How to write a PhD thesis research methodology
What is a research methodology?
The methods part of your dissertation follows the literature review and should flow naturally from it. You will have established your research topic and performed a thorough examination of what other academics in the area have to say about your subject (i.e. after your literature review) up to the point of drafting your methodology. You’ll also have examined how these academics arrived at their findings – the underlying assumptions, the theoretical models they employed, and the techniques they used to collect, organize, and interpret their data. You’ll have utilized these observations, in conjunction with talks with your adviser, to develop a strategy for addressing your research topic. This may include determining how you will collect data, the models you will use to analyze it, or the philosophical views that will most influence your work. Following this, your thesis methodology section details both how you have undertaken your dissertation and why you have chosen that strategy.
Research methodology structure
Your technique should create a clear connection among your research question, the current scholarship in your area that you examined throughout your literature evaluation, and the methods by which you will arrive at your findings. As a result, regardless of the topic area in which you are working, your technique section will contain the following:
A concise summary of your research question (s)
The critical component of explaining your technique is showing that it is appropriate for addressing the research issue or questions you presented at the outset. When presenting your approach, you should summarize the main issues you want to address; however, this does not have to be a verbatim repetition; you may choose to rephrase the problem in a manner that bridges your literature review and methodology.
A explanation of your concept or technique
This is the methodology’s heart, yet it is not a methodology in and of itself. This section of your methodology describes in detail how you collected and analyzed data, or how you approached your research topic. This section should be concise and comprehensive enough that another researcher may read it and use it in a manner that is not directly related to your dissertation. If you are presenting a novel theoretical perspective on a literary work or a philosophical issue, your reader should be able to adapt your theory to another text or situation. If you’re presenting a scientific experiment, your reader should have everything they need to replicate it in the laboratory. If you’re presenting a new kind of statistical model, after reading your methods section, your reader must be able to apply the model to their own data set.
The context and reason for your design selection
The methodology section does not just explain the technique; it also describes why you selected it and why you think it will provide the greatest findings, the most insightful collection of analyses and conclusions, or the most creative viewpoint. This will rely on your literature study in part, demonstrating that your selections are well-informed and based on solid research, while also demonstrating originality and ingenuity. Additionally, you should ensure that you clearly connect the reason for your technique to your research issue; your reader should understand that the methodology you have selected is a deliberate and customized response to the problems you’re attempting to address.
An assessment of your technique selection and a description of its limitations
No research technique is flawless, and the one you’ve selected almost certainly involves some trade-offs. You may have selected a small-scale group of interviews, for example, because the unique viewpoints of a small number of interviewers on the issue at hand are more useful to you than a bigger collection of data on answers to the same topic. However, this implies you’ve forgone a quantitative approach to your issue, which might have produced its own set of significant discoveries. Be open and truthful about the limits of your chosen technique, and be prepared to argue why it is the best approach for your objectives.
While the overall structure of your methods section will be same irrespective of your field, the specifics are likely to vary significantly depending on the topic area you’re researching. Consider some of the most frequent kinds of dissertations and the material that must be included in the methodology section for each.
A suitable research methodology
This question is somewhat dependent on whether you are writing an undergrad or postgrad thesis. For the majority of students, an undergrad dissertation is their first chance to engage deeply in their areas’ literature and to plan and execute a serious research endeavor. In an undergraduate dissertation, you must demonstrate your capacity to interact with a wide field of research, to synthesize disparate and even antagonistic approaches to a problem, and to distill this down to a design for a research study that addresses your research questions at the appropriate scholarly level. The capacity to synthesize what you have learnt from academics in your field and mold it into a technique that can be used to shed light on your research topic is therefore vital to a successful undergraduate dissertation. While the finest undergraduate dissertations may demonstrate unique thinking and may even make a significant addition to their area, the emphasis will often be on showing that you possess the basic research abilities necessary to do investigative research in your field.