How to Write Research Methodology
Research methodology has to do with detailed techniques and processes involved in identification, selection, processing and analysis of data and information on a particular topic. The section for research methodology in a paper is very important because it is the one that will serve to show the reader convincingly how valid and dependable the research study is. This therefore makes it critically imperative for the researcher while writing his/her paper to craft carefully this section in such a way that the study carried out with much effort and resources is well represented in reporting. Since researches form a core part of academic pursuits either for first degree or higher degrees, knowing what this section of your write-up should contain and how to approach it is important. It should include the research type that you carried out, your method of gathering data, your method of analysis, tools you used, and your reason for choosing the methods you chose. Below are important things you should put in place when writing the research methodology for your research work.
Restate the Problem
The research methodology section of your paper comes after the literature review. It is important at this point to restate and reemphasise the problem your research is focused on. What problem are you trying to look into and solve? What lacuna are you hoping to fill with your research work? This will serve as a good foundation for your reader to easily flow with the rest of your write-up in this section. Be careful to also state assumptions that you are making and factors that you are not taking into consideration. You could also list the variables that you will be testing in your study.
Choose Your Major Methodological Approach
Decide and state which methodological approach you are using, either qualitative or quantitative. If you are dealing with data in terms of numbers and working on a measurable trend, then quantitative methodology might be appropriate, but if you are dealing with how a certain trend impacts on people’s lives, dealing with opinions, understanding and observations from people, then you might want to go with qualitative methodology. Or you could also do a mixture of the two methodologies, by studying a measurable trend and then using a theoretical perspective or philosophy to study its impact on people’s lives.
State How You Collected or Produced Your Data
Include information as to where, when and how you collected your data, and how long it took your respondents to respond to you. This will serve to help your reader better understand the context of your research. It is important that you include as many relevant details as possible in the section for your methodology so as to specify conditions under which you collected your data.
State Your Criteria for Data Collection
Let the eligibility parameters that you set for your collection of data be well spelt out, list out the parameters and explain why you decided to use them to determine eligibility. Explain the importance of these parameters that you set in relation to your work and how they are necessary to ensure that you get the best result. Also, specify your sample size.
Explain Uncommon Methods
If you happen to be using a method that is not quite common, especially when it has to do with qualitative research, ensure you explain the method clearly to enable a good understanding of the reader and to serve as proper foundation for your study. Quantitative methodologies on the other hand may not really involve uncommon methods like the qualitative methodology.
Defend/Justify Your Method
You should be able to explain convincingly why the methodology you chose is the bet for your study. Did you put into consideration any ethics or philosophy in choosing the method? What is the underlying rationale behind your chosen method whenever it is used? What feature does your methodology possess that makes it the best approach for your research question? Does it happen to be a well-known, standard method in your field of study, or do you need to specially justify it? Going by the study you are conducting, what are the factors that account for validity and reliability, and how does your chosen methodology satisfy those factors?
Touch on the Strengths and the Weaknesses of Your Methodology
Every method has its strengths and weaknesses. Explain the strong areas that make your methods suitable for the work, but also be sure to include the weak points of the methodology and the criticisms of the methodology, then go on to show how that the weaknesses of your chosen method do not significantly affect the validity of your work. This kind of proof will help your reader to have more confidence in your results and know what weaknesses or strengths to put into cognisance if they want to use your method.
Write as You Apply the Method
Put down reports and results as you use your chosen methods. This will help you to record in detail everything significant that needs to be recorded. If you don’t take it this way, you may miss out on including some little important details which would have otherwise served for future reference or to help your reader.
State How Reproducible Your Method Is
While you may have carried out your own study, with good results using your sample size in relation to the total population you are considering. You need to state the extent of reproducibility of your method. That is, in what population size and using what sample size can your method be used again to obtain valid and reliable results?
Cite Your Sources
Cite as many sources as you employed in forming or choosing your methodology. This is important, it will serve to give credibility to your work in that you complied with standard procedures in carrying out your work, that you also researched broadly before choosing the particular method you chose.
State Other Methods You Could Have Used
Touch on other known methods that you could have used which are probably more popular but are not suitable for your work. Talk on those methods briefly to describe the deficiencies they possess which made them unsuitable. Going wide like this to talk about other methods that you did not use will make your reader know that your methodology was not chosen out of ignorance, but out of good research. This will induce more confidence in your results. It could be that you decided to use a qualitative approach where the usual in similar studies was to use quantitative approach. Others might have been able to study a measurable trend statistically, but you are then applying it qualitatively as to how that trend impacts on people’s lives.
Discuss the Problems You Faced and How You Overcame Them
This is a very important one as it can boost the reader’s confidence in your results. What peculiar problems did you face in the course of your research work using your chosen methodology and how did you manage the problem to still ensure it did not affect the results negatively or significantly.
State How You Analysed Your Data
After collecting your data, how did you prepare your data for analysis? Thereafter, how did you go about the analysis? State that also. For qualitative methodology that involved non-numerical studies, observations and the likes, what theoretical perspective or suitable philosophy did you use? Did you use discourse analysis, content analysis or narrative analysis? For the quantitative methodology that involve numbers, what software did you use?
Your research methodology is a critical part of your research write-up, it must show connection and correlation to your research questions, objectives and goals. If it does not seem to be properly connected and able to serve the purpose of your research, then you might need to either adjust your method or your topic.