Methodology

How will you answer the research questions posed in the introduction to your study?  This is precisely the purpose of the methodology section.  It outlines the methods you will utilise, but often does much more.  The methodology outlines the paradigms, methods and ethical considerations that guide how you will conduct the research.  

Methods vary from discipline to discipline but generally it is that part of your thesis where you signal that how you have designed your research, the thinking and theory motivating the particular steps you took to explore your research topic and answer your research question. It offers the reader detail on the area you will use to source your data, how you define data, how you will collect, organise, store and analyse this data.  Thus, you can distinguish between data collection methods and data analysis methods

These methods and means of conducting your research can have real effects and consequences as you work with and in these areas and contexts, so be aware of the ethical issues that they can pose.

You’re making different judgement calls on what to do, and what not to do. How are you motivating these choices? Have you considered the possible effects of these choices? What is your relation to the components of your research design?

 

Drafting the methodology section:

Generally, the methodology sections contain some of the following.  Certainly, the emphasis will shift depending on your discipline, but here is a broad outline:

Methodological approach / paradigm –  research context / field – research participants – data collection methods – data analysis methods – research ethics

Here are some guiding questions:

  1. Briefly, what are you seeking to research?
  2. What type of research are you conducting? Qualitative / Quantitative / Mixed or other?
  3. Which methodology (or combination of methodologies) would be most suitable for your study?  Why did you choose this methodology?
  4. Within this methodology, what are the actual methods you will employ?
  5. What type data you will collect?  How you will collect data?  What will be your sample type and size?
  6. How will you analyse the data?  What methods/ tools of analysis/ heuristics would you use?  Why did you opt for these?
  7. How will your study respond to any of the following aspects: ethical considerations, validity, credibility, generalisability, confidentiality? (The relevance of these concepts will depend on your discipline.  Some may not be that applicable).
  8. What would be the constraints and limitations of your methodology?

 

Additional resources:

Pat Thomson on methods and methodology: https://patthomson.net/category/research-methods/ 

Cecile Badenhorst on writing the methodology chapter: https://cecilebadenhorst.wordpress.com/carnegie-african-diaspora-workshops/writing-the-methodology-chapter-of-a-thesis/

Research Rundowns on educational research methods: https://researchrundowns.com/mixed/mixed-methods-research-designs/

On qualitative methods: https://researchrundowns.com/qual/qualitative-research-design/

On quantitative methods: https://researchrundowns.com/quantitative-methods/