Writing a methodology for a literature review

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As with a scientific study, a social or behavioural sciences methodology needs to demonstrate both rigour and reproducibility, allowing another researcher to reproduce your study in whole or in part for their own ends. However, the complexity of working with human subjects means there are a number of additional questions to consider. First of all, you'll want to answer certain broad questions about the kind of analysis you're undertaking: is it qualitative or quantitative, or a mixed approach that uses qualitative data to provide context and background to quantitative data (or vice versa)? Will you be conducting recorded interviews with your subjects, asking them to complete a written questionnaire, or observing them undertaking some activity or other? Or will you avoid doing your own research with human subjects at all, and base your research on documentary evidence or a pre-existing data set? What is the scope of your data and conclusions? Is there reason to believe it can be generalised to other contexts, or is it highly specific to the particular location or cultural context in which you conducted your research? In addition to answering all these questions, you must satisfy your reader that you have considered all the ethical questions associated with your research.

But that means you've nevertheless sacrificed a quantitative approach to your problem that might have yielded its own set of important insights. Be honest and upfront but not apologetic about the limitations of your chosen method, and be ready to justify why it's the best approach for your purposes. While the outline of your methodology section will look much the same regardless of your discipline, the details are liable to be quite different depending on the subject area in which you're studying. Let's take a look at some of the most common types of dissertation, who and the information required in a methodology section for each of them. Common types of dissertation methodology, a scientific study, the methodology section for a scientific study needs to emphasise rigour and reproducibility above all else. Your methods must appear robust to the reader, with no obvious flaws in the design or execution. You should not only include the necessary information about your equipment, lab setup, and procedure to allow another researcher to reproduce your method; you should also demonstrate that you've factored any variables that are likely to distort your data (for example, by introducing false positives. Your methodology should also include details of and justifications for the statistical models you'll use to analyse your data. Remember that a scholar might use any single part of your methodology as a departure point for their own work; they might follow your experiment design but choose a different model for analysing the results, or vice versa! A study in the social or behavioural sciences.

writing a methodology for a literature review

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If you're introducing a new type of essays statistical model, your reader should be able to apply this model to their own data set after reading your methodology section. The background and rationale for your design choice. Your methodology doesn't just describe your method; it discusses the reasons why you've chosen it, and why you believe it will yield the best results, the most insightful set of analyses and conclusions, or the most innovative perspective. This will draw in part from your literature review, presenting your choices as informed and rooted in sound scholarship, while ideally also displaying innovation and creativity. You should also ensure that you relate the rationale for your method explicitly to your research problem; it should be very clear to your reader that the methodology you've chosen is a thoughtful and tailored response to the questions you're trying to answer. An evaluation of your choice of method, and a statement of its limitations. No research method is perfect, and it's likely that the one you've chosen comes with certain trade-offs. You might, for instance, have chosen a small-scale set of interviews because the individual perspectives of a set of interviewees on the problem you're exploring is more valuable to you than a larger set of data about responses to the same question.

writing a methodology for a literature review

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You should recap the key questions you want to answer when introducing your plan methodology, but this doesn't have to be a word-for-word restatement; you might want to reword the problem in a way that bridges your literature review and methodology. A description of your design or method. This is the heart of the methodology but is not, by itself, a methodology. This is the part of your methodology where you clearly explain your process for gathering and analysing data, or for approaching your research question. This should be clear and detailed enough that another scholar is able to read it and apply it in some way, outside of the immediate context of your dissertation. If you're offering a new theoretical take on a literary work or a philosophical problem, your reader should be able to understand your theory enough that they can apply it to another text or problem. If you're describing a scientific experiment, your reader should have all they need to recreate your experiment in a lab.

Youll have also reviewed the ways in which these scholars have arrived at their conclusions the assumptions on which their work is based, the theoretical frameworks they've used, and the methods they've used to gather, marshal and present their data. You will have used these observations, along with discussions with your supervisor, to plan how you're going to tackle your research question. This could be planning how you'll gather data, or what models you'll use to process it, or what philosophical positions most inform your work. Following this, your dissertation methodology provides a detailed account of both how you'll approach your dissertation and why you've taken the decision to approach it in the way you have. What should my methodology look like? Your methodology needs to establish a clear relationship between your research question, the existing scholarship in your field that you have surveyed as part of your literature review, and the means by which you'll come to your conclusions. Therefore, no matter what subject area you're working in, your methodology section will include the following: A recap of your research question(s). Key to justifying your methodology is demonstrating that it is fit for the purpose of answering the research problem or questions you posed at the start.

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writing a methodology for a literature review

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You should then move on to discuss your research questions, and how you plan to address each of them. This is the point at which to set out your chosen research methods, including their theoretical basis, and the literature supporting them. You should make clear whether you think the method is tried and tested or much more experimental, and what kind of reliance you could place on the results. You will also need to discuss this again in the discussion section. Your research may even study aim to test the research methods, to see if they work in certain circumstances. You should conclude by summarising your research methods, the underpinning approach, and what you see as the key challenges that you will face in your research. Again, these are the areas that you will want to revisit in your discussion.

Conclusion your methodology, and the precise methods that you choose to use in your research, are crucial to its success. It is worth spending plenty of time on this section to ensure that you get it right. As always, draw on the resources available to you, for example by discussing your plans in detail with your supervisor who may be able to suggest whether your approach has significant flaws which you could address in some way. What is a methodology? Your methodology section appears immediately after the literature review in your dissertation, and should flow organically from. Up until the point of writing your methodology, you will have defined your research question and conducted a detailed review of what other scholars in the field have to say about your topic.

Items in other media can also be the subject of documentary analysis, including films, songs, websites and photographs. Documents can reveal a great deal about the people or organisation that produced them and the social context in which they emerged. Some documents are part of the public domain and are freely accessible, whereas other documents may be classified, confidential or otherwise unavailable to public access. . If such documents are used as data for research, the researcher must come to an agreement with the holder of the documents about how the contents can and cannot be used and how confidentiality will be preserved. How to Choose your Methodology and Precise research Methods your methodology should be linked back to your research questions and previous research. Visit your university or college library and ask the librarians for help; they should be able to help you to identify the standard research method textbooks in your field.


See also our section on Research Methods for some further ideas. Such books will help you to identify your broad research philosophy, and then choose methods which relate to that. This section of your dissertation or thesis should set your research in the context of its theoretical underpinnings. The methodology should also explain the weaknesses of your chosen approach and how you plan to avoid the worst pitfalls, perhaps by triangulating your data with other methods, or why you do not think the weakness is relevant. Structuring your Methodology It is usually helpful to start your section on methodology by setting out the conceptual framework in which you plan to operate with reference to the key texts on that approach. You should be clear throughout about the strengths and weaknesses of your chosen approach and how you plan to address them. You should also note any issues of which to be aware, for example in sample selection or to make your findings more relevant.

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Questionnaires require a trunk great deal of care in their design and delivery, but a well-developed questionnaire can be distributed to a much for larger number of people than it would be possible to interview. Questionnaires are particularly well suited for research seeking to measure some parameters for a group of people (e.g., average age, percentage agreeing with a proposition, level of awareness of an issue or to make comparisons between groups of people (e.g., to determine whether members. See our page: Surveys and Survey design for more information. Documentary Analysis, documentary analysis involves obtaining data from existing documents without having to question people through interview, questionnaires or observe their behaviour. Documentary analysis is the main way that historians obtain data about their research subjects, but it can also be a valuable tool for contemporary social scientists. Documents are tangible materials in which facts or ideas have been recorded. . Typically, we think of items written or produced on paper, such as newspaper articles, government policy records, leaflets and minutes of meetings. .

writing a methodology for a literature review

A researcher wanting to know how people react to a billboard advertisement might spend time watching and queens describing the reactions of the people. . In this case, the data would be descriptive, and would therefore be qualitative. There are a number of potential ethical concerns that can arise with an observation study. . Do the people being studied know that they are under observation? . Can they give their consent? . If some people are unhappy with being observed, is it possible to remove them from the study while still carrying out observations of the others around them? See our page: Observational Research and Secondary data for more information. Questionnaires, if your intended research question requires you to collect standardised (and therefore comparable) information from a number of people, then questionnaires may be the best method to use. Questionnaires can be used to collect both quantitative and qualitative data, although you will not be able to get the level of detail in qualitative responses to a questionnaire that you could in an interview.

different paths of conversation that emerge over the course of the interview, or to prompt the informant to clarify and expand on certain points. . Therefore, interviews are particularly good tools for gaining detailed information where the research question is open-ended in terms of the range of possible answers. Interviews are not particularly well suited for gaining information from large numbers of people. Interviews are time-consuming, and so careful attention needs to be given to selecting informants who will have the knowledge or experiences necessary to answer the research question. See our page: Interviews for Research for more information. Observations, if a researcher wants to know what people do under certain circumstances, the most straightforward way to get this information is sometimes simply to watch them under those circumstances. Observations can form a part of either quantitative or qualitative research. . For instance, if a researcher wants to determine whether the introduction of a traffic sign makes any difference to the number of cars slowing down at a dangerous curve, she or he could sit near the curve and count the number of cars that. Because the data will be numbers of cars, this is an example of quantitative observation.

If you are submitting your dissertation in sections, with the methodology submitted before you actually undertake the research, you should use this section to set out exactly what you plan. The methodology should be linked back to the literature to explain why you are using certain methods, and the academic basis of your choice. If you are submitting as a single thesis, then the methodology should explain what you did, with any refinements that you made as your work progressed. Again, it should have a clear academic justification of all the choices that you made and be linked back to the literature. Common Research Methods for the social Sciences. There are numerous research methods that can be used writing when researching scientific subjects, you should discuss which are the most appropriate for your research with your supervisor. The following research methods are commonly used in social science, involving human subjects: Interviews, one of the most flexible and widely used methods for gaining qualitative information about peoples experiences, views and feelings is the interview. An interview can be thought of as a guided conversation between a researcher (you) and somebody from whom you wish to learn something (often referred to as the informant). The level of structure in an interview can vary, but most commonly interviewers follow a semi-structured format. .

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A key part of your dissertation or thesis is the methodology. This is not quite the same as methods. The methodology describes the broad philosophical underpinning to your chosen research methods, including whether you are using qualitative or quantitative methods, or a mixture of both, and why. You should be clear about the academic basis for all the choices dissertation of research methods that you have made. I was interested ' or i thought. ' is not enough; there must be good academic reasons for your choice. What to Include in your Methodology.


writing a methodology for a literature review
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