Writing a Methodology Chapter for a Dissertation: Ten Top Tips
Identify the problem
Typically, a methodology chapter follows on from a literature review chapter. Therefore, in order to remain focused and for clarity purposes, it can help to recap briefly on your paper’s main research problem or question. So, you should define any problems you intend to tackle and explain these.
Describe the approach you will take
Provide a brief overview of the approach you will use to undertake any primary research. This will give context to your approach and provide guidance for your readers. Methodologies can include sampling, rationale, justification, and so on. By addressing these, you make clear to your readers that you completely understand the importance and implications of using well-chosen methods.
Do your methods follow any precedence?
Think about the research methods you have used and whether these are representative of methods used in other projects in a particular field. You will undoubtedly find some similar efforts when you are reviewing available literature. Adopting or using proven methods can give authority to your choice.
Discuss how your results can be reproduced
Being able to reproduce any tests or experimentation results is a sign of a good methodology. Additionally, in the field of humanities, being able to reproduce results is an indication of credible and useful methods. Describe your approach and/or techniques in detail so that anyone who wishes to oppose you can replicate your methods and results.
Any issues surrounding validity and reliability need to be discussed
This area covers several factors such as the significance of any statistical information, possible error sources, precision and accuracy.
Explain your reasons for choosing a particular approach or method
Because there are usually a number of different research methods available, you should evaluate the various approaches in a critical manner to justify your final choice. Consider the benefits and pitfalls of each approach as well as those related to your own chosen method(s).
Justify your methods
It is essential to provide solid justification or reasons for choosing particular research methods. This is especially important if you choose a non-standard or new method. Any approach that is significantly different to similar efforts needs to be rigorously defended.
Discuss any sampling methods used
You could cover any issues related to sample sizes and techniques in your section on validity and reliability. The way sample size can impact statistical importance is so significant it needs to be borne in mind when designing a methodology and writing about it.
Discuss any generalisations used
Your methods chapter should include a note about how much any data you obtained through your particular methods can be classed as general. This should also be borne in mind during the methodology design stage since any results of a general nature can influence your final findings or results.
Use appendices for additional notes and materials
A methodology chapter should remain focused and be written in a lucid manner by including any additional information or materials in appendices at the end of your paper. This can include copies of surveys, questionnaires and/or other data collection materials.