Writing The Methodology Section Of A PhD Dissertation


Writing the methodology section of your dissertation is a vitally important part of your paper, as it details and outlines the methods of research that you used in order to reach your outcome. It basically backs up your dissertation by validating your research, so that other researchers can use your methods in order to come to the same conclusion or to develop new theories.

  • Introduction
  • It’s a good idea to introduce the reader to the methodology through an introduction, briefly outlining the methods you used.

  • Write in Past Tense
  • The methodology should detail the methods that you used when carrying out your research and therefore can only be written in the past tense. It should be structured chronologically in the order that the methods were attempted.

  • Include Obstacles
  • When carrying out research it’s almost inevitable that you will encounter problems with your research methods. By including the problems you faced you will show that you were able to overcome the obstacles, leading to other methods perhaps being applied as a consequence.

  • Detail Methods
  • Include the methods you used in order to obtain your data, whether it’s through the use of questionnaires, interviews, statistics, text analysis or psychological analysis, and explain why you used them and why they were the best option.

  • Keep it Simple
  • The intention is to describe the methods you used, whether qualitative, quantitative or mixed, and to detail, using specific examples, how that method worked in obtaining the desired result of your dissertation.

  • Include Flaws
  • If there are possible flaws or limitations within any of the methods you’ve used, state what they are and how they were countered or minimised and therefore had no effect on the eventual outcome of your research.

  • Analysis of Results
  • Detail how the results of your research methods were analysed, for example were they collated and statistically analysed or did you apply theoretical analysis? Are there any of your analyses that could be deemed subjective?

  • Citations
  • Using methods that have already been applied to similar research in the past is a good way of justifying your own data. You should cite the sources from where you discovered the method and explain what influenced your decision to apply that particular method.

  • It’s Not a List
  • The structure of the methodology section will usually comprise of a chapter of your dissertation. It should be laid out in paragraphs as opposed to a list and flow in the same way as a paragraph would.

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