Writing methodology section for Your research paper, dissertation or thesis is not an easy task. Yet, it is usually one of the earliest assignments in Your research study and the way how it is accomplished will affect all the subsequent data collection and analysis.
While writing the methodology section of Your research paper, You should provide the information by which a study’s validity is judged. That is why clear and precise descriptions and explanations are required. Explicate how the information was gathered, or how an experiment was done, and how the research question is going to be answered.
What Research Methodology Is
Research methodology may be defined as academia’s established regulatory framework for the collection and evaluation of existent knowledge for the purpose of arriving at, and validating, new knowledge Sekaran (2003). Cooper & Schindler (1998) maintain that the determination of the research methodology is one of the more important challenges which confront researchers. This is because the quality and value of research are largely predicated on the extent to which the researcher has clearly articulated his methodology, on the one hand, and has selected the most appropriate research approach, on the other. Accordingly, given the importance of research methodology, this section shall both outline and justify the current research’s selected methodological design.
The methodological approach applied in a study usually describes its design philosophy, justifies the selection of an appropriate methodology, and discusses the development of a form of a structured interview. For example, a research purpose can be to identify and assess the key factors affecting fashion brand creation in China and to specify how it might become more efficient. Then, the study will explore different brands in the fashion industry and analyze procedures for creating and developing a national fashion brand for China as well as present an innovative process model for creating a national fashion brand in China is expected to appear. In such a case, the study is supposed to find answers for such important questions as to how to build brand equity by appropriate marketing strategy in China, and whether the marketing activities designed to build brand equity need to be modified to accommodate different attitudes or behaviors in the Chinese market. So, its methodology section will list and explain the methodology tools of how these answers will be found.
What Research Design Is
Punch (1998) defines ‘research design’ as situating the researcher in the empirical world and connecting the research questions to data. There are two basic types of research: descriptive research and experimental research (p. 66). Each type answers different research questions and uses different research designs to collect data.
- Descriptive research has the goal of describing what, how or why something is happening.
- Experimental research has the goal of determining whether something causes effect.
Descriptive research, according to Best (1981), can be distinguished from other forms of research on the basis of the following characteristics:
- Descriptive research is non-experimental in that it deals with relationships between non-manipulated variables in a natural rather than an artificial setting. Since the events or conditions have already occurred or exist, relevant variables are merely selected for an analysis of their relationships.
- Descriptive research involves hypothesis formulation and testing.
- Descriptive research uses logical methods of inductive and deductive reasoning in order to arrive at generalizations.
- All the variables and procedures used in descriptive studies are described as completely and accurately as possible as to permit future replication.
- Descriptive research often employs methods of randomization so that error can be estimated when inferring population characteristics from observations of samples.
Purposes of Research Activity
According to Saunders et al. (2000), three main purposes are identified to the research activity – exploratory, descriptive and explanatory purposes. Patton (1990) identifies a fourth purpose that he defines as the prescriptive objective. Proceeding from Jackson’s (2008) contention that the researcher should identify the purpose(s) by correlating the research questions to the research objectives, this is precisely the strategy that the current research shall adopt.
- Exploratory research unfolds through focus group interviews, structured or semi-structured interviews with experts and a search of the relevant literature (Saunders et al., 2000). Its primary purpose is the exploration of a complex research problem or phenomenon, with the objective being the clarification of the identified complexities and the exposition of the underlying nature of the selected phenomenon. In other words, and as Robson (2002) explains, exploratory research investigates a specified problem/phenomenon for shedding new light upon it and, consequently, uncovering new knowledge.
- Descriptive Research. Punch (2000) explains the purpose of the descriptive research as the collection, organisation and summarisation of information about the research problem and issues identified therein. Similar to the exploratory research, it renders complicated phenomenon and issues more understandable. Dane’s (1990) definition of the descriptive research and its purposes coincides with the stated above. Descriptive research entails the thorough examination of the research problem, for the specified purpose of describing the phenomenon, as in defining, measuring and clarifying it (Dane, 1990). Jackson (1994) contends that all research is partly descriptive in nature, insofar as the descriptive aspect defines and describes the research’s (1) who, (2) what, (3) when, (4) where, (5) why, and (6) how.
- Explanatory Research. Miles and Huberman (1994) define the function of explanatory research as the clarification of relationship between variables and the componential elements of the research problem. Explanatory research, in other words, functions to highlight the complex interrelationships existent within, and around, a particular phenomenon and contained within the research problem (Miles and Huberman, 1994). Expounding upon this, Punch (2000) asserts that explanatory research elucidates upon the nature of the problem under investigation and explains the basis for the proposed solution. It is an explanation of the complex web of interrelated variables identified and follows directly from a clearly stated central research hypothesis and research question.
- Prescriptive Research. Hair et al. (2003) define prescriptive research as studies that imply to propose well-defined solutions to the investigated research problem. A prescriptive research does not simply prescribe a set of solutions or recommendations but presents a well-defined, comprehensively explained and implementable blueprint for a specified solution. Patton (1990) states that the prescriptive research purpose builds upon the other purposes but extends beyond them in one key aspect. Whereas the descriptive, exploratory and explanatory purposes focus upon facts on ground, the prescriptive approach focuses on what should be. Research scholars, concurring, have determined that research which embraces the prescriptive purpose tend to be more valuable than those which eschew it, as they add to a field and expand its parameters (Patton, 1990; Jackson, 1994; Punch, 2000; Cooper, 2003; Hair et al., 2003; Ghauri and Gronhaug, 2005).
Methodology Section Outline
Below is the simplest working outline for those who don’t know how (or what about) to write the methodology section of their research paper/dissertation/thesis. To organize and write Your methodology section well, it is suggested to use the corresponding subheadings:
- Ontology and Epistemology. Refer to ontology and epistemology and define these (both generally and in relation to Your research).
- Type of Research. Distinguish among exploratory, descriptive, explanatory and prescriptive research.
- Research Approach. Choose among positivist, interpretivist/constructivist, and realist approaches.
- Data Collection. Describe and choose among the available data collection techniques: quantitative/qualitative/mixed methods (dual research).
- Sampling / Participants. Describe Your sampling/participants.
- Rigor. Estimate the rigor of Your research: Talk about the credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability of the results obtained. Or just describe at least the validity and reliability of the research conducted.
- Ethical Issues. Research permission and other ethical issues.
- Summary. Summarize the chosen approach and refer to it as a research philosophy rather than a set of separate elements.
Methodology Section Style
Scientific writing is direct and orderly. While writing the methodology section, be precise, and present all the elements as clearly and logically as possible. Include a description of preparations. Follow the chronology. Use the article analysis template to simplify the task.
Also, remember that the methodology section is often one of the shortest sections of a research paper. Try to be thorough but succinct.
Source: AEssay Team