How To Write a Methodology (With Tips and FAQs)

Updated August 8, 2022

Writing a methodology is an essential part of presenting research findings. Your methodology is a detailed description of the research process you used to support your findings and it explains your techniques and creates a roadmap for how you reached your conclusions. A well-written methodology not only describes the tactics you used but also presents the case for why you chose the methods you used.

In this article, we list the steps necessary in writing a methodology, offer tips for writing a methodology and answer frequently asked questions about writing a methodology.

Related: How To Write a Thesis

Why is a methodology important?

Sharing your methodology gives legitimacy to your research. An unreliable or erroneous methodology produces unreliable or erroneous results. The reader of your research expects you to have followed accepted practices so that the conclusions you reach are valid. The methodology you report needs to be repeatable, meaning anyone who uses the methods you write about should reach the same conclusions you reached.

Related: Research Skills: Definition and Examples

How to write a methodology

Here are the steps to follow when writing a methodology:

1. Restate your thesis or research problem

The first part of your methodology is a restatement of the problem your research investigates. This allows your reader to follow your methodology step by step, from beginning to end. Restating your thesis also provides you an opportunity to address any assumptions you made in your research and to list any variables or conditions you tested in your research.

2. Explain the approach you chose

After restating your research problem, explain the type of research you used. Describe your reasoning for choosing either qualitative or quantitative research or for using a blended approach or any alternative method your specific field recognizes.

3. Explain any uncommon methodology you use

If any part of your process is outside of the realm of usual practices in your field, clarify your choice. For example, you may have created a unique approach specific to your thesis topic or you may have adapted a process usually used in another line of research. Since your methodology provides evidence that your findings are valid, a strong statement of why you use alternative methods in your research answers potential criticism of any unusual methods.

4. Describe how you collected the data you used

Report whether you used quantitative or qualitative data in your research. Describe any experiments you conducted, including how you designed the experiment, how you measured any variables and what tools you needed to conduct the experiment. Explain how you sourced existing data — including how that data was originally gathered — and list the criteria you used to choose existing data from other sources.

5. Explain the methods you used to analyze the data you collected

The next part of your methodology tells your reader how you processed and analyzed the data you collected but doesn't discuss any results or conclusions. If your research was strictly quantitative, list the steps you took to ensure the data was accurate, any software you used to analyze the numbers and any statistical testing you used. If you used purely qualitative research, your analysis may be content-based, theme-based or discourse-based.

Related: Definitive Guide To Understanding Descriptive Statistics

6. Evaluate and justify the methodological choices you made

Describe the criteria you used in choosing your approach to your research. List any potential weaknesses in your methodology and present evidence supporting your choice. Include a brief evaluation of other methodology you might have chosen.

7. Discuss any obstacles and their solutions

Outline any obstacles you encountered in your research and list how you overcame them. The problem-solving skills you present in this section strengthen the validity of your research with readers.

8. Cite all sources you used to determine your choice of methodology

The final section of your methodology references the sources you used when determining your overall methodology. This reinforces the validity of your research.

Tips for writing a methodology

When writing a methodology, use these tips to guide your work:

  • Show how and why Go beyond a simple description of your methods to show how as well as why you used them. This helps demonstrate that you rigorously conducted your research.

  • Draft as you go Take notes and outline your methodology as you work to make sure you capture all details accurately. The better you record your methods and techniques in real-time, the better your methodology will be.

  • Focus on your research questions Relate your methodology choices to the central theme of your research. This shows that you chose the best methods to address the problem raised in your thesis.

  • Write for your audience Craft a methodology that is clearly written and well-structured. Address the audience of your research with good writing, providing more than a list of technical details and procedures.

Frequently asked questions about methodologies

Here are some frequently asked questions about methodology and their answers:

What is the difference between methods and methodology?

Methodology is the overall strategy of your research. Methods are procedures like surveys and experiments that you use to collect and analyze your data.

Where does methodology go?

In your final paper or report, the methodology section follows your introduction and precedes your results and conclusions.

What is the difference between quantitative and qualitative research?

Quantitative research uses numbers and statistics to test a hypothesis through data collection and analysis. Qualitative research explores ideas and experiences using words and meanings.

Are validity and reliability the same thing?

Validity and reliability are related but distinct concepts about how well a method measures something. Validity refers to whether results measure what they are supposed to measure. Reliability refers to whether the same results will be consistently reproduced when all conditions are the same.

What is sampling?

Sampling is the selection of a group from which data is collected. The sample size is determined by the requirements specific to your research topic.

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