Writing a dissertation is challenging enough; however, when it comes to methodology section things get even more complicated — at least, for an average person aiming at their first Ph.D. degree. However, methodology chapter is a crucial part of your research project, and it is vital to make it right. So, let’s discuss everything you may need to ace it.
Methodology is the section that describes and explains all data you used during the research. Since most dissertations are supposed to bring something new to the table, you will have to heavily rely on a variety of polls, questionnaires, etc. Some of those you will even have to create yourself. Here, it is important to remember that you do not have to include every poll your participants take — not to the methodology chapter, at least. You are, however, required to justify your choice of previous research material, as well as give ground to your research methods — whatever they may be.
A dissertation is, first and foremost, a scientific work. So, you will have to approach it scientifically. The main goal is to provide your readers with a substantial analysis of the subject matter you are dealing with. This implies justifying your choice of primary and secondary research methods. Primary sources presuppose every data you’ve collected through polls, interviews, etc. Secondary data is, basically, someone else’s primary data — that is, someone else’s previous research on the subject.
This is a vital part of your Methodology, not only for showing details about the way you proceeded with the research, but also explaining the reasons for choosing certain methods over others. If for example, your choice is using a survey comprised of questions with Yes or No answers and then put the results into percentages of the chosen option between the two, you have just used a primary research method. Now, you are to explain exactly why you chose to use it.
What you definitely need to remember is that this part of your dissertation is all about description; its purpose is to show the audience what your targets were when writing a paper, how you chose to accomplish those targets, as well as the reasoning behind your chosen methods. Once again, remember that you always have to justify yourself and your methods to the reader. Why did you choose to create your polls? Did no one else every deal with this subject? Or, why did you choose to include secondary resources? Don’t you have anything else to add here?
Sure, this may already sound intimidating; in practice, though, every dissertation will combine primary and secondary research data. So, you can rely on other researchers’ work — as long as you remember that your input is also required.
When working on the very first dissertation, it is very important to stay in touch with your course adviser. He/she will usually be able to help with the choice of research methods. Plus, you can always consult a supervisor when you are not sure how many details about the methods used you actually have to include. As a rule, this will mostly depend on the subject of your dissertation. The general guideline, though, is to be very descriptive about the primary sources and way less descriptive about the secondary ones.
In a nutshell, this is what a dissertation methodology is about — justifying your methods. Now, let’s go over a few other things you will have to bear in mind while working on this assignment.
It is weird to research the methods you used in your research, but that is essentially what you have to do here. The main purpose of this section is show that you have a deep understanding of the subject matter in question and that you made sure the data you present is the most valid one on the subject.
It is vital that you locate and include outside sources that backup your thoughts on the chosen topic. Already existing data will give your paper a stronger academic basis; building on already collected knowledge will show that you are well educated on the subject at hand.
With the whole dissertation methodology essentially being a reasoning for all your research, the best way to approach it, at least in the form of a first draft, is to do it as you gather and process the information. Although a Ph.D. course or a long master's course gives you the chance to finish your research before actually starting to write it, it doesn't hurt to get a head start, and beginning early will let you always know exactly what needs to be done at a particular point in time. It's also healthy to analyze your research methods, as it can assist you in avoiding any data collection, sourcing or interpretation errors.