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How to Write the Methodology for a Thesis or Dissertation

Published by at November 24th, 2022 , Revised On February 1, 2024

The methodology chapter for a dissertation is where you thoroughly investigate a real-world problem. While the dissertation consists of five to six chapters depending on your subject and university, the methodology chapter can genuinely make or break your project.

In the methodology chapter, you must explain your research methods and how you carried them out. Every thesis or dissertation must include a methodology chapter as it demonstrates to the readers the validity of the literature and results they will be reading.

As a student writing your dissertation, you should mention the methods you have used and describe each technique clearly, concisely and in detail.

The choice of your methods of research depends on a range of factors, including the topic itself, the amount of research material available, and the nature of the thesis statement.

Here is a general overview of the procedures for writing a perfect thesis or dissertation methodology chapter.

Steps to Write the Thesis or Dissertation Methodology Chapter

Describe the Research Design Precisely.

Before creating the research methodology for your thesis or dissertation, you must state your research design. In academics, research designs have a variety of facets. The following three designs are most commonly used in academic studies and dissertations.

  1. Experimental: The process of dividing participants into two or more groups and working with the same subjects falls under experimental design.
  2. Descriptive design: The concept and relationship between two inventions are explored in illustrative designs. Their main aim is to present a topic precisely and systematically.
  3. Review: It explains the conclusions drawn from secondary research. It also shows how these findings affect research policy.

Methodology Example

This study will use a quantitative research design. The main objective of this study is to investigate the impact of social media on consumer behaviour in the fashion industry. The data will be collected from consumers in the fashion industry through an online survey. The online survey will be distributed through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The survey will be conducted for a period of four weeks.Respondents will be selected from the fashion industry who are active on social media platforms. The sample size will be 500 respondents.Data collection for the study will be through an online survey. The survey will consist of closed-ended questions to measure the impact of social media on consumer behaviour in the fashion industry. The survey will be administered through Google FormsCollected data from the survey will be analysed using descriptive statistics such as mean, mode, and standard deviation. The data will also be analysed using inferential statistics to determine the relationship between social media and consumer behaviour in the fashion industry. The data analysis will be conducted using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software.Respondents will be informed about the purpose of the study, their rights to withdraw from the study, and the confidentiality of their responses. The data collected will be kept confidential and anonymous.This study has some limitations, including using a non-probability convenience sampling technique, which may limit the generalisability of the findings. Moreover, the study relies on self-reported data from respondents, which may be subject to bias. The study is also limited to the fashion industry and may not be applicable to other industries.

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Explain the Guiding Principles of the Research

Every research must have a research philosophy. Some researchers, whether intentionally or not, often forget to start their methodology chapter with a research design. They limit themselves to collecting and checking facts.

It is easier for readers to understand the core of the research if your dissertation connects to its philosophical perspective. This makes the paper easier to understand and enjoyable enough to engage the reader. According to one study, there are four different research philosophies.

  1. Pragmatism
  2. Positivism
  3. Realism

Besides these three, postmodernism is another widely accepted philosophical theory that opposes acquiring objective knowledge.

Provide a Description of the Research Methodology

You will need to decide whether you will employ the “deductive method” or the “inductive approach” as part of your research methodology.

The deductive method typically describes a scientific study or a particular concept. While it is well compatible with positivist philosophy, it is also compatible with other schools of thought. In this way, the researcher must examine both their work and the work of other researchers and relevant theories.

Inductive research, on the other hand, focuses on studying a particular phenomenon and uses the results to build a new theory. It is compatible with postmodernism or even interpretivism. Deductive research is, in simple terms, a theory-led approach, while inductive research follows an epistemology-led method.

Describe the Research Techniques

The methodology must explain in detail the quantitative or qualitative research or mixed methodology techniques used in the dissertation.

  1. Quantitative research: The primary purpose of the quantitative research method is to collect numerical data. This technique is explicitly used to classify, count or track data patterns.

Researchers and students can obtain quantitative data through surveys, tests, and existing data. Simply put, statistical computing uses quantitative data.

  1. Qualitative research: This method is used to obtain non-statistical data. In qualitative research, researchers need to categorise data based on themes and patterns rather than using numbers to create charts or tables. This research process is vital for hypothesis testing. Researchers can collect data through focus groups, interviews and direct observation.

Be aware that your research requirements play a significant role in selecting the method of analysis used. However, once the process is complete, be sure to have the work checked by skilled editors and proofreaders.

What Should be Included in a Methodology Chapter

Your approach must clearly state how your research question relates to the knowledge you reviewed in your literature review and how you intend to reach your conclusions. Therefore, your methodological section must include the following information:

  1. Describe the sampling plan.
  2. Clearly describe the methodology of the study work.
  3. Describe the process of data collection plus data collection tools like questionnaires, surveys, interviews, etc.
  4. Describe the data analysis process you will use in your study.
  5. Mention the accuracy of the data and the conclusion.
  6. Any ethical aspects of your research report should be discussed.

What Should Not be Included in a Methodology Chapter?

No element of your thesis or dissertation should be hermetically walled off from the others; your methodology and literature review section, for instance, will undoubtedly have some overlap. You can even transfer content back and forth across sections during revisions. However, even though it may seem natural, you should avoid including the following in your dissertation methodology:

  1. A thorough analysis of the methodology.
  2. Pervasive, detailed, or methodical details.
  3. Rough data.

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Some Important Tips for Writing a Strong Methodology

  1. Be focused on your dissertation.
  2. Students often write too many words for the methodology chapter. As a rule, the methodology chapter should make up about 10-15 % of the whole dissertation. Avoid exceeding the word count limit.
  3. Use subheadings to make the process easy to understand. However, be sure to follow the guidelines provided by your institute.
  4. Always write your methodology in the past tense.
  5. To gain a better understanding, find out about the main technical aspects of scientific publications on research.
  6. Avoid mistakes in citing relevant sources. You can cite according to the Harvard, APA and MLA styles.
  7. Mention any difficulties you encountered while writing your dissertation.
  8. Correct all grammatical and punctuation errors.
  9. Ensure the paragraph is easy to read and does not contain too many complicated or long-winded phrases. Long sentences can detract from the tone of the methodology.
  10. Be aware that professionals will check your dissertation for errors in language, punctuation, sentence structure, etc. and correct them all to ensure the best quality.

Here are some of the different types of quantitative research methods that can be used in a nursing dissertation:

  • Survey research
  • Experimental research
  • Quasi-experimental research
  • Correlational research
  • Predictive research
  • Longitudinal research
  • Cross-sectional research
  • Case-control research
  • Cohort research
  • Secondary data analysis

The methodology chapter in a dissertation is typically written after the literature review chapter and before the results chapter. The methodology chapter outlines the research methods and procedures used to answer the research questions or hypotheses, and it is usually one of the longest and most detailed chapters in the dissertation.

It is important to note that the methodology chapter should be written in the past tense, as it describes what was done during the research process. The chapter should be well-organised, clearly written, and provide enough detail so that others can replicate the study if necessary.

The length of a Master’s nursing dissertation methodology chapter can vary depending on the specific research study and the academic program’s requirements. However, as a general guideline, a methodology chapter in a Master’s nursing dissertation typically ranges from 1500 to 3000 words.

The length of an undergraduate nursing dissertation methodology chapter depends on factors such as research study and the requirements of the academic program. However, as a general guideline, a methodology chapter in an undergraduate nursing dissertation is generally between 1000 to 2000 words.

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