How to Write the Methodology in your Dissertation
Take time practicing your writing, learn and read material:
The Sciences and Engineering
Research design.Start by outlining the basic style of your research. Is the research experimental? Is it correlational, causal comparative, or a mixed design? What variables will you be looking at? How have you accounted for bias or uncontrollable variables? Did you use any 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, there are likely many study techniques for you to choose from, so make sure the reader understands why you picked the methods you did.
Setting and Materials.Describe the materials used in your study and the setting where it took place. For an experimental study in a field such as 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 accurately recreate your work.
Ethical considerations.If you're doing work with animals or human subjects, you'll need to include in your methods a section discussing how you addressed ethical consideration. 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 address the main research question. If your work includes this type of pilot study, you need to include that information in the Methodology. For example, if a pilot study was used to develop a questionnaire, you would need to detail how the questionnaire was developed, how it was tested and evaluated, and how that evaluation effected your use of the questionnaire later in your work.
Procedure.Once you're described the materials used you'll need to detail how the experiment was carried out and how data was collected. The method of data collection is a key part of being able to recreate a study, so it's important you specify the how, where, when, and why of your methods for collecting and recording data. Much like in the materials section, you'll need to be very specific so the experiment could be recreated if necessary.
Analysis.After the data 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 analysis of your results, so make sure the reader knows that the analysis is accurate. 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.
Summary.Finish the Methodology section with a brief conclusion that reminds the reader of your general research design and that leads into the Results section.
- What was done to answer the research question?
- How was the work done?
- Is your experimental design justified?
- How were the results analyzed?