The main purpose of any dissertation is to carry out findings and get results. How results are achieved is usually reflected in the methodology. Here, we will discuss the methodology section definition and how to write one.
What is a methodology section?
The methodology section is a major part of every dissertation. The section shows how you have collected and interpreted your data. It also shows the link between your data and the research questions stated in the background, usually in chapter one of your dissertation.
How to write a methodology
Typically there are three methodological approaches. You could be using a qualitative, quantitative, or mixed approach. Your method design is usually determined by which type you use. Your methodology must clearly show a relationship between your research question and data analysis.
To write a good methodology, you could try highlighting your research question at every step. However, you do not have to repeat your research questions word-for-word. It would be best if you also described your method design. The method design usually is the heart of the methodology even though it is not the methodology itself. This is the point where you state how you have gathered your data and how you have analysed them.
Your method design should be clear enough for other scholars who read it to apply it the same way you have and get almost the same results. It should be clear enough to your reader if you intend to create a new theory or theoretical approach.
Your methodology should also include the reason for your choice of design. It would be best if you convinced your reader that your chosen design is good for your research and is suitable to answer your research questions.
Dissertation research methods usually have flaws in them. They are not always perfect. You must be honest about the fact that your chosen method is limited. Do not be apologetic about it. You should be able to justify beyond doubt why the method you have chosen is the best for your research.
Methodology in dissertation depends on the type of study you are doing. A scientific study, for example, would need you to give information about the equipment used. You may also need to state the setup of the laboratory and the procedures used. This will enable another researcher to replicate your results using the same methods.
Using a questionnaire is an example of methodology in dissertation. However, a research methodology in the sciences would rarely follow the same methodology. This is because chemicals or biological substances are mostly used for this type of research.
Whatever the case, you will be stating whether you are using questionnaires, recorded interviews, or any other method. Also, your scope of data collection will be reflected in your methodology.
The methodological approach in the Arts differs from the methodological approaches in the Sciences and Social sciences. Methodology in the Arts usually involves applying one theory in a new context or merging two theories to produce a new theoretical framework. It is easy to overlook the methodological section in the Arts, but connecting the research methodology and the research questions in the dissertation is important.
Methodological approaches in the Creative Arts are quite different from all of these. Creative Arts usually require that a creative dissertation rather than a critical one be done. This could involve creating a piece of writing or artwork. It is, however, important that your methodology reveals that you view your work from an objective angle without showing any sentiments.
What not to include in a methodology
Whatever methodology approach you take, it is important to justify why that methodology has been chosen. Your methodology should not consist of a bulky review of other people’s methodology. This should be in your literature review and not in the methodology section. Also, you should avoid making your methodology look like a grocery list. Even if you want to mention all apparatus used in your methodology, it is best if you keep this in your appendix and refer to them in your methodology. Your methodology should also not include raw data. This should be in your appendix and referred to in the methodology section.
What influences methodology?
A good researcher knows that the gap in research is usually derived from an extensive literature review. Hence for you to get a good methodology, you will need to have reviewed a lot of literature to see what has been done and what is left undone. After doing this, you can align your literature review to your research questions. Most times, by the time you’re done with your literature review, you will have been able to decide on what methodology to adopt
The most useful parts of research are not always the findings and conclusions. Your ability to create a methodology that others can replicate or build on to make their finding is the most important thing. Even if other scholars do not agree with your work, they should find your methodology engaging enough to use.
Remember, it is not about getting scholars to agree with you; it is about engaging them to find your work useful for further research. A good methodology must be able to answer the questions you have raised. Others should also be able to use it to answer related questions. Where the questions differ, your methodology should be good enough to be adapted to answer them. This, however, should not compromise your way of using it.