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Jun 8th 2017

Top 10 Tips for Writing a Dissertation Methodology

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The methodology is one of the most important parts of a dissertation. In the same time, this is the most complex section to write because of the emphasis scholars put on this particular part.

Generally speaking, a methodology serves to inform the audience of the methods used in the research, as well as introduce and explain the tools used for the purpose of collecting data. In most cases, this section requires plenty of research and attention to details. It has to explain why you did what you did, and how you went about it. Basically, its goal is to convince the audience that your approach is the right approach and will result in accurate findings.

A methodology should comprise of 20% of the entire dissertation. To help you out, we have selected 10 tips to guide you when writing your dissertation methodology:

1. Review Samples of Other Dissertations

To get a clear picture at what you should do in your methodology chapter, take a look into other dissertations. Pick the best dissertations in your field and your topic, or at least some that are related to it. By reviewing such samples, you will get a better idea of what your methodology should look like.

Dissertation samples can provide you with a key source for your methodology – precedence. If you look into relevant methodologies, you can compare your project to the subject area. Adopting other methodologies will provide you with some authority and relevance in your research.

Basically, implementing such knowledge in your own dissertation represents knowledge of the subject area. If you want to look professional and introduced to the topic in question, this is the best way to go.

2. Outline the Research Approach

What is your research approach? Determine this prior to crafting the methodology. Otherwise, you will just be spinning in a never-ending circle.

There are three categories of research approach: quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods. Which one is best for your research?

  • Quantitative research uses statistics and numerical data as its core
  • Qualitative research focuses on meanings and subjectivity
  • Mixed-methods research combines the qualitative and quantitative approach

Choosing the wrong approach can lead to badly researched topic, so make sure that you consider your approach in detail. This is what the methodology section serves for – to prove that you have chosen the most reliable approach to research the chosen topic.

3. Be Descriptive

Your methodology should be as descriptive as possible. Try breaking down the research processes, explain the analysis of the data step by step, and discuss every stage thoroughly. This will help the reader understand how you arrived to the findings in the dissertation.

This is not all. You also need to justify all your choices since data on its own is not really reliable. Provide plenty of detail on the reasons why you chose the specific approach, why you decided to use the techniques you chose, etc. If you answer all these questions in the methodology section, you are making the reading process much easier for the audience.

4. Know Your Limitations

If you want to create a quality dissertation, you must know the strengths and limitations of the paper. The methodology section should serve to present these limitations to the audience.

Do not limit yourself to lack of resources. Discuss limitations of every kind, including those that result from a deliberately made choice or human error. In addition to this, consider ethics and try to meet the ethical standards expected of you. This means that you cannot use information without consent from all participants.

Such considerations should also be documented in this section of your dissertation.

5. Make Good Use of the Appendices

Stop seeing the appendices as your enemy! These are your friends and can help you add indirectly relevant material in the methodology of the dissertation. For example, you should use appendices as the place to put the consent forms discussed before, or insert the surveys you conducted.

When writing down the appendices, do not forget to indicate where readers can find them in the methodology chapter.

6. Define Your Research Questions

Your methodology section should serve to describe the instrument used to answer all research questions. Therefore, you are required to define these questions before you start explaining the methodology used to answer them. If you fail to complete this step properly, your methodology will be incomplete and vague.

7. Keep the Section Concise and Clear

The methodology section should present you as an informed writer that has a specific purpose and wide understanding of the topic. To achieve this, always aim to write clear and concise sentences that speak your mind directly.

Your methodology section is not the place to use poetic language. This is one of the key parts of the research and should deliver all relevant information concisely and clearly.

8. Justify the Research Methods

Even if you present your methods concisely and clearly, the reader will demand justification for them. In order to see your research as a reliable one, the audience needs to believe in your methodology. Therefore, you must justify all research methods presented in this section.

This is especially important if you are using a non-standard, new methodology to come to the answers to your research questions. Otherwise, you can mention other relevant studies and justify your methodology on a basis of their findings.

9. Include all Alternatives in the Rationale

It does not really matter what kind of a research you are writing – if you want it to be good, you must focus on the rationale. There are plenty of methodological approaches available for every research, which is why your rationale should evaluate all these alternate approaches and defend the chosen methods.

Why did you choose that method out of all available methods? Weight up the cons and pros of both your methodology and other relevant alternatives. This should demonstrate that you made the best choice for your dissertation.

10. Use the Proper Sampling Techniques

Sampling can be very complex if you do not pay enough attention. The size and techniques used to take samples is important for your research, which is why you should focus on picking the technique that best fits your approach.

Now that you know all these tricks, you are ready to write up your dissertation methodology. Remember – this is a highly important part of any dissertation, so invest your time to make sure it is perfect.



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