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Write the Methodology in Dissertation

How to Create the Methodology Chapter for Dissertation?

Take time to practice your researching, writing, and editing skills. Don't forget to learn and read the following material constantly:

A Guide On Writing a Dissertation Introduction

Creating a Results Chapter in your Dissertation

How to Tackle the Discussion in Dissertation

Writing a Literature Review Chapter for Your Dissertation

The Methodology section is a part of a thesis or dissertation necessary to explain how you conducted the research. It should be very detailed - after familiarizing themselves with this section, the readers should be able to recreate all the work that you did. The people reading and evaluating your dissertation will be looking closely at the methods and materials you used to ensure the work is sound, so your task is to make this section clear and complete.


This section in sciences and engineering thoroughly explains experimental design. You need not just describe how your study was done but also why that particular experimental design was chosen. The writing should be detailed but concise. Don't include information that isn't required to repeat the experiment, and don't over-explain concepts or methods that will already be familiar to those in your field. Keep in mind the third person and past tense you must use.

When writing a methodology, make sure it contains the following elements:

Research design.

Start by outlining the basic style of your research. Is it experimental? Is it correlational, causal-comparative, or a mixed design? What variables will you be looking at? How have you counted bias or uncontrollable variables? What about using randomization techniques? Also,\ address how the research design you chose is appropriate for the question you're trying to answer. No matter what field you're in, many study techniques will likely be used, so make sure the reader understands why you picked the techniques you did.

Setting and Materials.

Describe the methods and materials employed and the setting where it took place. For an experimental study in a field such as a biology, this section would include things like the lineage of plants, animals, or cells involved in the experiment, a description of laboratory or field conditions, and details of the equipment used. In the social sciences, this might mean a description of the population being studied as well as details on sample size - basically, anything the reader would need to know to recreate your work accurately.

Remember that you need to be very specific about your materials. For example, if you used animals in your study, you can't just say "mice." You need to include details like age, gender, and familiar relationship. If you conducted a survey, you need to specify the exact age, gender, and the number of subjects. Also, be specific about your equipment. If you used a particular software package or a lab apparatus, you'd better include its exact name. However, you won't usually need to include brand names unless that particular item varies significantly by manufacturer.

Ethical considerations.

If you're doing work with animals or human subjects, you'll need to include a few paragraphs discussing how you addressed ethical considerations in your methods chapter. This will likely need to contain a statement that your institution's review board has approved your research protocols.

Pilot study.

Often in the social sciences, instruments like surveys have to be tested for accuracy and usefulness before they can be used to answer the main research question. If your work includes this type of pilot study, you need to include that information in the Methodology chapter. For example, if a pilot study was used to develop a questionnaire, you would need to detail how you developed the questionnaire, discuss the ways it was tested and evaluated, and how that evaluation affected your use of the questionnaire later in your work.


Once you're discussed the materials used, you'll need to provide more details. Tell your readers how you carried out the experiment, and explain how you collected the data. Data collection is a key part of being able to recreate a study, so it's important to specify the how, where, when, and why you used these data collection methods. Much like in the materials section, you'll need to be very specific so the experiment can be recreated if necessary.


After the information was collected how was it analyzed? Include details of any statistical techniques used as well as your rationale for choosing particular methods of analysis. Everything that follows in your discussion will stem from the results; that's why your reader should know that the analysis is accurate. For example, if you transformed data, you need to explain why and how. If you calculated correlation or used other statistical tests, explain your threshold for significance.


Finish the Methodology section with a brief conclusion. Then, create it the way it will remind the research design to your readers and gradually lead them to the Results section.

Do you know how to check whether this chapter is complete? Ask yourself whether it answers these basic questions:

  • What did you do to answer the research question?
  • How did you do the work?
  • Is your experimental design justified?
  • How did you analyze the results?

The Humanities

If you need to write a dissertation on humanities, you need to know that the methodology chapter here is usually significantly shortened or left out altogether. When a methods section is included, it should be used to discuss your research techniques. It's okay to mention the theoretical approach you've taken in addressing your research question.

Research methods and techniques.

Outline how you performed any experiment or research included in your dissertation. For example, how did you locate and authenticate sources? How did you decide which works to include or leave out of your research? This section can be necessary if you're doing original research, but don't confuse this with the literature review - you discuss the process of carrying out research, but not the information you uncovered.

Theoretical approach.

Describe the theoretical approach you've taken to address your research problem. For example, if you're writing a dissertation in literature, you might discuss texts in terms of a particular ideology, such as Marxism or post-structuralism. Similarly, a dissertation in history might use the chapter we discuss to highlight opposing interpretations of a primary source and to show why you've selected one approach over the other.

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