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.

Writing Actions: Blind Writing

‘Blind’ writing is a solution for compulsive editors. If you feel critical about every word you produce and constantly delete and rewrite the same sentence, it may be better not to see what you write. Try typing with a dark screen to help you achieve momentum and mass before crafting your output.


Pardon = (formal) forgive; the act of excusing a mistake: I’m sure they will pardon the occasional mistake.

Excuse = give someone permission to stay away from school, work etc., or leave a classroom, meeting etc.: Can I be excused from swimming today please?

I beg your pardon is used (1) to apologize to a stranger because you have bumped into them by accident, sat in their seat by mistake, etc.: I beg your pardon. I didn’t know the table was reserved. (2) to politely ask someone to repeat what they have said: Does this bus go to Marble Arch?I beg your pardon? (3) when someone has said something that makes you feel surprised, shocked, angry etc.: Who’s that woman with long hair?I beg your pardon! That happens to be my wife.

In formal situations, you can use excuse/forgive me instead of I’m sorry: Please excuse me for taking so long to answer your letter.


Painful = (1) causing physical or psychological pain: The finger I trapped in the door is still very painful. The child wriggled free and gave me a painful kick on the ankle.His mischievous behavior brought back lot of painful memories.(2) causing misery, pain or distress: The painful process of treatment is going on. (3) exceptionally bad or displeasing: This movie was painful to watch.


Overdue= (1) (of payment) past due; being unpaid by the assigned date or at the scheduled time: The electric bill was two months overdue.An overdue installment.

Be/become overdue is used of payments, library books, video films that you have rented etc.: Even if the books are only one day overdue, you still have to pay a fine.

Expire is used of a license, contract, membership card, etc.: I wanted to pay by visa, but my card has expired.I suddenly realized that my driving license had expired.


Outdoor (WITHOUT s) is an adjective. Outdoor = located, suited for, or taking place in the open air: He enjoys the outdoor life.There are many outdoor activities in and around  Coimbra.

Outdoors (WITH s) is an adverb. Outdoors = outside a building: He likes to work outdoors.

Outside = when you mean away from, use (get/go) out of (NOT outside): It does you good to get out of the city now and again.Without a passport, he would never have been able to get out of the country.

In British English, outside is not used with of: You aren’t allowed to park outside the bank.

In American English, both outside and outside of are used.


Originate = (1) come into existence; take on form or shape: The practice of  Sati originated during ancient Ages. (2) to give rise to; initiate: The policy was originated by the previous administration.(3) to create something new: Darwin originated the theory of evolution.

Originate is used in connection with things, ideas, customs etc. (NOT people): No one really knows how the solar system originated.

If you are born in and/or grow up in a particular place, town, country etc., you come from that place: Where does Agneta come from- Sweden or Norway?

Words that enter a language from other languages come from (or are derived from) those languages: The name terrier comes from the Latin word terra meaning the earth.


Oral = (1) using speech rather than writing: Always go for a written agreement in business than relying on an oral agreement.In the oral examination, she was asked to recite the name of all presidents. (2) of or relating to mouth: He has undergone an oral surgery.She practices good oral hygiene by brushing her teeth at least twice a day.

Both the words Spoken and Oral can be used to refer to language skills and the communication of information. However, oral is slightly more technical than spoken. The use of oral to mean spoken is restricted to certain technical phrases used in education: Oral skills, An oral examination.


Use opposite and the opposite of only when you mean that two things are altogether different in nature, quality, or significance: thought that the medicine would make him sleepy, but it had the opposite effect.The opposite of long is short.The two men went off in opposite directions. (= one went to the left and one to the right)

To describe people opinions, life styles, ways of thinking etc., the usual word is different: These two schools of thought are completely different.

One thing is opposite another thing (WITHOUT to/of): The nearest bus stop is opposite the bank.

When opposite means facing the speaker or the person/place being talked about,it comes immediately after the noun: The house opposite is also for sale.


Operate = (1) direct or control something: Do you know how to operate this machinery? (2) perform surgery on (medicine): Have you heard what happened to the last patient he operated on? (3) to perform a function or work: The motor operates smoothly.The camera also operates underwater. (4) to be involved in military activities: A militant group  is operating against the government.

Operation = (1) the state of being in  effect or being operative: That law is no longer in operation. (2) a planned activity involving many people performing various actions: They planned a rescue operation. (3) a medical  procedure involving an incision with instruments: My mother is having an operation tomorrow. Mr. Barrett is going to have an operation on his back.