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Guide to undergraduate dissertations in the social sciences

Introduction

❶Methodologies 1 Introduction The way you approach your question will have a profound effect upon the way you construct your dissertation, so this section discusses the types of research you might undertake for your dissertation. Research must be conducted in a sensible and ethical manner; data must be analysed and presented in a rational manner.

Dissertation Methodology Consultation Service

A Scientific Approach
What is the Methodology?
Appropriateness

Whether or not you have conducted your research using primary sources, you will still want to be sure that you include relevant references to existing studies on your topic. It is important to show that you have carefully researched what data already exists, and are seeking to build on the knowledge that has already been collected. Use research that has already been conducted to illustrate that you know your subject well. Because your dissertation methodology is basically an explanation of your research, you may want to consider writing it — or at least drafting it — as you gather your data.

Analysing your own methods of research may help you spot any errors in data collection, interpretation or sources. There are several ways that you can structure your methodology, and the following headings are designed to further give you a better idea of what you may want to include, as well as how you might want to present your findings:. What you used to collect the data surveys, questionnaires, interviews, trials, etc. Finally, what does your data mean in the context of your research?

Were your results conclusive or not? Remember to include what type of data you were working with qualitative or quantitative? The main aim of this section is to convince the reader that the chosen approach and research design is maximum appropriate for the desired results. This section should explicate the type of research design you use historical, correlational, phenomenological, etc.

Also, one should justify and demonstrate deviations from the steps necessary to complete the research design. Include a description of the independent variables and dependent variables. The dependent one is a response that is influenced by the independent treatment.

Thus, if you are performing a qualitative study, there are no independent and dependent variables. The research design should establish a strong sequence of the events in a research process. The size of this section depends on the number of experiments performed and results expected.

So, the detailed explanation of each method and point should be documented. Include the following elements:. Summarize all you have written in the last part of this section. The last paragraph should include a short explanation of data analysis. Conclude it with a sentence that would introduce the next chapter of your dissertation. This should be clear and detailed enough that another scholar is able to read it and apply it in some way, outside of the immediate context of your dissertation.

If you're offering a new theoretical take on a literary work or a philosophical problem, your reader should be able to understand your theory enough that they can apply it to another text or problem.

If you're describing a scientific experiment, your reader should have all they need to recreate your experiment in a lab. If you're introducing a new type of statistical model, your reader should be able to apply this model to their own data set after reading your methodology section.

Your methodology doesn't just describe your method; it discusses the reasons why you've chosen it, and why you believe it will yield the best results, the most insightful set of analyses and conclusions, or the most innovative perspective.

This will draw in part from your literature review , presenting your choices as informed and rooted in sound scholarship, while ideally also displaying innovation and creativity. You should also ensure that you relate the rationale for your method explicitly to your research problem; it should be very clear to your reader that the methodology you've chosen is a thoughtful and tailored response to the questions you're trying to answer.

No research method is perfect, and it's likely that the one you've chosen comes with certain trade-offs. You might, for instance, have chosen a small-scale set of interviews because the individual perspectives of a set of interviewees on the problem you're exploring is more valuable to you than a larger set of data about responses to the same question.

But that means you've nevertheless sacrificed a quantitative approach to your problem that might have yielded its own set of important insights. Be honest and upfront — but not apologetic — about the limitations of your chosen method, and be ready to justify why it's the best approach for your purposes. While the outline of your methodology section will look much the same regardless of your discipline, the details are liable to be quite different depending on the subject area in which you're studying.

Let's take a look at some of the most common types of dissertation, and the information required in a methodology section for each of them. A scientific study The methodology section for a scientific study needs to emphasise rigour and reproducibility above all else. Your methods must appear robust to the reader, with no obvious flaws in the design or execution. You should not only include the necessary information about your equipment, lab setup, and procedure to allow another researcher to reproduce your method; you should also demonstrate that you've factored any variables that are likely to distort your data for example, by introducing false positives into your design , and that you have a plan to handle these either in collecting, analysing, or drawing conclusions from your data.

Your methodology should also include details of — and justifications for — the statistical models you'll use to analyse your data. Remember that a scholar might use any single part of your methodology as a departure point for their own work; they might follow your experiment design but choose a different model for analysing the results, or vice versa! A study in the social or behavioural sciences As with a scientific study, a social or behavioural sciences methodology needs to demonstrate both rigour and reproducibility, allowing another researcher to reproduce your study in whole or in part for their own ends.

However, the complexity of working with human subjects means there are a number of additional questions to consider. First of all, you'll want to answer certain broad questions about the kind of analysis you're undertaking: Will you be conducting recorded interviews with your subjects, asking them to complete a written questionnaire, or observing them undertaking some activity or other?

Or will you avoid doing your own research with human subjects at all, and base your research on documentary evidence or a pre-existing data set? What is the scope of your data and conclusions? Is there reason to believe it can be generalised to other contexts, or is it highly specific to the particular location or cultural context in which you conducted your research?

In addition to answering all these questions, you must satisfy your reader that you have considered all the ethical questions associated with your research. Part of this, of course, entails obtaining sign-off for your design from the appropriate ethics bodies, but even then there might be aspects of your study — inviting subjects to relive episodes of grief and trauma, for instance, or broaching culturally sensitive matters within a particular target group — that some readers could consider contentious or problematic.

Make sure you address such concerns head-on, and if necessary justify your methods by emphasising the potential value of your conclusions. A critical dissertation in the arts or humanities Methodological rigour is just as valuable in the arts and humanities as in the sciences and social sciences. However, if you're writing an arts or humanities dissertation the way in which you convey this rigour — and convince your audience of it - is a little different.

The methodology section in an arts or humanities dissertation is likely to be much more closely linked to the literature review than a scientific or social sciences study; even the most innovative dissertation in the arts or humanities typically involves applying X's theories in a new context, or combining X and Y's insights to yield a new theoretical framework.

For this reason it can be tempting to gloss over the methodology section in an arts or humanities dissertation, and move more or less seamlessly from literature review into analysis. But it's crucial that you provide a detailed justification of your chosen frameworks and how they relate to your research question here too; without this justification a critical reader may very well take issue with your entire analysis because you've failed to convince them of the appropriateness of your theoretical underpinnings to the material you're analysing.

In particular, it's vitally important that your dissertation methodology shows an appreciation of the historical and cultural contexts of the theoretical frameworks you use, especially where there's fundamental disagreement between theorists. If you use the work of theorists from differing or even opposing schools of thought to support your readings, your methodology section should show a clear understanding of how these schools of thought disagree and a justification of why there are nevertheless aspects of each approach that you've decided to use in your own work.

A creative arts dissertation Many programmes in the arts offer the option of completing a creative rather than critical dissertation; that is, of submitting a piece of creative writing or a portfolio of artworks, rather than an extended critical project, for the dissertation component of the programme. However, in virtually all cases, your creative project must be accompanied by a substantial critical essay or introduction, or commentary that theorises your creative practice.

Critically engaging with one's own work is a notoriously difficult thing to do, which makes the development and adherence to a rigorous methodology especially important in this context.

You need to not only show that you're capable of detaching yourself from your own creative work and viewing it through an objective lens, but that you are able to see your own creative practice as methodology — as a method of creating work that is grounded in theory and research and that can be evaluated against clear target goals. No part of your dissertation should be hermetically sealed off from the others, and there will undoubtedly be some overlap between your methodology and literature review section, for example.

You might even find yourself moving material back and forth between sections during edits. But you should resist the temptation to include the following in your dissertation methodology, even if they seem to belong there quite naturally:.


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A key part of your dissertation or thesis is the methodology. This is not quite the same as ‘methods’. The methodology describes the broad philosophical underpinning to your chosen research methods, including whether you are using qualitative or quantitative methods, or a mixture of both, and why.

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To address how to write a methodology, in the Methodology section of your dissertation you have to justify and explain your choice of methodologies employed in your research. You don’t however have to explain the methodological approaches that you could have used.

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Feb 23,  · The main purpose of Chapter 3 of your dissertation, which is methodology, is to give enough information to an experienced investigator to be able to replicate the study. Dissertation Methodology Examples. Below you will find our Dissertation Methodology Examples index. This index contains a number of genuine, methodologies that were written by students for their dissertations. Have a look through these methodologies and hopefully you'll find one to .

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Not all dissertations require a dissertation methodology section and accordingly you should check with your supervisor and/or course handbook as to whether your individual department expects one to be included. Customarily, the methodology section will comprise ten to fifteen per cent of the. What is a dissertation methodology and how should it be written? Our guide explains this and provides some helpful tips.