Research methodology and research methods
- Research design of the study including sections on methods
- Ethical issues
The required number of words for the above 2,000 words
Chapter 3: Research methodology and research methods
This chapter has two tasks. The first task should outline the research methodology employed and present a justification for it to investigate the stated research question(s) and/or hypothesis. The second task is to summarize the particular methods used. For the methods used, you need to discuss:
- criteria employed in determining why the method used can be considered to be appropriate
- the reasons why other approaches were rejected.
An effective methodology section should:
- Introduce the overall methodological approach for each problem or question. Is your study qualitative or quantitative? Are you going to take a special approach, such as action research, or use case studies?
- Indicate how the approach fits the overall research design. Your methods should have a clear connection with your research questions and/or hypotheses. In other words, make sure that your methods will actually answer your questions—Don Thackrey notes that the most common reason for the rejection of professional proposals is that “the proposed tests, or methods, or scientific procedures are unsuited to the stated objective.”
- Describe the specific methods of data collection you are going to use—e.g. surveys, interviews, questionnaires, observation, archival or traditional library research. If you are going to use surveys, you need to specify sample sizes, sample frames and how you will obtain responses.
- Explain how you intend to analyze and interpret your results. Will you use statistical analysis? Will you use specific theoretical perspectives to help you analyze a text or explain observed behaviors?
- Given the diverse range of methodology and methods that can be employed in social sciences, many readers will not be familiar with all methods. Consequently you will need to provide detailed background and rationale for the methodology and methods employed. If applicable, you may also need to provide a rationale for subject selection (particularly if you have not already provided one). For instance, if you propose to conduct interviews and use questionnaires, how do you intend to select the sample population? If you are analyzing literary texts, which texts have you chosen, and why?
- Address potential limitations. Are there any practical limitations that could affect your data collection? How will you attempt to control for potential confounding variables and errors?
- Define the status of your Non-Medical Human Subjects Ethics Approval Request if applicable.
Tips on drafting your methodology section:
- Break down your methodology into easily digestible subsections such as selection of participants, interview process, profiles, interpretive and analytic framework, methods of qualitative analysis, etc.
- Remember that your methods section may also require supporting literature.
- Anticipate and pre-empt the audience’s methodological concerns.
- If the audience might have a problem with a facet of the methodology, admit this difficulty and justify your approach.
- If your methodology may lead to problems you can anticipate (including timeframe problems), state this openly and show why pursuing the methodology outweighs the risk of these problems cropping up.
Below are the recommended sections.
Research design of the study
You should provide a
- Description of the methods that you used to address the research questions that characterize your study (You may wish to repeat the research questions here).
- Discussion of your reasons for selecting the particular methods that you selected (for example, why did you use a questionnaire, or employ a case study or use interviews, etc)
- How do the data collection instruments/questions relate to supporting/questioning a hypothesis or research question?
- What data will you collect and what methods will you use to collect these data?
- What sampling process did you use to select these participants?
- How did you go about analyzing the data?
- What were the practical and technical aspects of conducting the research
You must include details on the requirement for human subjects ethical clearance.
- Sections on data analysis and findings
- Sections on the key findings in the context of the research questions and literature
- Future research directions
- Recommendations (IR)
The required number of words for the above 10,000 words
Chapter 4: The Results
This chapter includes your data analysis and findings (but not the implications which are discussed in the next chapter). There is no one correct way of presenting the results and analysis. The presentation style adopted is primarily linked to whether the findings are quantitative or qualitative in nature. If quantitative data is presented, include summary statistics, appropriate graphics and significance tests. If qualitative data is presented, include the outcome of a manual analytic procedure (eg textual analysis output).
Issues to consider:
- Organize the subheadings and discussion of your results around the research questions, if possible
- The sub-headings here will depend upon the nature of your study.
- The results may be presented in more than one chapter if it makes sense. For example if you have two lengthy case studies then you might want to have 2 results chapters or you might want to devote a separate chapter to each research question. This is a choice you might want to make after talking with your Supervisor
Chapter 5: Discussion
This chapter discusses your key findings and set these in the context of both the research questions and the literature outlined previously. Explanations for surprising findings should be offered and reflective comments on the research design and methodology given. However, it is very important to avoid introducing new ideas/concepts that have not been dealt with up to this stage in the thesis.
With qualitative research, it is advisable to structure the presentation of the basis of commonly occurring themes, illustrating these with direct quotations from the transcripts. An explanation should be offered as to how the quotations were selected and the basis on which these are judged to be of importance. If the results and analysis are to be presented separately, it may be useful to present the key findings from a set of interviews in an N by N tabular form.
Always refer back to theory findings and research material to present the relation between the outcomes of research related to those already existing.
Chapter 6: Conclusion (Implications and Recommendations)
This chapter should comprise a concise short summary of the key insights and implications (theoretical, methodological, empirical) of the thesis, and any recommendations. It also should provide a brief outline of the possibilities for further research.
Below are the recommended sections.
Outline some of the implications of the study for the field. Again, this might mean referring back to your literature review or it may take the form of recommendations for improved practice by researchers, policy makers, or practitioners
Future Research Directions
Outline some possible research studies that would further extend your work in some important areas. This is a section that could map out further studies that you hope to do upon graduation OR that another graduate student who is just beginning might consult for guidance.
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