5 Key Elements of Methodology Section of a Research Paper

Research methodology provides the scientific framework of your research process. It evaluates the quality and validity of your research study. While it seems straightforward to write the methodology section, it can be tricky as one element is connected to another, and you need to explain the use of each method. A well-structured section that includes all the key elements provides the blueprint of your research paper.

Starting from broad to a specific element, the methodology section may be organized as:

The logic of Inquiry (Qualitative or Quantitative)

State the logic of inquiry, whether your research study is inductive or deductive. In simple terms, tell if your study is adopting a qualitative or quantitative approach. Explain why you have used the approach by relating it to the research problem and how is it suitable to study that problem. It is the overarching component of methodology that will branch out its nature to all the other four components.

Research Setting and participants

Write the description of the study setting and any contextual information that is relevant to the study. The social, economic, political, cultural, historical, or physical such as institutions may constitute the context. You could include why you have selected that particular setting for your research.

Write the characteristics of the targeted population in the research setting. It may include gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic aspects, demography, etc. State clearly the sampling method and procedure that is used to select or identify participants.

Methods and Procedure of Data Collection

Write which methods you have used to collect data from the participants and describe it for the readers to understand why you have used them for your study and not others. Structured and unstructured interviews and questionnaires are common methods. Quantitative research is objective and pre-determined and hence, structured interviews are used, while qualitative research is subjective and flexible and hence, unstructured interviews are used. Unstructured methods will help capture experiences, opinions, and perspectives and provide thick descriptions. You may use multiple methods to support or complement your data. In case of mixed methods research, you may use multiple methods at various levels. If possible, describe the entry to the field, data collection process, and the challenges faced during data collection.

Methods and Procedure of Data Analysis

Write the process how you transcribed and analysed the data in steps. This section is not to present the actual data but to show how the data was analysed. Quantitative research, statistical tests are used while in qualitative research, theme and content analysis are used.

Ethical Issues

Were you mindful of the ethical issues while conducting the research? Ethical issues are even more important in today’s world when people know their worth and value and researchers should respect that. Write all the ethical norms that you followed or adhered to before, during and after interviews in the field. Besides, you should write if your research study has been cleared by any Institutional Review Board.

These five steps will decide the quality and merit of your research, and writing the completed steps with the rationale strengthen the overall framework of your research.

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