design choices .

The methodology chapter should comprehensively describe and justify all the research design choices you made. For example, the type of research you conducted (e.g. qualitative or quantitative ), how you collected your data, how you analysed your data and who or where you collected data from (sampling). We’ll explain all the key design choices later in this post .

Why is the methodology chapter important?

The methodology chapter is important for two reasons:

Firstly, it demonstrates your understanding of research design theory, which is what earns you marks. A flawed research design or methodology would mean flawed results, so this chapter is vital as it allows you to show the marker that you know what you’re doing and that your results are credible .

Secondly, the methodology chapter is what helps to make your study replicable – in other words, it allows other researchers to undertake your study using the same design, and compare their findings to yours. This is very important within academic research, as each study builds on previous studies.

The methodology chapter is also important because it allows you to identify and discuss any methodological issues or problems you encountered (i.e. limitations), and to explain how you mitigated the impacts of these. Every research project has its limitations and shortcomings , so it’s important to acknowledge these openly and highlight your study’s value despite its limitations. Again, this demonstrates your understanding of research design, which will earn you marks. We’ll discuss limitations in more detail later in this post.

Need a helping hand?

methodology section of a dissertation

How to write up the methodology chapter

First off, it’s worth noting that the exact structure and contents of the methodology chapter will vary depending on the field of research (for example, humanities vs chemistry vs engineering) as well as the university . So, it’s always a good idea to check the guidelines provided by your institution for clarity and, if possible, review past dissertations and theses from your university. Here we’re going to discuss a generic structure for a methodology chapter typically found in the sciences, especially the social sciences (e.g. psychology).

Before you start writing, we always recommend that you draw up a rough outline , so that you have a clear direction to head in. Don’t just start writing without knowing what will go where. If you do, you’ll most likely end up with a disjointed, poorly flowing narrative . As a result, you’ll waste a lot of time rewriting in an attempt to try to stitch all the pieces together. 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 introduction, you should remind your readers what the focus of your study is, especially the research aims . As we’ve discussed many times on this blog, your research design needs to align with your research aims, objectives and research questions , so it’s useful to frontload this to remind the reader (and yourself!) what you’re trying to achieve with your design and methodology.

In this section, you can also briefly mention how you’ll structure the chapter. This will help orient the reader and provide a bit of a roadmap so that they know what to expect.

The intro provides a roadmap to your methodology chapter

Section 2 – The Research Design

The next section of your methodology chapter should present your research design to the reader. In this section, you need to detail and justify all the key design choices in a logical, intuitive fashion. This is the heart of your methodology chapter, so you need to get specific – don’t hold back on the details here. This is not one of those “less is more” situations.

Let’s have a look at the most common design choices you’ll need to cover.

Design Choice #1 – Research Philosophy

Research philosophy refers to the underlying beliefs (i.e. world view) regarding how data about a phenomenon should be gathered , analysed and used . Your research philosophy  will serve as the core of your study and underpin all of the other research design choices, so it’s critically important that you understand which philosophy you’ll adopt and why you made that choice. If you’re not clear on this, take the time to  get clarity before you make any research design choices.

While several research philosophies exist, two commonly adopted ones are positivism and interpretivism .

Positivism is commonly the underlying research philosophy in quantitative studies. It states that the researcher can observe reality objectively and that there is only one reality, which exists independent of the observer.

Contrasted with this, interpretivism , which is often the underlying research philosophy in qualitative studies, assumes that the researcher performs a role in observing the world around them and that reality is unique to each observer . In other words, reality is observed subjectively .

These are just two philosophies (there are many) , but they demonstrate significantly different approaches to research and have a significant impact on all the research design choices. Therefore, it’s vital that you clearly outline and justify your research philosophy at the beginning of your methodology chapter, as it sets the scene for everything that follows.

The research philosophy is at the core of the methodology chapter

Design Choice #2 – Research Type

The next thing you would typically discuss in your methodology section is the research type. The starting point for this is to indicate whether the research you conducted is inductive or deductive . With inductive research, theory is generated from the ground up (i.e. from the collected data), and therefore these studies tend to be exploratory in terms of approach. Deductive research, on the other hand, starts with established theory and builds onto it with collected data, and therefore these studies tend to be confirmatory in approach.

Related to this, you’ll need to indicate whether your study adopts a qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods methodology. As we’ve mentioned, there’s a strong link between this choice and your research philosophy, so make sure that your choices are tightly aligned . Again, when you write this section up, remember to clearly justify your choices, as they form the foundation of your study.

Design Choice #3 – Research Strategy

Next, you’ll need to discuss your research strategy (i.e., your research “action plan”). This research design choice refers to how you conduct your research based on the aims of your study.

Several research strategies exist, including experiments , case studies , ethnography , grounded theory, action research , and phenomenology . Let’s look at two these, experimental and ethnographic, to see how they contrast.

Experimental research makes use of the scientific method , where one group is the control group (in which no variables are manipulated ) and another is the experimental group (in which a variable is manipulated). This type of research is undertaken under strict conditions in controlled, artificial environments – for example, within a laboratory. By having firm control over the environment, experimental research often allows the researcher to establish causation between variables. Therefore, it can be a good choice if you have research aims that involve identifying or measuring cause and effect.

Ethnographic research , on the other hand, involves observing and capturing the experiences and perceptions of participants in their natural environment (for example, at home or in the office). In other words, in an uncontrolled environment.  Naturally this means that this research strategy would be far less suitable if your research aims involve identifying causation, but it would be very valuable if you’re looking to explore and examine a group culture, for example.

As you can see, the right research strategy will depend largely on your research aims and research questions – in other words, what you’re trying to figure out. Therefore, as with every other design choice, it’s essential to justify why you chose the research strategy you did.

Justify every design/methodology choice

Design Choice #4 – Time Horizon

The next thing you need to cover in your methodology chapter is the time horizon. There are two options here – cross-sectional and longitudinal . In other words, whether the data for your study were all collected at one point in time (i.e. cross-sectional) or at multiple points in time (i.e. longitudinal).

The choice you make here depends again on your research aims, objectives and research questions. If, for example, you aim to assess how a specific group of people’s perspectives regarding a topic change over time , you’d likely adopt a longitudinal time horizon.

Another important factor is simply the practical constraints – in other words, whether you have the time necessary to adopt a longitudinal approach (which could involve collecting data over multiple years). Oftentimes, the time pressures of your degree program will force your hand into adopting a cross-sectional time horizon, so keep this in mind.

Design Choice #5 – Sampling Strategy

Next, you’ll need to discuss your chosen sampling strategy . There are two main categories of sampling, probability and non-probability sampling. Probability sampling involves a random (and therefore representative) selection of participants from a population, whereas non-probability sampling entails selecting participants in a non-randomized (and therefore non-representative) manner. For example, selecting participants based on ease of access (this is called a convenience sample).

The right sampling approach depends largely on what you’re trying to achieve in your study. Specifically, whether you trying to develop findings that are generalisable to a population or not. Practicalities and resource constraints also play a large role here, as it can oftentimes be challenging to gain access to a truly random sample.

Design Choice #6 – Data Collection Method

Next up, you need to explain how exactly you’ll go about collecting the necessary data for your study. Your data collection method (or methods) will depend on the type of data that you plan to collect – in other words, qualitative or quantitative data.

Typically, quantitative research relies on surveys , data generated by lab equipment, analytics software or existing datasets. Qualitative research, on the other hand, often makes use of collection methods such as interviews , focus groups , participant observations, and ethnography.

So, as you can see, there is a tight link between this section and the design choices you outlined in earlier sections. Strong alignment between these sections is therefore very important.

Design Choice #7 – Data Analysis Methods/Techniques

The final major design choice that you need to address is that of analysis techniques . In other words, once you’ve collected your data, how will you go about analysing it. Here it’s important to be specific about your analysis methods and/or techniques – don’t leave any room for interpretation. Also, as with all choices in this chapter, you need to justify each choice you make.

What exactly you discuss here will depend largely on the type of study you’re conducting (i.e., qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods). For qualitative studies, common analysis methods include content analysis , thematic analysis and discourse analysis . For quantitative studies, you’ll almost always make use of descriptive statistics, and in many cases, you’ll also use inferential statistical techniques (e.g. correlation and regression analysis).

In this section, it’s also important to discuss how you prepared your data for analysis, and what software you used (if any). For example, quantitative data will often require some initial preparation such as removing duplicates or incomplete responses . As always, remember to state both what you did and why you did it.

Time to analyse

Section 3 – The Methodological Limitations

With the key research design choices outlined and justified, the next step is to discuss the limitations of your design. No research design or methodology is perfect – there will always be trade-offs between the “ideal” design and what’s practical and viable, given your constraints. Therefore, this section of your methodology chapter is where you’ll discuss the trade-offs you had to make, and why these were justified given the context.

Methodological limitations can vary greatly from study to study, ranging from common issues such as time and budget constraints to issues of sample or selection bias . For example, you may find that you didn’t manage to draw in enough respondents to achieve the desired sample size (and therefore, statistically significant results), or your sample may be skewed heavily towards a certain demographic, thereby negatively impacting representativeness .

In this section, it’s important to be critical of the shortcomings of your study. There’s no use trying to hide them (your marker will be aware of them regardless). By being critical, you’ll demonstrate to your marker that you have a strong understanding of research design, so don’t be shy here. At the same time, don’t beat your study to death . State the limitations, why these were justified, how you mitigated their impacts to the best degree possible, and how your study still provides value despite these limitations.

Section 4 – Concluding Summary

Finally, it’s time to wrap up the methodology chapter with a brief concluding summary. In this section, you’ll want to concisely summarise what you’ve presented in the chapter. Here, it can be useful to use a figure to summarise the key design decisions, especially if your university recommends using a specific model (for example, Saunders’ Research Onion ).

Importantly, this section needs to be brief – a paragraph or two maximum (it’s a summary, after all). Also, make sure that when you write up your concluding summary, you include only what you’ve already discussed in your chapter; don’t add any new information.

Keep it simple

Wrapping up

And there you have it – the methodology chapter in a nutshell. As we’ve mentioned, the exact contents and structure of this chapter can vary between universities , so be sure to check in with your institution before you start writing. If possible, try to find dissertations or theses from former students of your specific degree program – this will give you a strong indication of the expectations and norms when it comes to the methodology chapter (and all the other chapters!).

Also, remember the golden rule of the methodology chapter – justify every choice ! Make sure that you clearly explain the “why” for every “what”, and reference credible methodology textbooks or academic sources to back up your justifications.

If you need a helping hand with your research methodology (or any other section of your dissertation or thesis), be sure to check out our private coaching service , where we hold your hand through every step of the research journey. Until next time, good luck!

methodology section of a dissertation

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methodology section of a dissertation

Writing the Research Methodology Section of Your Thesis

methodology section of a dissertation

This article explains the meaning of research methodology and the purpose and importance of writing a research methodology section or chapter for your thesis paper . It discusses what to include and not include in a research methodology section, the different approaches to research methodology that can be used, and the steps involved in writing a robust research methodology section .

What is a thesis research methodology?

A thesis research methodology explains the type of research performed , justifies the methods that you chose   by linking back to the literature review , and describes the data collection and analysis procedures. It is included in your thesis after the Introduction section . Most importantly, this is the section where the readers of your study evaluate its validity and reliability .

What should the research methodology section in your thesis include?

What should not be included in the research methodology section of your thesis?

Types of methodological approaches

The choice of which methodological approach to use depends on your field of research and your  thesis question . Your methodology should establish a clear relationship with your thesis question and must also be supported by your  literature review . Types of methodological approaches include  quantitative ,  qualitative , or  mixed methods . 

Quantitative studies generate data in the form of numbers   to count, classify, measure, or identify relationships or patterns. Information may be collected by performing experiments and tests, conducting surveys, or using existing data. The data are analyzed using  statistical tests and presented as charts or graphs. Quantitative data are typically used in the Sciences domain.

For example, analyzing the effect of a change, such as alterations in electricity consumption by municipalities after installing LED streetlights.

The raw data will need to be prepared for  statistical analysis by identifying variables and checking for missing data and outliers. Details of the statistical software program used (name of the package, version number, and supplier name and location) must also be mentioned.

Qualitative studies  gather non-numerical data using, for example, observations, focus groups, and in-depth interviews.   Open-ended questions are often posed. This yields rich, detailed, and descriptive results. Qualitative studies are usually   subjective and are helpful for investigating social and cultural phenomena, which are difficult to quantify. Qualitative studies are typically used in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) domain.

For example, determining customer perceptions on the extension of a range of baking utensils to include silicone muffin trays.

The raw data will need to be prepared for analysis by coding and categorizing ideas and themes to interpret the meaning behind the responses given.

Mixed methods use a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches to present multiple findings about a single phenomenon. T his enables triangulation: verification of the data from two or more sources.

Data collection

Explain the rationale behind the sampling procedure you have chosen. This could involve probability sampling (a random sample from the study population) or non-probability sampling (does not use a random sample).

For quantitative studies , describe the sampling procedure and whether statistical tests were used to determine the  sample size .

Following our example of analyzing the changes in electricity consumption by municipalities after installing LED streetlights, you will need to determine which municipal areas will be sampled and how the information will be gathered (e.g., a physical survey of the streetlights or reviewing purchase orders).

For qualitative research , describe how the participants were chosen and how the data is going to be collected.

Following our example about determining customer perceptions on the extension of a range of baking utensils to include silicone muffin trays, you will need to decide the criteria for inclusion as a study participant (e.g., women aged 20–70 years, bakeries, and bakery supply shops) and how the information will be collected (e.g., interviews, focus groups, online or in-person questionnaires, or video recordings) .

Data analysis

For quantitative research , describe what tests you plan to perform and why you have chosen them. Popular data analysis methods in quantitative research  include:

For qualitative research , describe how the data is going to be analyzed and justify your choice. Popular data analysis methods in qualitative research  include:

Evaluate and justify your methodological choices

You need to convince the reader that you have made the correct methodological choices. Once again, this ties back to your  thesis question and  literature review . Write using a persuasive tone, and use  rhetoric to convince the reader of the quality, reliability, and validity of your research.

Ethical considerations

Tips for writing a robust thesis research methodology

A thesis methodology justifies why you have chosen a specific approach to address your thesis question. It explains how you will collect the data and analyze it. Above all, it allows the readers of your study to evaluate its validity and reliability.

A thesis is the most crucial document that you will write during your academic studies. For professional thesis editing and thesis proofreading services, visit  Enago Thesis Editing for more information.

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Introduce your methodological approach , for example, quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods.

Explain why your chosen approach is relevant to the overall research design and how it links with your  thesis question.

Justify your chosen method and why it is more appropriate than others.

Provide background information on methods that may be unfamiliar to readers of your thesis.

Introduce the tools that you will use for data collection , and explain how you plan to use them (e.g., surveys, interviews, experiments, or existing data).

Explain how you will analyze your results. The type of analysis used depends on the methods you chose. For example, exploring theoretical perspectives to support your explanation of observed behaviors in a qualitative study or using statistical analyses in a quantitative study.

Mention any research limitations. All studies are expected to have limitations, such as the sample size, data collection method, or equipment. Discussing the limitations justifies your choice of methodology despite the risks. It also explains under which conditions the results should be interpreted and shows that you have taken a holistic approach to your study.

What is the difference between methodology and methods? +

Methodology  refers to the overall rationale and strategy of your thesis project. It involves studying the theories or principles behind the methods used in your field so that you can explain why you chose a particular method for your research approach.  Methods , on the other hand, refer to how the data were collected and analyzed (e.g., experiments, surveys, observations, interviews, and statistical tests).

What is the difference between reliability and validity? +

Reliability refers to whether a measurement is consistent (i.e., the results can be reproduced under the same conditions).  Validity refers to whether a measurement is accurate (i.e., the results represent what was supposed to be measured). For example, when investigating linguistic and cultural guidelines for administration of the Preschool Language Scales, Fifth Edition (PLS5) in Arab-American preschool children, the normative sample curves should show the same distribution as a monolingual population, which would indicate that the test is valid. The test would be considered reliable if the results obtained were consistent across different sampling sites.

What tense is used to write the methods section? +

The methods section is written in the past tense because it describes what was done.

What software programs are recommended for statistical analysis? +

Recommended programs include Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) ,  Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) ,  JMP ,  R software,  MATLAB , Microsoft Excel,  GraphPad Prism , and  Minitab .

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How to Write an APA Methods Section | With Examples

Published on February 5, 2021 by Pritha Bhandari . Revised on October 17, 2022.

The methods section of an APA style paper is where you report in detail how you performed your study. Research papers in the social and natural sciences often follow APA style. This article focuses on reporting quantitative research methods .

In your APA methods section, you should report enough information to understand and replicate your study, including detailed information on the sample , measures, and procedures used.

Table of contents

Structuring an apa methods section.


Example of an APA methods section

Frequently asked questions about writing an apa methods section.

The main heading of “Methods” should be centered, boldfaced, and capitalized. Subheadings within this section are left-aligned, boldfaced, and in title case. You can also add lower level headings within these subsections, as long as they follow APA heading styles .

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. For example, if you didn’t need to consider outlier removal or ways of assigning participants to different conditions, you don’t have to report these steps.

The APA also provides specific reporting guidelines for different types of research design. These tell you exactly what you need to report for longitudinal designs , replication studies, experimental designs , and so on. If your study uses a combination design, consult APA guidelines for mixed methods studies.

Detailed descriptions of procedures that don’t fit into your main text can be placed in supplemental materials (for example, the exact instructions and tasks given to participants, the full analytical strategy including software code, or additional figures and tables).

Begin the methods section by reporting sample characteristics, sampling procedures, and the sample size.

Participant or subject characteristics

When discussing people who participate in research, descriptive terms like “participants,” “subjects” and “respondents” can be used. For non-human animal research, “subjects” is more appropriate.

Specify all relevant demographic characteristics of your participants. This may include their age, sex, ethnic or racial group, gender identity, education level, and socioeconomic status. Depending on your study topic, other characteristics like educational or immigration status or language preference may also be relevant.

Be sure to report these characteristics as precisely as possible. This helps the reader understand how far your results may be generalized to other people.

The APA guidelines emphasize writing about participants using bias-free language , so it’s necessary to use inclusive and appropriate terms.

Sampling procedures

Outline how the participants were selected and all inclusion and exclusion criteria applied. Appropriately identify the sampling procedure used. For example, you should only label a sample as random  if you had access to every member of the relevant population.

Of all the people invited to participate in your study, note the percentage that actually did (if you have this data). Additionally, report whether participants were self-selected, either by themselves or by their institutions (e.g., schools may submit student data for research purposes).

Identify any compensation (e.g., course credits or money) that was provided to participants, and mention any institutional review board approvals and ethical standards followed.

Sample size and power

Detail the sample size (per condition) and statistical power that you hoped to achieve, as well as any analyses you performed to determine these numbers.

It’s important to show that your study had enough statistical power to find effects if there were any to be found.

Additionally, state whether your final sample differed from the intended sample. Your interpretations of the study outcomes should be based only on your final sample rather than your intended sample.

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methodology section of a dissertation

Write up the tools and techniques that you used to measure relevant variables. Be as thorough as possible for a complete picture of your techniques.

Primary and secondary measures

Define the primary and secondary outcome measures that will help you answer your primary and secondary research questions.

Specify all instruments used in gathering these measurements and the construct that they measure. These instruments may include hardware, software, or tests, scales, and inventories.

Make sure to report the settings of (e.g., screen resolution) any specialized apparatus used.

For each instrument used, report measures of the following:

Giving an example item or two for tests, questionnaires , and interviews is also helpful.

Describe any covariates—these are any additional variables that may explain or predict the outcomes.

Quality of measurements

Review all methods you used to assure the quality of your measurements.

These may include:

For data that’s subjectively coded (for example, classifying open-ended responses), report interrater reliability scores. This tells the reader how similarly each response was rated by multiple raters.

Report all of the procedures applied for administering the study, processing the data, and for planned data analyses.

Data collection methods and research design

Data collection methods refers to the general mode of the instruments: surveys, interviews, observations, focus groups, neuroimaging, cognitive tests, and so on. Summarize exactly how you collected the necessary data.

Describe all procedures you applied in administering surveys, tests, physical recordings, or imaging devices, with enough detail so that someone else can replicate your techniques. If your procedures are very complicated and require long descriptions (e.g., in neuroimaging studies), place these details in supplementary materials.

To report research design, note your overall framework for data collection and analysis. State whether you used an experimental, quasi-experimental, descriptive (observational), correlational, and/or longitudinal design. Also note whether a between-subjects or a within-subjects design was used.

For multi-group studies, report the following design and procedural details as well:

Describe whether any masking was used to hide the condition assignment (e.g., placebo or medication condition) from participants or research administrators. Using masking in a multi-group study ensures internal validity by reducing research bias . Explain how this masking was applied and whether its effectiveness was assessed.

Participants were randomly assigned to a control or experimental condition. The survey was administered using Qualtrics (https://www.qualtrics.com). To begin, all participants were given the AAI and a demographics questionnaire to complete, followed by an unrelated filler task. In the control condition , participants completed a short general knowledge test immediately after the filler task. In the experimental condition, participants were asked to visualize themselves taking the test for 3 minutes before they actually did. For more details on the exact instructions and tasks given, see supplementary materials.

Data diagnostics

Outline all steps taken to scrutinize or process the data after collection.

This includes the following:

To ensure high validity, you should provide enough detail for your reader to understand how and why you processed or transformed your raw data in these specific ways.

Analytic strategies

The methods section is also where you describe your statistical analysis procedures, but not their outcomes. Their outcomes are reported in the results section.

These procedures should be stated for all primary, secondary, and exploratory hypotheses. While primary and secondary hypotheses are based on a theoretical framework or past studies, exploratory hypotheses are guided by the data you’ve just collected.

This annotated example reports methods for a descriptive correlational survey on the relationship between religiosity and trust in science in the US. Hover over each part for explanation of what is included.

The sample included 879 adults aged between 18 and 28. More than half of the participants were women (56%), and all participants had completed at least 12 years of education. Ethics approval was obtained from the university board before recruitment began. Participants were recruited online through Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk; www.mturk.com). We selected for a geographically diverse sample within the Midwest of the US through an initial screening survey. Participants were paid USD $5 upon completion of the study.

A sample size of at least 783 was deemed necessary for detecting a correlation coefficient of ±.1, with a power level of 80% and a significance level of .05, using a sample size calculator (www.sample-size.net/correlation-sample-size/).

The primary outcome measures were the levels of religiosity and trust in science. Religiosity refers to involvement and belief in religious traditions, while trust in science represents confidence in scientists and scientific research outcomes. The secondary outcome measures were gender and parental education levels of participants and whether these characteristics predicted religiosity levels.


Religiosity was measured using the Centrality of Religiosity scale (Huber, 2003). The Likert scale is made up of 15 questions with five subscales of ideology, experience, intellect, public practice, and private practice. An example item is “How often do you experience situations in which you have the feeling that God or something divine intervenes in your life?” Participants were asked to indicate frequency of occurrence by selecting a response ranging from 1 (very often) to 5 (never). The internal consistency of the instrument is .83 (Huber & Huber, 2012).

Trust in Science

Trust in science was assessed using the General Trust in Science index (McCright, Dentzman, Charters & Dietz, 2013). Four Likert scale items were assessed on a scale from 1 (completely distrust) to 5 (completely trust). An example question asks “How much do you distrust or trust scientists to create knowledge that is unbiased and accurate?” Internal consistency was .8.

Potential participants were invited to participate in the survey online using Qualtrics (www.qualtrics.com). The survey consisted of multiple choice questions regarding demographic characteristics, the Centrality of Religiosity scale, an unrelated filler anagram task, and finally the General Trust in Science index. The filler task was included to avoid priming or demand characteristics, and an attention check was embedded within the religiosity scale. For full instructions and details of tasks, see supplementary materials.

For this correlational study , we assessed our primary hypothesis of a relationship between religiosity and trust in science using Pearson moment correlation coefficient. The statistical significance of the correlation coefficient was assessed using a t test. To test our secondary hypothesis of parental education levels and gender as predictors of religiosity, multiple linear regression analysis was used.

In your APA methods section , you should report detailed information on the participants, materials, and procedures used.

You should report methods using the past tense , even if you haven’t completed your study at the time of writing. That’s because the methods section is intended to describe completed actions or research.

In a scientific paper, the methodology always comes after the introduction and before the results , discussion and conclusion . The same basic structure also applies to a thesis, dissertation , or research proposal .

Depending on the length and type of document, you might also include a literature review or theoretical framework before the methodology.

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How to Write a Great Dissertation Methodology

dissertation methodology

A dissertation methodology is a core part of a dissertation that explains the main philosophical underpinning to the selected research methods, including whether you used quantitative or qualitative methods or both, and why. The methodology section (chapter) comes immediately after the literature review in a dissertation, and you should ensure it flows organically from it.

When writing the methodology in a thesis, you are expected to have done the study. Therefore, you are reporting what you did and MUST be done in the past tense. Here are the things to include in a dissertation methodology.

Now that you know what is methodology in a dissertation and what to include, the next step is getting the right structure. By the time you get to the methodology, you will have defined the dissertation research questions, and checked how other scholars arrived at their conclusions. So, here is a dissertation methodology layout to help you craft a winning methodology.

Start by Explaining Your Methodology of Study

At the start of the study, you need to define the overall approach of the dissertation. Here, you need to revisit the research questions that you highlighted at the beginning of the dissertation. Also, indicate the type of data that was required to answer the questions.

When doing a quantitative study, the aim might be to generate generalizable information about the leading causes of a specific problem. In the study, you need to have a clear representative sample as well as controlled variables that can be replicated in other studies.

In a qualitative study, a researcher might target to generate a real-world understanding of the social structures and behaviors of a specific group of people. But because qualitative studies are less controlled, it is important to be extra careful, ensuring to comprehend how perceptions and participation affect the results.

Example in a Dissertation Methodology

The report utilizes a quantitative research methodology to explore the research questions because it allows the researcher to do an in-depth exploration of the new distribution patterns in cases of obesity in children.

Describe the Methods You Used for Data Collection

Once you have introduced the approach of the methodology, go to the next step of providing full details of the methods that you employed. Here, you provide the tools, materials, and procedures that were used when collecting data.

Quantitative Methods

Some of the common methods you can use when doing a quantitative dissertation methodology include:

Surveys: With surveys, you should describe where, when, and how the survey was done. Experiments: Provide full details of the techniques, procedures and tools that were used. Existing data: Here, you explain the process you used to gather data and the materials used in your analysis.

Qualitative Methods

If your methodology of the study is qualitative, here are the methods to consider:

Interviews: You describe how, when, and where interviews were done. Observations: Again, you describe when, where and who did the observations. Current data: Here, you should demonstrate how the selected materials were selected for analysis.

Dissertation Methodology Example: Qualitative Method

To get a better insight into the possibility of enhancing products range, we used structured interviews administered to 20 returning customers of Business A. A returning customer is a person who is a repeat client in Business A. We used the survey to identify the people who were between the ages of 22 years and 50 years. Interviews were done in the general manager’s boardroom and took 15 minutes each. Answers were recorded by taking notes and filming. Five respondents opted not to be filed.

Describe the Method Used for Analysis

The next step is showing how you processed and analyzed the data. Here, you should ensure to provide all the information, but be as concise as possible.

Methodology Section Example: Analysis Method Description

After the interviews, the information was transcribed, and additional thematic analysis is done. This included coding the data before identifying the main themes and reviewing them. Further, every theme was examined to gain insights into the participants’ motivations.

Justify Your Methodology

Finally, you need to demonstrate why you selected the specific method of study, especially if you did not use the standard approaches. Tell the reader how the new method helps to advance knowledge in your field of study. Go a step further and highlight the key limitations that you encountered. However, show that the strengths outweighed the weaknesses.

Dissertation Methodology Justification Example

Laboratory experiments are not always 100% accurate, especially when simulating real-life behaviors. However, they work pretty effectively when analyzing casual relationships between different research variables.

Tips on How to Write a Methodology Section

When working on the research methodology of your dissertation, you need to appreciate that the goal is not to simply describe them, but to demonstrate why and how you used them. So, here are some useful tips to help you perfect the dissertation.

Seek Professional Writing Help with Dissertation Methodology

With the above steps and pro tips, writing a dissertation methodology section should now be easy. Start by making sure that you understand the methodology definition, and then follow the step-by-step guide we provided in this post. But if you encounter difficulties trying to craft your methodology, consider working with expert writers . They are experienced, affordable, and guarantee you one thing: the best dissertation methodology.

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Dissertation Methodology: Guide and Examples


Table of contents

Dissertation methodology is necessary for  writing a dissertation . Choosing suitable academic methods and applying them in a process is not an easy task. It is further complicated by the fact that each scientific area has its own applied methods. Below we will reveal their essence and call their general and special types.  

What Is Methodology in Dissertation?

Methodology in dissertation is a general system of scientific knowledge methods. Students usually use them to achieve a research paper goal they set at the beginning of a work. We can say that this is an instrumental basis. How many words should a  methodology  be in a dissertation? We would say it should be around 20% of the whole work. You should develop research problems and explain solutions to the main issues. Selection of suitable methods starts at the stage of preparing a dissertation plan. This section should be placed in  dissertation introduction . You should justify the choice of each method used in work. In the abstract, just list analysis of the main techniques that were used. Due to their huge number, there are different research methods classifications. Firstly, they are usually divided into two categories. The first category is applicable to all knowledge branches. The second has a narrower focus. It covers those methods that are applied strictly in a particular science area. We’ll consider quantitative and qualitative classifications in more detail.  

Methodology Dissertation: Purpose

The main goal of methodology chapter dissertation is to study methods you have chosen. It helps to acquire and substantiate new findings in science. But, in addition to this main task, this section also studies:

So, the purpose is to study an object, process, or phenomenon. You should capture scientific principles’ basis in written form and introduce useful results into production. Note that our  dissertation service includes help with methodology, too.

Methods vs Methodology Chapter: Dissertation

You might be confused with the difference between thesis and dissertation  methods, but the answer is simple. Researchers use the first term to proceed with studying research problems. Literally, this is a description of all material and information that was used in work. Methodology is a broader term. It is a system with methods for learning how research should be done systematically. It ensures that conclusions drawn are valid and reliable.

What to Include in the Methodology Section of Dissertation?

Let’s consider what to include in a dissertation methodology . No matter what scientific area you’re working on, it should include the same chapters. We recommend you focus on specific methods for your studying. But a general outline is universal for each case.

Aims in Methodology of Dissertation

In the dissertation methodology chapter, you should describe research methods and organization. Briefly, list method aims and techniques used in study. It is necessary to indicate methods’ authors and publishing year. For example:  

Following methods were used to solve tasks:

Outline of Methods in Methodology Section: Dissertation

The dissertation methodology outline begins with a search. Find a subject area that can unite all gained empirical results. Some results often do not fit into a single structure and have to be discarded. But sometimes, necessary empirical results are lacking, so you should continue study's empirical part. Determine an appropriate outline to begin logical concept composition.

Explanation of Methods in Methodology for Dissertation

For the methodology section of the dissertation, you should determine the study base, respondents number, their age, gender. Explain your choice using specific arguments. Look at following example:  

Study was conducted based on the municipal higher educational institution of the regional council. The study covered 105 first-year students (including 77 students of Department of Primary Education (base 9 classes), aged 15.5 years and 28 students of department "Preschool Education" (base 11 classes), aged 17.5 years).

Qualitative Methods of Methodology in Dissertation

Qualitative dissertation methodology is aimed at identifying statistical survey characteristics. So you can reveal various types of deep social processes and mechanisms. For example, analyze the media's influence on individual consciousness. Or examine informational perception of different population layers. The main application area of these methods is marketing and sociological research. Let's consider the most important group methods:  

Quantitative Methods of Dissertation Research: Methodology

The second dissertation methodology is quantitativ methods . It helps to identify phenomena based on statistical methods. It aims at initially collecting questionnaires and then measuring them to investigate large-scale phenomena. It also allows you to study the structure and research development’s dynamics. This includes counting publications number made or content analysis. For example, determination of various sources’ volume citation. It is possible to track studied circulation and the usage degree. The research results using this method are information with minor deviations.

How Data Is Analyzed in Your Dissertation Methodology Section

In the practical section, analyze results of research methodology dissertation. Provide detailed data on subjects and different research methods. Pay attention to results' validity and their interpretation. Research results should not be limited to statements of received facts. Interpret their scientific explanation and obtain results.

Materials Used in Your Methodology Chapter in Dissertation

Methodology chapter in the dissertation should include suitable materials. Data selection, critical comprehension, and processing are essential. First, you need to introduce primary literature (textbooks, theoretical articles) and applied materials (methodological developments, instructional materials, articles). Include only carefully selected and purposefully analyzed elements. As illustrative material, you can add sample documents, tables, diagrams, charts. They can be placed throughout your study.

Tips on How to Write a Dissertation Methodology

We have prepared some tips on how to write a methodology for a dissertation. Hope they will ease your writing.

Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Methodology for Dissertation

We collected and identified 10 common mistakes in writing a dissertation methodology. Avoid them to make this section excellent!

Dissertation Methodology Example

We prepared a methodology example for your dissertation. Now you know all necessary information on how to write this chapter. We recommend you pay specific attention while writing. You can take our sample as a template.

methodology section of a dissertation

Final Thoughts on Writing a Methodology for a Dissertation

Dissertation methodology occupies 20% of your text. It is significant for your scientific research. In this section you formulate provisions that determine the entire course of work. We recommend writing this section at the very beginning. So, research methods are steps that we take towards work goals. These are ways that our online dissertation help resolves study tasks.

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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:

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.

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.

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

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?

And what type of data did you need to achieve this aim?

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?

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.

Experiments Share full details of the tools, techniques, and procedures you used to conduct your experiment.

Existing data Explain how you gathered and selected the material (such as datasets or archival data) that you used in your analysis.

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.

Participant observation Describe where, when, and how you conducted the observation or ethnography .

Existing data Explain how you selected case study materials for your analysis.

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:

In qualitative research, your analysis will be based on language, images, and observations (often involving some form of textual analysis ).

Specific methods might include:

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 .

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:

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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How to Write a Dissertation Methodology

Date published September 16 2020 by Stella Carter

How to Write a Dissertation Methodology

Dissertation, a nightmare, or a walk through a park?

Well, that park could be on fire and a horde of zombies might be chasing you. Although fighting zombies could be exciting if you have the right strategy and equipment. Similarly, writing a dissertation is not easy or simple but with the right guidance and strategy, you can do it easily.

So let’s see what level are you.

If you are starting up on the methodology chapter it means that you have already been through two chapters. It means you are already through the Introduction chapter ( prologue level ) and the literature review ( which we can call the mid-level boss ).

Now as we are comparing the dissertation methodology chapter to the other dissertation chapters. We can say that it is easier but it doesn’t mean that it has less importance or is not needed. It is as important and necessary as all the other chapters.

It is recommended that you work your way through a dissertation but if you want to hack your way to the top, there’s a tip. Simply find a reliable and cheap methodology dissertation writing service and you’ll be done with your dissertation without any hassle.

So before you learn how to make your way through the Methodology chapter, you have to understand it first.

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Table of Contents

What is the dissertation methodology.

The methodology chapter is the third and shortest chapter in a dissertation. It weighs only 10% (considering the word count/physical weight) in a dissertation.

In a dissertation methodology, you have to explain what kind of approaches and methods you have applied for the research. It has to include multiple things such as:

As well as the methods you have used for the research.

Why Dissertation Methodology Chapter is Important?

The dissertation methodology chapter is very important. This chapter is to walk the readers through your research easily. It helps the readers to evaluate the validity and reliability of your research.

Here’s What You Should Include in a Perfect Methodology Chapter:

Everything has a recipe. Once you master the recipe, you’ll just need to get the most suitable ingredients. The recipe for a flawless dissertation methodology chapter will be yours in a bit. If you follow it up, no one can stop you from achieving greatness. A perfect methodology should state and answer the following:

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the ingredients for the perfect dissertation methodology chapter besides the aspects we mentioned above.

What to Include in a Literature Review?

There is always a confusion among students about what they should include in their dissertation’s literature review chapter.

The content of your literature review is going to be different but here are a few things you must include in the literature review. 

View different varieties of dissertation topics and samples on multiple subjects for every educational level

A Revision of Your Research Question(s)

You have to start your methodology by mentioning your research question(s). It will help you justify that your methodology is suitable for answering your research question(s). But it doesn’t mean that you have to copy-paste your research question. You have to explain your research question in a way it links your methodology and the literature review.

Explanation of Your Methods

Explaining the methods is the core concept of writing a methodology but it doesn’t make it the whole point of writing the methodology.  Explaining the methods is a part of methodology where you state the process of data collection and analysis and the approaches for the answer(s) of your research question(s).

The explanation of your method should be clear and valid enough that other scholars and future researchers can read it and apply it as well. You reader should also be able to read and apply your theories in other scenarios (i.e. their researches or texts) if you are proposing a new theory for the subject.

The Background and Logical Reasoning of the Selected Method

You also have to mention why you chose a certain method for your research. It is a crucial part of methodology as you have to justify the selected method as to why you thought it will give you the best insightful analyses, conclusions, and results.

You will have to draw the relation of your chosen method with the literature review giving proof of the background of the method and its successful application. It will support your dissertation and your research methods as it will explain to your reader that whatever method(s) you chose is/are most compatible to answer your questions.

Let’s be honest here. Everything has its pros and cons. So chances are that you faced some certain limitations during your research while applying the method.

You have to further evaluate your chosen method and take the limitations into consideration as well. It’s not necessary that the limitations of your research are to be called flaws. You have to be unapologetically honest about the limitations you faced and what kind of possible outcomes it may have made impossible.

While stating that, you can discuss how this method has been successful regardless of the many limitations that you faced during the research period.

Step-by-Step Guide for the Best Dissertation Methodology Structure:

Now that you know what is a methodology and what you should include in it. It’s time we learn about the dissertation methodology structure.

Here is the blueprint that can get you to the top (not literal). If you follow this research methodology example, you will be able to create an interesting and engaging methodology chapter for your dissertation.

So without any further ado, here is the formula for a successful dissertation methodology chapter:

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1. Explaining Your Methodological Approach

You have to start with an introduction. You know it very well that a good introduction is a key to capture attention.

For the methodology chapter. You can start by directly discussing your approach to the research. Don’t waste any time, no unnecessary details or discussion. Directly hitting the main topic will make the reader stay interested in your dissertation.

After you’re done discussing the overall approach to your research. You can elevate the discussion and rhetorically explain what was the research question or problem that you investigated.

You can further explain other aspects of your method. For example, what was your aim? Did you further explore an untouched or under-researched topic? Did you establish a cause and effect relationship? What kind of approaches and dates did you need to get to your goal?

Then you have to start explaining your research methods by answering such questions such as:

It depends on your methods and approach that you would have to start rationally explaining the assumptions supporting the base of your methodology. You can ask and answer such questions:

Further on you can state what kind of research method you used. Was it quantitative or qualitative?

If you don’t know what are those then don’t worry. You’ll shortly learn about both of them below.

Quantitative Method

In the simplest words, quantitative methods are statistical tests based on certain fixed questions. For example, a group of people will be given a questionnaire to fill out for research purposes. The answer will be analyzed to get an average percentage or a definitive number in the form of an answer.

Quantitative methods are usually applied to groups collectively instead of individuals. The most common quantitative methods are polls, questionnaires, surveys, or by manipulating existing statistical data using different techniques.

Qualitative Method

Qualitative methods are different than quantitative methods. In qualitative methods, there is no definite set of questions to ask the participants or the individuals in the focus group. There is a free-hand on questions.

Qualitative methods are commonly used when you’re interviewing people individually using different methods such as face to face interviews, on-call interviews, email interviews, and other similar methods. As you can already suggest, qualitative methods are used when interviewing individuals instead of groups at one time. Although the individuals have to belong to a certain focus group.

2. Describing the Data Collection Methods

You might be wondering that you already explained what kind of method you are using. Then why is there a need to describe the data collection method(s)?

Don’t worry and don’t get confused or frustrated. You will have your answers.

In the first step, you just stated what method you have used to conduct your research. Now it’s time you state and define the methods you used to collect the data for/during your research. Whether your research was qualitative or quantitative. There are multiple methods for each and you have to state all the details of your data collection method(s).

Considering the Gaps:

You have to propose and describe your applied quantitative methods in such manner and detail that future researcher(s) could consider your research/publication for their dissertations. Lacking detail can cause the reader a lot of confusion and trouble in understanding your research method.

You have to thoroughly explain how you turned the abstract of your research problem into measurable observation(s) to measure the variables of your research question. You also have to explain your sampling method and/or the exclusion or inclusion criteria of using any tools, materials, or procedures for gathering the data.

Here are some common quantitative research methods that you have to explain (if you are using any of them).

Conducting Surveys:

If you have done your research through a survey. You will have to state the following things in your dissertation methodology:

A tip for you. Add the whole questionnaire as an appendix in the methodology chapter to guide the reader and make the reader understand how and what data was collected exactly.


Depending on the nature of your dissertation and dissertation topic, you might need to perform some scientific or unsystematic experiments.

You have to be very meticulous while conducting experiments and explaining them in your dissertation methodology. A slight difference between your results or methods and what you explain the methodology can have a huge impact directly on the conclusion of your dissertation.

These are the things you have to mention while explaining the experiment(s) in your methodology chapter:

You have to think about the bigger picture while writing your dissertation. You should be clear and give as many details as you can so the researchers can learn and reproduce your results as well.

Using Already Existing/Published Data:

You know that you can include the data already existing.

When you use already existing data to gather information for your dissertation. You will have to include certain things in the dissertation methodology chapter such as:

Here is an example that how any quantitative method should be explained:

Example for Quantitative Method

The survey consisted of 10 multiple choice questions and 20 questions that were measured on a 5-point Likert scale. The aim was to conduct a survey on 200 mid-aged women in the USA who regularly shop from “Brand A” in New Orleans that lasted from 11 to 15 March between 12:00 and 18:30. Every participant was included on the basis of purchase history from the “Brand A” on the questioning day. All the participants had 15 minutes to fill and finish the questionnaire anonymously. Out of 200, only 173 responded but due to the incomplete responses by the participants, only 147 questionnaires, which were finished by the participants, were included in the analysis.

Describing Qualitative Methods

You know what kind of quantitative methods are there and how you can explain them in your dissertation methodology.

Qualitative methods are completely different than quantitative methods. Qualitative methods are flexible and subjective which means that quantitative methods are not definite. The same methods can differ from one research to other research.

While explaining the qualitative methods, you have to discuss everything from the criteria that you used to select participants to the role you played to collect the data.

P.S while collecting and doing research using qualitative methods, you can participate in the research as well as just be an observer.

Here are the most common and used qualitative research methods:

Focus Groups or Individual Interviews:

Focus Groups are basically a group of very specific participants. All the participants belong to a certain category but are interviewed individually instead of them altogether.

When your research method is based on focus groups or interviews you have to discuss/state such things as:

Participant Observation or Ethnography:

Observation is another common qualitative research method used for dissertations. You have to observe a community or a group of people for research purposes with consent.

Moving forward to what you have to state in your dissertation methodology if you are using an observation method or ethnography for dissertation research:

Although this was a very short introduction for ethnography. If you are struggling, you can get help online and even get your dissertation written by a reliable dissertation help service as well.

Studying Published Data:

Depending on your dissertation topics , the data you will use in your dissertation will be different as well as the sources you will use.  Although the sources and material could vary from texts to images and videos and even audiotapes.

When using already published data for your qualitative research, you will have to explain and discuss certain things such as:

Now that we discussed all the different types of qualitative methods. Here is an example for you to demonstrate how explaining a qualitative method in your dissertation methodology would and should look like:

Example of Qualitative Methods

To conduct the interview, there were 80 participants who were mid-aged women in the area of New Orleans who regularly shopped from “Brand A”. The participants were selected on the basis of frequency they had for shopping from “Brand A”. They were gathered in a room and were given a question to answer without any restrictions. They were given the time until they were finished and completely answered the question. By the end, there were different kinds of answers ranging from different sizes i.e. from one line answers to full paragraphs. After all the participants meticulously finished their answers and returned them back. The answers were piled up and then carefully analyzed to take out the similarities as the outcome of the experiment/research. The outcomes later compiled into quotes.

Prove Your Point with Evidence!

Everything you state anywhere in your dissertation should be backed up with evidence. The same goes for the literature review chapter. If you are stating any point, make sure to prove it a citation or theory in the form of evidence. Saying for like 50 th time, any statement without evidence is useless.

3. Stating the Analysis Methods

After you are done describing the data collection method(s) in the dissertation methodology chapter. You will have to state the method(s) you used to analyze the collected data.

A dissertation saving tip before you start stating your analysis methods. Never state or present the results while stating the research method(s) or the analysis method(s). The results have to be discussed by the end of the dissertation.

The analysis methods are different for both quantitative and qualitative methods. First, we will learn how to analyze the collected data from quantitative research methods and then qualitative research methods.

Analyzing Quantitative Research Methods

The quantitative research analysis is based on numbers. To make the reader clearly understand your analysis methods, make sure that:

While you state the analysis of the quantitative method you selected, you have to cite references and evidence as well. If you are using a specific rule for a process, make sure to cite it and give the credits to the author with the research name (if possible) and the year it was published.

Analyzing Qualitative Research Methods

The qualitative research analysis is based on observations, images, and language(s). The qualitative research analysis often includes some type of text-based analysis. There are a few different analysis methods for qualitative research methods such as:

Make sure to mention what analysis method you used to analyze your qualitative research method. If you refer to another analysis method that has been published in another research already, make sure to acknowledge that and give proper references and citations as well. For the 500 th time, everything you write in your dissertation should have evidence and proof.

4. Evaluation and Justification of Your Methodological Choices

This is the time you discuss the reason(s) behind why you chose a certain methodological approach. You have to state both sides of choosing your method. You have state why other methods were not apt for your research topic in contrast to why the method you selected was better and suitable for your dissertation research.

While doing so, you have to discuss the limitations you faced using your selected research method as well as state the weak points. You can do it two ways, be apologetic about it and jeopardize your whole dissertation or be confident about it and use it like a pro and state how these limitations were outweighed by the strong points in your research.

How to Evaluate and Justify Your Methods Like a Boss:

You know what to do, but you don’t know how to do it. That’s the issue with a lot of things just like I don’t know how to tie a tie (simple, yet practically confusing).

Although, this is just a simple sample and the length and the context might vary in your dissertation but the core focus is the same. Here is an example to show you how the justification section would look like:

“Lab experiments are weak in terms of accurately simulating human behavior and real-life situations but are significantly strong when used to test the causal relationship between variables.”

As you can see above, the statement shows that the selected method had its weak spot(s) but had more strong points to counter the weak spot(s).

Killer Tips to Slay the Methodology Chapter!

Now that you know everything from what is a methodology, what to include, and how to write it.

Here are some amazing tips for you that I’ve been hiding up my sleeve for a long time now. It’s time I reveal them to help you write the Methodology chapter even more easily and efficiently.

Raw Data? A Big NO!

The methodology chapter is to give an insight to the reader about your research methods and how you conducted your research. It doesn’t have to include or reproduce any raw that data you collected. If you are illustrating how the data-collection method or machine or a questionnaire or a Likert scale works.

You don’t have to include any sort of data. Just mention the information about the functionality in the appendix for the reference(s).

Consider Reader’s Perspective

When you write the methodology, you have to keep in mind that you are writing it for the readers. The number of details and information you have to write should be kept limited. You don’t have to explain unnecessary details that are not going to help the reader(s) in any sense.

For instance, when you are using standard research methods, you won’t have to explain it to a depth to justify it. Just give a concise background and you’re done with it. On the other hand, if you’re using some method that you think the reader(s) might not be aware of. You will have to fully explain the choices and reasoning and everything to justify it.

Citing Most Relevant Sources is the Key

You can either cite every single source that is barely related to your methodology to jeopardize it or you can cite the most relevant sources to make your methodology stronger.

Obviously, you’d want to make it the very best methodology, and to do that, you will have to follow a few key steps.

Present your approach and relate it to already published research methodologies addressing how you used it to fill and highlight the gap in the literature.

Final Words

Now you have learned everything about the dissertation methodology chapter. From its importance to its structure. Furthermore, these tips are enough for anyone to explain how to write an outstanding dissertation methodology structure. But if you are still struggling with writing your dissertation whether it’s the methodology or the conclusion chapter. You can buy dissertation methodology help from some cheap dissertation writing service and relax!

Good luck but not a goodbye,

May we meet again!

Author:  Stella Carter

Stella is a PhD qualified expert in student consoling working in the field for over 7 years have experience in helping students around the world regarding there dissertation also have conducting several seminars. She also one of our best dissertation writer who give best dissertation writing services .

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Dissertation Methodology: Tips on Methods Writing

How to prepare a dissertation methodology.

A dissertation methodology is probably one of the most complicated and tedious parts of the dissertation paperwork. In essence, methodology intends to assist in the process of understanding the underlying philosophical base behind the scholarly methods you have selected to utilize in the study. As such, one should provide a theoretical dissertation methodology to pinpoint to credible methods that can serve as a basis for justifying the research work. Besides, the methodology section provided in the dissertation paper should cover information relating to the usage of qualitative or quantitative data gathering strategies. In case both of them were used for the research study, then the writer should include this information in the research methodology dissertation.

Moreover, when you are writing methodology for dissertation papers, you also need to justify your choice of methods. For example, you need to highlight the significance of one method over another and the reason why you have preferred one to the other.

If you are searching for an exact way to organize a dissertation methodology layout, read this article and it will help you move in the right direction.

First of all, when writing a dissertation methodology section, it is imperative to be aware of the underlying academic principles of choosing the most appropriate methods for a thesis or dissertation. Second, it is crucial to be able to justify your choice with ample evidence and solid supporting reasoning. Such phrases as, “In my view this method is the best one” or “I figured out this method to be most applicable” will not do you any good. There should be specific reasons for choosing certain methodology and you should take into consideration the structure of a research methodology in a dissertation.

How to Write a Methodology Section: Generally Accepted Structure

Before starting to describe and analyze methods utilized in the dissertation, it is essential to delve into the core how to write a methodology section for a thesis. The methodology section in an academic paper serves the role of a lighthouse that guides through the process how you intend to conduct your research. Therefore, students should first of all find out what is a methodology in research. Sometimes, students are required to submit methodology even before working on the actual research, so it is crucial to know the fundamentals of writing a methodology.

As a rule, the methodology chapter should be connected to the literature review and thus should clearly pinpoint to the reasons why specific methods of collecting data and methods of analysis were chosen. If you put in an inquiry online how to write a methodology for a dissertation, you will most probably find out that a generally accepted structure entails the following components: research methods for a dissertation, philosophical concepts, dissertation research methods, weaknesses and limitations of the research, ethical aspects, and techniques of data evaluation.

If you need to construct your methodology chapter as a separate paper and wonder what to include in a methodology, make sure to pay attention to modifications that played a role in the work progress. Still, regardless of the methodology writing style and organization, it is required to provide sufficient rationale for all steps and techniques utilized by the researcher.

A Methodology in Research: How to Come Up with Proper Research Design

A methodology in research fully depends on the literature review section and research questions. You can visit your university or college library or online databases to find out what is a methodology and get acquainted with the most commonly used research procedure. If a student devotes an adequate amount of time to reading such books on methodology meaning, he/ she will find it easier to distinguish different types of methodology and choose the most suitable and applicable for a certain methodological research. Any drawbacks or limitations of your methodology approach should be interpreted and properly discussed so that they could be eliminated in the future studies.

Irrespective of the selected dissertation methodology, you will come across both proponents and opponents to it. Therefore, make sure you choose the methods only relying on your experience and on their correspondence to your dissertation topic. When discussing your method vs methodology choice, make sure to pinpoint why the existing limitations or setbacks of your chosen methods do not play a big role in your study.

How to Write a Methodology Section for Your Thesis or Dissertation

A widely accepted dissertation structure of the methodology section is provided below:

Research Strategy & Design

The principal task of research design or schema is to allow the scholar to answer research questions flawlessly and efficiently by applying ample evidence as supporting material. When you are well-versed in the core aspects of research design and strategies, you will know how to save time and collect the data properly. Depending on the dissertation purpose and topic, you can collect data in a variety of ways: some data may be obtained as parts of an experiment, as a result of reviewing literature, after conducting interviews, while carrying out phone or online surveys, etc. Besides, the way you have sampled data should be properly discussed by focusing on the population group and such criteria as age, educational background, profession, ethnicity, social status, and others. It is highly recommended for students to design a set of questions before the actual process of data gathering at the point when you develop your research questions, aims, and objectives.

It is advisable to come back to the research questions formulated at the beginning of dissertation writing since this strategy will enable you find out what research design will suit best and what steps should specifically be done to solve the research questions. In other words, you need to ensure that the information you are going to gather is related to your topic and the focus of exploration. There are no officially accepted norms regarding the length of the methodology vs method section but a student needs to take into account the complexity of the topic and the scope of the research problem. All in all, a properly organized research design subsection should comprise of the following constituents:

Philosophical Theories

This part will address the philosophy or a philosophical theory selected to support your research on the whole or a research model. Among the most widely utilized philosophical theories that you might come across in academic papers are pragmatism, positivism, post-positivism, constructivism, and interpretivism among others. If none of these suit your topic, there are many others that you can adopt. Actually, the selection criteria of philosophical theories depend on the academic discipline, the scope of research, subject area, complexity of the research, and others. Still, one thing is definite: depending on the research philosophy, you will have to put forward specific assumptions regarding your research.

As soon as you have selected the most appropriate philosophical theory for your research, you need to provide background information and answer the core questions pertaining to the study, such as: where, when, what, who, why, and how. Moreover, you will need to make a decision which type of data gathering method to choose: qualitative, quantitative, or both. It is vital to come up with the most appropriate method since it will be decisive for the techniques and strategies you will apply. Recently, it has become increasingly popular to utilize a mix of approaches and use both qualitative and quantitative.

Data-Gathering and Data-Analysis Methods

Here you need to clearly pinpoint to the ways and tactics of gathering the information and discuss concrete tools and strategies that you utilized for data analysis. For instance, you might wish to carry out interviews or surveys as ways of collecting data. Therefore, you will need to provide a detailed explanation of the obtained results and how you gathered them. Besides, you also need to discuss whether the findings are plausible and trustworthy. It is vital to consider that your target readers, professor, or admission committee would be interested in the correlation between the research hypotheses and obtained results. So, make sure you discuss this relation clearly.

Ethical Issues and Considerations

When gathering data, always consider how individuals who take part in your research project might be influenced. Therefore, if you conduct interviews, questionnaires or surveys, make sure to ask about any ethical wishes or restrictions from your respondents. For example, many of them wish to maintain confidentiality, so be sure to guarantee them this option and do not disclose any private information about them.

Reliability of Research + Its Limitations

Make sure the findings you provide can be used by other researchers in your field of study or adjacent fields. Make the results trustworthy and authentic. In case you refer to some other scientific information, make sure to cite it.

Successful writers always acknowledge research limitations. So, when you gather the data, make sure to provide information about the limitations of the data sampling (regarding the place of residency of the asked population, ethnicity, age group, etc.).

The conclusive chapter can be decisive for the final grade of your thesis or dissertation. Therefore, take sufficient time when you sum up methodology design, especially when it concerns social science methodology for you studies. If you think that your research design is not flawless, make sure to make the necessary adjustments and consult your professor before making the final brushes to the paper.

What Is Methodology: Difference between Method and Methodology

The methodology section is placed directly after the literature review, so it should be logically connected to the previous part and smoothly flow from it. There is a specific set of issues that should be fulfilled before you write the methodology part:

Ways of Organizing a Methodology Section

The methodology you select should emphasize a clear connection between your stated hypotheses, the main points of the literature review you have conducted, and the tactics and strategies you implement to reach the desired outcome. As such, there is no difference which realm you are working in, the methodology part should comprise of the following constituents:

Reiteration of the Research Questions That You Have Posed at the Beginning of Writing a Dissertation

The main key to properly justify your chosen methodology and show that it suits your requirements is to demonstrate it can be easily utilized for answering the research questions you asked from the start. Therefore, you need to go back to your research questions when writing your methodology section but this should not be exact rewording of them: just provide a so-called bridge between your hypotheses and the means of proving them.

Detailed Description of Your Research Method or Design

At this point of writing a methodology section, you need to clearly describe and discuss the way you collected and analyzed information for your research, or from which angle you approached to discuss the core research question. This section should be clearly written so that any other scholar could repeat your research design by using your method description. Make sure it is not confusing to the reader and also double-check whether it includes all the precise research details. If you are offering some new philosophical view or theoretical aspect to the problem, then you need to pinpoint to the reader how you came to that conclusion and how the new theory can be applicable. In case you utilized some experiment, make sure to discuss it in closest details so that it could possibly be repeated by another researcher in laboratory conditions.

Background Information on Your Research and Justification for Choosing a Specific Research Design

Many students overlook the fact that a methodology section does not merely describe the method – it should present the rationale why the researcher has chosen them, why he/ she reckons they will best suit, and what novelty they will bring. Therefore, make sure you properly connect the research method to the topic of your study and the research overall.

Analysis of Your Selection of Methods and Focus on its Restrictions

It is an evident fact that no research model or design is perfect, so make sure to draw readers’ attention not only to the benefits but also to the limitations of your chosen research design. When discussing the weaknesses, also make sure to refute them by emphasizing why they are not so considerate for your research and why they are not an obstacle on the way to choosing a certain research schema.

Despite the fact that the general outline of the methodology section is more or less the same regardless of the dissertation topic, different details have to be adjusted in correspondence with individual discipline requirements. Have a look at some of the most widespread dissertation methodology types presented below:

A Scientific Study

If you are required to provide a methodology section for a dissertation in science, then be sure that reproducibility is easily achieved in similar laboratory conditions. The methods you apply should seem rigid to the target audience where there are no flaws or drawbacks that overweigh the benefits. It is essential not just to provide descriptive information about the laboratory settings, equipment, etc. but also address the whole research procedure in slightest details to pinpoint to the fact that you have taken into consideration all factors and variables that are prone to distort the final results. Apart from merely mentioning it, you have to come up with a precise plan of handling any upcoming issues with regards to design, data collection, and obtaining results or implications. If you apply statistical models in the paper, you should provide details and rationale for these in the methodology section. 

Academic Paperwork in Behavioral or Social Studies

As in the scientific paper, you need to be precise with describing results of behavioral or social studies papers since one of your aims is to enable other scholars to reproduce the experiment and your study in the same lab conditions. However, a complicated issue here is that when working with people, you have a plethora of other questions and issues to take into account. You need to specify which types of survey you will conduct: whether these will be interviews with open-ended or closed questions, which research method you will use, how you will gather data, etc. Moreover, it is necessary to pinpoint to the target readers that you were attentive enough to consider all ethical aspects, such as confidentiality policy when presenting data results. Not many people are willing to disclose their personal or contact information when it comes to some private matters that are dealt with in questionnaires. Therefore, make sure to ask all questions regarding confidentiality and other ethical aspects before the actual interview and further describe them in the dissertation. Also underline the importance of the obtained data from interviews or surveys and how it positively influenced the process of reaching conclusions and obtaining specific results.

Dissertation in Humanities and Arts

The strategies and tactics of convincing the target audience in the way you present the rigor of methodology choice is just as important as in social studies, sciences, and behavioral research. However, you need to place the focus on a different aspect – link it more to the information obtained from the literature review. Even if the topic is innovative and original, when it comes to humanities dissertation writing, you will definitely apply some old theories in new contexts or combine a few of them in a new theoretical framework. Bearing this in mind, many dissertation writers are tempted just to overlook the methodology section and start analyzing the results and data after providing a literature review. Nonetheless, regardless of the theories you implement in the paper, you need to provide a thorough justification for your chosen theories, methods, and frameworks. If your dissertation lacks the required justification, a critical reader or a professional in your sphere of research will not be convinced by the plausibility of information you provide. As such, it is essential to provide appreciation of the cultural and historical contexts of the theories or philosophies that you use. More so, if there is some underlying disagreement between theorists, it is first and foremost needed to pinpoint to those discrepancies. There are cases when you need (or simply can) refer to opinions of theorists from opposing or simply different schools, so you need to properly cover these controversies and provide justification why you have still chosen to refer to their work.

Dissertation in Creative Arts

Many scholarship programs in the Arts at times require from students to submit creative work instead of a merely theoretic and dull dissertation. They want to find out how creative students are when it comes to approaching such serious paperwork. As such, students might be asked to provide a portfolio or submit a piece of creative writing. Still, at times when you simply have to submit a portfolio or provide work that is not related to academic writing, it is crucial to provide at least a critical essay or a theoretical commentary to the piece of work you have submitted. If you had to demonstrate some creative practice, then you need to add a critical commentary when and how it appeared. Besides, you sometimes simply need to provide descriptive data on the context of work and its influence in the realm of the modern art whatsoever. Still, it may happen though that you will create your own methodology as a part of creative work for some scholarship or a competition.


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Dissertation Methodology Structure: Types, Tips, and FAQs

A good methodology can make or break your research project. Therefore, it's important to choose wisely and ensure that you have a sound approach before beginning any work on this type of paper.

As a student, you know the importance of having a clear and well-structured methodology section in your dissertation. The dissertation methodology structure ensures the proper presentation of research methods and techniques you use to gather and analyze your data. It is crucial to your research's overall credibility and validity.

To assist you with understanding how to structure the methodology section of your dissertation, we have provided the following examples for you to review and analyse thoroughly;

At the end of this blog, we have shared a complete example of the dissertation methodology section.

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Dissertation Methodology and Its Importance

In simple terms, dissertation methodology is the process you use to collect data and answer your research questions. It includes the tools and techniques you will use and your decisions about how best to collect and analyze your data.

Your methodology should be aligned with your research questions, and it should be clear why you are using the methods that you are using. It should also be clear how those methods will help you answer your research questions.

Your methodology is important because it determines how you collect and analyze your data. It is important to utilize a methodology appropriate for your research question, allowing you to collect the data you need.

If you choose an inappropriate methodology, it won't be easy to get accurate results. Additionally, if your methodology is not well-justified, it will be difficult to convince your committee that your research is worth doing.

Different Types of Dissertation Methodology Structures

There are many different research methodologies that you can use in your dissertation, and each has its strengths and weaknesses. Choosing a methodology most appropriate for your research question is the most important thing. Below are multiple types of research methodologies that you can use in your research paper or dissertation.

1.      Qualitative Dissertation Methodology

Qualitative dissertations are based on data collected through methods such as interviews, focus groups, participant observation, and document analysis. This methodology is best suited for research questions that seek to understand a phenomenon from those who experience it.

2.      Quantitative Dissertation Methodology

Quantitative dissertations are based on data collected through methods such as surveys, experiments, and statistical analysis. This methodology is most appropriate for research topics that aim to test hypotheses or provide precise numerical responses.

3.      Mixed-Methods Dissertation Methodology

Mixed-methods dissertations are based on data collected through both qualitative and quantitative methods. This type of methodology is best suited for research questions that cannot be answered using only one method and require the use of both to gain a complete understanding.

4.      Action Research Dissertation Methodology

Action research dissertations are based on data collected through methods such as interviews, focus groups, participant observation, and document analysis. The study topics that aim to enhance a specific practice or remedy are best suited for this methodology.

5.      Survey Research

One of the most common research methodologies used in dissertations is survey research. Survey research involves administering a questionnaire to a group of people to collect data about their opinions, beliefs, or behaviours. Surveys can be administered online, by mail, or in person. Data from a large number of individuals may be efficiently collected through survey research.

However, one potential downside of survey research is that getting people to respond to surveys can be difficult. Furthermore, people may not always answer surveys truthfully.

6.      Interviews

Another common research methodology used in dissertations is interviewing. Interviews involve asking questions either face-to-face or over the phone/video call to collect data about someone’s opinions, beliefs, or experiences.

One advantage of interviews is that they allow for more in-depth responses than surveys. However, conducting interviews can be time-consuming, and finding people willing to be interviewed may be difficult.

7.      Observation

Another common research methodology used in dissertations is observation. Observation involves observing people's behaviour in naturalistic settings (i.e., not asking them directly about their opinions or experiences).

Observational studies can be conducted in person or remotely (e.g., via video). One advantage of observational studies is that they allow for collecting detailed data about people's behaviour. However, one disadvantage of observational studies is that they can be time-consuming and expensive to conduct.

How to Choose the Right Structure for Your Dissertation?

Selecting the appropriate format for your work is one of the most fundamental decisions you will make when writing a dissertation. There are many different ways to approach dissertation writing, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

The best way to choose the right structure for your dissertation is to consult with your advisor and other experts in your field. They will be able to guide you on what dissertation methodology structure is best suited for your topic and research goals. With their assistance, you can ensure that your dissertation is well-organized and flows smoothly from start to finish.

Tips for Writing a Well-Structured Methodology Section

These expert tips for Writing a Well-Structured Methodology Section will help you craft an authentic dissertation methodology section.  

1.      Define the Research Problem

The first step in creating a well-structured methodology section is to define the research problem. It will help to provide a focus for the rest of the section and ensure that all of the information included is relevant.

2.      Describe the Research Design

The next step is to describe the research design used to investigate the research problem. It should include a description of the research methods that were used, as well as how the data was collected and analyzed.

3.      Discuss the Participants

Another important aspect of the methodology section is to discuss the participants who took part in the study. This should include information on who was included in the study, as well as any exclusion criteria that were used.

4.      Describe the Procedures

Once the participants have been described, it is important to describe the procedures used in the study. This should include a step-by-step account of what happened during each phase of the study, from recruitment to data analysis.

5.      Discuss the Measures

The methodology section should include a discussion of the study's measurement methods. The dependent, independent, and any additional variables assessed should all be mentioned here.

6.      Summarize the Findings

Finally, it is important to summarize the study's findings in the methodology section. It should include a brief overview of the findings and how they relate to the research problem.

Faqs about Dissertation Methodology

A dissertation methodology is a section that explains how the research was conducted and how the data was collected. The methodology should be clear, concise, and easy to understand.

The best way to choose a dissertation methodology is to consult with your advisor or committee members. They can offer guidance on which methods are most appropriate for your research question.

The most common dissertation methodologies are qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research typically collects data on human behaviour, while quantitative research collects data on physical or numerical phenomena.

When writing a dissertation methodology, deciding which methods you will use to collect data is important. Once you have decided on the methods, you must explain how you will collect the data. Finally, you will need to discuss how you will analyze the data once it has been collected.

One of the most common mistakes in writing dissertations is failing to explain the chosen methodology properly. This can make it difficult for readers to understand how the research was conducted and make it difficult to replicate the study. Additionally, it is important to avoid plagiarism when writing a dissertation by properly citing all sources used.

There are multiple ways to avoid plagiarism in your dissertation. Any sources you utilize in your work should first be properly cited. Second, any direct quotations in your work should be included in quotation marks. Last but not least, avoid copying ideas directly from other sources and instead paraphrase them.

Dissertation Methodology Structure and Complete Example 

Chapter 3: Methodology 3.1 Research Philosophy and Approach According to Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill (2012) there are different research philosophies which can be selected to conduct a research, namely; Positivism, Interpretivism, Realism, Subjectivism, Pragmatism, Objectivism, Functionalist Interpretive, Radical structuralist and Radical humanist philosophies. The positivist philosophy (Positivism) was used in this research in line with the research questions and objectives. The Positivism research philosophy is based on collection of numerical data which permits statistical analysis therefore it helps in determining research findings which are based on facts and are determined objectively (Bryman & Bell, 2011). The objective of this study was focused to analyse the perception of professionals in the financial institutes around the world regarding the potential of bitcoin as a currency or as an investment for future. Therefore it was necessary to obtain the perception of a number of professionals in the financial institutes around the world via quantitative research using questionnaire. As per Gratton and Jones (2004: 26) stated that, “Deductive research is more generally associated with positivist and quantitative research.” As the research was intended to be completed using quantitative research and data analysis therefore it was appropriate to select Positivism in line with the literature related with research methodology. Moreover, the deductive research approach enables researchers to carryout statistical analyses, which was required to analyse the quantitative data. 3.2 Selected Methodology and its Justification  The methodology of this research is primary which is based on quantitative research method to address the research aim and objectives. The quantitative research method was selected in accordance with the Positivism research philosophy and Deductive research approach (Gratton & Jones, 2004). The research aim and objectives necessitated that primary data is collected to analyse the perception of professionals in the financial institutes around the world regarding the potential of bitcoin as a currency or as an investment for future. However, due to limited availability of time and resources it was not possible to use qualitative research method such as interviews. Therefore questionnaire was used as a quantitative research method because it enabled the researcher to collect data from a large sample of respondents within limited time and resources. 3.3 Sampling Method and Size A sampling method which is suitable to use in this study is non-probability or non-random sampling method. As per Saunders et al. (2011: 223), “Non-probability sampling (or non-random sampling) provides a range of alternative techniques to select sample based on your subjective judgement.” Some of the non-probability methods are; convenient sampling, snow ball sampling, purposive or judgmental sampling, self-selection sampling, and quota sampling. In this research convenient sampling method is the non-probability sampling method which was used to select the research sample. As this research is based on primary data collected from a sample of professionals in the financial institutes around the world, therefore as per literature it was appropriate to select convenient sampling to select the participants in the most convenient manner. As limited time and resources were available therefore selecting the participants in the most convenient manner was appropriate. A sample size of 60 respondents was selected based on convenient sampling, where 30 male and 30 female professionals in the financial institutes around the world were selected using convenient sampling. 3.4 Data Collection Method Data collection method was primary as the research aim necessitates that data is collected directly from 60 employees work in the financial institutes around the world. As per Saunders (2011: 119) in positivism research philosophy the data collection techniques which can be used are, “highly structured, large samples, measurement, quantitative”. In view of this quantitative data collection method was employed in this study, where closed ended questionnaire is used to collection quantitative data from the 60 participants suggested above. The questionnaire was constructed after reviewing the past literature and the questions were developed to seek perception of professionals in the financial institutes around the world regarding the potential of bitcoin as a currency or as an investment for future. The questionnaire was comprised of dichotomy based questions, where the respondents were asked to select yes or no answer choices (Bryman & Bell, 2011). The closed ended questionnaire was distributed online via sharing the link to the online questionnaire with the selected respondents on social media platforms. Pilot study was performed initially to evaluate the construct validity of the constructed questionnaire. As per literature 10 percent of the sample size is selected in the pilot study, and 10 percent of 60 sample size was 6 (Field, 2013). Therefore the pilot study was conducted by collecting questionnaire responses from 6 respondents on social media platforms. After ensuring the construct validity of the constructed questionnaire the questionnaire was used to conduct full-fledged study using 60 respondents (Creswell, 2009). 3.5 Data Analysis Method The quantitative data in the form of closed ended responses was analysed using descriptive analysis by utilising frequency distribution analysis. As per Walliman (2010: 117), “frequency distribution simple shows the values for each variable expressed as a number and as a percentage of the total of cases.” Therefore by using frequency distribution the percentage of different answer choices selected by the respondents were identified, where the most frequently selected answer choices represented the opinion of the majority. The frequency distribution of the quantitative data was conducted on the SPSS and the results were expressed in tables, bar charts and pie charts. The results output tables of the SPSS analysis are provided in the Appendix section. 3.6 Ethical Dimensions  Various ethical dimensions were covered in this research. Informed consent from all the participants was obtained to ensure that they understand the purpose of the research and they were willing to participate. Besides, the confidentiality and data security was also ensured during all stages of this research by keeping the names and details of the participants anonymous, while keeping data in password protected files and locked cabinets. The university guide was followed during the research process to avoid ethical misconducts such as plagiarism. According to Vera and Nelson plagiarism is defined as, “use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work” (2007: 65). To avoid plagiarism while reviewing the past literature the reviewed text was properly referenced, cited, and page numbers were mentioned with quotation marks when a quotation was copied from another source.

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How to Write a Research Methodology Section for a Dissertation and Thesis

Research methodology is about the data collection and analysis methods employed in your research. Thus, this section addresses what you performed and how you did it, letting readers assess the reliability and validity of your study and is a critical part of your thesis or dissertation.

methodology section of a dissertation

What is research methodology?

Research methodology is about the data collection and analysis methods employed in your research. Thus, the purpose of this section is to address what you performed and how you did it, letting readers assess the reliability and validity of your study and is a critical part of your thesis or dissertation.

Ideally, this section should cover:

Type of the study

Data collection and analysis

Materials used in the study

The reasons for selecting these methods.

Here are some quick tips:

Your methodology section should be in the past tense.

Your academic style guides may offer specified guidelines on determining what to cover for various studies.

They may also provide guidelines for your methodology section (for example, APA 7, MLA, Harvard, and so forth).

What makes the method section critical?

This section allows you to discuss how you performed your research and choose the methods utilized. You can also depict how much effort you put into your study and how your study can be repeated if needed. Thus, it is about the legitimacy of your research, disclosing where it stands, and providing the readers with the opportunity to find answers to questions or critiques. For an effective methods section, you should pursue the following steps.

1. Explain your methodology

It would be best to begin by presenting your overall research perspective with two available options.

Choice 1: Begin your “what” question

What research problem or question did you explore?

Aim to define the traits of a specific subject.

Investigate not deeply studied issue?

Build a causal relationship?

More importantly, what are the data required to achieve this objective?

Do you have quantitative data, qualitative data, or their mixture? 

Did you collect the primary data, or did somebody else collect secondary data?

Did you gather data by controlling and deploying variables or have descriptive data via observations?

Choice 2: Start with your “why” question

Some disciplines may allow you to begin discussing your methodology's rationale and assumptions. Put differently, why did you select these methods for your research?

Why do you think it is one of the best ways to address your  research question ?

Do you feel it is a standard methodology in your area, or does it need verification?

Are any ethical considerations parts of your selections?

How can you validate your study results?

2. Specify your data collection methods

After introducing your reader to your methodological approach, sharing full details about your data collection methods is next.

Quantitative methods

You should specify quantitative research methods in enough detail so that another researcher can replicate your study. Only then can your results be generalized. You must explain how you put your concepts to function and metered your variables. On top of that, you must discuss how you accomplished your sampling and the procedures and materials you employed.

Qualitative methods

Qualitative methods differ from quantitative ones as they are usually more flexible and subjective. Therefore, explaining the methodology choices you made is critical.

Make sure you elaborate on the criteria you employed to select your data, the context of your conducted research, and your role in data collection, such as participant or observer.

Interviews or focus groups

You must describe the place, the time, and the way the interviews were conducted. It would be best if you addressed the following questions.

How did you determine and choose participants?

How many participants partook in the study?

What were the types of interviews (Were they structured, semi-structured, or unstructured)?

What were the durations of the interviews?

How did you record the interviews?

Participant observation

For participant observation, you must specify where, when, and how you conducted the observation or, in some cases, ethnography. The relevant questions pursue.

Describe what group or community did you follow? 

What procedures did you pursue to access this group? What was your role in the community?

How long did the research last? Where was the study’s location?

What did you use to record data (audiovisual recordings or note-taking)?

Mixed methods

When you combine quantitative and qualitative approaches, you have  mixed methods . Should a quantitative or qualitative study alone is inadequate to address your research question, you need mixed methods.

Consider that mixed methods research is beyond gathering both types of data. Instead, it should involve careful consideration and integrating two kinds of data into robust and solid conclusions.

Mixed methods are not very common as they demand strenuous effort to succeed. In case you choose to follow mixed methods, make sure that you robustly justify them.

3. Label your analysis method

The next step involves disclosing how you processed and analyzed your data. Introducing or discussing any of your results at this step is inappropriate. Excessive detail may not be helpful: Be careful!

Your analysis for quantitative research will depend on numbers. It could consist of checking for missing data, dealing with outliers, and transforming variables if needed. Thus, you may include the following in your methods section:

What did you do to prepare the data before analyzing it?

Which statistical software do you use? They might include SAS, SPSS, Stata, Microsoft Excel, or R.

What were the statistical procedures you employed to analyze your data? They would cover a two-tailed t-test, simple linear regression, ANOVA, etc.

Language, images, and observations as part of textual analysis form qualitative methods.

Particular methods might involve content analysis, thematic analysis, and discourse analysis.

When we integrate qualitative and quantitative approaches into one coherent analytical process, we have mixed research methods, combining the above two research methods.

4. Assess and verify the methodological choices you chose

Your methodology section should explicitly depict why you selected the employed methods. It becomes increasingly relevant if you have not used standard approaches in your study. Should it be the case, discuss why other methods were inappropriate for your objectives and depict how this approach introduces novel knowledge or understanding.

Irrespective of the case, your reader should comprehend the way you established to be successful concerning your methodology’s design. Extremely relevant is how your methods should result in valid and reliable conclusions while simultaneously allocating the analysis of your results' meaning, significance, and relevance for the discussion.

How can editing and proofreading advance your thesis and dissertation research methodology?

Editing and proofreading your  research methodology is beyond critical . A  professional editing and proofreading service  with highly trained and experienced experts with Ph.D. in their fields will edit or proofread your thesis or dissertation  methodology  with utmost care. Their suggestions will substantially improve your methodology section.

How can you write a solid methodology chapter?

Your objective should always be beyond describing your methods. It should disclose how and why you applied them. Do not neglect that demonstrating how rigorously your research was conducted and replicated is exceedingly relevant.

a. Concentrate on your objectives and research questions

You must explicitly explain why your methods fit your objectives and persuade the reader that your chosen approach was one of the best to address your problem statement and research questions.

b. Cite pertinent sources

You can reinforce your methodology by citing extant research in your field. It will help you depict that you pursued established practices, discuss how you decided on your approach, and offer a new methodological approach to fill a gap in the relevant literature.

c. Pen for your readers

Suppose you use standard methods in your discipline. You may not need to present much background or justification. You should decide on how much information you need to give, which should not be excessive.

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Best Edit & Proof expert editors and proofreaders focus on offering papers with proper tone, content, and style of  academic writing,  and also provide an upscale  editing and proofreading service  for you. If you consider our pieces of advice, you will witness a notable increase in the chance for your research manuscript to be accepted by the publishers. We work together as an academic writing style guide by bestowing subject-area editing and proofreading around several categorized writing styles. With the group of our expert editors, you will always find us all set to help you identify the tone and style that your manuscript needs to get a nod from the publishers.

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Writing a thesis or dissertation is considered the final phase of your Ph.D. journey. You must cover three to five years of study and research into your thesis. A doctoral thesis or dissertation is a long essay of knowledge and research on a specific niche that poses interesting questions and answers with your reasoning. Ph.D. candidates should carefully choose the study topic according to their expertise. This article explains how to write an impeccable Ph.D. thesis for outstanding results in 6 helpful steps.

methodology section of a dissertation

Briefly, research objectives are all about what you intend to achieve in your project. Therefore, they are expected to list every stage of the research and cover which methods they have used to gather data, establish their focal point, and advance their conclusions.

methodology section of a dissertation

Examples of Methodology in Research Papers (With Definition)

Updated September 30, 2022

Published July 25, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When researchers record their findings, they often include a methodology section that details the research techniques used and outcomes. When writing a thesis or dissertation, or documenting a project for your employer, including details about methodology assists readers in understanding your findings. Learning more about the concept and reviewing examples of methodology is important for providing insight into the validity and reliability of research.

In this article, we explain why it's important to review examples of methodology, explore what a methodology is, highlight what it includes, learn how it differs from research methods, and discover an example of methodology in a research paper.

Why review examples of methodology?

If you're writing a thesis, it may be useful to review some examples of methodology. By reviewing these examples, you can learn more about research approaches that give credibility to studies. You can also learn more about the language used and the details included, which can help you make your own methodology sections of reports more effective.

What is a methodology in a research paper?

In a research paper, thesis, or dissertation, the methodology section describes the steps you took to investigate and research a hypothesis and your rationale for the specific processes and techniques used to identify, collect, and analyze data. The methodology element of your research report enables readers to assess the study's overall validity and reliability and provides an important insight into two key components, namely your data gathering and analysis techniques and your reason for investigating. When composing this section for a research paper, it's important to keep the topic concise and write in the past tense.

What to include in a methodology section

When developing a methodology for research papers, it's worth considering the following elements:

Type of research

The first part of a methodology section typically outlines the type of research you did, and how you established your research procedures. This section highlights the subject of your study and addresses the type of data necessary to conduct evaluations and research assessments. The methodology section commonly contains the criteria that your experimental investigations followed to provide valid and trustworthy data. The material in this section provides readers with an insight into the methods you used to assess validity and reliability throughout your investigations.

Data collection process

The methodology section also contains a description of how you collected the data. Whether you ran experimental testing on samples, conducted surveys or interviews, or created new research using existing data, this section of your methodology describes what you did and how you did it. Key aspects to mention include how you developed your experiment or survey, how you collected and organized data, and what kind of data you measured. Additionally, you may outline how you set particular criteria for qualitative and quantitative data collection.

Data analysis process

Your approach to data analysis is equally important to the processes of data collection. The term data analysis refers to the procedures you employed to organize, classify, and examine the data gathered throughout your research operations. For instance, when presenting your quantitative approaches, you may add information regarding the data preparation and organization procedures you used and a short description of the statistical tests involved. When presenting your qualitative data analysis techniques, you may prefer to concentrate on how you classified, coded, and applied language, text, and other observations throughout your study.

Resources, materials, and tools

The tools, materials, and other resources necessary for conducting your research and analysis are also important factors to include when outlining your approach. In documenting your processes, it's important to outline your use of software programs, mathematical and statistical formulae, and other instruments that assisted you in your study. Additionally, this area of your approach may describe any unique strategies you used to gather data and identify significant factors. The methods you used to investigate your hypothesis and underlying research questions are also key components of your methodology.

The rationale behind the research

Because the methodology section of your research paper demonstrates to readers why your study is legitimate and important, the final part of this section can concentrate on your justification for the research. Details such as why your studies are important, which sectors they pertain to, and how other researchers might reproduce your findings are critical components of this section. It's important to discuss any strategies you intend to employ to continue reviewing your research and to properly reference the primary and secondary sources you utilized.

Differences between the methodology and research methods

While the methodology section of your research paper contains information about the research techniques you employed, there are many distinctions between the methodology and the actual research methods you used, including:

The overall objective of your approach is distinct from the procedures you used to carry out your study. While the methodology section of your research paper describes your processes in detail, the methods section refers to the specific steps you took to collect and analyze data throughout your research. The methodology acts as a summary that proves the validity and dependability of your procedures, while the methods are the scientific ways to test and reach conclusions about the data you investigate.

The structure of the methodology section differs from how you describe and explain your research and analytic approaches. The methodology section is often located at the beginning of your article and takes the form of a summary or essay in paragraphs, outlining the validity, procedure, and justification for your study. The structure in which you discuss your methods varies according to the type of study, data, and evaluations used. For example, when presenting the methods, you may use a graph or chart to illustrate your results.

The objectives and style of your methodology and research techniques ultimately impact on the material that you present. It's important that your methodology provides a succinct review of your research, methods, and findings. As a result, the methodology section of your paper can include the elements you employed to conduct your investigations. The content of your research paper that describes your methods of data collection and analysis techniques may vary, as it's often required to clarify your scientific approaches and research procedures using lists and visual aids, such as charts or graphs, to supplement the material.

Example of a methodology in a research paper

The following example of a methodology in a research paper provides insight into the structure and content to consider when writing your own:

This research article discusses the psychological and emotional impact of a mental health support program for employees. The program provided prolonged and tailored help to job seekers via a job support agency that kept contact with applicants beyond initial job placement to give different forms of assistance. I chose a 50% random selection of respondents who participated in the employment agency's support program between April and October and met the research criteria I created based on prior and comparable studies.

My colleagues and I randomly allocated the 350 resultant patients to the treatment or control groups, which included life skills development and career training in an in-house workshop setting. My colleagues and I assessed the 350 participants upon admission and again after they reached the 90-day employment requirement. The psychological functioning and self-esteem assessments we conducted revealed considerable evidence of the impact of treatment on both measures, including results that contradicted our original premise.

We discovered that, rather than demonstrating better functioning and higher self-esteem, participants in the therapy group exhibited poorer cognitive and emotional functioning and self-esteem. These findings prompted my study team and me to conclude that people who consider themselves unfulfilled in their jobs often endure a substantial decline in performance as a consequence of increased workplace stress and lower emotional well-being, irrespective of their mental health status.

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methodology section of a dissertation

Methodology in a Research Paper: Definition and Example

Updated December 12, 2022

Published May 11, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A person sitting at a table types on a laptop with a smartphone to the left of the laptop.

When researchers document their studies, they typically include a methodology to describe the processes and outcomes of their research. If you're covering a thesis topic, submitting a dissertation or documenting a project for your employer, including a methodology helps summarize your studies for readers who review your work. The methodology is also important to provide insight into the validity and reliability of your research.

In this article, we explore what a methodology is, what to include in this part of your paper and how it differs from your research methods with an example of methodology in a research paper.

What is a methodology in a research paper?

The methodology in a research paper, thesis paper or dissertation is the section in which you describe the actions you took to investigate and research a problem and your rationale for the specific processes and techniques you use within your research to identify, collect and analyze information that helps you understand the problem.

The methodology section of your research paper allows readers to evaluate the overall validity and reliability of your study and gives important insight into two key elements of your research: your data collection and analysis processes and your rationale for conducting your research. When writing a methodology for a research paper, it's important to keep the discussion clear and succinct and write in the past tense.

Quantitative and qualitative methodologies

There are two main approaches to methodology; quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research methodology relies on concrete facts and data-driven research, and qualitative research methodology relies on non-data-driven research, such as surveys and polls, to identify patterns and trends.

What to include in a methodology

Students, graduates and other researchers often include several key sections within the methodology section. Consider the following elements when developing a methodology in research papers:

Type of research

The first part of a methodology section usually describes the type of research you perform and how you develop your research methods. This section also discusses the question or problem you investigate through your research and the type of data you need to perform evaluations and research assessments. Additionally, the methodology often includes the criteria your experimental studies need to meet to produce valid and reliable evidence. The information you cover in this part of your methodology allows readers to gain insight into how you measure validity and reliability during your studies.

Data collection process

The methodology also includes an explanation of your data collection process. For instance, if you perform experimental tests on samples, conduct surveys or interviews or use existing data to form new studies, this section of your methodology details what you do and how you do it. Several key details to include in this section of a methodology focus on how you design your experiment or survey, how you collect and organize data and what kind of data you measure. You may also include specific criteria for collecting qualitative and quantitative data.

Data analysis process

Your data analysis approaches are also important in your methodology. Your data analysis describes the methods you use to organize, categorize and study the information you collect through your research processes. For instance, when explaining quantitative methods, you might include details about your data preparation and organization methods along with a brief description of the statistical tests you use. When describing your data analysis processes regarding qualitative methods, you may focus more on how you categorize, code and apply language, text and other observations during your analysis.

Resources, materials and tools

The tools, materials and other resources you need for your research and analysis are also important elements to describe in your methodology. Software programs, mathematical and statistical formulas and other tools that help you perform your research are essential in documenting your methodology. This section of your methodology can also detail any special techniques you apply to collect data and identify important variables. Additionally, your approaches to studying your hypothesis and underlying research questions are essential details in your methodology.

Rationale behind the research

Since your methodology aims to show readers why your research is valid and relevant, the last part of this section of your research paper needs to focus on your rationale. Details like why your studies are relevant, what industries your studies relate to and how other researchers can replicate your results are essential components of this part of your methodology. It's important to address any approaches you plan to take to continue evaluating your research over time and to cite the primary and secondary sources you use in your research.

Differences between the methodology and methods

Although the methodology section of your research paper includes details about the methods you use in your research, there are several differences between a methodology and the research methods you apply:

The overall purpose of your methodology differs from the set of methods you use to apply to your research. While the methodology is the entire section of your research paper that describes your processes, the methods refer to the actual steps you take throughout your research to collect and analyze data. The methodology serves as a summary that demonstrates the validity and reliability of your methods, while the methods you detail in this section of your paper are the scientific approaches to test and make conclusions about the data you study.

The format for a methodology differs from the format you use to list and explain your research and analysis methods. The methodology usually appears at the beginning of your paper and looks like a summary or essay in paragraph form detailing your research validity, process and rationale. The format you use to describe your research and analysis methods can take various forms, depending on the type of research, type of data and type of assessments you use.

For instance, when describing the methods you use to perform quantitative and statistical analyses, the format you use may focus on a graph or chart to display your data. Additionally, the methods you describe within each part of your methodology can include tables or lists to demonstrate your research process and outcomes.

The purpose and format ultimately influence the content that you include in both your methodology and your research method details. However, the content within your entire methodology focuses on delivering a concise summary of your research, approaches and outcomes. Therefore, the content of your methodology includes all aspects of performing your studies. The content in your research paper that details your collection and analysis methods differs because it's often necessary to explain your scientific approaches and research processes with lists and visual aids (like charts or graphs) to support the information.

Example of a methodology in a research paper

The following example of a methodology in a research paper can provide additional insight into what to include and how to structure yours:

This research paper explains the psychological and emotional effects of a support program for employees with mental illness. The program involved extended and individualized support for employment candidates through a job support agency that maintained contact with candidates after initial job placement to offer support in various ways. I used a 50% random sampling of individuals who took part in the support program through the job support agency between April and October, and who fit the study criteria I developed from previous and similar studies.

My team and I randomly assigned the resulting 350 cases to either the treatment group or the control group, which comprised life skills development and employment training within an in-house workshop environment. My team and I measured all 350 participants upon intake and again at the 90-day threshold of employment. The psychological functioning and self-esteem measurements we used provided significant data on the effects of treatment within both measures, including opposing outcomes that differed from our initial hypothesis.

We found through our research that instead of improved function and higher self-esteem, the individuals within the treatment group displayed lower levels of cognitive and emotional function and lower self-esteem. These results led my research team and I to conclude that individuals who work in roles they find unfulfilling often experience significant decreases in performance due to higher job stress and diminished emotional well-being, regardless of their mental health conditions.

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