An important element of your dissertation is Methodology. This is where you share how the literature review has shaped your view of the research problem. The Methodology then presents how you will obtain your data (population mix, experiment, or survey to be conducted) and what theoretical framework will be used to process the information.
This is a section that your advisor and the committee will carefully scrutinize. If there is an error in any of the procedures, you may be required to repeat the research or view the problem from a different angle. Future researchers also study the Methodology of a paper to gauge whether the research is sound. If not sound, they might not include your work in their study.
Things to avoid and do
Assuming you understood the Literature Review and consulted your advisor about your process, the Methodology should just be an explanation of how you tackled the problem. But some doctoral candidates make a mistake when writing this section.
- Don’t extensively repeat the other methodologies
As they write their Methodology, some students end up repeating the methodologies in the Literature Review. This is unnecessary as it lengthens the section and may cause the reader to lose focus.
- Only list what is essential in your procedure
While other researchers need to know how you conducted your study, the Methodology is not supposed to be a detailed instruction on how to do it. Just mention the most important parts of what you did and include the entire detailed process in the Appendix (if needed). The Appendix is also where you place the questionnaires, focus group questions, participant information sheet, and other tools used.
- Place your data elsewhere
Similar to how the procedure’s details and research tools are handled, the raw data should not be in the Methodology. Data is expected to be mentioned in the Findings and Discussion, but not here. As it is important to view it, data should also be placed in the Appendix.
- Defend your method as needed
If your procedure is different from the ones mentioned in the Literature Review or if it is a combination of a few, you do need to explain why you did it that way. The reader needs to understand the logic of how you did things so they can confirm the validity of your research.
- Define your criteria
People have different views about what successful research is. Because of this, you may have to define the aim of what you are doing to be considered a “success.”
For example, in research about reading ability, you may point out that given the timeframe of the study a 20% increase in scores is already “good.” In this way, the reader understands the target of the study; otherwise, the reader will wonder about your idea of a decent grade.
The Methodology helps the reader understand the process you implemented, helping confirm if the study was done correctly or not. So consider the pointers above to ensure your Methodology is presented well.