How to write a methodology (2018) ~ Dissertation Help
John | August 20, 2017
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How to write a methodology? Dissertation Help
To address how to write a methodology, in the Methodology section of your dissertation you have to justify and explain your choice of methodologies employed in your research. You don’t however have to explain the methodological approaches that you could have used. In other words, say why you chose the ones you did and don’t say why you didn’t choose the others that were at your disposal.
How to write a methodology?
You may consider whether or not someone else could easily replicate your study based on what you have included in this section and in the appendices.
In this section you have to explain very clearly how you arrived at your findings and state clearly why they are reliable and how they answer your research questions or test the hypotheses on which your research was based.
How to Structure the Methodology Chapter?
This will deal with the philosophy which underpins your research. You will set out the research paradigm here.
While there are many different research philosophies you can adopt, three of the most popular are positivism, post-positivism and interpretivism. Each is suitable for a different sort of study, and each involves different assumptions about the world (ontology), how we know that world (epistemology) and the nature of knowledge.
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The following table sums up key details about each philosophy, and should help you decide which is most useful for your area of study.
|PHILOSOPHY||BRIEF DESCRIPTION||TYPE OF DATA/DATA COLLECTION||ONTOLOGY||EPISTEMOLOGY|
|Positivism||Aims to mirror scientific method. Uses deductive reasoning, empirical evidence and hypothesis testing||Quantitative data, surveys based on scientific methods, larger sample sets, numeric||The world is objective and independent of our subjective experience||The world is knowable, and this knowledge is communicable between agents|
|Interpretivism||An approach to studying people, particularly in social sciences, that starts from position that the subject matter is inherently different from non-human subjects.||Qualitative data, subjective experience, small numbers of respondents, detailed examinations, textual||The world is dependent on the many subjective experiences of that world, and does not exist independently of experience||There is no possibility of ‘objective’ knowledge of the world, all we have are different experiences.|
|Post-Positivism||Shares the main assumptions of positivism, but takes a more relativistic perspective||Quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods||There is an objective world, but knowledge of it is filtered through the subjective experience of individuals. Knowledge is by its nature partial and bound by individual experience|
Section II: Approach
How to write a methodology
Research Onion, Source: Saunders et al (2012)
Here you will need to explain the context of your research, its limitations and specifically answer the “w-” questions, which include How, Why, What Where and When? The main decision you are likely to make is whether you will be using qualitative or quantitative methods (or methods which combine both). Each method is associated with a different approach to gathering data. In general (there’s lots more material available online if you want to learn more) you first need to decide whether you are going to work along broadly positivist, scientific lines, starting with a defined hypothesis and testing this against reality. If so, you are likely to be collecting numerical data in reasonably large quantities (30 or more) and running statistical tests on this data.
In other words, you’ll be using a quantitative approach (to do with collecting and manipulating data). On the other hand, you might be more interested in exploring broad areas, probably to do with people’s experiences of, perceptions of or emotional reactions to a subject, and looking in detail at these responses in all their richness. By looking at broad areas of interest, you are aiming to generate theories about the area you are investigating. If this is the case, you will be adopting a qualitative approach (concerned with analysing textual responses in detail). Finally, you might want to use a mixture of both methods, and indeed ‘mixed methods’ research is becoming increasingly popular. It’s particularly useful when you want to reflect different perspectives on a subject, or put quantitative information into a robust real-world context.
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Section III: Strategy and Research Design
In this section you will outline how you collected your data; and you will have to explain your choice for using the methods you did, such as online surveys, phone surveys, face-to-face-interviews and so on. How did you choose your sample? Explain the choice of age group and ethnicity of your respondents. What questions did you ask and how have these contributed towards answering your research question or how did these test your hypothesis which formed the basis of your research? It is actually better to write this at the start of your research, so that it can be changed if your methods are not producing the results you need. However as this is not usually how dissertations are written- they are written in hindsight, then you will have to be honest about the flaws in the design. When writing or planning this section, it’s good practice to refer back to your research questions, aims and objectives, and ask yourself whether what you are planning to do is the best way to answer the questions and achieve the objectives. It’s best to do this at an early stage, rather than look at the data you collected and find it doesn’t throw any light on the topics you wanted to ask about.
Another thing to remember is that you need to convince the reader that the results you obtain are valid and reliable. When discussing why you selected the methods you did, you should be convincing that these methods are the best ones available given what you want to achieve.
Section IV: Data Collection and Analysis Methods
You will have to explain how the data was collected (by what means) and then explain the analysis tools you used. For example, if you were sampling texts, or have a lot of qualitative data are you using semiotics analysis, discourse analysis and so on. If you used software tools then you will have to say what these were and why you chose to use these particular ones.
In this section you have to explain very clearly how you arrived at your findings and state clearly why they are reliable and how they answer your research questions or test the hypotheses on which your research was based. .
The choices you made at the beginning of your research study should have been aided by contributions from your supervisor. That being so, writing the Methodology section will be the easiest part of your dissertation.
Section V: Ethics, Reliability, Validity, Generalizability and Limitations
Finally, your methodology should discuss the following:
- Ethics – you need to explain how you have taken into account the ethics of your research, particularly if it includes human subjects. What steps did you take to make sure no one involved is harmed in any way (even very minor ways)? This discussion should include how you dealt with issues of confidentiality of data, and data protection
- Reliability – that is, the extent to which your study is reliable, in that the results can be repeated by other researchers at other times. To be informative, studies should be both reliable and valid
- Validity – that is, does the study test what it sets out to test? Are the measures you use able to accurately assess what you want to look at?
- Generalizability – to what extent are the particular results you obtained true of other populations? Not all studies are as generalizable as others, but you need to discuss how generalizable your results are likely to be, and why.
- Limitations – finally, you need to acknowledge any ways in which the study was limited. Was it restricted to only one country, when data from other regions would be useful? Or were only people of a certain age interviewed, when a more representative cross-section of the population would have yielded more informative results?
1. Sample Dissertation Methodology: Mixed Method Deductive Research
2. How to Structure a Dissertation: Chapters & Subchapters
3. Understanding Mixed Research Methods
4. Flawless Tips on Selecting your PhD Thesis Topic
John- WritePass Admin
How to write a methodology? Dissertation Help
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Category: Articles & Advice, Dissertation Writing Guide
We have compiled a list of the top 10 tips to help you write your dissertation methodology below. Think of this like a check-list for you to utilise throughout writing your methodology.
If you want further guidance on writing a dissertation methodology, our article Writing your dissertation methodology answers the most common questions asked by students and is packed full of helpful advice.
The methodology typically follows your literature review, so for the purposes of clarity and regaining focus it is useful briefly to recap the central research questions of your dissertation. Define and explain the problems which you seek to address.
Give an overview of your approach to primary research in order to guide the reader and contextualise your methodology. By identifying all methodological aspects to which to will attend – rationale, justification, sampling issues, etc. – you can signal unambiguously to the reader that you fully understand the implications of thorough, astute methodology.
The ability to reproduce the results of an experiment is a hallmark of proper scientific method; in the humanities also, reproducibility indicates greater credibility and usefulness. Provide a detailed description of your techniques, such that those wishing to challenge your position could, if they wished, reproduce the same research.
Consider whether your research methodology is typical of comparable research projects within your particular subject area. A review of the relevant literature will doubtless find some comparable endeavours, in which case the adoption of those methodologies may lend authority to your approach.
It is absolutely essential that you provide sound reasons for the methods your have chosen to conduct your research. This aspect is particularly important when adopting a novel or non-standard methodology. Approaches at odds with comparable endeavours require considerable rigorous justification.
No matter what type of research, there are almost always a number of methodological approaches available. In your rationale, critically evaluate alternate approaches in order to defend the methods you have finally chosen. Weigh up the pros and cons of all relevant alternatives, including your own choice.
7. Reliability and validity
Essential considerations in all types of research, issues of reliability and validity must be explicitly discussed. Many matters fall under this area, including accuracy, precision, sources of error and statistical significance.
Questions concerning sampling techniques and sample size can be considered under reliability and validity, but are often important enough to be given special attention. The impact of sample size upon statistical significance of your results is an issue of such importance that you should be mindful of this when designing and writing up your methodology.
Keep your methodology chapter focussed and lucidly written by appending indirectly relevant material to the end of your dissertation writing. Copies of questionnaires and other methodological material should usually be placed in the appendix.
Include a section in your methodology which directly addresses the question of how far data obtained through your approach can be generalised. Bear this issue in mind when designing your methodology too, as results with general significance outside of your direct data set will tend to increase the persuasiveness of your eventual findings.
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