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Dissertation Methodology – Structure, Example and Writing Guide

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Dissertation Methodology

Dissertation Methodology

In any research, the methodology chapter is one of the key components of your dissertation. It provides a detailed description of the methods you used to conduct your research and helps readers understand how you obtained your data and how you plan to analyze it. This section is crucial for replicating the study and validating its results.

Here are the basic elements that are typically included in a dissertation methodology:

  • Introduction : This section should explain the importance and goals of your research .
  • Research Design : Outline your research approach and why it’s appropriate for your study. You might be conducting an experimental research, a qualitative research, a quantitative research, or a mixed-methods research.
  • Data Collection : This section should detail the methods you used to collect your data. Did you use surveys, interviews, observations, etc.? Why did you choose these methods? You should also include who your participants were, how you recruited them, and any ethical considerations.
  • Data Analysis : Explain how you intend to analyze the data you collected. This could include statistical analysis, thematic analysis, content analysis, etc., depending on the nature of your study.
  • Reliability and Validity : Discuss how you’ve ensured the reliability and validity of your study. For instance, you could discuss measures taken to reduce bias, how you ensured that your measures accurately capture what they were intended to, or how you will handle any limitations in your study.
  • Ethical Considerations : This is where you state how you have considered ethical issues related to your research, how you have protected the participants’ rights, and how you have complied with the relevant ethical guidelines.
  • Limitations : Acknowledge any limitations of your methodology, including any biases and constraints that might have affected your study.
  • Summary : Recap the key points of your methodology chapter, highlighting the overall approach and rationalization of your research.

Types of Dissertation Methodology

The type of methodology you choose for your dissertation will depend on the nature of your research question and the field you’re working in. Here are some of the most common types of methodologies used in dissertations:

Experimental Research

This involves creating an experiment that will test your hypothesis. You’ll need to design an experiment, manipulate variables, collect data, and analyze that data to draw conclusions. This is commonly used in fields like psychology, biology, and physics.

Survey Research

This type of research involves gathering data from a large number of participants using tools like questionnaires or surveys. It can be used to collect a large amount of data and is often used in fields like sociology, marketing, and public health.

Qualitative Research

This type of research is used to explore complex phenomena that can’t be easily quantified. Methods include interviews, focus groups, and observations. This methodology is common in fields like anthropology, sociology, and education.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research uses numerical data to answer research questions. This can include statistical, mathematical, or computational techniques. It’s common in fields like economics, psychology, and health sciences.

Case Study Research

This type of research involves in-depth investigation of a particular case, such as an individual, group, or event. This methodology is often used in psychology, social sciences, and business.

Mixed Methods Research

This combines qualitative and quantitative research methods in a single study. It’s used to answer more complex research questions and is becoming more popular in fields like social sciences, health sciences, and education.

Action Research

This type of research involves taking action and then reflecting upon the results. This cycle of action-reflection-action continues throughout the study. It’s often used in fields like education and organizational development.

Longitudinal Research

This type of research involves studying the same group of individuals over an extended period of time. This could involve surveys, observations, or experiments. It’s common in fields like psychology, sociology, and medicine.

Ethnographic Research

This type of research involves the in-depth study of people and cultures. Researchers immerse themselves in the culture they’re studying to collect data. This is often used in fields like anthropology and social sciences.

Structure of Dissertation Methodology

The structure of a dissertation methodology can vary depending on your field of study, the nature of your research, and the guidelines of your institution. However, a standard structure typically includes the following elements:

  • Introduction : Briefly introduce your overall approach to the research. Explain what you plan to explore and why it’s important.
  • Research Design/Approach : Describe your overall research design. This can be qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods. Explain the rationale behind your chosen design and why it is suitable for your research questions or hypotheses.
  • Data Collection Methods : Detail the methods you used to collect your data. You should include what type of data you collected, how you collected it, and why you chose this method. If relevant, you can also include information about your sample population, such as how many people participated, how they were chosen, and any relevant demographic information.
  • Data Analysis Methods : Explain how you plan to analyze your collected data. This will depend on the nature of your data. For example, if you collected quantitative data, you might discuss statistical analysis techniques. If you collected qualitative data, you might discuss coding strategies, thematic analysis, or narrative analysis.
  • Reliability and Validity : Discuss how you’ve ensured the reliability and validity of your research. This might include steps you took to reduce bias or increase the accuracy of your measurements.
  • Ethical Considerations : If relevant, discuss any ethical issues associated with your research. This might include how you obtained informed consent from participants, how you ensured participants’ privacy and confidentiality, or any potential conflicts of interest.
  • Limitations : Acknowledge any limitations in your research methodology. This could include potential sources of bias, difficulties with data collection, or limitations in your analysis methods.
  • Summary/Conclusion : Briefly summarize the key points of your methodology, emphasizing how it helps answer your research questions or hypotheses.

How to Write Dissertation Methodology

Writing a dissertation methodology requires you to be clear and precise about the way you’ve carried out your research. It’s an opportunity to convince your readers of the appropriateness and reliability of your approach to your research question. Here is a basic guideline on how to write your methodology section:

1. Introduction

Start your methodology section by restating your research question(s) or objective(s). This ensures your methodology directly ties into the aim of your research.

2. Approach

Identify your overall approach: qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods. Explain why you have chosen this approach.

  • Qualitative methods are typically used for exploratory research and involve collecting non-numerical data. This might involve interviews, observations, or analysis of texts.
  • Quantitative methods are used for research that relies on numerical data. This might involve surveys, experiments, or statistical analysis.
  • Mixed methods use a combination of both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

3. Research Design

Describe the overall design of your research. This could involve explaining the type of study (e.g., case study, ethnography, experimental research, etc.), how you’ve defined and measured your variables, and any control measures you’ve implemented.

4. Data Collection

Explain in detail how you collected your data.

  • If you’ve used qualitative methods, you might detail how you selected participants for interviews or focus groups, how you conducted observations, or how you analyzed existing texts.
  • If you’ve used quantitative methods, you might detail how you designed your survey or experiment, how you collected responses, and how you ensured your data is reliable and valid.

5. Data Analysis

Describe how you analyzed your data.

  • If you’re doing qualitative research, this might involve thematic analysis, discourse analysis, or grounded theory.
  • If you’re doing quantitative research, you might be conducting statistical tests, regression analysis, or factor analysis.

Discuss any ethical issues related to your research. This might involve explaining how you obtained informed consent, how you’re protecting participants’ privacy, or how you’re managing any potential harms to participants.

7. Reliability and Validity

Discuss the steps you’ve taken to ensure the reliability and validity of your data.

  • Reliability refers to the consistency of your measurements, and you might discuss how you’ve piloted your instruments or used standardized measures.
  • Validity refers to the accuracy of your measurements, and you might discuss how you’ve ensured your measures reflect the concepts they’re supposed to measure.

8. Limitations

Every study has its limitations. Discuss the potential weaknesses of your chosen methods and explain any obstacles you faced in your research.

9. Conclusion

Summarize the key points of your methodology, emphasizing how it helps to address your research question or objective.

Example of Dissertation Methodology

An Example of Dissertation Methodology is as follows:

Chapter 3: Methodology

  • Introduction

This chapter details the methodology adopted in this research. The study aimed to explore the relationship between stress and productivity in the workplace. A mixed-methods research design was used to collect and analyze data.

Research Design

This study adopted a mixed-methods approach, combining quantitative surveys with qualitative interviews to provide a comprehensive understanding of the research problem. The rationale for this approach is that while quantitative data can provide a broad overview of the relationships between variables, qualitative data can provide deeper insights into the nuances of these relationships.

Data Collection Methods

Quantitative Data Collection : An online self-report questionnaire was used to collect data from participants. The questionnaire consisted of two standardized scales: the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) to measure stress levels and the Individual Work Productivity Questionnaire (IWPQ) to measure productivity. The sample consisted of 200 office workers randomly selected from various companies in the city.

Qualitative Data Collection : Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 participants chosen from the initial sample. The interview guide included questions about participants’ experiences with stress and how they perceived its impact on their productivity.

Data Analysis Methods

Quantitative Data Analysis : Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyze the survey data. Pearson’s correlation was used to examine the relationship between stress and productivity.

Qualitative Data Analysis : Interviews were transcribed and subjected to thematic analysis using NVivo software. This process allowed for identifying and analyzing patterns and themes regarding the impact of stress on productivity.

Reliability and Validity

To ensure reliability and validity, standardized measures with good psychometric properties were used. In qualitative data analysis, triangulation was employed by having two researchers independently analyze the data and then compare findings.

Ethical Considerations

All participants provided informed consent prior to their involvement in the study. They were informed about the purpose of the study, their rights as participants, and the confidentiality of their responses.

Limitations

The main limitation of this study is its reliance on self-report measures, which can be subject to biases such as social desirability bias. Moreover, the sample was drawn from a single city, which may limit the generalizability of the findings.

Where to Write Dissertation Methodology

In a dissertation or thesis, the Methodology section usually follows the Literature Review. This placement allows the Methodology to build upon the theoretical framework and existing research outlined in the Literature Review, and precedes the Results or Findings section. Here’s a basic outline of how most dissertations are structured:

  • Acknowledgements
  • Literature Review (or it may be interspersed throughout the dissertation)
  • Methodology
  • Results/Findings
  • References/Bibliography

In the Methodology chapter, you will discuss the research design, data collection methods, data analysis methods, and any ethical considerations pertaining to your study. This allows your readers to understand how your research was conducted and how you arrived at your results.

Advantages of Dissertation Methodology

The dissertation methodology section plays an important role in a dissertation for several reasons. Here are some of the advantages of having a well-crafted methodology section in your dissertation:

  • Clarifies Your Research Approach : The methodology section explains how you plan to tackle your research question, providing a clear plan for data collection and analysis.
  • Enables Replication : A detailed methodology allows other researchers to replicate your study. Replication is an important aspect of scientific research because it provides validation of the study’s results.
  • Demonstrates Rigor : A well-written methodology shows that you’ve thought critically about your research methods and have chosen the most appropriate ones for your research question. This adds credibility to your study.
  • Enhances Transparency : Detailing your methods allows readers to understand the steps you took in your research. This increases the transparency of your study and allows readers to evaluate potential biases or limitations.
  • Helps in Addressing Research Limitations : In your methodology section, you can acknowledge and explain the limitations of your research. This is important as it shows you understand that no research method is perfect and there are always potential weaknesses.
  • Facilitates Peer Review : A detailed methodology helps peer reviewers assess the soundness of your research design. This is an important part of the publication process if you aim to publish your dissertation in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Establishes the Validity and Reliability : Your methodology section should also include a discussion of the steps you took to ensure the validity and reliability of your measurements, which is crucial for establishing the overall quality of your research.

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How to Write Your Dissertation Methodology

What Is a Dissertation Methodology?

How to choose your methodology, final thoughts, how to write your dissertation methodology.

Updated September 30, 2021

Edward Melett

Due to the complexities of the different research methods, writing your dissertation methodology can often be the most challenging and time-consuming part of your postgraduate dissertation .

This article focuses on the importance of writing a good PhD or master's dissertation methodology – and how to achieve this.

A postgraduate dissertation (or thesis) is usually formed of several detailed sections, including:

Abstract – A summary of your research topic.

Introduction – Provides background information on your topic, putting it into context. You will also confirm the main focus of your study, explain why it will add value to your area of interest and specify your key objectives.

Literature Review – A critical review of literature that relates to your chosen research topic. You will also need to identify which gap in the literature your study aims to address.

Methodology – Focuses on the research methods used within your research.

Results – Used to report on your main findings and how these relate to your research question.

Conclusion – Used to confirm the answer to your main research question, reflect on the research process and offer recommendations on future research.

The dissertation methodology forms the skeleton of any research project. It provides the reader with a clear outline of the methods you decided to use when carrying out your research.

By studying your dissertation methodology, the reader will be able to assess your research in terms of its validity and reliability.

In line with the outline given above, the methodology chapter usually appears after the literature review . Your methodology should be closely linked to the research that you conducted as part of this review, as well as the questions you aim to answer through your research and analysis.

Taking the time to find out about the different types of research available to you will allow you to identify any potential drawbacks to the method you have chosen to use. You should then be able to make allowances or adjustments to address these when it comes to carrying out your research.

methodology dissertation sample

Choosing your methodology will largely depend on the discipline of the qualification you are studying for and the question your dissertation will seek to answer. In most cases, you will use quantitative or qualitative research methods, although some projects will benefit from using a combination of both.

Quantitative research methods are used to gather numerical information. This research method is particularly useful if you are seeking to count, categorise, measure or identify patterns in data. To collect quantitative data, you might choose to conduct experiments, tests or surveys.

Qualitative research methods are used to gather non-statistical data. Instead of using numbers to create charts or graphs, you will need to categorise the information according to identifiers. This research method is most useful if you are seeking to develop a hypothesis. To collect qualitative data, you might choose to conduct focus groups, interviews or observations.

What to Include in Your Dissertation Methodology

Below is a dissertation methodology example to show you what information to include:

You will need to reiterate your research topic or question and give an overview of how you plan to investigate this. If there were any ethical or philosophical considerations to be made, give details.

For example, you may have sought informed consent from the people taking part in interviews or surveys.

Outline of the Methods Chosen

Confirm whether you have chosen to use quantitative research, qualitative research or a combination of both.

When choosing between qualitative and quantitative research methods, you will need to carry out initial literature and textbook research to establish the standard research methods that are normally used within your chosen area of research.

If you are not sure where to start, you could visit the library at your college or university and ask one of the librarians to help you to identify the most relevant texts.

Explanation of the Methods Chosen

Explain your rationale for selecting your chosen research methods. You should also give an overview of why these were more appropriate than using another research method.

Think about where and when the research took place and who was involved. For example, this might include information on the venue used for interviews or focus groups, dates and timescales, and whether participants were part of a particular demographic group.

Here are some examples of the type of information you may wish to include:

Qualitative Research Methods

Personal observations – Where and when did you conduct the observations? Who did you observe? Were they part of a particular community or group? How long did each observation take? How did you record your findings – did you collect audio recordings, video footage or written observations?

Focus groups – Where and when did the focus group take place? Who was involved? How were they selected? How many people took part? Were the questions asked structured, unstructured or semi-structured? Remember to include a copy of the questions that were used as an appendix.

Interviews – Where and when did the interviews take place? Who took part? How did you select the participants? What type of questions did you ask? How did you record your findings? Remember to include a copy of the questions that were used as an appendix.

The researcher’s objective was to find out customer perceptions on improving the product range currently offered by Company Y. Semi-structured interviews were held with 15 returning customers from the key target demographic for Company Y (18- to 35-year-olds). For research purposes, a returning customer was defined as somebody who purchased products from Company Y at least two times per week during the past three months. The interviews were held in an office in the staff area of the retail premises. Each interview lasted approximately 25 minutes. Responses were recorded through note-taking as none of the respondents wished to give their consent to be filmed.

Quantitative Research Methods

Existing information or data – What were the sources of the material used? How did you select material? Did you only use data published within a particular time frame?

Experiments – What tools or equipment did you use? What techniques were required? Note that when conducting experiments, it is particularly important to provide enough information to allow another researcher to conduct the experiment and obtain the same results.

Surveys – Were respondents asked to answer multiple-choice questions or complete free-text fields? How many questions were used? How long were people given to answer all of the questions? What were the demographics of the participants? Remember to include a copy of the survey in the appendices.

The survey was made up of 10 multiple-choice questions and 5 questions to be rated using a 5-point Lickert scale. The objective was to have 250 customers of Company Z complete the survey at the Company Z HQ between 1st and 5th February 2019, between the hours of 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. For research purposes, a customer was defined as any person who had purchased a product from Company Z during 2018. Customers completing the survey were allowed a maximum of 10 minutes to answer all of the questions. 200 customers responded, however not all of the surveys were completed in full, so only 150 survey results were able to be used in the data analysis.

How Was the Data Analysed?

If you have chosen to use quantitative research methods, you will need to prepare the data before analysing it – for example, you will need to check for variables, missing data and outliers. If you have used computer software to aid with analysis, information on this should also be included.

For qualitative data, you will need to categorise and code the ideas and themes that are identified from the raw data. You may also need to use techniques such as narrative analysis or discourse analysis to interpret the meaning behind responses given.

What Materials and Equipment Were Used During the Research?

This could include anything from laboratory equipment used in a scientific experiment to computer software used to analyse the results.

Were There Any Hurdles or Difficulties Faced During the Research?

If so, what were they and how did you manage to overcome them? This could be anything from difficulties in finding participants, problems obtaining consent or a shortage of the required resources needed to conduct a scientific experiment.

This paragraph should be used to evaluate the research you have conducted and justify your reasons for choosing this approach.

You do not need to go into great detail, as you will present and discuss your results in-depth within your dissertation’s ‘Results’ section.

You will need to briefly explain whether your results were conclusive, whether there were any variables and whether your choice of methodology was effective in practice.

methodology dissertation sample

Tips for Writing Your Dissertation Methodology

The objective for the methodology is not only to describe the methods that you used for your research. You will also need to demonstrate why you chose to use them and how you applied them.

The key point is to show that your research was conducted meticulously.

Try to keep your writing style concise and clear; this will ensure that it is easy for the reader to understand and digest.

Here are five top tips to consider when writing your dissertation methodology:

1. Look at Other Methodology Sections

Ask your supervisor to provide you with a few different examples of previously written dissertations. Reading through methodologies that have been written by past students will give you a good idea of what your finished methodology section should look like.

2. Plan Your Structure

Whichever research methods you have chosen to use, your dissertation methodology should be a clearly structured, well written section that gives a strong and justified argument for your chosen research methods.

You may wish to use headings such as:

  • Research methods
  • Explanation of research methods chosen
  • Data analysis and references

Once you have drafted an outline, ask your supervisor for advice on whether there is anything you have missed and whether your structure looks logical.

3. Consider Your Audience

When writing your methodology, have regard for the people who are likely to be reading it. For example, if you have chosen to use research methods that are commonly chosen within your area of research or discipline, there is no need to give a great deal of justification or background information.

If you decide to use a less popular approach, it is advisable to give much more detailed information on how and why you chose to use this method.

4. Remain Focused on Your Aims and Research Questions

Your dissertation methodology should give a clear indication as to why the research methods you have chosen are suitable for the aims of your research.

When writing your dissertation methodology, ensure that you link your research choices back to the overall aims and objectives of your dissertation. To help you to remain focused, it can be helpful to include a clear definition of the question you are aiming to answer at the start of your methodology section.

5. Refer to Any Obstacles or Difficulties That You Dealt With

If you faced any problems during the data collection or analysis phases, use the methodology section to talk about what you did to address these issues and minimise the impact.

Whether you are completing a PhD or master's degree, writing your thesis or dissertation methodology is often considered to be the most difficult and time-consuming part of completing your major research project.

The key to success when writing a methodology section is to have a clear structure. Remember, the purpose of the methodology section of your research project is to ensure that the reader has a full understanding of the methods you have chosen.

You should use your methodology section to provide clear justification as to why you have chosen a particular research method instead of other potential methods. Avoid referring to your personal opinions, thoughts or interests within your methodology; keep the information that you include factual and ensure that everything is backed up by appropriate academic references.

You might also be interested in these other Wikijob articles:

Postgraduate/Master’s Personal Statements

Or explore the Postgraduate / PHD sections.

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  • What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips

What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips

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

Your research methodology discusses and explains the data collection and analysis methods you used in your research. A key part of your thesis, dissertation, or research paper, the methodology chapter explains what you did and how you did it, allowing readers to evaluate the reliability and validity of your research.

It should include:

  • The type of research you conducted
  • How you collected and analysed your data
  • Any tools or materials you used in the research
  • Why you chose these methods
  • Your methodology section should generally be written in the past tense .
  • Academic style guides in your field may provide detailed guidelines on what to include for different types of studies.
  • Your citation style might provide guidelines for your methodology section (e.g., an APA Style methods section ).

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Table of contents

How to write a research methodology, why is a methods section important, step 1: explain your methodological approach, step 2: describe your data collection methods, step 3: describe your analysis method, step 4: evaluate and justify the methodological choices you made, tips for writing a strong methodology chapter, frequently asked questions about methodology.

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Your methods section is your opportunity to share how you conducted your research and why you chose the methods you chose. It’s also the place to show that your research was rigorously conducted and can be replicated .

It gives your research legitimacy and situates it within your field, and also gives your readers a place to refer to if they have any questions or critiques in other sections.

You can start by introducing your overall approach to your research. You have two options here.

Option 1: Start with your “what”

What research problem or question did you investigate?

  • Aim to describe the characteristics of something?
  • Explore an under-researched topic?
  • Establish a causal relationship?

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

  • Quantitative data , qualitative data , or a mix of both?
  • Primary data collected yourself, or secondary data collected by someone else?
  • Experimental data gathered by controlling and manipulating variables, or descriptive data gathered via observations?

Option 2: Start with your “why”

Depending on your discipline, you can also start with a discussion of the rationale and assumptions underpinning your methodology. In other words, why did you choose these methods for your study?

  • Why is this the best way to answer your research question?
  • Is this a standard methodology in your field, or does it require justification?
  • Were there any ethical considerations involved in your choices?
  • What are the criteria for validity and reliability in this type of research ?

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

Quantitative methods

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

Here, explain how you operationalised your concepts and measured your variables. Discuss your sampling method or inclusion/exclusion criteria, as well as any tools, procedures, and materials you used to gather your data.

Surveys Describe where, when, and how the survey was conducted.

  • How did you design the questionnaire?
  • What form did your questions take (e.g., multiple choice, Likert scale )?
  • Were your surveys conducted in-person or virtually?
  • What sampling method did you use to select participants?
  • What was your sample size and response rate?

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

  • How did you design the experiment ?
  • How did you recruit participants?
  • How did you manipulate and measure the variables ?
  • What tools did you use?

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

  • Where did you source the material?
  • How was the data originally produced?
  • What criteria did you use to select material (e.g., date range)?

The survey consisted of 5 multiple-choice questions and 10 questions measured on a 7-point Likert scale.

The goal was to collect survey responses from 350 customers visiting the fitness apparel company’s brick-and-mortar location in Boston on 4–8 July 2022, between 11:00 and 15:00.

Here, a customer was defined as a person who had purchased a product from the company on the day they took the survey. Participants were given 5 minutes to fill in the survey anonymously. In total, 408 customers responded, but not all surveys were fully completed. Due to this, 371 survey results were included in the analysis.

Qualitative methods

In qualitative research , methods are often more flexible and subjective. For this reason, it’s crucial to robustly explain the methodology choices you made.

Be sure to discuss the criteria you used to select your data, the context in which your research was conducted, and the role you played in collecting your data (e.g., were you an active participant, or a passive observer?)

Interviews or focus groups Describe where, when, and how the interviews were conducted.

  • How did you find and select participants?
  • How many participants took part?
  • What form did the interviews take ( structured , semi-structured , or unstructured )?
  • How long were the interviews?
  • How were they recorded?

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

  • What group or community did you observe? How long did you spend there?
  • How did you gain access to this group? What role did you play in the community?
  • How long did you spend conducting the research? Where was it located?
  • How did you record your data (e.g., audiovisual recordings, note-taking)?

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

  • What type of materials did you analyse?
  • How did you select them?

In order to gain better insight into possibilities for future improvement of the fitness shop’s product range, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 8 returning customers.

Here, a returning customer was defined as someone who usually bought products at least twice a week from the store.

Surveys were used to select participants. Interviews were conducted in a small office next to the cash register and lasted approximately 20 minutes each. Answers were recorded by note-taking, and seven interviews were also filmed with consent. One interviewee preferred not to be filmed.

Mixed methods

Mixed methods research combines quantitative and qualitative approaches. If a standalone quantitative or qualitative study is insufficient to answer your research question, mixed methods may be a good fit for you.

Mixed methods are less common than standalone analyses, largely because they require a great deal of effort to pull off successfully. If you choose to pursue mixed methods, it’s especially important to robustly justify your methods here.

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Next, you should indicate how you processed and analysed your data. Avoid going into too much detail: you should not start introducing or discussing any of your results at this stage.

In quantitative research , your analysis will be based on numbers. In your methods section, you can include:

  • How you prepared the data before analysing it (e.g., checking for missing data , removing outliers , transforming variables)
  • Which software you used (e.g., SPSS, Stata or R)
  • Which statistical tests you used (e.g., two-tailed t test , simple linear regression )

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

Specific methods might include:

  • Content analysis : Categorising and discussing the meaning of words, phrases and sentences
  • Thematic analysis : Coding and closely examining the data to identify broad themes and patterns
  • Discourse analysis : Studying communication and meaning in relation to their social context

Mixed methods combine the above two research methods, integrating both qualitative and quantitative approaches into one coherent analytical process.

Above all, your methodology section should clearly make the case for why you chose the methods you did. This is especially true if you did not take the most standard approach to your topic. In this case, discuss why other methods were not suitable for your objectives, and show how this approach contributes new knowledge or understanding.

In any case, it should be overwhelmingly clear to your reader that you set yourself up for success in terms of your methodology’s design. Show how your methods should lead to results that are valid and reliable, while leaving the analysis of the meaning, importance, and relevance of your results for your discussion section .

  • Quantitative: Lab-based experiments cannot always accurately simulate real-life situations and behaviours, but they are effective for testing causal relationships between variables .
  • Qualitative: Unstructured interviews usually produce results that cannot be generalised beyond the sample group , but they provide a more in-depth understanding of participants’ perceptions, motivations, and emotions.
  • Mixed methods: Despite issues systematically comparing differing types of data, a solely quantitative study would not sufficiently incorporate the lived experience of each participant, while a solely qualitative study would be insufficiently generalisable.

Remember that your aim is not just to describe your methods, but to show how and why you applied them. Again, it’s critical to demonstrate that your research was rigorously conducted and can be replicated.

1. Focus on your objectives and research questions

The methodology section should clearly show why your methods suit your objectives  and convince the reader that you chose the best possible approach to answering your problem statement and research questions .

2. Cite relevant sources

Your methodology can be strengthened by referencing existing research in your field. This can help you to:

  • Show that you followed established practice for your type of research
  • Discuss how you decided on your approach by evaluating existing research
  • Present a novel methodological approach to address a gap in the literature

3. Write for your audience

Consider how much information you need to give, and avoid getting too lengthy. If you are using methods that are standard for your discipline, you probably don’t need to give a lot of background or justification.

Regardless, your methodology should be a clear, well-structured text that makes an argument for your approach, not just a list of technical details and procedures.

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

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

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

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

Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.

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

A sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population. Sampling means selecting the group that you will actually collect data from in your research.

For example, if you are researching the opinions of students in your university, you could survey a sample of 100 students.

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

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Writing the Dissertation - Guides for Success: The Methodology

  • Writing the Dissertation Homepage
  • Overview and Planning
  • The Literature Review
  • The Methodology
  • The Results and Discussion
  • The Conclusion
  • The Abstract
  • Getting Started
  • What to Avoid

Overview of writing the methodology

The methodology chapter precisely outlines the research method(s) employed in your dissertation and considers any relevant decisions you made, and challenges faced, when conducting your research. Getting this right is crucial because it lays the foundation for what’s to come: your results and discussion.

Disciplinary differences

Please note: this guide is not specific to any one discipline. The methodology can vary depending on the nature of the research and the expectations of the school or department. Please adapt the following advice to meet the demands of your dissertation and the expectations of your school or department. Consult your supervisor for further guidance; you can also check out our  Writing Across Subjects guide .

Guide contents

As part of the Writing the Dissertation series, this guide covers the most common conventions found in a methodology chapter, giving you the necessary knowledge, tips and guidance needed to impress your markers!  The sections are organised as follows:

  • Getting Started  - Defines the methodology and its core characteristics.
  • Structure  - Provides a detailed walk-through of common subsections or components of the methodology.
  • What to Avoid  - Covers a few frequent mistakes you'll want to...avoid!
  • FAQs  - Guidance on first- vs. third-person, secondary literature and more.
  • Checklist  - Includes a summary of key points and a self-evaluation checklist.

Training and tools

  • The Academic Skills team has recorded a Writing the Dissertation workshop series to help you with each section of a standard dissertation, including a video on writing the method/methodology .
  • For more on methods and methodologies, you can check out USC's methodology research guide  and Huddersfield's guide to writing the methodology of an undergraduate dissertation .
  • The dissertation planner tool can help you think through the timeline for planning, research, drafting and editing.
  • iSolutions offers training and a Word template to help you digitally format and structure your dissertation.

What is the methodology?

The methodology of a dissertation is like constructing a house of cards. Having strong and stable foundations for your research relies on your ability to make informed and rational choices about the design of your study. Everything from this point on – your results and discussion –  rests on these decisions, like the bottom layer of a house of cards.

The methodology is where you explicitly state, in relevant detail, how you conduced your study in direct response to your research question(s) and/or hypotheses. You should work through the linear process of devising your study to implementing it, covering the important choices you made and any potential obstacles you faced along the way.

Methods or methodology?

Some disciplines refer to this chapter as the research methods , whilst others call it the methodology . The two are often used interchangeably, but they are slightly different. The methods chapter outlines the techniques used to conduct the research and the specific steps taken throughout the research process. The methodology also outlines how the research was conducted, but is particularly interested in the philosophical underpinning that shapes the research process. As indicated by the suffix, -ology , meaning the study of something, the methodology is like the study of research, as opposed to simply stating how the research was conducted.

This guide focuses on the methodology, as opposed to the methods, although the content and guidance can be tailored to a methods chapter. Every dissertation is different and every methodology has its own nuances, so ensure you adapt the content here to your research and always consult your supervisor for more detailed guidance.

What are my markers looking for?

Your markers are looking   for your understanding of the complex process behind original (see definition) research. They are assessing your ability to...

  • Demonstrate   an understanding of the impact that methodological choices can have on the reliability and validity of your findings, meaning you should engage with ‘why’ you did that, as opposed to simply ‘what’ you did.
  • Make   informed methodological choices that clearly relate to your research question(s).

But what does it mean to engage in 'original' research? Originality doesn’t strictly mean you should be inventing something entirely new. Originality comes in many forms, from updating the application of a theory, to adapting a previous experiment for new purposes – it’s about making a worthwhile contribution.

Structuring your methodology

The methodology chapter should outline the research process undertaken, from selecting the method to articulating the tool or approach adopted to analyse your results. Because you are outlining this process, it's important that you structure your methodology in a linear way, showing how certain decisions have impacted on subsequent choices.

Scroll to continue reading, or click a link below to jump immediately to that section:

The 'research onion'

To ensure you write your methodology in a linear way, it can be useful to think of the methodology in terms of layers, as shown in the figure below.

Oval diagram with these layers from outside to in: philosophy, approach, methodological choice, strategies, time horizon, and techniques/procedures.

Figure: 'Research onion' from Saunders et al. (2007).

You don't need to precisely follow these exact layers as some won't be relevant to your research. However, the layered 'out to in' structure developed by Saunders et al. (2007) is appropriate for any methodology chapter because it guides your reader through the process in a linear fashion, demonstrating how certain decisions impacted on others. For example, you need to state whether your research is qualitative, quantitative or mixed before articulating your precise research method. Likewise, you need to explain how you collected your data before you inform the reader of how you subsequently analysed that data.

Using this linear approach from 'outer' layer to 'inner' layer, the next sections will take you through the most common layers used to structure a methodology chapter.

Introduction and research outline

Like any chapter, you should open your methodology with an introduction. It's good to start by briefly restating the research problem, or gap, that you're addressing, along with your research question(s) and/or hypotheses. Following this, it's common to provide a very condensed statement that outlines the most important elements of your research design. Here's a short example:

This study adopted qualitative research through a series of semi-structured interviews with seven experienced industry professionals.

Like any other introduction, you can then provide a brief statement outlining what the chapter is about and how it's structured (e.g., an essay map ).

Restating the research problem (or gap) and your research question(s) and/or hypotheses creates a natural transition from your previous review of the literature - which helped you to identify the gap or problem - to how you are now going to address such a problem. Your markers are also going to assess the relevance and suitability of your method and methodological choices against your research question(s), so it's good to 'frame' the entire chapter around the research question(s) by bringing them to the fore.

Research philosophy

A research philosophy is an underlying belief that shapes the way research is conducted. For this reason, as featured in the 'research onion' above, the philosophy should be the outermost layer - the first methodological issue you deal with following the introduction and research outline - because every subsequent choice, from the method employed to the way you analyse data, is directly influenced by your philosophical stance.

You can say something about other philosophies, but it's best to directly relate this to your research and the philosophy you have selected - why the other philosophy isn't appropriate for you to adopt, for instance. Otherwise, explain to your reader the philosophy you have selected (using secondary literature), its underlying principles, and why this philosophy, therefore, is particularly relevant to your research.

The research philosophy is sometimes featured in a methodology chapter, but not always. It depends on the conventions within your school or discipline , so only include this if it's expected.

The reason for outlining the research philosophy is to show your understanding of the role that your chosen philosophy plays in shaping the design and approach of your research study. The philosophy you adopt also indicates your worldview (in the context of this research), which is an important way of highlighting the role you, the researcher, play in shaping new knowledge.

Research method

This is where you state whether you're doing qualitative, quantitative or mixed-methods research before outlining the exact instrument or strategy (see definition) adopted for research (interviews, case study, etc.). It's also important that you explain why you have chosen that particular method and strategy. You can also explain why you're not adopting an alternate form of research, or why you haven't used a particular instrument, but keep this brief and use it to reinforce why you have chosen your method and strategy.

Your research method, more than anything else, is going to directly influence how effectively you answer your research question(s). For that reason, it's crucial that you emphasise the suitability of your chosen method and instrument for the purposes of your research.                       

Data collection

The data collection part of your methodology explain the process of how you accessed and collected your data. Using an interview as a qualitative example, this might include the criteria for selecting participants, how you recruited the participants and how and where you conducted the interviews. There is often some overlap with data collection and research method, so don't worry about this. Just make sure you get the essential information across to your reader.

The details of how you accessed and collected your data are important for replicability purposes - the ability for someone to adopt the same approach and repeat the study. It's also important to include this information for reliability and consistency purposes (see  validity and reliability  on the next tab of this guide for more).

Data analysis

After describing how you collected the data, you need to identify your chosen method of data analysis. Inevitably, this will vary depending on whether your research is qualitative or quantitative (see note below).

Qualitative research tends to be narrative-based where forms of ‘coding’ are employed to categorise and group the data into meaningful themes and patterns (Bui, 2014). Quantitative deals with numerical data meaning some form of statistical approach is taken to measure the results against the research question(s).

Tell your reader which data analysis software (such as SPSS or Atlast.ti) or method you’ve used and why, using relevant literature. Again, you can mention other data analysis tools that you haven’t used, but keep this brief and relate it to your discussion of your chosen approach. This isn’t to be confused with the results and discussion chapters where you actually state and then analyse your results. This is simply a discussion of the approach taken, how you applied this approach to your data and why you opted for this method of data analysis.

Detail of how you analysed your data helps to contextualise your results and discussion chapters. This is also a validity issue (see next tab of guide), as you need to ensure that your chosen method for data analysis helps you to answer your research question(s) and/or respond to your hypotheses. To use an example from Bui (2014: 155), 'if one of the research questions asks whether the participants changed their behaviour before and after the study, then one of the procedures for data analysis needs to be a comparison of the pre- and postdata'.

Validity and reliability

Validity simply refers to whether the research method(s) and instrument(s) applied are directly suited to meet the purposes of your research – whether they help you to answer your research question(s), or allow you to formulate a response to your hypotheses.

Validity can be separated into two forms: internal and external. The difference between the two is defined by what exists inside the study (internal) and what exists outside the study (external).

  • Internal validity is the extent to which ‘the results obtained can be attributed to the manipulation of the independent variable' (Salkind, 2011: 147).
  • External validity refers to the application of your study’s findings outside the setting of your study. This is known as generalisability , meaning to what extent are the results applicable to a wider context or population.

Reliability

Reliability refers to the consistency with which you designed and implemented your research instrument(s). The idea behind this is to ensure that someone else could replicate your study and, by applying the instrument in the exact same way, would achieve the same results. This is crucial to quantitative and scientific based research, but isn’t strictly the case with qualitative research given the subjective nature of the data.

With qualitative data, it’s important to emphasise that data was collected in a consistent way to avoid any distortions. For example, let’s say you’ve circulated a questionnaire to participants. You would want to ensure that every participant receives the exact same questionnaire with precisely the same questions and wording, unless different questionnaires are required for different members of the sample for the purposes of the research.

Ethical considerations

Any research involving human participants needs to consider ethical factors. In response, you need to show your markers that you have implemented the necessary measures to cover the relevant ethical issues. These are some of the factors that are typically included:

  • How did you gain the consent of participants, and how did you formally record this consent?
  • What measures did you take to ensure participants had enough understanding of their role to make an informed decision, including the right to withdraw at any stage?
  • What measures did you take to maintain the confidentiality of participants during the research and, potentially, for the write-up?
  • What measures did you take to store the raw data and protect it from external access and use prior to the write-up?

These are only a few examples of the ethical factors you need to write about in your methodology. Depending on the nature of your research, ethical considerations might form a significant part of your methodology chapter, or may only constitute a few sentences. Either way, it’s imperative that you show your markers that you’ve considered the relevant ethical implications of your research.

Limitations

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring the limitations of your study (see the next tab, 'What to Avoid', for more on this) – it’s a common part of research and should be confronted. Limitations of research can be diverse, but tend to be logistical issues relating to time, scope and access . Whilst accepting that your study has certain limitations, the key is to put a positive spin on it, like the example below:

Despite having a limited sample size compared to other similar studies, the number of participants is enough to provide sufficient data, whilst the in-depth nature of the interviews facilitates detailed responses from participants.

  • Bui, Y. N. (2014) How to Write a Master’s Thesis. 2dn Edtn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Guba, E. G. and Lincoln, Y. S. (1994) ‘Competing paradigms in qualitative research’, in Denzin, N. K. and Lincoln, N. S. (eds.) Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 105-117.
  • Salkind, N. J. (2011) ‘Internal and external validity’, in Moutinho, L. and Hutchenson, G. D. (eds.) The SAGE Dictionary of Quantitative Management Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 147-149.
  • Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2007) Research Methods for Business Students . 4th Edtn. Harlow: Pearson.

What to avoid

This portion of the guide will cover some common missteps you should try to avoid in writing your methodology.

Ignoring limitations

It might seem instinctive to hide any flaws or limitations with your research to protect yourself from criticism. However, you need to highlight any problems you encountered during the research phase, or any limitations with your approach. Your markers are expecting you to engage with these limitations and highlight the kind of impact they may have had on your research.

Just be careful that you don’t overstress these limitations. Doing so could undermine the reliability and validity of your results, and your credibility as a researcher.

Literature review of methods

Don’t mistake your methodology chapter as a detailed review of methods employed in other studies. This level of detail should, where relevant, be incorporated in the literature review chapter, instead (see our Writing the Literature Review guide ). Any reference to methodological choices made by other researchers should come into your methodology chapter, but only in support of the decisions you made.

Unnecessary detail

It’s important to be thorough in a methodology chapter. However, don’t include unnecessary levels of detail. You should provide enough detail that allows other researchers to replicate or adapt your study, but don’t bore your reader with obvious or extraneous detail.

Any materials or content that you think is worth including, but not essential in the chapter, could be included in an appendix (see definition). These don’t count towards your word count (unless otherwise stated), and they can provide further detail and context for your reader. For instance, it’s quite common to include a copy of a questionnaire in an appendix, or a list of interview questions.

Q: Should the methodology be in the past or present tense?

A: The past tense. The study has already been conducted and the methodological decisions have been implemented, meaning the chapter should be written in the past tense. For example...

Data was collected over the course of four weeks.

I informed participants of their right to withdraw at any time.

The surveys included ten questions about job satisfaction and ten questions about familial life (see Appendix).

Q: Should the methodology include secondary literature?

A: Yes, where relevant. Unlike the literature review, the methodology is driven by what you did rather than what other people have done. However, you should still draw on secondary sources, when necessary, to support your methodological decisions.

Q: Do you still need to write a methodology for secondary research?

A: Yes, although it might not form a chapter, as such. Including some detail on how you approached the research phase is always a crucial part of a dissertation, whether primary or secondary. However, depending on the nature of your research, you may not have to provide the same level of detail as you would with a primary-based study.

For example, if you’re analysing two particular pieces of literature, then you probably need to clarify how you approached the analysis process, how you use the texts (whether you focus on particular passages, for example) and perhaps why these texts are scrutinised, as opposed to others from the relevant literary canon.

In such cases, the methodology may not be a chapter, but might constitute a small part of the introduction. Consult your supervisor for further guidance.

Q: Should the methodology be in the first-person or third?

A: It’s important to be consistent , so you should use whatever you’ve been using throughout your dissertation. Third-person is more commonly accepted, but certain disciplines are happy with the use of first-person. Just remember that the first-person pronoun can be a distracting, but powerful device, so use it sparingly. Consult your supervisor for further guidance.

It’s important to remember that all research is different and, as such, the methodology chapter is likely to be very different from dissertation to dissertation. Whilst this guide has covered the most common and essential layers featured in a methodology, your methodology might be very different in terms of what you focus on, the depth of focus and the wording used.

What’s important to remember, however, is that every methodology chapter needs to be structured in a linear, layered way that guides the reader through the methodological process in sequential order. Through this, your marker can see how certain decisions have impacted on others, showing your understanding of the research process.

Here’s a final checklist for writing your methodology. Remember that not all of these points will be relevant for your methodology, so make sure you cover whatever’s appropriate for your dissertation. The asterisk (*) indicates any content that might not be relevant for your dissertation. You can download a copy of the checklist to save and edit via the Word document, below.

  • Methodology self-evaluation checklist

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Dissertations 4: methodology: methods.

  • Introduction & Philosophy
  • Methodology

Primary & Secondary Sources, Primary & Secondary Data

When describing your research methods, you can start by stating what kind of secondary and, if applicable, primary sources you used in your research. Explain why you chose such sources, how well they served your research, and identify possible issues encountered using these sources.  

Definitions  

There is some confusion on the use of the terms primary and secondary sources, and primary and secondary data. The confusion is also due to disciplinary differences (Lombard 2010). Whilst you are advised to consult the research methods literature in your field, we can generalise as follows:  

Secondary sources 

Secondary sources normally include the literature (books and articles) with the experts' findings, analysis and discussions on a certain topic (Cottrell, 2014, p123). Secondary sources often interpret primary sources.  

Primary sources 

Primary sources are "first-hand" information such as raw data, statistics, interviews, surveys, law statutes and law cases. Even literary texts, pictures and films can be primary sources if they are the object of research (rather than, for example, documentaries reporting on something else, in which case they would be secondary sources). The distinction between primary and secondary sources sometimes lies on the use you make of them (Cottrell, 2014, p123). 

Primary data 

Primary data are data (primary sources) you directly obtained through your empirical work (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill 2015, p316). 

Secondary data 

Secondary data are data (primary sources) that were originally collected by someone else (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill 2015, p316).   

Comparison between primary and secondary data   

Use  

Virtually all research will use secondary sources, at least as background information. 

Often, especially at the postgraduate level, it will also use primary sources - secondary and/or primary data. The engagement with primary sources is generally appreciated, as less reliant on others' interpretations, and closer to 'facts'. 

The use of primary data, as opposed to secondary data, demonstrates the researcher's effort to do empirical work and find evidence to answer her specific research question and fulfill her specific research objectives. Thus, primary data contribute to the originality of the research.    

Ultimately, you should state in this section of the methodology: 

What sources and data you are using and why (how are they going to help you answer the research question and/or test the hypothesis. 

If using primary data, why you employed certain strategies to collect them. 

What the advantages and disadvantages of your strategies to collect the data (also refer to the research in you field and research methods literature). 

Quantitative, Qualitative & Mixed Methods

The methodology chapter should reference your use of quantitative research, qualitative research and/or mixed methods. The following is a description of each along with their advantages and disadvantages. 

Quantitative research 

Quantitative research uses numerical data (quantities) deriving, for example, from experiments, closed questions in surveys, questionnaires, structured interviews or published data sets (Cottrell, 2014, p93). It normally processes and analyses this data using quantitative analysis techniques like tables, graphs and statistics to explore, present and examine relationships and trends within the data (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2015, p496). 

Qualitative research  

Qualitative research is generally undertaken to study human behaviour and psyche. It uses methods like in-depth case studies, open-ended survey questions, unstructured interviews, focus groups, or unstructured observations (Cottrell, 2014, p93). The nature of the data is subjective, and also the analysis of the researcher involves a degree of subjective interpretation. Subjectivity can be controlled for in the research design, or has to be acknowledged as a feature of the research. Subject-specific books on (qualitative) research methods offer guidance on such research designs.  

Mixed methods 

Mixed-method approaches combine both qualitative and quantitative methods, and therefore combine the strengths of both types of research. Mixed methods have gained popularity in recent years.  

When undertaking mixed-methods research you can collect the qualitative and quantitative data either concurrently or sequentially. If sequentially, you can for example, start with a few semi-structured interviews, providing qualitative insights, and then design a questionnaire to obtain quantitative evidence that your qualitative findings can also apply to a wider population (Specht, 2019, p138). 

Ultimately, your methodology chapter should state: 

Whether you used quantitative research, qualitative research or mixed methods. 

Why you chose such methods (and refer to research method sources). 

Why you rejected other methods. 

How well the method served your research. 

The problems or limitations you encountered. 

Doug Specht, Senior Lecturer at the Westminster School of Media and Communication, explains mixed methods research in the following video:

LinkedIn Learning Video on Academic Research Foundations: Quantitative

The video covers the characteristics of quantitative research, and explains how to approach different parts of the research process, such as creating a solid research question and developing a literature review. He goes over the elements of a study, explains how to collect and analyze data, and shows how to present your data in written and numeric form.

methodology dissertation sample

Link to quantitative research video

Some Types of Methods

There are several methods you can use to get primary data. To reiterate, the choice of the methods should depend on your research question/hypothesis. 

Whatever methods you will use, you will need to consider: 

why did you choose one technique over another? What were the advantages and disadvantages of the technique you chose? 

what was the size of your sample? Who made up your sample? How did you select your sample population? Why did you choose that particular sampling strategy?) 

ethical considerations (see also tab...)  

safety considerations  

validity  

feasibility  

recording  

procedure of the research (see box procedural method...).  

Check Stella Cottrell's book  Dissertations and Project Reports: A Step by Step Guide  for some succinct yet comprehensive information on most methods (the following account draws mostly on her work). Check a research methods book in your discipline for more specific guidance.  

Experiments 

Experiments are useful to investigate cause and effect, when the variables can be tightly controlled. They can test a theory or hypothesis in controlled conditions. Experiments do not prove or disprove an hypothesis, instead they support or not support an hypothesis. When using the empirical and inductive method it is not possible to achieve conclusive results. The results may only be valid until falsified by other experiments and observations. 

For more information on Scientific Method, click here . 

Observations 

Observational methods are useful for in-depth analyses of behaviours in people, animals, organisations, events or phenomena. They can test a theory or products in real life or simulated settings. They generally a qualitative research method.  

Questionnaires and surveys 

Questionnaires and surveys are useful to gain opinions, attitudes, preferences, understandings on certain matters. They can provide quantitative data that can be collated systematically; qualitative data, if they include opportunities for open-ended responses; or both qualitative and quantitative elements. 

Interviews  

Interviews are useful to gain rich, qualitative information about individuals' experiences, attitudes or perspectives. With interviews you can follow up immediately on responses for clarification or further details. There are three main types of interviews: structured (following a strict pattern of questions, which expect short answers), semi-structured (following a list of questions, with the opportunity to follow up the answers with improvised questions), and unstructured (following a short list of broad questions, where the respondent can lead more the conversation) (Specht, 2019, p142). 

This short video on qualitative interviews discusses best practices and covers qualitative interview design, preparation and data collection methods. 

Focus groups   

In this case, a group of people (normally, 4-12) is gathered for an interview where the interviewer asks questions to such group of participants. Group interactions and discussions can be highly productive, but the researcher has to beware of the group effect, whereby certain participants and views dominate the interview (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill 2015, p419). The researcher can try to minimise this by encouraging involvement of all participants and promoting a multiplicity of views. 

This video focuses on strategies for conducting research using focus groups.  

Check out the guidance on online focus groups by Aliaksandr Herasimenka, which is attached at the bottom of this text box. 

Case study 

Case studies are often a convenient way to narrow the focus of your research by studying how a theory or literature fares with regard to a specific person, group, organisation, event or other type of entity or phenomenon you identify. Case studies can be researched using other methods, including those described in this section. Case studies give in-depth insights on the particular reality that has been examined, but may not be representative of what happens in general, they may not be generalisable, and may not be relevant to other contexts. These limitations have to be acknowledged by the researcher.     

Content analysis 

Content analysis consists in the study of words or images within a text. In its broad definition, texts include books, articles, essays, historical documents, speeches, conversations, advertising, interviews, social media posts, films, theatre, paintings or other visuals. Content analysis can be quantitative (e.g. word frequency) or qualitative (e.g. analysing intention and implications of the communication). It can detect propaganda, identify intentions of writers, and can see differences in types of communication (Specht, 2019, p146). Check this page on collecting, cleaning and visualising Twitter data.

Extra links and resources:  

Research Methods  

A clear and comprehensive overview of research methods by Emerald Publishing. It includes: crowdsourcing as a research tool; mixed methods research; case study; discourse analysis; ground theory; repertory grid; ethnographic method and participant observation; interviews; focus group; action research; analysis of qualitative data; survey design; questionnaires; statistics; experiments; empirical research; literature review; secondary data and archival materials; data collection. 

Doing your dissertation during the COVID-19 pandemic  

Resources providing guidance on doing dissertation research during the pandemic: Online research methods; Secondary data sources; Webinars, conferences and podcasts; 

  • Virtual Focus Groups Guidance on managing virtual focus groups

5 Minute Methods Videos

The following are a series of useful videos that introduce research methods in five minutes. These resources have been produced by lecturers and students with the University of Westminster's School of Media and Communication. 

5 Minute Method logo

Case Study Research

Research Ethics

Quantitative Content Analysis 

Sequential Analysis 

Qualitative Content Analysis 

Thematic Analysis 

Social Media Research 

Mixed Method Research 

Procedural Method

In this part, provide an accurate, detailed account of the methods and procedures that were used in the study or the experiment (if applicable!). 

Include specifics about participants, sample, materials, design and methods. 

If the research involves human subjects, then include a detailed description of who and how many participated along with how the participants were selected.  

Describe all materials used for the study, including equipment, written materials and testing instruments. 

Identify the study's design and any variables or controls employed. 

Write out the steps in the order that they were completed. 

Indicate what participants were asked to do, how measurements were taken and any calculations made to raw data collected. 

Specify statistical techniques applied to the data to reach your conclusions. 

Provide evidence that you incorporated rigor into your research. This is the quality of being thorough and accurate and considers the logic behind your research design. 

Highlight any drawbacks that may have limited your ability to conduct your research thoroughly. 

You have to provide details to allow others to replicate the experiment and/or verify the data, to test the validity of the research. 

Bibliography

Cottrell, S. (2014). Dissertations and project reports: a step by step guide. Hampshire, England: Palgrave Macmillan.

Lombard, E. (2010). Primary and secondary sources.  The Journal of Academic Librarianship , 36(3), 250-253

Saunders, M.N.K., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2015).  Research Methods for Business Students.  New York: Pearson Education. 

Specht, D. (2019).  The Media And Communications Study Skills Student Guide . London: University of Westminster Press.  

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

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

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

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

Importance of a Good Methodology Section

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

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

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

Structure and Writing Style

I.  Groups of Research Methods

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

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

II.  Content

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

The remainder of your methodology section should describe the following:

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

In addition, an effectively written methodology section should:

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

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

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

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

III.  Problems to Avoid

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing Tip

Statistical Designs and Tests? Do Not Fear Them!

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

To locate data and statistics, GO HERE .

Another Writing Tip

Knowing the Relationship Between Theories and Methods

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

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

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

Yet Another Writing Tip

Methods and the Methodology

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

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

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

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Chapter 3 – Dissertation Methodology (example)

Disclaimer: This is not a sample of our professional work. The paper has been produced by a student. You can view samples of our work here . Opinions, suggestions, recommendations and results in this piece are those of the author and should not be taken as our company views.

Type of Academic Paper – Dissertation Chapter

Academic Subject – Marketing

Word Count – 3017 words

Introduction

The current chapter presents developing the research methods needed to complete the experimentation portion of the current study. The chapter will discuss in detail the various stages of developing the methodology of the current study. This includes a detailed discussion of the philosophical background of the research method chosen. In addition to this, the chapter describes the data collection strategy, including the selection of research instrumentation and sampling. The chapter closes with a discussion on the analysis tools used to analyse the data collected.

Selecting an Appropriate Research Approach

Creswall (2013) stated that research approaches are plans and procedures that range from steps, including making broad assumptions to detailed methods of data collection, analysis, and interpretation. The several decisions involved in the process are used to decide which approach should be used in a specific study that is informed using philosophical assumptions brought to the study (Creswall 2013). Included in this are procedures of inquiry or research designs and specific research methods used for data collection, its analysis, and finally, its interpretation. However, Guetterman (2015); Lewis (2015); and Creswall (2013) argue that the selection of the specific research approach is based on the nature of the research problem, or the issue that is being addressed by any study, personal experiences of the researchers’, and even the audience for which the study is being developed for.

There are many ways to customise research approaches to develop an approach most suited for a particular study. However, the main three categories with which research approaches are organised include; qualitative, quantitative, and mixed research methods. Creswall (2013) comments that all three approaches are not considered so discrete or distinct from one another. Creswall (2013) states, “qualitative and quantitative approaches should not be viewed as rigid, distinct categories, polar opposite, or dichotomies” (p.32). Newmand and Benz (1998) pointed out that quantitative and qualitative approaches instead represent different ends on a continuum since a study “tends” to be more quantitative than qualitative or vice versa. Lastly, mixed methods research resides in the middle of the continuum as it can incorporate elements and characteristics of both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Lewis (2015) points out that the main distinction that is often cited between quantitative and qualitative research is that it is framed in terms of using numbers rather than words; or using closed-ended questions for quantitative hypotheses over open-ended questions for qualitative interview questions. Guetterman (2015) points out that a clearer way of viewing gradations of differences between the approaches is to examine the basic philosophical assumptions brought to the study, the kinds of research strategies used, and the particular methods implemented in conducting the strategies.

Underlying Philosophical Assumptions

An important component of defining the research approach involves philosophical assumptions that contribute to the broad research approach of planning or proposing to conduct research. It involves the intersection of philosophy, research designs and specific methods as illustrated in Fig. 1 below.

Research Onion

Figure 3.2-1- Research Onion (Source; Saunders and Tosey 2013)

Slife and Williams (1995) have argued that philosophical ideas have remained hidden within the research. However, they still play an influential role in the research practice, and it is for this reason that it is most identified. Various philosophical assumptions are used to construct or develop a study. Saunders et al. (2009) define research philosophy as a belief about how data about a phenomenon should be gathered, analysed and used. Saunders et al. (2009) identify common research philosophies such as positivism, realism, interpretivism, subjectivism, and pragmatism. Dumke (2002) believes that two views, positivism and phenomenology, mainly characterise research philosophy.

Positivism reflects acceptance in adopting the philosophical stance of natural scientists (Saunders, 2003). According to Remenyi et al. (1998), there is a greater preference in working with an “observable social reality” and that the outcome of such research can be “law-like” generalisations that are the same as those which are produced by physical and natural scientists. Gill and Johnson (1997) add that it will also emphasise a high structure methodology to allow for replication for other studies. Dumke (2002) agrees and explains

that a positivist philosophical assumption produces highly structured methodologies and allows for generalisation and quantification of objectives that can be evaluated by statistical methods. For this philosophical approach, the researcher is considered an objective observer who should not be impacted by or impact the subject of research.

On the other hand, more phenomenological approaches agree that the social world of business and management is too complex to develop theories and laws similar to natural sciences. Saunders et al. (2000) argue that this is the reason why reducing observations in the real world to simple laws and generalisations produces a sense of reality which is a bit superficial and doesn’t present the complexity of it.

The current study chooses positivistic assumptions due to the literature review’s discussion of the importance of Big Data in industrial domains and the need for measuring its success in the operations of the business. The current study aims to examine the impact that Big Data has on automobile companies’ operations. To identify a positive relationship between Big Data usage and beneficial business outcomes, the theory needs to be used to generate hypotheses that can later be tested of the relationship which would allow for explanations of laws that can later be assessed (Bryman and Bell, 2015).

Selecting Interpretive Research Approach

Interpretive research approaches are derived from the research philosophy that is adopted. According to Dumke (2002), the two main research approaches are deductive and inductive. The inductive approach is commonly referred to when theory is derived from observations. Thus, the research begins with specific observations and measures. It is then from detecting some pattern that a hypothesis is developed. Dumke (2002) argues that researchers who use an inductive approach usually work with qualitative data and apply various methods to gather specific information that places different views. From the philosophical assumptions discussed in the previous section, it is reasonable to use the deductive approach for the current study. It is also considered the most commonly used theory to establish a relationship between theory and research. The figure below illustrates the steps used for the process of deduction.

Data Collection

  • confirmed or rejected
  • Revision of theory

Based on what is known about a specific domain, the theoretical considerations encompassing it a hypothesis or hypotheses are deduced that will later be subjected to empirical enquiry (Daum, 2013). Through these hypotheses, concepts of the subject of interest will be translated into entities that are rational for a study. Researchers are then able to deduce their hypotheses and convert them into operational terms.

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methodology dissertation sample

Justifying the Use of Quantitative Research Method

Saunders (2003) notes that almost all research will involve some numerical data or even contain data quantified to help a researcher answer their research questions and meet the study’s objectives. However, quantitative data refers to all data that can be a product of all research strategies (Bryman and Bell, 2015; Guetterman, 2015; Lewis, 2015; Saunders, 2003). Based on the philosophical assumptions and interpretive research approach, a quantitative research method is the best suited for the current study. Haq (2014) explains that quantitative research is about collecting numerical data and then analysing it through statistical methods to explain a specific phenomenon. Mujis (2010) defends the use of quantitative research because, unlike qualitative research, which argues that there is no pre-existing reality, quantitative assumes that there is only a single reality about social conditions that researchers cannot influence in any way. Also, qualitative research is commonly used when there is little to no knowledge of a phenomenon, whereas quantitative research is used to find the cause and effect relationship between variables to either verify or nullify some theory or hypothesis (Creswall 2002; Feilzer 2010; Teddlie and Tashakkori 2012).

Selecting an Appropriate Research Strategy

There are many strategies available to implement in a study, as evidenced from Fig. 1. There are many mono-quantitative methods, such as telephone interviews, web-based surveys, postal surveys, and structured questionnaires (Haq 2014). Each instrument has its own pros and cons in terms of quality, time, and data cost. Brymand (2006); Driscoll et al. (2007); Edwards et al. (2002); and Newby et al. (2003) note that most researchers use structured questionnaires for data collection they are unable to control or influence respondents, which leads to low response rates but more accurate data obtained. Saunders and Tosey (2015) have argued that quantitative data is simpler to obtain and more concise to present. Therefore, the current study uses a survey-based questionnaire (See Appendix A).

Justifying the use of Survey Based Questionnaire

Surveys are considered the most traditional forms of research and are used in non-experimental descriptive designs that describe some reality. Survey-based questionnaires are often restricted to a representative sample of a potential group of the study’s interest. In this case, it is the executives currently working for automobile companies in the UK. The survey instrument is then chosen for its effectiveness at being practical and inexpensive (Kelley et al., 2003). Due to the philosophical assumptions, interpretive approach, and methodological approach, the survey design for the current study is considered the best instrument in line with these premises, besides being cost-effective.

Empirical Research Methodology

Research design.

This section describes how research is designed to use the techniques used for data collection, sampling strategy, and data analysis for a quantitative method. Before going into the strategies of data collection and analysis, a set of hypotheses were developed.

Hypotheses Development

The current study uses a quantitative research approach, making it essential to develop a set of hypotheses that will be used as a test standard for the mono-method quantitative design. The following are a set of hypotheses that have been developed from the examination of the literature review.

H1- The greater the company’s budget for Big Data initiatives (More than 1 million GBP), the greater its ability to monetise and generate new revenues.

H2- The greater the company’s budget for Big Data initiatives (More than 1 million GBP) the more decrease in expenses in found.

H3- The greatest impact of Big Data on a company is changing the way business is done.

H4- Big Data integrating with a company has resulted in competitive significance.

H5- The analytical abilities of a company allows for achieved measurable results.

H6- Investing in Big Data will lead to highly successful business results.

H7- A business’s operations function is fuelling Big Data initiatives and effecting change in operations.

H8- The implementation of Big Data in the company has positive impacts on business.

This section includes the sampling method used to collect the number of respondents needed to provide information, then analysed after collection.

Sampling Method

Collis (2009) explains that there are many kinds of sampling methods that can be used for creating a specific target sample from a population. This current study uses simple random sampling to acquire respondents with which the survey will be conducted. Simple random sampling is considered the most basic form of probability sampling. Under the method, elements are taken from the population at random, with all elements having an equal chance of being selected. According to () as of 2014, there are about thirty-five active British car manufacturers in the UK, each having an employee population of 150 or more. This is why the total population of employees in car manufacturers is estimated to be 5,250 employees. The sample, therefore, developed used the following equation;

2  ×   (1 −   )

+(   2 × (1−  ) )  2

Where; N is the population size,  e  is the margin of error (as a decimal),  z  is confidence level (as a z-score), and  p  is percentage value (as a decimal). Thus, the sample size is with a normal distribution of 50%. With the above equation, a population of 5,250; with a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error, the total sample size needed for the current equals 300. Therefore, N=300, which is the sample size of the current study.

The survey develops (see Appendix A) has a total of three sections, A, B, and C, with a total of 39 questions. Each section has its own set of questions to accomplish. The survey is a mix of closed-end questions that look to comprehend the respondents’ demographic makeup, the Big Data initiatives of the company, and the impact that Big Data was having on their company. The survey is designed to take no longer than twenty minutes. The survey was constructed on Survey Monkey.com, and an online survey provided website. The survey was left on the website for a duration of 40 days to ensure that the maximum number of respondents were able to answer the survey. The only way that the survey was allowed for a respondent is if they passed a security question as if they were working for an automobile company in the UK when taking the survey. Gupta et al. (2004) believe that web surveys are visual stimuli, and the respondent has complete control about whether or how each question is read and understood. That is why Dillman (2000) argued that web questionnaires are expected to resemble those taken through the mail/postal services closely.

Data Analysis

The collected data is then analysed through the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) version 24 for descriptive analysis. The demographic section of the survey will be analysed using descriptive statistics. Further analysis of the data includes regression analysis. Simple regression analysis includes only one independent variable and one dependent variable. Farrar and Glauber (1967) assert that the purpose of regression analysis is to estimate the parameters of dependency, and it should not be used to determine the interdependency of a relationship.

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Conclusions.

The chapter provides a descriptive and in-depth discussion of the methods involved in the current study’s research. The current study is looking towards a quantitative approach that considers positivism as its philosophical undertaking, using deductive reasoning for its interpretive approach, is a mono-quantitative method that involves the use of a survey instrument for data collection. The methodology chapter also provided the data analysis technique, which is descriptive statistics through frequency analysis and regression analysis.

Examples of results;

Question 8- Of these staff, are mostly working in or for your consumer-facing (B2C) businesses, your commercial or wholesale (B2B) businesses, or both?

Question 8- Of these staff

Based on the illustration, nineteen (19) respondents indicated that 501-1000 employees are dedicated to analytics for both B2B and B2C. The category of using Big Data analytics for both B2B and B2C comprises the most agreement of respondents with 72 of 132 indicated.

The category of using Big Data analytics

The figure above represents the respondents’ answers to their automobile company’s plan for measuring Big Data’s success. Of the 132 participants, 44.70 per cent responded that the company is planning on using quantitative metrics associated with business performance to analyse if Big Data is actually successful. Another, 30.30 per cent indicated that their company was planning on using qualitative metrics tied to business performance. Using business performance to analyse the success of Big Data is coherent to the results of the literature review that indicated previous studies of doing such. As an automobile company, they need to know the results of using Big Data analytics, and that is only by using business performance indicators regardless of being qualitative or quantitative.

achievement-of-results

Fig. 4.3-6 portrays the response of participants in regards to actually achieving measurable results from Big Data. According to 68.18 per cent of respondents, the company that they worked for did indeed show measurable results from their investments in Big Data. However, 31.82 per cent indicated that there was indeed no measurable result in investing in Big Data.

graph

Bryman, A., Bell, E., 2015. Business Research Methods. Oxford University Press.

Daum, P., 2013. International Synergy Management: A Strategic Approach for Raising Efficiencies in the Cross-border Interaction Process. Anchor Academic Publishing (aap_verlag).

Dümke, R., 2002. Corporate Reputation and its Importance for Business Success: A European

Perspective and its Implication for Public Relations Consultancies. diplom.de.

Guetterman, T.C., 2015. Descriptions of Sampling Practices Within Five Approaches to Qualitative Research in Education and the Health Sciences. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung /

Forum: Qualitative Social Research 16.

Haq, M., 2014. A Comparative Analysis of Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods and a Justification for Adopting Mixed Methods in Social Research (PDF Download Available).

ResearchGate 1–22. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.1.1945.8640

Kelley, K., Clark, B., Brown, V., Sitzia, J., 2003. Good practice in the conduct and reporting of survey research. Int J Qual Health Care 15, 261–266. doi:10.1093/intqhc/mzg031

Lewis, S., 2015. Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches.

Health Promotion Practice 16, 473–475. doi:10.1177/1524839915580941

Saunders, M., 2003. Research Methods for Business Students. Pearson Education India.

Saunders, M.N.K., Tosey, P., 2015. Handbook of Research Methods on Human Resource

Development. Edward Elgar Publishing.

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  • Explain data collection methods.
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  • Address limitations.
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  • Ensure replicability.

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Dissertation examples

Listed below are some of the best examples of research projects and dissertations from undergraduate and taught postgraduate students at the University of Leeds We have not been able to gather examples from all schools. The module requirements for research projects may have changed since these examples were written. Refer to your module guidelines to make sure that you address all of the current assessment criteria. Some of the examples below are only available to access on campus.

  • Undergraduate examples
  • Taught Masters examples

Grad Coach

Dissertation Structure & Layout 101: How to structure your dissertation, thesis or research project.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Reviewed By: David Phair (PhD) | July 2019

So, you’ve got a decent understanding of what a dissertation is , you’ve chosen your topic and hopefully you’ve received approval for your research proposal . Awesome! Now its time to start the actual dissertation or thesis writing journey.

To craft a high-quality document, the very first thing you need to understand is dissertation structure . In this post, we’ll walk you through the generic dissertation structure and layout, step by step. We’ll start with the big picture, and then zoom into each chapter to briefly discuss the core contents. If you’re just starting out on your research journey, you should start with this post, which covers the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis .

Dissertation structure and layout - the basics

*The Caveat *

In this post, we’ll be discussing a traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout, which is generally used for social science research across universities, whether in the US, UK, Europe or Australia. However, some universities may have small variations on this structure (extra chapters, merged chapters, slightly different ordering, etc).

So, always check with your university if they have a prescribed structure or layout that they expect you to work with. If not, it’s safe to assume the structure we’ll discuss here is suitable. And even if they do have a prescribed structure, you’ll still get value from this post as we’ll explain the core contents of each section.  

Overview: S tructuring a dissertation or thesis

  • Acknowledgements page
  • Abstract (or executive summary)
  • Table of contents , list of figures and tables
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Literature review
  • Chapter 3: Methodology
  • Chapter 4: Results
  • Chapter 5: Discussion
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion
  • Reference list

As I mentioned, some universities will have slight variations on this structure. For example, they want an additional “personal reflection chapter”, or they might prefer the results and discussion chapter to be merged into one. Regardless, the overarching flow will always be the same, as this flow reflects the research process , which we discussed here – i.e.:

  • The introduction chapter presents the core research question and aims .
  • The literature review chapter assesses what the current research says about this question.
  • The methodology, results and discussion chapters go about undertaking new research about this question.
  • The conclusion chapter (attempts to) answer the core research question .

In other words, the dissertation structure and layout reflect the research process of asking a well-defined question(s), investigating, and then answering the question – see below.

A dissertation's structure reflect the research process

To restate that – the structure and layout of a dissertation reflect the flow of the overall research process . This is essential to understand, as each chapter will make a lot more sense if you “get” this concept. If you’re not familiar with the research process, read this post before going further.

Right. Now that we’ve covered the big picture, let’s dive a little deeper into the details of each section and chapter. Oh and by the way, you can also grab our free dissertation/thesis template here to help speed things up.

The title page of your dissertation is the very first impression the marker will get of your work, so it pays to invest some time thinking about your title. But what makes for a good title? A strong title needs to be 3 things:

  • Succinct (not overly lengthy or verbose)
  • Specific (not vague or ambiguous)
  • Representative of the research you’re undertaking (clearly linked to your research questions)

Typically, a good title includes mention of the following:

  • The broader area of the research (i.e. the overarching topic)
  • The specific focus of your research (i.e. your specific context)
  • Indication of research design (e.g. quantitative , qualitative , or  mixed methods ).

For example:

A quantitative investigation [research design] into the antecedents of organisational trust [broader area] in the UK retail forex trading market [specific context/area of focus].

Again, some universities may have specific requirements regarding the format and structure of the title, so it’s worth double-checking expectations with your institution (if there’s no mention in the brief or study material).

Dissertations stacked up

Acknowledgements

This page provides you with an opportunity to say thank you to those who helped you along your research journey. Generally, it’s optional (and won’t count towards your marks), but it is academic best practice to include this.

So, who do you say thanks to? Well, there’s no prescribed requirements, but it’s common to mention the following people:

  • Your dissertation supervisor or committee.
  • Any professors, lecturers or academics that helped you understand the topic or methodologies.
  • Any tutors, mentors or advisors.
  • Your family and friends, especially spouse (for adult learners studying part-time).

There’s no need for lengthy rambling. Just state who you’re thankful to and for what (e.g. thank you to my supervisor, John Doe, for his endless patience and attentiveness) – be sincere. In terms of length, you should keep this to a page or less.

Abstract or executive summary

The dissertation abstract (or executive summary for some degrees) serves to provide the first-time reader (and marker or moderator) with a big-picture view of your research project. It should give them an understanding of the key insights and findings from the research, without them needing to read the rest of the report – in other words, it should be able to stand alone .

For it to stand alone, your abstract should cover the following key points (at a minimum):

  • Your research questions and aims – what key question(s) did your research aim to answer?
  • Your methodology – how did you go about investigating the topic and finding answers to your research question(s)?
  • Your findings – following your own research, what did do you discover?
  • Your conclusions – based on your findings, what conclusions did you draw? What answers did you find to your research question(s)?

So, in much the same way the dissertation structure mimics the research process, your abstract or executive summary should reflect the research process, from the initial stage of asking the original question to the final stage of answering that question.

In practical terms, it’s a good idea to write this section up last , once all your core chapters are complete. Otherwise, you’ll end up writing and rewriting this section multiple times (just wasting time). For a step by step guide on how to write a strong executive summary, check out this post .

Need a helping hand?

methodology dissertation sample

Table of contents

This section is straightforward. You’ll typically present your table of contents (TOC) first, followed by the two lists – figures and tables. I recommend that you use Microsoft Word’s automatic table of contents generator to generate your TOC. If you’re not familiar with this functionality, the video below explains it simply:

If you find that your table of contents is overly lengthy, consider removing one level of depth. Oftentimes, this can be done without detracting from the usefulness of the TOC.

Right, now that the “admin” sections are out of the way, its time to move on to your core chapters. These chapters are the heart of your dissertation and are where you’ll earn the marks. The first chapter is the introduction chapter – as you would expect, this is the time to introduce your research…

It’s important to understand that even though you’ve provided an overview of your research in your abstract, your introduction needs to be written as if the reader has not read that (remember, the abstract is essentially a standalone document). So, your introduction chapter needs to start from the very beginning, and should address the following questions:

  • What will you be investigating (in plain-language, big picture-level)?
  • Why is that worth investigating? How is it important to academia or business? How is it sufficiently original?
  • What are your research aims and research question(s)? Note that the research questions can sometimes be presented at the end of the literature review (next chapter).
  • What is the scope of your study? In other words, what will and won’t you cover ?
  • How will you approach your research? In other words, what methodology will you adopt?
  • How will you structure your dissertation? What are the core chapters and what will you do in each of them?

These are just the bare basic requirements for your intro chapter. Some universities will want additional bells and whistles in the intro chapter, so be sure to carefully read your brief or consult your research supervisor.

If done right, your introduction chapter will set a clear direction for the rest of your dissertation. Specifically, it will make it clear to the reader (and marker) exactly what you’ll be investigating, why that’s important, and how you’ll be going about the investigation. Conversely, if your introduction chapter leaves a first-time reader wondering what exactly you’ll be researching, you’ve still got some work to do.

Now that you’ve set a clear direction with your introduction chapter, the next step is the literature review . In this section, you will analyse the existing research (typically academic journal articles and high-quality industry publications), with a view to understanding the following questions:

  • What does the literature currently say about the topic you’re investigating?
  • Is the literature lacking or well established? Is it divided or in disagreement?
  • How does your research fit into the bigger picture?
  • How does your research contribute something original?
  • How does the methodology of previous studies help you develop your own?

Depending on the nature of your study, you may also present a conceptual framework towards the end of your literature review, which you will then test in your actual research.

Again, some universities will want you to focus on some of these areas more than others, some will have additional or fewer requirements, and so on. Therefore, as always, its important to review your brief and/or discuss with your supervisor, so that you know exactly what’s expected of your literature review chapter.

Dissertation writing

Now that you’ve investigated the current state of knowledge in your literature review chapter and are familiar with the existing key theories, models and frameworks, its time to design your own research. Enter the methodology chapter – the most “science-ey” of the chapters…

In this chapter, you need to address two critical questions:

  • Exactly HOW will you carry out your research (i.e. what is your intended research design)?
  • Exactly WHY have you chosen to do things this way (i.e. how do you justify your design)?

Remember, the dissertation part of your degree is first and foremost about developing and demonstrating research skills . Therefore, the markers want to see that you know which methods to use, can clearly articulate why you’ve chosen then, and know how to deploy them effectively.

Importantly, this chapter requires detail – don’t hold back on the specifics. State exactly what you’ll be doing, with who, when, for how long, etc. Moreover, for every design choice you make, make sure you justify it.

In practice, you will likely end up coming back to this chapter once you’ve undertaken all your data collection and analysis, and revise it based on changes you made during the analysis phase. This is perfectly fine. Its natural for you to add an additional analysis technique, scrap an old one, etc based on where your data lead you. Of course, I’m talking about small changes here – not a fundamental switch from qualitative to quantitative, which will likely send your supervisor in a spin!

You’ve now collected your data and undertaken your analysis, whether qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods. In this chapter, you’ll present the raw results of your analysis . For example, in the case of a quant study, you’ll present the demographic data, descriptive statistics, inferential statistics , etc.

Typically, Chapter 4 is simply a presentation and description of the data, not a discussion of the meaning of the data. In other words, it’s descriptive, rather than analytical – the meaning is discussed in Chapter 5. However, some universities will want you to combine chapters 4 and 5, so that you both present and interpret the meaning of the data at the same time. Check with your institution what their preference is.

Now that you’ve presented the data analysis results, its time to interpret and analyse them. In other words, its time to discuss what they mean, especially in relation to your research question(s).

What you discuss here will depend largely on your chosen methodology. For example, if you’ve gone the quantitative route, you might discuss the relationships between variables . If you’ve gone the qualitative route, you might discuss key themes and the meanings thereof. It all depends on what your research design choices were.

Most importantly, you need to discuss your results in relation to your research questions and aims, as well as the existing literature. What do the results tell you about your research questions? Are they aligned with the existing research or at odds? If so, why might this be? Dig deep into your findings and explain what the findings suggest, in plain English.

The final chapter – you’ve made it! Now that you’ve discussed your interpretation of the results, its time to bring it back to the beginning with the conclusion chapter . In other words, its time to (attempt to) answer your original research question s (from way back in chapter 1). Clearly state what your conclusions are in terms of your research questions. This might feel a bit repetitive, as you would have touched on this in the previous chapter, but its important to bring the discussion full circle and explicitly state your answer(s) to the research question(s).

Dissertation and thesis prep

Next, you’ll typically discuss the implications of your findings . In other words, you’ve answered your research questions – but what does this mean for the real world (or even for academia)? What should now be done differently, given the new insight you’ve generated?

Lastly, you should discuss the limitations of your research, as well as what this means for future research in the area. No study is perfect, especially not a Masters-level. Discuss the shortcomings of your research. Perhaps your methodology was limited, perhaps your sample size was small or not representative, etc, etc. Don’t be afraid to critique your work – the markers want to see that you can identify the limitations of your work. This is a strength, not a weakness. Be brutal!

This marks the end of your core chapters – woohoo! From here on out, it’s pretty smooth sailing.

The reference list is straightforward. It should contain a list of all resources cited in your dissertation, in the required format, e.g. APA , Harvard, etc.

It’s essential that you use reference management software for your dissertation. Do NOT try handle your referencing manually – its far too error prone. On a reference list of multiple pages, you’re going to make mistake. To this end, I suggest considering either Mendeley or Zotero. Both are free and provide a very straightforward interface to ensure that your referencing is 100% on point. I’ve included a simple how-to video for the Mendeley software (my personal favourite) below:

Some universities may ask you to include a bibliography, as opposed to a reference list. These two things are not the same . A bibliography is similar to a reference list, except that it also includes resources which informed your thinking but were not directly cited in your dissertation. So, double-check your brief and make sure you use the right one.

The very last piece of the puzzle is the appendix or set of appendices. This is where you’ll include any supporting data and evidence. Importantly, supporting is the keyword here.

Your appendices should provide additional “nice to know”, depth-adding information, which is not critical to the core analysis. Appendices should not be used as a way to cut down word count (see this post which covers how to reduce word count ). In other words, don’t place content that is critical to the core analysis here, just to save word count. You will not earn marks on any content in the appendices, so don’t try to play the system!

Time to recap…

And there you have it – the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows:

  • Acknowledgments page

Most importantly, the core chapters should reflect the research process (asking, investigating and answering your research question). Moreover, the research question(s) should form the golden thread throughout your dissertation structure. Everything should revolve around the research questions, and as you’ve seen, they should form both the start point (i.e. introduction chapter) and the endpoint (i.e. conclusion chapter).

I hope this post has provided you with clarity about the traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below, or feel free to get in touch with us. Also, be sure to check out the rest of the  Grad Coach Blog .

methodology dissertation sample

Psst... there’s more!

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

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The acknowledgements section of a thesis/dissertation

36 Comments

ARUN kumar SHARMA

many thanks i found it very useful

Derek Jansen

Glad to hear that, Arun. Good luck writing your dissertation.

Sue

Such clear practical logical advice. I very much needed to read this to keep me focused in stead of fretting.. Perfect now ready to start my research!

hayder

what about scientific fields like computer or engineering thesis what is the difference in the structure? thank you very much

Tim

Thanks so much this helped me a lot!

Ade Adeniyi

Very helpful and accessible. What I like most is how practical the advice is along with helpful tools/ links.

Thanks Ade!

Aswathi

Thank you so much sir.. It was really helpful..

You’re welcome!

Jp Raimundo

Hi! How many words maximum should contain the abstract?

Karmelia Renatee

Thank you so much 😊 Find this at the right moment

You’re most welcome. Good luck with your dissertation.

moha

best ever benefit i got on right time thank you

Krishnan iyer

Many times Clarity and vision of destination of dissertation is what makes the difference between good ,average and great researchers the same way a great automobile driver is fast with clarity of address and Clear weather conditions .

I guess Great researcher = great ideas + knowledge + great and fast data collection and modeling + great writing + high clarity on all these

You have given immense clarity from start to end.

Alwyn Malan

Morning. Where will I write the definitions of what I’m referring to in my report?

Rose

Thank you so much Derek, I was almost lost! Thanks a tonnnn! Have a great day!

yemi Amos

Thanks ! so concise and valuable

Kgomotso Siwelane

This was very helpful. Clear and concise. I know exactly what to do now.

dauda sesay

Thank you for allowing me to go through briefly. I hope to find time to continue.

Patrick Mwathi

Really useful to me. Thanks a thousand times

Adao Bundi

Very interesting! It will definitely set me and many more for success. highly recommended.

SAIKUMAR NALUMASU

Thank you soo much sir, for the opportunity to express my skills

mwepu Ilunga

Usefull, thanks a lot. Really clear

Rami

Very nice and easy to understand. Thank you .

Chrisogonas Odhiambo

That was incredibly useful. Thanks Grad Coach Crew!

Luke

My stress level just dropped at least 15 points after watching this. Just starting my thesis for my grad program and I feel a lot more capable now! Thanks for such a clear and helpful video, Emma and the GradCoach team!

Judy

Do we need to mention the number of words the dissertation contains in the main document?

It depends on your university’s requirements, so it would be best to check with them 🙂

Christine

Such a helpful post to help me get started with structuring my masters dissertation, thank you!

Simon Le

Great video; I appreciate that helpful information

Brhane Kidane

It is so necessary or avital course

johnson

This blog is very informative for my research. Thank you

avc

Doctoral students are required to fill out the National Research Council’s Survey of Earned Doctorates

Emmanuel Manjolo

wow this is an amazing gain in my life

Paul I Thoronka

This is so good

Tesfay haftu

How can i arrange my specific objectives in my dissertation?

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Purdue University Graduate School

RAGE INHIBITION AS A METHOD TO IMPROVE TENDON FUNCTION IN A HEALING MURINE MODEL

These pre-clinical data suggest elevated AGE, as seen with diabetes, could impact tendon healing in vivo . If, with a large sample size, we find that RAGE inhibition limits the impact of AGEs on tendon healing, then local RAGE inhibition could be a viable therapeutical approach to improve tendon properties in individuals with elevated AGEs. While additional work is needed to define the role of RAGE in regulating tendon properties, our preliminary results provide a premise for detailed mechanistic studies. Our initial work in mice provides a framework to evaluate the potential of lowering serum AGEs to improve tendon healing.

Degree Type

  • Master of Science
  • Health and Kinesiology

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Advisor/supervisor/committee co-chair, additional committee member 2, usage metrics.

  • Exercise physiology

CC BY 4.0

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  1. Dissertation Methodology

    Here are the basic elements that are typically included in a dissertation methodology: Introduction: ... The sample consisted of 200 office workers randomly selected from various companies in the city. Qualitative Data Collection: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 participants chosen from the initial sample. The interview guide ...

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

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

  3. What Is a Research Methodology?

    What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips. Published on August 25, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on November 20, 2023. 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 ...

  4. Free Thesis Methodology Template (+ Examples)

    This template covers all the core components required in the research methodology chapter or section of a typical dissertation or thesis, including: The purpose of each section is explained in plain language, followed by an overview of the key elements that you need to cover. The template also includes practical examples to help you understand ...

  5. How to Write Your Dissertation Methodology [With Examples]

    Ask your supervisor to provide you with a few different examples of previously written dissertations. Reading through methodologies that have been written by past students will give you a good idea of what your finished methodology section should look like. 2. Plan Your Structure.

  6. Research Methodology Example (PDF + Template)

    In this video, we walk you through a research methodology from a dissertation that earned full distinction, step by step. We start off by discussing the core components of a research methodology by unpacking our free methodology chapter template. We then progress to the sample research methodology to show how these concepts are applied in an ...

  7. PDF 3 Methodology

    The Methodology chapter is perhaps the part of a qualitative thesis that is most unlike its equivalent in a quantitative study. Students doing quantitative research have an established conventional 'model' to work to, which comprises these possible elements: Overview of the Experiment/Design Population/Sample Location

  8. What Is a Research Methodology?

    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.

  9. What Is a Dissertation?

    A dissertation is a long-form piece of academic writing based on original research conducted by you. It is usually submitted as the final step in order to finish a PhD program. Your dissertation is probably the longest piece of writing you've ever completed. It requires solid research, writing, and analysis skills, and it can be intimidating ...

  10. Writing the Dissertation

    Guide contents. As part of the Writing the Dissertation series, this guide covers the most common conventions found in a methodology chapter, giving you the necessary knowledge, tips and guidance needed to impress your markers! The sections are organised as follows: Getting Started - Defines the methodology and its core characteristics.; Structure - Provides a detailed walk-through of common ...

  11. A Complete Guide To Dissertation 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.

  12. PDF A Complete Dissertation

    • Overview of methodology: This section out-lines the methodological type or approach, the research setting, the sample, instrumen-tation (if relevant), and methods of data collection and analysis used. • Rationale and significance: Rationale is the justification for the study presented as a logical argument. Significance addresses the

  13. Dissertations 4: Methodology: Methods

    Observational methods are useful for in-depth analyses of behaviours in people, animals, organisations, events or phenomena. They can test a theory or products in real life or simulated settings. They generally a qualitative research method. Questionnaires and surveys.

  14. PDF Methodology Section for Research Papers

    The methodology section of your paper describes how your research was conducted. This information allows readers to check whether your approach is accurate and dependable. A good methodology can help increase the reader's trust in your findings. First, we will define and differentiate quantitative and qualitative research.

  15. 6. The Methodology

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

  16. PDF CHAPTER III: METHOD

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  17. Chapter 3

    Introduction. The current chapter presents developing the research methods needed to complete the experimentation portion of the current study. The chapter will discuss in detail the various stages of developing the methodology of the current study. This includes a detailed discussion of the philosophical background of the research method chosen.

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    As we mentioned, research methodology refers to the collection of practical decisions regarding what data you'll collect, from who, how you'll collect it and how you'll analyse it. Research design, on the other hand, is more about the overall strategy you'll adopt in your study. For example, whether you'll use an experimental design ...

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  20. Dissertation examples

    Dissertation examples. Listed below are some of the best examples of research projects and dissertations from undergraduate and taught postgraduate students at the University of Leeds We have not been able to gather examples from all schools. The module requirements for research projects may have changed since these examples were written.

  21. Dissertation Structure & Layout 101 (+ Examples)

    Time to recap…. And there you have it - the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows: Title page. Acknowledgments page. Abstract (or executive summary) Table of contents, list of figures and tables.

  22. Examples of Methodology in Research Papers (With Definition)

    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 ...

  23. Rage Inhibition As a Method to Improve Tendon Function in A Healing

    These pre-clinical data suggest elevated AGE, as seen with diabetes, could impact tendon healing in vivo. If, with a large sample size, we find that RAGE inhibition limits the impact of AGEs on tendon healing, then local RAGE inhibition could be a viable therapeutical approach to improve tendon properties in individuals with elevated AGEs. While additional work is needed to define the role of ...

  24. Full article: Phonological substitution patterns in Yemeni Ibbi Arabic

    Further research with a larger sample size could help elucidate the extent and implications of these individual differences in substitution patterns among YIA-speaking children. Table 3 displays the total number of instances of phonological substitution identified within the data along with some examples.