Dissertation Methodology: Tips on Methods Writing

How to Prepare a Dissertation Methodology

A dissertation methodology is probably one of the most complicated and tedious parts of the dissertation paperwork. In essence, methodology intends to assist in the process of understanding the underlying philosophical base behind the scholarly methods you have selected to utilize in the study. As such, one should provide a theoretical dissertation methodology to pinpoint to credible methods that can serve as a basis for justifying the research work. Besides, the methodology section provided in the dissertation paper should cover information relating to the usage of qualitative or quantitative data gathering strategies. In case both of them were used for the research study, then the writer should include this information in the research methodology dissertation.

Moreover, when you are writing methodology for dissertation papers, you also need to justify your choice of methods. For example, you need to highlight the significance of one method over another and the reason why you have preferred one to the other.

If you are searching for an exact way to organize a dissertation methodology layout, read this article and it will help you move in the right direction.

First of all, when writing a dissertation methodology section, it is imperative to be aware of the underlying academic principles of choosing the most appropriate methods for a thesis or dissertation. Second, it is crucial to be able to justify your choice with ample evidence and solid supporting reasoning. Such phrases as, “In my view this method is the best one” or “I figured out this method to be most applicable” will not do you any good. There should be specific reasons for choosing certain methodology and you should take into consideration the structure of a research methodology in a dissertation.

How to Write a Methodology Section: Generally Accepted Structure

Before starting to describe and analyze methods utilized in the dissertation, it is essential to delve into the core how to write a methodology section for a thesis. The methodology section in an academic paper serves the role of a lighthouse that guides through the process how you intend to conduct your research. Therefore, students should first of all find out what is a methodology in research. Sometimes, students are required to submit methodology even before working on the actual research, so it is crucial to know the fundamentals of writing a methodology.

As a rule, the methodology chapter should be connected to the literature review and thus should clearly pinpoint to the reasons why specific methods of collecting data and methods of analysis were chosen. If you put in an inquiry online how to write a methodology for a dissertation, you will most probably find out that a generally accepted structure entails the following components: research methods for a dissertation, philosophical concepts, dissertation research methods, weaknesses and limitations of the research, ethical aspects, and techniques of data evaluation.

If you need to construct your methodology chapter as a separate paper and wonder what to include in a methodology, make sure to pay attention to modifications that played a role in the work progress. Still, regardless of the methodology writing style and organization, it is required to provide sufficient rationale for all steps and techniques utilized by the researcher.

A Methodology in Research: How to Come Up with Proper Research Design

A methodology in research fully depends on the literature review section and research questions. You can visit your university or college library or online databases to find out what is a methodology and get acquainted with the most commonly used research procedure. If a student devotes an adequate amount of time to reading such books on methodology meaning, he/ she will find it easier to distinguish different types of methodology and choose the most suitable and applicable for a certain methodological research. Any drawbacks or limitations of your methodology approach should be interpreted and properly discussed so that they could be eliminated in the future studies.

Irrespective of the selected dissertation methodology, you will come across both proponents and opponents to it. Therefore, make sure you choose the methods only relying on your experience and on their correspondence to your dissertation topic. When discussing your method vs methodology choice, make sure to pinpoint why the existing limitations or setbacks of your chosen methods do not play a big role in your study.

How to Write a Methodology Section for Your Thesis or Dissertation

A widely accepted dissertation structure of the methodology section is provided below:

  • Research strategy and design.
  • Philosophical theories.
  • Data-gathering methods.
  • Data-analysis methods.
  • Ethical issues and considerations.
  • Reliability of research + its limitations.

Research Strategy & Design

The principal task of research design or schema is to allow the scholar to answer research questions flawlessly and efficiently by applying ample evidence as supporting material. When you are well-versed in the core aspects of research design and strategies, you will know how to save time and collect the data properly. Depending on the dissertation purpose and topic, you can collect data in a variety of ways: some data may be obtained as parts of an experiment, as a result of reviewing literature, after conducting interviews, while carrying out phone or online surveys, etc. Besides, the way you have sampled data should be properly discussed by focusing on the population group and such criteria as age, educational background, profession, ethnicity, social status, and others. It is highly recommended for students to design a set of questions before the actual process of data gathering at the point when you develop your research questions, aims, and objectives.

It is advisable to come back to the research questions formulated at the beginning of dissertation writing since this strategy will enable you find out what research design will suit best and what steps should specifically be done to solve the research questions. In other words, you need to ensure that the information you are going to gather is related to your topic and the focus of exploration. There are no officially accepted norms regarding the length of the methodology vs method section but a student needs to take into account the complexity of the topic and the scope of the research problem. All in all, a properly organized research design subsection should comprise of the following constituents:

  1. Underline alternative options of other research methods and schemas. Justify why your chosen research method or schema is the most appropriate for your topic or scope of research.
  2. Conduct literature review to completely describe the research strategy.
  3. Highlight the main research hypotheses that serve as the main research questions the study intends to solve.
  4. Provide an explanation how the gathered information will help in discussing the main study problem.
  5. Discuss what methods you will utilize in order to gather relevant information.
  6. Apply the methods in practice in order to test functionality of the hypotheses.

Philosophical Theories

This part will address the philosophy or a philosophical theory selected to support your research on the whole or a research model. Among the most widely utilized philosophical theories that you might come across in academic papers are pragmatism, positivism, post-positivism, constructivism, and interpretivism among others. If none of these suit your topic, there are many others that you can adopt. Actually, the selection criteria of philosophical theories depend on the academic discipline, the scope of research, subject area, complexity of the research, and others. Still, one thing is definite: depending on the research philosophy, you will have to put forward specific assumptions regarding your research.

As soon as you have selected the most appropriate philosophical theory for your research, you need to provide background information and answer the core questions pertaining to the study, such as: where, when, what, who, why, and how. Moreover, you will need to make a decision which type of data gathering method to choose: qualitative, quantitative, or both. It is vital to come up with the most appropriate method since it will be decisive for the techniques and strategies you will apply. Recently, it has become increasingly popular to utilize a mix of approaches and use both qualitative and quantitative.

Data-Gathering and Data-Analysis Methods

Here you need to clearly pinpoint to the ways and tactics of gathering the information and discuss concrete tools and strategies that you utilized for data analysis. For instance, you might wish to carry out interviews or surveys as ways of collecting data. Therefore, you will need to provide a detailed explanation of the obtained results and how you gathered them. Besides, you also need to discuss whether the findings are plausible and trustworthy. It is vital to consider that your target readers, professor, or admission committee would be interested in the correlation between the research hypotheses and obtained results. So, make sure you discuss this relation clearly.

Ethical Issues and Considerations

When gathering data, always consider how individuals who take part in your research project might be influenced. Therefore, if you conduct interviews, questionnaires or surveys, make sure to ask about any ethical wishes or restrictions from your respondents. For example, many of them wish to maintain confidentiality, so be sure to guarantee them this option and do not disclose any private information about them.

Reliability of Research + Its Limitations

Make sure the findings you provide can be used by other researchers in your field of study or adjacent fields. Make the results trustworthy and authentic. In case you refer to some other scientific information, make sure to cite it.

Successful writers always acknowledge research limitations. So, when you gather the data, make sure to provide information about the limitations of the data sampling (regarding the place of residency of the asked population, ethnicity, age group, etc.).


The conclusive chapter can be decisive for the final grade of your thesis or dissertation. Therefore, take sufficient time when you sum up methodology design, especially when it concerns social science methodology for you studies. If you think that your research design is not flawless, make sure to make the necessary adjustments and consult your professor before making the final brushes to the paper.

What Is Methodology: Difference between Method and Methodology

The methodology section is placed directly after the literature review, so it should be logically connected to the previous part and smoothly flow from it. There is a specific set of issues that should be fulfilled before you write the methodology part:

  • You have to identify the main research questions clearly.
  • Review literature in detail in order to find out what other scholars think about your chosen topic/ issue.
  • Review and discuss ways and strategies with the help of which the scholars have arrived to certain conclusions.
  • Plan how exactly you will address the research questions.

Ways of Organizing a Methodology Section

The methodology you select should emphasize a clear connection between your stated hypotheses, the main points of the literature review you have conducted, and the tactics and strategies you implement to reach the desired outcome. As such, there is no difference which realm you are working in, the methodology part should comprise of the following constituents:

Reiteration of the Research Questions That You Have Posed at the Beginning of Writing a Dissertation

The main key to properly justify your chosen methodology and show that it suits your requirements is to demonstrate it can be easily utilized for answering the research questions you asked from the start. Therefore, you need to go back to your research questions when writing your methodology section but this should not be exact rewording of them: just provide a so-called bridge between your hypotheses and the means of proving them.

Detailed Description of Your Research Method or Design

At this point of writing a methodology section, you need to clearly describe and discuss the way you collected and analyzed information for your research, or from which angle you approached to discuss the core research question. This section should be clearly written so that any other scholar could repeat your research design by using your method description. Make sure it is not confusing to the reader and also double-check whether it includes all the precise research details. If you are offering some new philosophical view or theoretical aspect to the problem, then you need to pinpoint to the reader how you came to that conclusion and how the new theory can be applicable. In case you utilized some experiment, make sure to discuss it in closest details so that it could possibly be repeated by another researcher in laboratory conditions.

Background Information on Your Research and Justification for Choosing a Specific Research Design

Many students overlook the fact that a methodology section does not merely describe the method – it should present the rationale why the researcher has chosen them, why he/ she reckons they will best suit, and what novelty they will bring. Therefore, make sure you properly connect the research method to the topic of your study and the research overall.

Analysis of Your Selection of Methods and Focus on its Restrictions

It is an evident fact that no research model or design is perfect, so make sure to draw readers’ attention not only to the benefits but also to the limitations of your chosen research design. When discussing the weaknesses, also make sure to refute them by emphasizing why they are not so considerate for your research and why they are not an obstacle on the way to choosing a certain research schema.

Despite the fact that the general outline of the methodology section is more or less the same regardless of the dissertation topic, different details have to be adjusted in correspondence with individual discipline requirements. Have a look at some of the most widespread dissertation methodology types presented below:

A Scientific Study

If you are required to provide a methodology section for a dissertation in science, then be sure that reproducibility is easily achieved in similar laboratory conditions. The methods you apply should seem rigid to the target audience where there are no flaws or drawbacks that overweigh the benefits. It is essential not just to provide descriptive information about the laboratory settings, equipment, etc. but also address the whole research procedure in slightest details to pinpoint to the fact that you have taken into consideration all factors and variables that are prone to distort the final results. Apart from merely mentioning it, you have to come up with a precise plan of handling any upcoming issues with regards to design, data collection, and obtaining results or implications. If you apply statistical models in the paper, you should provide details and rationale for these in the methodology section. 

Academic Paperwork in Behavioral or Social Studies

As in the scientific paper, you need to be precise with describing results of behavioral or social studies papers since one of your aims is to enable other scholars to reproduce the experiment and your study in the same lab conditions. However, a complicated issue here is that when working with people, you have a plethora of other questions and issues to take into account. You need to specify which types of survey you will conduct: whether these will be interviews with open-ended or closed questions, which research method you will use, how you will gather data, etc. Moreover, it is necessary to pinpoint to the target readers that you were attentive enough to consider all ethical aspects, such as confidentiality policy when presenting data results. Not many people are willing to disclose their personal or contact information when it comes to some private matters that are dealt with in questionnaires. Therefore, make sure to ask all questions regarding confidentiality and other ethical aspects before the actual interview and further describe them in the dissertation. Also underline the importance of the obtained data from interviews or surveys and how it positively influenced the process of reaching conclusions and obtaining specific results.

Dissertation in Humanities and Arts

The strategies and tactics of convincing the target audience in the way you present the rigor of methodology choice is just as important as in social studies, sciences, and behavioral research. However, you need to place the focus on a different aspect – link it more to the information obtained from the literature review. Even if the topic is innovative and original, when it comes to humanities dissertation writing, you will definitely apply some old theories in new contexts or combine a few of them in a new theoretical framework. Bearing this in mind, many dissertation writers are tempted just to overlook the methodology section and start analyzing the results and data after providing a literature review. Nonetheless, regardless of the theories you implement in the paper, you need to provide a thorough justification for your chosen theories, methods, and frameworks. If your dissertation lacks the required justification, a critical reader or a professional in your sphere of research will not be convinced by the plausibility of information you provide. As such, it is essential to provide appreciation of the cultural and historical contexts of the theories or philosophies that you use. More so, if there is some underlying disagreement between theorists, it is first and foremost needed to pinpoint to those discrepancies. There are cases when you need (or simply can) refer to opinions of theorists from opposing or simply different schools, so you need to properly cover these controversies and provide justification why you have still chosen to refer to their work.

Dissertation in Creative Arts

Many scholarship programs in the Arts at times require from students to submit creative work instead of a merely theoretic and dull dissertation. They want to find out how creative students are when it comes to approaching such serious paperwork. As such, students might be asked to provide a portfolio or submit a piece of creative writing. Still, at times when you simply have to submit a portfolio or provide work that is not related to academic writing, it is crucial to provide at least a critical essay or a theoretical commentary to the piece of work you have submitted. If you had to demonstrate some creative practice, then you need to add a critical commentary when and how it appeared. Besides, you sometimes simply need to provide descriptive data on the context of work and its influence in the realm of the modern art whatsoever. Still, it may happen though that you will create your own methodology as a part of creative work for some scholarship or a competition.