Tips for Describing Methodology in a Thesis or Dissertation

Of all the critical sections of a dissertation, the methodology is perhaps the most important one. Whether it be a qualitative analysis or empirical study, the main focus of the thesis or dissertation is obviously the key findings and for that the methodology section assumes importance. You may lay the groundwork for your exercise with a detailed review of the literature and setting a suitable hypothesis in your study, but it is really what you have done that matters. writing a suitable methodology section is therefore very important and needs special attention.

Here are some tips on how to write a proper methodology section.

Method and methodology: First and foremost, you must understand the distinction between method and methodology. The methodology is about the underlying theory and analysis of the exercise you undertake; it is the set of principles behind the design of the research study. Methods on the other hand refer to the techniques and tools you use for the study. For instance, your methodology may include a sample survey, while your method is how you draw those samples. A proper methodology section needs to report both, in a proper structure so as not to confuse between both. Give an overview of the methodology you are following in your thesis and then report the methods adopted to execute it.

Qualify your methodology: At the very onset, you need to clarify the type of methodology you have adopted. Broadly, there are two types of a methodology based on two types of methods; empirical methods like primary surveys or experimentations best used for measuring or quantifying certain variables, and qualitative methods like interviews for contextualizing, or deriving deep insights on certain issues. You can also have mixed methods, combining both forms of inputs. All these methods come under the bigger umbrella of your thesis methodology, where you specify which methods you are using, and how.

Justify your methodology: You have to justify why the methodology you adopted is the best fit. This stems from the review of literature, the gaps you have identified in existing literature, the hypothesis you are exploring, and various other factors. While you contextualize your thesis to substantiate it, you also need to justify the methodology adopted for credibility. This involves a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of your exercise, the reliability and limitations of your methods, what are the control mechanisms you have used for checking the validity of your results. You also need to clarify the observed results and how you interpret these results to derive qualitative conclusions.

Schematics and figures: It is very important to develop schematics of your methodology for ease of understanding. For instance, simple flowcharts help clarify matters to a great extent. You may also use complex infographics if it helps. Charts, flowcharts, diagrams are some tools you need to explore beforehand as they are often mandatory for certain types of methodology.

A well-developed methodology is an asset for your dissertation and helps raise it appreciation to a great extent.

HOW TO WRITE A ‘GOOD’ RESEARCH PAPER

Writing a good research paper and getting it published depends on many factors. It requires proper planning, preparation, and disciplined hard work to get published. However, by the end of the day, the quality and content of the article are what matters. Unless the article is of good quality, no journal will be willing to publish it.

Here are some basic tips on how to write a good article that is accepted by a journal.

Topic: Your topic is the first calling card for your article. You must choose your topic carefully based on the recent developments in your field. If you want to publish your article in a journal with a high impact factor, you must also understand that the editors will require an article that will be popular enough for its readers to maintain the high impact factor of the journal. The relevance of the topic and expressing it smartly via a suitable title is very crucial.

Core work: Your article may be based on your recent research activities, or maybe a pure review of the literature. In either case, it must be of top quality. For original research, the results you report are obviously the high-point of attraction. However, given there are many academicians working on the same topic, there has to be some differentiating factor in your research that will make it stand out from the rest. This depends not only on the research question or hypothesis you set for your experiments but also on what you’re finally present in your article. The same research can generate multiple publications depending on how you choose to present it before your audience.

Review of literature: Every publication requires a review of the literature section. While hard-core review papers are based solely on this factor, even research papers require a review of the literature section to set the context. Your review of the literature has to be up to date with the latest developments and ideas in your field. While writing a review of literature, the message is not about how extensively you have read up on your subject but really about the insights you derive from them. A review of literature is all about perspectives developed from existing literature and it should be conveyed in your article.

Understand your audience: For a successful publication, especially in a journal with a high impact factor, you have to write the article from a reader’s perspective. Figure out what would interest a reader to read your article. A good way to go about it is to understand what interested you as a reader when you were doing your research. Reading good articles not only helps develop knowledge on the subject matter but also teaches us how to write. Revisit your references to see how they were written, the language, the questions they addressed, and what attracted your attention in the first place.

Discipline: Proper formatting, referencing, indexing of content, labeling of charts and figures are the basic hygiene for any good article. It is best you inculcate these habits from the very start to avoid excessive revisions later.