Guide to Writing a Dissertation Methodology
The methodology chapter is a key part of a dissertation. In fact, a dissertation methodology is a main component of this type of paper because it presents every piece of published research work and related material the writer has used, including questionnaires, surveys and interviews. Your methodology section needs to present the relevant research question(s) as well as the views of other academic experts on the chosen topic. Essentially, the methodology is the link that connects the research question(s) and the paper’s literature review chapter. It is comprised of a brief review of your paper and the data you analyzed. Therefore, it is important to ensure any theory you are putting forward on a work of literature is sufficiently clear so the reader can understand it and likewise if it is being applied in some other context within the dissertation paper. A methodology section describes why a particular method has been chosen and why the writer believes that this option will return the most credible results. It provides the most novel perspective. The dissertation methodology is the component that makes a dissertation appear first class. It sets out every research item and the data that has been analyzed.
Special Features of a Dissertation Methodology Section
Clearly, writing a dissertation methodology is a tough task. This part needs to be entirely relevant and unique to the writer’s chosen study. Therefore, it is critical to be able to produce a professional paper of considerable scientific merit.
The research methodologies used in a dissertation need to meet numerous requirements, as follows:
- The chosen methods need to be relevant. These should match current patterns and trends in the applicable field of study;
- The methods used need to demonstrate efficiency. The returned result(s) should be reliable;
- The objectives of the research need to be compliant. The research that has been selected needs to be focused on returning the desired or expected result;
- The selected methods need to interconnect. Every method you choose should form an integrated sequence of processes or procedures that facilitate a complete and comprehensive study of the topic or subject being investigated.
The objectivity and fullness of the obtained results often depends on the correct selection of suitable research methods. When you are describing your chosen methods, it is recommended you also indicate why you think your choice is the most relevant and informative for the particular study you are embarked on.
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Recommended Structure for a Dissertation Methodology
One of the aims of a dissertation methodology is establishing a clearly defined relationship between the research question(s), the scholarship that has been studied in the writer’s review of literature, and the methods that will be used to reach conclusions. Consequently, regardless of the subject or field that the writer is engaged in, the methodology chapter should:
- Recall the paper’s research question(s)
An important aspect of justifying a chosen methodology is showing it is suitable for addressing the question(s) or problem identified at the outset. The writer should return to the critical questions they are attempting to answer in the chapter’s introduction. However, the recollection statement does not need to be exactly reiterated word-for-word; it may be that the writer wants to restate the problem in words that link the methodology and literature review sections.
- Describe the method or design
Even though this is the core of the selected methodology, it is not in itself an actual methodology. The writer should use this to explain clearly the process they used to collect and analyze data or as the means, they used to address the problem or research question. This needs to be sufficiently detailed and clear for it to be readable and applicable by another student, over and above the present context of this dissertation. If a fresh theoretical perspective is being offered on a philosophical issue or work of literature, readers should be capable of understanding the theory in sufficient detail to enable them to apply it in some other way, whether that be to a problem or in a text. If a scientific experiment is being described, readers need to have everything they require to recreate that experiment. If a new statistical model is being introduced, the reader needs to be capable of applying that model to a set of data of their own.
- Explain the rationale and background for the chosen design
The process of writing a methodology for a dissertation does not merely mean describing a particular method or methods. It sets out why a particular method was chosen and why the writer believes it will deliver the best possible results and the most novel perspective, as well as the best analyses and ultimate conclusions. This can, in part, be drawn from the literature review section, demonstrating that the choices of the writer are well informed and founded in solid scholarship. Ideally, it will also display creativity and innovation. It is important the writer also ensures that they explicitly relate the methodology rationale to the paper’s research question or problem; it needs to be clear to the reader that the selected methodology is a tailored and thoughtful way of addressing the problem or questions the writer is attempting to answer.
- Evaluate the chosen method and any limitations of that method
There is never or rarely such thing as a perfect research method, and it is very likely that your choice has certain limitations. For example, it may be that you have decided on a set of small-scale interviews in the belief that individual viewpoints regarding the question or problem are of greater value than a bigger data set of responses to a particular question. However, that can mean surrendering a quantitative-style approach to the problem, which may have returned a different set of valuable insights. Being upfront and honest is best – without being apologetic – regarding your methodology’s limitations and you should be prepared to provide justification as to why this approach is best for the specific purposes you have in mind.
Although the draft outlines for most methodology chapters are likely to have a similar appearance irrespective of discipline, it is likely the information contained in them will be significantly different according to the field of study. Here we preview some common dissertation types and examine what information is required in each of these.
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Features that Do Not Belong in a Methodology Chapter
You should not seal off any part of a dissertation from other parts in hermit-like fashion. Undoubtedly, a certain amount of overlap will occur between, for instance, your paper’s literature review and methodology sections. It may even be that you find you have to switch material between these sections when you are editing. However, the items listed below should not be included in a methodology chapter, no matter how naturally you feel these belong in this section:
- An exhaustive review of research methodologies
You will very likely want to make reference to precedents or previous uses of your method(s) and to the work of the practitioners and theorists you have called upon when describing your own choice. This chapter, however, is not the appropriate place for an extensive review of methods you will not be using. The place for this is in the literature review section so it is appropriate to refer to that section when explaining why you have decided to use or not use a particular method or approach.
- Excessive details about procedure(s) or long and very detailed equipment lists
A methodology chapter should provide the reader with the know-how or tools to replicate your work. However, this part of a dissertation should also be readable and capable of holding the interest of a person who does not want or need to reproduce your work in its entirety. Provide whatever information is needed for another student or reader to replicate your work in your paper’s body if that is possible. If, however, your methodology chapter begins to look too detailed or like an extensive list, move some of the information to an appendix where minute detail can be referred to.
- Raw or unprocessed data
You may be tempted to present certain raw data in your methods section to demonstrate, for example, how some type of data-collecting method works. However, this section is not the appropriate place for such data. Once again, this detail would be best suited to an appendix where it can then be referred to if required.
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Writing the methodology section for a dissertation is work that often takes considerable time, real effort, and even a certain amount of pain. The methodology chapter is, in effect, the paper’s outline so it needs to be faultless. It usually means including all the information and research collected for the paper. The writer needs a deep level of knowledge to properly understand the chosen methodology and they need the skills to communicate the methodology to readers so that it is easy for them to fully understand.
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