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  • Posted: Friday, 17 April 2020
  • By: ResearchWap Admin

How To Write Chapter Three Of Your Research Project (Research Methodology)

Methodology In Research Paper

Chapter three of the research project or the research methodology is another significant part of the research project writing. In developing the chapter three of the research project, you state the purpose of research, research method you wish to adopt, the instruments to be used, where you will collect your data, types of data collection, and how you collected it.

This chapter explains the different methods to be used in the research project. Here you mention the procedures and strategies you will employ in the study such as research design, study design in research, research area (area of the study), the population of the study, etc.

You also tell the reader your research design methods, why you chose a particular method, method of analysis, how you planned to analyze your data. Your methodology should be written in a simple language such that other researchers can follow the method and arrive at the same conclusion or findings.

You can choose a survey design when you want to survey a particular location or behavior by administering instruments such as structured questionnaires, interviews, or experimental; if you intend manipulating some variables.

The purpose of chapter three (research methodology) is to give an experienced investigator enough information to replicate the study. Some supervisors do not understand this and require students to write what is in effect, a textbook.

A research design is used to structure the research and to show how all of the major parts of the research project, including the sample, measures, and methods of assignment, work together to address the central research questions in the study. The chapter three should begin with a paragraph reiterating the purpose of research.

It is very important that before choosing design methods, try and ask yourself the following questions:

Will I generate enough information that will help me to solve the research problem by adopting this method?

Method vs Methodology

I think the most appropriate in methods versus methodology is to think in terms of their inter-connectedness and relationship between both. You should not beging thinking so much about research methods without thinking of developing a research methodology.

Metodologia or methodology is the consideration of your research objectives and the most effective method  and approach to meet those objectives. That is to say that methodology in research paper is the first step in planning a research project work. 

Design Methodology: Methodological Approach                

Example of methodology in research paper, you are attempting to identify the influence of personality on a road accident, you may wish to look at different personality types, you may also look at accident records from the FRSC, you may also wish to look at the personality of drivers that are accident victims, once you adopt this method, you are already doing a survey, and that becomes your  metodologia or methodology .

Your methodology should aim to provide you with the information to allow you to come to some conclusions about the personalities that are susceptible to a road accident or those personality types that are likely to have a road accident. The following subjects may or may not be in the order required by a particular institution of higher education, but all of the subjects constitute a defensible in metodologia or methodology chapter.



A  methodology  is the rationale for the research approach, and the lens through which the analysis occurs. Said another way, a methodology describes the “general research strategy that outlines the way in which research is to be undertaken” The methodology should impact which method(s) for a research endeavor are selected in order to generate the compelling data.

Example Of Methodology In Research Paper :

  • Phenomenology: describes the “lived experience” of a particular phenomenon
  • Ethnography: explores the social world or culture, shared beliefs and behaviors
  • Participatory: views the participants as active researchers
  • Ethno methodology: examines how people use dialogue and body language to construct a world view
  • Grounding theory*: assumes a blank slate and uses an inductive approach to develop a new theory

A  method  is simply the tool used to answer your research questions — how, in short, you will go about collecting your data.

Methods Section Of Research Paper Example :

  • Contextual inquiry
  • Usability study
  • Diary study

If you are choosing among these, you might say “what method should I use?” and settle on one or more methods to answer your research question.


Research Design Definition: WRITING A RESEARCH DESIGN

A qualitative study does not have variables. A scientific study has variables, which are sometimes mentioned in Chapter 1 and defined in more depth in Chapter 3. Spell out the independent and dependent, variables. An unfortunate trend in some institutions is to repeat the research questions and/or hypotheses in both Chapter 1 and Chapter 3. Sometimes an operational statement of the research hypotheses in the null form is given to set the stage for later statistical inferences. In a quantitative study, state the level of significance that will be used to accept or reject the hypotheses.

Pilot Study

In a quantitative study, a survey instrument that the researcher designed needs a pilot study to validate the effectiveness of the instrument, and the value of the questions to elicit the right information to answer the primary research questions in. In a scientific study, a pilot study may precede the main observation to correct any problems with the instrumentation or other elements in the data collection technique. Describe the pilot study as it relates to the research design, development of the instrument, data collection procedures, or characteristics of the sample.


In a research study, the instrument used to collect data may be created by the researcher or based on an existing instrument. If the instrument is the researcher created, the process used to select the questions should be described and justified. If an existing instrument is used, the background of the instrument is described including who originated it, and what measures were used to validate it.

If a Likert scale is used, the scale should be described. If the study involves interviews, an interview protocol should be developed that will result in a consistent process of data collection across all interviews. Two types of questions are found in an interview protocol: the primary research questions, which are not asked of the participants, and the interview questions that are based on the primary research questions and are asked of the participants.

In a qualitative study, this is the section where most of the appendices are itemized, starting with letters of permission to conduct the study and letters of invitation to participate with the attached consent forms. Sample: this has to do with the number of your participants or subjects as the case may be. Analysis (how are you planning to analyze the results?)



This chapter deals effectively with the research methods to be adopted in conducting the research, and it is organized under the following sub-headings:

  • Research Design
  • Area of Study

The population of the Study

  • Sample and Sampling Techniques
  • Instruments for Data Collection

The validity of the Instrument

Reliability of the Instrument

  • Administration of the instruments
  • Scoring the instruments

Method of Data Collection

Method of Data Analysis

Research Design:

This has to do with the structure of the research instrument to be used in collecting data. It could be in sections depending on different variables that form the construct for the entire topic of the research problems. A reliable instrument with a wrong research design will adversely affect the reliability and generalization of the research. The choice of design suitable for each research is determined by many factors among which are: kind of research, research hypothesis, the scope of the research, and the sensitive nature of the research.

Area of Study:

Research Area; this has to do with the geographical environment of the study area where the places are located, the historical background when necessary and commercial activities of that geographical area. For example, the area of the study is Ebonyi State University. At the creation of Ebonyi State in 1996, the Abakaliki campus of the then ESUT was upgraded to Ebonyi State University College by Edict no. 5 of Ebonyi State, 1998 still affiliated to ESUT with Prof. Fidelis Ogah, former ESUT Deputy Vice-Chancellor as the first Rector. In 1997, the Faculty of Applied and Natural Sciences with 8 departments was added to the fledging University, and later in 1998 when the ESUT Pre-Science Programme was relocated to Nsukka, the EBSUC Pre-Degree School commenced lectures in both Science and Arts in replacement of the former. This study focused on the students of the Business Education department in Ebonyi state university.

The population is regarded in research work as the type of people and the group of people under investigation. It has to be specific or specified. For example educational study teachers in Lagos state. Once the population is chosen, the next thing is to choose the samples from the population.

According to Uma (2007), the population is referred to as the totality of items or object which the researcher is interested in. It can also be the total number of people in an area of study. Hence, the population of this study comprised of all the students in the department of Business Education, Ebonyi State University which is made up of year one to four totaling 482. The actual number for the study was ascertained using Yaro-Yamane's formula which stated thus:

n   =        N

N is the Population

1 is constant

e is the error margin

Then, n   =         482


= 214.35 approximately 214

Sample and sampling technique:

It may not be possible to reach out to the number of people that form the entire population for the study to either interview, observe, or serve them with copies of the questionnaire. To be realistic, the sample should be up to 20% of the total population. Two sampling techniques are popular among all the sampling techniques. These are random and stratified random sampling techniques. (A). in Random Sampling, the writers select any specific number from a place like a school, village, etc. (B). In Stratified Random Sampling, one has to indicate a specific number from a stratum which could be a group of people according to age, qualification, etc. or different groups from different locations and different considerations attached.

Instruments for Data Collection:

This is a device or different devices used in collecting data. Example: interview, questionnaire, checklist, etc. instrument is prepared in sets or subsections, each set should be an entity thus asking questions about a particular variable to be tested after collecting data. The type of instrument used will determine the responses expected. All questions should be well set so as to determine the reliability of the instrument.

This has to do with different measures in order to determine the validity and reliability of the research instrument. For example, presenting the drafted questionnaire to the supervisor for scrutiny. Giving the questionnaire to the supervisor for useful comments and corrections would help to validate the instrument.

The test-retest reliability method is one of the simplest ways of testing the stability and reliability of an instrument over time. The test-retest approach was adopted by the researcher in establishing the reliability of the instrument. In doing this 25 copies of the questionnaire were administered on twenty-five selected respondents. After two weeks another 25 copies of the same questionnaire were re-administered on the same group. Their responses on the two occasions were correlated using Parsons Product Moment Correlation. A co-efficient of 0.81 was gotten and this was high enough to consider the instrument reliable.

Administration of the instruments:

Here, the writer states whether he or she administers the test personally or through an assistant. He also indicates the rate of return of the copies of the questionnaire administered.

Scoring the instruments:

Here items on the questionnaire or any other device used must be assigned numerical values. For example, 4 points to strongly agree, 3 points to agree, 2 points to disagree, and 1 point to strongly disagree.

Table of Analysis


The researcher collected data using the questionnaire. Copies of the questionnaire were administered by the researcher on the respondents. All the respondents were expected to give maximum co-operation, as the information on the questionnaire is all on things that revolve around their study. Hence, enough time was taken to explain how to tick or indicate their opinion on the items stated in the research questionnaire.

In this study, the mean was used to analyze the data collected. A four (4) point Likert scale was used to analyze each of the questionnaire items.

The weighing was as follows:

VGE—————- Very Great Extent (4 points)

GE—————– Great Extent (3 points)

LE—————– Little Extent (2 points)

VLE—————- Very Little Extent (1 point)

SA—————– Strongly Agree (4 points)

A——————- Agree (3 points)

D—————— Disagree (2 points)

SD—————- Strongly Disagree (1 point)

The mean of the scale will then be determined by summing up the points and dividing their number as follows with the formula:

Where; x= mean

f= frequency

X= Nominal value of the option

∑= summation

N= Total Number

Therefore, the mean of the scale is 2.5.

This means that any item statement with a mean of 2.50 and above is considered agreed by the respondents and any item statement below 2.5 is considered disagreed.

EDITORS SOURCE: How To Write Chapter Three Of Your Research Project (Research Methodology)

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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


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?

what are the parts of chapter 3 research

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 .

what are the parts of chapter 3 research

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



many thanks i found it very useful

Derek Jansen

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


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!


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


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!


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.


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?


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.


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

mwepu Ilunga

Usefull, thanks a lot. Really clear


Very nice and easy to understand. Thank you .

Chrisogonas Odhiambo

That was incredibly useful. Thanks Grad Coach Crew!


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!


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 🙂


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


This blog is very informative for my research. Thank you


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?


  • What Is A Literature Review (In A Dissertation Or Thesis) - Grad Coach - […] is to write the actual literature review chapter (this is usually the second chapter in a typical dissertation or…

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Paradigms of Social Research

Our design and conduct of research is shaped by our mental models or frames of references that we use to organize our reasoning and observations. These mental models or frames (belief systems) are called paradigms. The word “paradigm” was popularized by

Thomas Kuhn (1962) in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, where he examined the history of the natural sciences to identify patterns of activities that shape the progress of science. Similar ideas are applicable to social sciences as well, where a social reality can be viewed by different people in different ways, which may constrain their thinking and reasoning about the observed phenomenon. For instance, conservatives and liberals tend to have very different perceptions of the role of government in people’s lives, and hence, have different opinions on how to solve social problems. Conservatives may believe that lowering taxes is the best way to stimulate a stagnant economy because it increases people’s disposable income and spending, which in turn expands business output and employment. In contrast, liberals may believe that governments should invest more directly in job creation programs such as public works and infrastructure projects, which will increase employment and people’s ability to consume and drive the economy. Likewise, Western societies place greater emphasis on individual rights, such as one’s right to privacy, right of free speech, and right to bear arms. In contrast, Asian societies tend to balance the rights of individuals against the rights of families, organizations, and the government, and therefore tend to be more communal and less individualistic in their policies. Such differences in perspective often lead Westerners to criticize Asian governments for being autocratic, while Asians criticize Western societies for being greedy, having high crime rates, and creating a “cult of the individual.” Our personal paradigms are like “colored glasses” that govern how we view the world and how we structure our thoughts about what we see in the world.

Paradigms are often hard to recognize, because they are implicit, assumed, and taken for granted. However, recognizing these paradigms is key to making sense of and reconciling differences in people’ perceptions of the same social phenomenon. For instance, why do liberals believe that the best way to improve secondary education is to hire more teachers, but conservatives believe that privatizing education (using such means as school vouchers) are more effective in achieving the same goal? Because conservatives place more faith in competitive markets (i.e., in free competition between schools competing for education dollars), while liberals believe more in labor (i.e., in having more teachers and schools). Likewise, in social science research, if one were to understand why a certain technology was successfully implemented in one organization but failed miserably in another, a researcher looking at the world through a “rational lens” will look for rational explanations of the problem such as inadequate technology or poor fit between technology and the task context where it is being utilized, while another research looking at the same problem through a “social lens” may seek out social deficiencies such as inadequate user training or lack of management support, while those seeing it through a “political lens” will look for instances of organizational politics that may subvert the technology implementation process. Hence, subconscious paradigms often constrain the concepts that researchers attempt to measure, their observations, and their subsequent interpretations of a phenomenon. However, given the complex nature of social phenomenon, it is possible that all of the above paradigms are partially correct, and that a fuller understanding of the problem may require an understanding and application of multiple paradigms.

Two popular paradigms today among social science researchers are positivism and post-positivism. Positivism , based on the works of French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798-1857), was the dominant scientific paradigm until the mid-20 th century. It holds that science or knowledge creation should be restricted to what can be observed and measured. Positivism tends to rely exclusively on theories that can be directly tested. Though positivism was originally an attempt to separate scientific inquiry from religion (where the precepts could not be objectively observed), positivism led to empiricism or a blind faith in observed data and a rejection of any attempt to extend or reason beyond observable facts. Since human thoughts and emotions could not be directly measured, there were not considered to be legitimate topics for scientific research. Frustrations with the strictly empirical nature of positivist philosophy led to the development of post-positivism (or postmodernism) during the mid-late 20 th century. Post-positivism argues that one can make reasonable inferences about a phenomenon by combining empirical observations with logical reasoning. Post-positivists view science as not certain but probabilistic (i.e., based on many contingencies), and often seek to explore these contingencies to understand social reality better. The post -positivist camp has further fragmented into subjectivists , who view the world as a subjective construction of our subjective minds rather than as an objective reality, and critical realists , who believe that there is an external reality that is independent of a person’s thinking but we can never know such reality with any degree of certainty.

Burrell and Morgan (1979), in their seminal book Sociological Paradigms and Organizational Analysis, suggested that the way social science researchers view and study social phenomena is shaped by two fundamental sets of philosophical assumptions: ontology and epistemology. Ontology refers to our assumptions about how we see the world, e.g., does the world consist mostly of social order or constant change. Epistemology refers to our assumptions about the best way to study the world, e.g., should we use an objective or subjective approach to study social reality. Using these two sets of assumptions, we can categorize social science research as belonging to one of four categories (see Figure 3.1).

If researchers view the world as consisting mostly of social order (ontology) and hence seek to study patterns of ordered events or behaviors, and believe that the best way to study such a world is using objective approach (epistemology) that is independent of the person conducting the observation or interpretation, such as by using standardized data collection tools like surveys, then they are adopting a paradigm of functionalism . However, if they believe that the best way to study social order is though the subjective interpretation of participants involved, such as by interviewing different participants and reconciling differences among their responses using their own subjective perspectives, then they are employing an interpretivism paradigm. If researchers believe that the world consists of radical change and seek to understand or enact change using an objectivist approach, then they are employing a radical structuralism paradigm. If they wish to understand social change using the subjective perspectives of the participants involved, then they are following a radical humanism paradigm.

Radical change at the top, social order on the bottom, subjectivism on the right, and objectivism on the right. From top left moving clockwise, radical structuralism, radical humanism, interpretivism, and functionalism

Figure 3.1. Four paradigms of social science research (Source: Burrell and Morgan, 1979)

what are the parts of chapter 3 research

Figure 3.2. Functionalistic research process

The first phase of research is exploration . This phase includes exploring and selecting research questions for further investigation, examining the published literature in the area of inquiry to understand the current state of knowledge in that area, and identifying theories that may help answer the research questions of interest.

The first step in the exploration phase is identifying one or more research questions dealing with a specific behavior, event, or phenomena of interest. Research questions are specific questions about a behavior, event, or phenomena of interest that you wish to seek answers for in your research. Examples include what factors motivate consumers to purchase goods and services online without knowing the vendors of these goods or services, how can we make high school students more creative, and why do some people commit terrorist acts. Research questions can delve into issues of what, why, how, when, and so forth. More interesting research questions are those that appeal to a broader population (e.g., “how can firms innovate” is a more interesting research question than “how can Chinese firms innovate in the service-sector”), address real and complex problems (in contrast to hypothetical or “toy” problems), and where the answers are not obvious. Narrowly focused research questions (often with a binary yes/no answer) tend to be less useful and less interesting and less suited to capturing the subtle nuances of social phenomena. Uninteresting research questions generally lead to uninteresting and unpublishable research findings.

The next step is to conduct a literature review of the domain of interest. The purpose of a literature review is three-fold: (1) to survey the current state of knowledge in the area of inquiry, (2) to identify key authors, articles, theories, and findings in that area, and (3) to identify gaps in knowledge in that research area. Literature review is commonly done today using computerized keyword searches in online databases. Keywords can be combined using “and” and “or” operations to narrow down or expand the search results. Once a shortlist of relevant articles is generated from the keyword search, the researcher must then manually browse through each article, or at least its abstract section, to determine the suitability of that article for a detailed review. Literature reviews should be reasonably complete, and not restricted to a few journals, a few years, or a specific methodology. Reviewed articles may be summarized in the form of tables, and can be further structured using organizing frameworks such as a concept matrix. A well-conducted literature review should indicate whether the initial research questions have already been addressed in the literature (which would obviate the need to study them again), whether there are newer or more interesting research questions available, and whether the original research questions should be modified or changed in light of findings of the literature review. The review can also provide some intuitions or potential answers to the questions of interest and/or help identify theories that have previously been used to address similar questions.

Since functionalist (deductive) research involves theory-testing, the third step is to identify one or more theories can help address the desired research questions. While the literature review may uncover a wide range of concepts or constructs potentially related to the phenomenon of interest, a theory will help identify which of these constructs is logically relevant to the target phenomenon and how. Forgoing theories may result in measuring a wide range of less relevant, marginally relevant, or irrelevant constructs, while also minimizing the chances of obtaining results that are meaningful and not by pure chance. In functionalist research, theories can be used as the logical basis for postulating hypotheses for empirical testing. Obviously, not all theories are well-suited for studying all social phenomena. Theories must be carefully selected based on their fit with the target problem and the extent to which their assumptions are consistent with that of the target problem. We will examine theories and the process of theorizing in detail in the next chapter.

The next phase in the research process is research design . This process is concerned with creating a blueprint of the activities to take in order to satisfactorily answer the research questions identified in the exploration phase. This includes selecting a research method, operationalizing constructs of interest, and devising an appropriate sampling strategy.

Operationalization is the process of designing precise measures for abstract theoretical constructs. This is a major problem in social science research, given that many of the constructs, such as prejudice, alienation, and liberalism are hard to define, let alone measure accurately. Operationalization starts with specifying an “operational definition” (or “conceptualization”) of the constructs of interest. Next, the researcher can search the literature to see if there are existing prevalidated measures matching their operational definition that can be used directly or modified to measure their constructs of interest. If such measures are not available or if existing measures are poor or reflect a different conceptualization than that intended by the researcher, new instruments may have to be designed for measuring those constructs. This means specifying exactly how exactly the desired construct will be measured (e.g., how many items, what items, and so forth). This can easily be a long and laborious process, with multiple rounds of pretests and modifications before the newly designed instrument can be accepted as “scientifically valid.” We will discuss operationalization of constructs in a future chapter on measurement.

Simultaneously with operationalization, the researcher must also decide what research method they wish to employ for collecting data to address their research questions of interest. Such methods may include quantitative methods such as experiments or survey research or qualitative methods such as case research or action research, or possibly a combination of both. If an experiment is desired, then what is the experimental design? If survey, do you plan a mail survey, telephone survey, web survey, or a combination? For complex, uncertain, and multi-faceted social phenomena, multi-method approaches may be more suitable, which may help leverage the unique strengths of each research method and generate insights that may not be obtained using a single method.

Researchers must also carefully choose the target population from which they wish to collect data, and a sampling strategy to select a sample from that population. For instance, should they survey individuals or firms or workgroups within firms? What types of individuals or firms they wish to target? Sampling strategy is closely related to the unit of analysis in a research problem. While selecting a sample, reasonable care should be taken to avoid a biased sample (e.g., sample based on convenience) that may generate biased observations. Sampling is covered in depth in a later chapter.

At this stage, it is often a good idea to write a research proposal detailing all of the decisions made in the preceding stages of the research process and the rationale behind each decision. This multi-part proposal should address what research questions you wish to study and why, the prior state of knowledge in this area, theories you wish to employ along with hypotheses to be tested, how to measure constructs, what research method to be employed and why, and desired sampling strategy. Funding agencies typically require such a proposal in order to select the best proposals for funding. Even if funding is not sought for a research project, a proposal may serve as a useful vehicle for seeking feedback from other researchers and identifying potential problems with the research project (e.g., whether some important constructs were missing from the study) before starting data collection. This initial feedback is invaluable because it is often too late to correct critical problems after data is collected in a research study.

Having decided who to study (subjects), what to measure (concepts), and how to collect data (research method), the researcher is now ready to proceed to the research execution phase. This includes pilot testing the measurement instruments, data collection, and data analysis.

Pilot testing is an often overlooked but extremely important part of the research process. It helps detect potential problems in your research design and/or instrumentation (e.g., whether the questions asked is intelligible to the targeted sample), and to ensure that the measurement instruments used in the study are reliable and valid measures of the constructs of interest. The pilot sample is usually a small subset of the target population. After a successful pilot testing, the researcher may then proceed with data collection using the sampled population. The data collected may be quantitative or qualitative, depending on the research method employed.

Following data collection, the data is analyzed and interpreted for the purpose of drawing conclusions regarding the research questions of interest. Depending on the type of data collected (quantitative or qualitative), data analysis may be quantitative (e.g., employ statistical techniques such as regression or structural equation modeling) or qualitative (e.g., coding or content analysis).

The final phase of research involves preparing the final research report documenting the entire research process and its findings in the form of a research paper, dissertation, or monograph. This report should outline in detail all the choices made during the research process (e.g., theory used, constructs selected, measures used, research methods, sampling, etc.) and why, as well as the outcomes of each phase of the research process. The research process must be described in sufficient detail so as to allow other researchers to replicate your study, test the findings, or assess whether the inferences derived are scientifically acceptable. Of course, having a ready research proposal will greatly simplify and quicken the process of writing the finished report. Note that research is of no value unless the research process and outcomes are documented for future generations; such documentation is essential for the incremental progress of science.

Common Mistakes in Research

The research process is fraught with problems and pitfalls, and novice researchers often find, after investing substantial amounts of time and effort into a research project, that their research questions were not sufficiently answered, or that the findings were not interesting enough, or that the research was not of “acceptable” scientific quality. Such problems typically result in research papers being rejected by journals. Some of the more frequent mistakes are described below.

Insufficiently motivated research questions. Often times, we choose our “pet” problems that are interesting to us but not to the scientific community at large, i.e., it does not generate new knowledge or insight about the phenomenon being investigated. Because the research process involves a significant investment of time and effort on the researcher’s part, the researcher must be certain (and be able to convince others) that the research questions they seek to answer in fact deal with real problems (and not hypothetical problems) that affect a substantial portion of a population and has not been adequately addressed in prior research.

Pursuing research fads. Another common mistake is pursuing “popular” topics with limited shelf life. A typical example is studying technologies or practices that are popular today. Because research takes several years to complete and publish, it is possible that popular interest in these fads may die down by the time the research is completed and submitted for publication. A better strategy may be to study “timeless” topics that have always persisted through the years.

Unresearchable problems. Some research problems may not be answered adequately based on observed evidence alone, or using currently accepted methods and procedures. Such problems are best avoided. However, some unresearchable, ambiguously defined problems may be modified or fine tuned into well-defined and useful researchable problems.

Favored research methods. Many researchers have a tendency to recast a research problem so that it is amenable to their favorite research method (e.g., survey research). This is an unfortunate trend. Research methods should be chosen to best fit a research problem, and not the other way around.

Blind data mining. Some researchers have the tendency to collect data first (using instruments that are already available), and then figure out what to do with it. Note that data collection is only one step in a long and elaborate process of planning, designing, and executing research. In fact, a series of other activities are needed in a research process prior to data collection. If researchers jump into data collection without such elaborate planning, the data collected will likely be irrelevant, imperfect, or useless, and their data collection efforts may be entirely wasted. An abundance of data cannot make up for deficits in research planning and design, and particularly, for the lack of interesting research questions.

  • Social Science Research: Principles, Methods, and Practices. Authored by : Anol Bhattacherjee. Provided by : University of South Florida. Located at : . License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

Research Methodology

  • First Online: 29 June 2019

Cite this chapter

what are the parts of chapter 3 research

  • Vaneet Kaur 3  

Part of the book series: Innovation, Technology, and Knowledge Management ((ITKM))

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The chapter presents methodology employed for examining framework developed, during the literature review, for the purpose of present study. In light of the research objectives, the chapter works upon the ontology, epistemology as well as the methodology adopted for the present study. The research is based on positivist philosophy which postulates that phenomena of interest in the social world, can be studied as concrete cause and effect relationships, following a quantitative research design and a deductive approach. Consequently, the present study has used the existing body of literature to deduce relationships between constructs and develops a strategy to test the proposed theory with the ultimate objective of confirming and building upon the existing knowledge in the field. Further, the chapter presents a roadmap for the study which showcases the journey towards achieving research objectives in a series of well-defined logical steps. The process followed for building survey instrument as well as sampling design has been laid down in a similar manner. While the survey design enumerates various methods adopted along with justifications, the sampling design sets forth target population, sampling frame, sampling units, sampling method and suitable sample size for the study. The chapter also spells out the operational definitions of the key variables before exhibiting the three-stage research process followed in the present study. In the first stage, questionnaire has been developed based upon key constructs from various theories/researchers in the field. Thereafter, the draft questionnaire has been refined with the help of a pilot study and its reliability and validity has been tested. Finally, in light of the results of the pilot study, the questionnaire has been finalized and final data has been collected. In doing so, the step-by-step process of gathering data from various sources has been presented. Towards end, the chapter throws spotlight on various statistical methods employed for analysis of data, along with the presentation of rationale for the selection of specific techniques used for the purpose of presentation of outcomes of the present research.

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