How To Write Research Methodology {{ currentPage ? currentPage.title : "" }}

The research methodology section of any academic research paper gives you the opportunity to convince your readers that your research is useful and will contribute to your field of study. An effective research methodology is grounded in your overall approach – whether qualitative or quantitative – and adequately describes the methods you used. Justify why you chose those methods over others, then explain how those methods will provide answers to your research questions

Restate your research problem. Begin your research methodology section by listing the problems or questions you intend to study. Include your hypotheses, if applicable, or what you are setting out to prove through your research.[2]

  • In your restatement, include any underlying assumptions that you're making or conditions that you're taking for granted. These assumptions will also inform the research methods you've chosen.

  • Generally, state the variables you'll test and the other conditions you're controlling or assuming are equal.

Establish your overall methodological approach. Your overall approach will be either qualitative or quantitative. Occasionally, you may also use a mix of both approaches. Briefly explain why you chose your approach.

  • If you want to research and document measurable social trends, or evaluate the impact of a particular policy on various variables, use a quantitative approach focused on data collection and statistical analysis.

  • If you want to evaluate people's views or understanding of a particular issue, choose a more qualitative approach.

  • You can also combine the two. For example, you might look primarily at a measurable social trend, but also interview people and get their opinions on how that trend is affecting their lives.

Define how you collected or generated data. This portion of your methodology section tells your readers when and where you conducted your research, and what basic parameters were put into place to ensure the relative objectivity of your results writing a hypothesis.

  • For example, if you conducted a survey, you would describe the questions included in the survey, where and how the survey was conducted (such as in person, online, over the phone), how many surveys were distributed, and how long your respondents had to complete the survey.

  • Include enough detail that your study can be replicated by others in your field, even if they may not get the same results you did

Provide background for uncommon methods. Particularly in the social sciences, you may be using methods that aren't typically used, or that don't seem to fit with your research problem. These methods may require additional explanation.

  • Qualitative research methods typically require more detailed explanation than quantitative methods.

  • Basic investigative procedures don't need to be explained in detail. Generally, you can assume that your readers have a general understanding of common research methods that social scientists use, such as surveys or focus groups.

Cite any sources that contributed to your choice of methodology. If you used anyone else's work to help you craft or apply your methodology, discuss those works and how they contributed to your own work, or how your work is building on theirs.

  • For example, suppose you conducted a survey and used a couple of other research papers to help construct the questions on your survey. You would mention those as contributing sources.

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