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How To Write A Methodology For A Dissertation

09 Nov 2018

Writing a dissertation methodology is definitely one of the trickiest parts of every dissertation. There are strict rules in contents and formatting that should necessarily be followed, and in the end, it has a big impact on the final result. No wonder that students delay writing methodology for the last night and it ends up being bad. Not just bad but disastrous. To make sure this won’t happen to you, we’ll review how to write a methodology for a dissertation and how it really should be done.

What is a methodology?

A methodology is a section where you define the ways of arriving at presented conclusions. Usually, this means presenting applied theoretical frameworks, criteria for gathering or obtaining data (research methods, experiment specifications, etc.), the models you used or created.

It’s common to hear from students that dissertation methodology structure and analysis are just a formality that no one really needs. However, if you worked in science seriously, you already know it’s not a case. Plan helps other scientists to repeat experiments and test hypothesis in order to verify a certain theory or finding, it improves the understanding of how an author was thinking and what led to described thoughts. In fact, one could argue it’s one of the most important section of your dissertation. Better take it seriously then.

Organizing Your Dissertation Methodology

It follows a literature section and therefore, should correspond with the literature you read and complement it. The next characteristic of comprising the theoretical and systematic analysis is its order, a clear and concise way of presenting used scientific theories, techniques, and frameworks.

1. A brief overview of the research questions

Explain to a person who’s reading your work the issues you will raise in the dissertation. Don’t just copy your statement but instead do a brief recap of the problem you are solving. Our advice is to structure questions in a list in a short, understandable way.

2. Describe your dissertation methods

This is inarguably the main purpose of the methodology section although it’s not limited just to that. Describing a method, focus on your research approach and theoretical frameworks. To put simply, explain why you have chosen to rely on particular data and what your starting point is. After you described theoretical basis of your work, follow with a description of the execution of your theoretical ideas. This can include specifics of conducted experiments, requirements for your inventions, and innovations. Keep your description to the point but detailed - the goal is to make your program easy to repeat for another scholar.

3. Define your academic background

Explain what served the basis for your methodology. You can refer to literature, specific scientific schools or movements, and even the work of particular scientists. Don’t go in too much detail here, your goal is to describe the most crucial influence, not give a full overview of your reading list - besides, you’ve already done that in the previous section.

4. Evaluate your method

The mistake that many students do is falling in love with their scientific method. In their dissertation, they want to seem so inclined and professional, and that leads to complete of objective approach. In good methodologies, authors always disclose flaws of their methods. Everything can’t go smoothly, and here is just a place to discuss that. Could be, you designed first experiments the wrong way or stumbled across wrong calculation. Maybe you had a number of participants in interviews. Describe these mistakes and propose a way of fixing them.

How to comprise a methodology section?

The structure and contexts of what to include in methodology differ depending on your major. In the tips above, we described general rules that work for any kind of scientific work. Still, it’s worth taking a look at how methodologies submitted for Bachelor's and Master's degrees differ in various kinds of study.

Scientific dissertation

Writing your dissertation for scientific studies, you need to provide as much concrete information in your experiments a possible. Since a little change in numbers or proportions can change the physics or chemistry experiments tremendously, your job is to double- and triple-check every single number.

The usual list of information that should be included is lab equipment, set-up, calculations you’ve done beforehand and examined variables. Analyze and justify the particular statistic models used in the dissertation, describe the advantages and flaws you’ve encountered.

Social and behavioral sciences

The main thing behavioral dissertation should focus on while describing the used program is reproducibility. Basically, you explain why the produced results are not accidental but logical - and justify this claim with experiment detail and models, used in the process.

Experiments, based on analyzing human behavior, are more complex than those involving mathematical models or physical objects. Was your candidate selection objective and varied? Did you remove all factors that could influence the answers? These questions arise all the time and program is just a place to address them.

The optimal structure for social studies’ methodology normally is:

  • The description of broad problems you are solving in your work. How does it matter for respondents you chose for experiments? Does this selection respond to real-life conditions?
  • How were the interviews conducted? Describe everything, from the location to what model of recorder you used during the experiment.
  • Do you have proven statements, disclosed in the dissertation? If no, you really need to get them. Always back up your theoretical ideas with real data.
  • Refer to the work previously done on required subject. Analyze how your methods are different from those already used, with examples.

Dissertation on a creative subject

It is dedicated to exploring your own creative work and should display both a clear understanding of own artistic vision and a critical evaluation of your art. Although for many schools it’s enough just to submit a creative portfolio, sometimes you might also be asked to prepare a critical essay. If that’s the case, structure your text in two parts:

  1. Explaining your own vision, why you picked certain style and manner of execution.
  2. Analyzing your work from the perspective of art in general.

Conclusion

Writing a methodology is not just a senseless formality. In fact, it’s precisely a methodology chapter that represents your credibility as a scientist. If you got this far, you are already qualified to write a great theoretical analysis. Still, we always encourage getting a second opinion and not just from a friend but preferably from a professional. On our site, you can request professional assistance and have your methodology prepared by an experienced writer.

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