Research Guides: Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: 6. The Methodology (2023)

I. Groups of Research Methods

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There are two main groups of research methods in the social sciences:

  1. The empirical-analytical group approaches the study of social sciences in a similar manner that researchers study the natural sciences. This type of research focuses on objective knowledge, research questions that can be answered yes or no, and operational definitions of variables to be measured. The empirical-analytical group employs deductive reasoning that uses existing theory as a foundation for formulating hypotheses that need to be tested. This approach is focused on explanation.
  2. The interpretative group of methods is focused on understanding phenomenon in a comprehensive, holistic way. Interpretive methods focus on analytically disclosing the meaning-making practices of human subjects [the why, how, or by what means people do what they do], while showing how those practices arrange so that it can be used to generate observable outcomes. Interpretive methods allow you to recognize your connection to the phenomena under investigation. However, the interpretative group requires careful examination of variables because it focuses more on subjective knowledge.

II. Content

The introduction to your methodology section should begin by restating the research problem and underlying assumptions underpinning your study. This is followed by situating the methods you used to gather, analyze, and process information within the overall “tradition” of your field of study and within the particular research design you have chosen to study the problem. If the method you choose lies outside of the tradition of your field [i.e., your review of the literature demonstrates that the method is not commonly used], provide a justification for how your choice of methods specifically addresses the research problem in ways that have not been utilized in prior studies.

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The remainder of your methodology section should describe the following:

  • Decisions made in selecting the data you have analyzed or, in the case of qualitative research, the subjects and research setting you have examined,
  • Tools and methods used to identify and collect information, and how you identified relevant variables,
  • The ways in which you processed the data and the procedures you used to analyze that data, and
  • The specific research tools or strategies that you utilized to study the underlying hypothesis and research questions.

In addition, an effectively written methodology section should:

  • Introduce the overall methodological approach for investigating your research problem. Is your study qualitative or quantitative or a combination of both (mixed method)? Are you going to take a special approach, such as action research, or a more neutral stance?
  • Indicate how the approach fits the overall research design. Your methods for gathering data should have a clear connection to your research problem. In other words, make sure that your methods will actually address the problem. One of the most common deficiencies found in research papers is that the proposed methodology is not suitable to achieving the stated objective of your paper.
  • Describe the specific methods of data collection you are going to use, such as, surveys, interviews, questionnaires, observation, archival research. If you are analyzing existing data, such as a data set or archival documents, describe how it was originally created or gathered and by whom. Also be sure to explain how older data is still relevant to investigating the current research problem.
  • Explain how you intend to analyze your results. Will you use statistical analysis? Will you use specific theoretical perspectives to help you analyze a text or explain observed behaviors? Describe how you plan to obtain an accurate assessment of relationships, patterns, trends, distributions, and possible contradictions found in the data.
  • Provide background and a rationale for methodologies that are unfamiliar for your readers. Very often in the social sciences, research problems and the methods for investigating them require more explanation/rationale than widely accepted rules governing the natural and physical sciences. Be clear and concise in your explanation.
  • Provide a justification for subject selection and sampling procedure. For instance, if you propose to conduct interviews, how do you intend to select the sample population? If you are analyzing texts, which texts have you chosen, and why? If you are using statistics, why is this set of data being used? If other data sources exist, explain why the data you chose is most appropriate to addressing the research problem.
  • Provide a justification for case study selection. A common method of analyzing research problems in the social sciences is to analyze specific cases. These can be a person, place, event, phenomenon, or other type of subject of analysis that are either examined as a singular topic of in-depth investigation or multiple topics of investigation studied for the purpose of comparing or contrasting findings. In either method, you should explain why a case or cases were chosen and how they specifically relate to the research problem.
  • Describe potential limitations. Are there any practical limitations that could affect your data collection? How will you attempt to control for potential confounding variables and errors? If your methodology may lead to problems you can anticipate, state this openly and show why pursuing this methodology outweighs the risk of these problems cropping up.

NOTE: Once you have written all of the elements of the methods section, subsequent revisions should focus on how to present those elements as clearly and as logically as possibly. The description of how you prepared to study the research problem, how you gathered the data, and the protocol for analyzing the data should be organized chronologically. For clarity, when a large amount of detail must be presented, information should be presented in sub-sections according to topic. If necessary, consider using appendices for raw data.

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ANOTHER NOTE: If you are conducting a qualitative analysis of a research problem, the methodology section generally requires a more elaborate description of the methods used as well as an explanation of the processes applied to gathering and analyzing of data than is generally required for studies using quantitative methods. Because you are the primary instrument for generating the data [e.g., through interviews or observations], the process for collecting that data has a significantly greater impact on producing the findings. Therefore, qualitative research requires a more detailed description of the methods used.

YET ANOTHER NOTE: If your study involves interviews, observations, or other qualitative techniques involving human subjects, you may be required to obtain approval from the university's Office for the Protection of Research Subjects before beginning your research. This is not a common procedure for most undergraduate level student research assignments. However, if your professor states you need approval, you must include a statement in your methods section that you received official endorsement and adequate informed consent from the office and that there was a clear assessment and minimization of risks to participants and to the university. This statement informs the reader that your study was conducted in an ethical and responsible manner. In some cases, the approval notice is included as an appendix to your paper.

III. Problems to Avoid

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Irrelevant Detail
The methodology section of your paper should be thorough but concise. Do not provide any background information that does not directly help the reader understand why a particular method was chosen, how the data was gathered or obtained, and how the data was analyzed in relation to the research problem [note: analyzed, not interpreted! Save how you interpreted the findings for the discussion section]. With this in mind, the page length of your methods section will generally be less than any other section of your paper except the conclusion.

Unnecessary Explanation of Basic Procedures
Remember that you are not writing a how-to guide about a particular method. You should make the assumption that readers possess a basic understanding of how to investigate the research problem on their own and, therefore, you do not have to go into great detail about specific methodological procedures. The focus should be on how you applied a method, not on the mechanics of doing a method. An exception to this rule is if you select an unconventional methodological approach; if this is the case, be sure to explain why this approach was chosen and how it enhances the overall process of discovery.

Problem Blindness
It is almost a given that you will encounter problems when collecting or generating your data, or, gaps will exist in existing data or archival materials. Do not ignore these problems or pretend they did not occur. Often, documenting how you overcame obstacles can form an interesting part of the methodology. It demonstrates to the reader that you can provide a cogent rationale for the decisions you made to minimize the impact of any problems that arose.

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Literature Review
Just as the literature review section of your paper provides an overview of sources you have examined while researching a particular topic, the methodology section should cite any sources that informed your choice and application of a particular method [i.e., the choice of a survey should include any citations to the works you used to help construct the survey].

It’s More than Sources of Information!
A description of a research study's method should not be confused with a description of the sources of information. Such a list of sources is useful in and of itself, especially if it is accompanied by an explanation about the selection and use of the sources. The description of the project's methodology complements a list of sources in that it sets forth the organization and interpretation of information emanating from those sources.

Azevedo, L.F. et al. "How to Write a Scientific Paper: Writing the Methods Section." Revista Portuguesa de Pneumologia 17 (2011): 232-238; Blair Lorrie. “Choosing a Methodology.” In Writing a Graduate Thesis or Dissertation, Teaching Writing Series. (Rotterdam: Sense Publishers 2016), pp. 49-72; Butin, Dan W. The Education Dissertation A Guide for Practitioner Scholars. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2010; Carter, Susan. Structuring Your Research Thesis. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012; Kallet, Richard H. “How to Write the Methods Section of a Research Paper.” Respiratory Care 49 (October 2004):1229-1232; Lunenburg, Frederick C. Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2008. Methods Section. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison;Rudestam, Kjell Erik and Rae R. Newton. “The Method Chapter: Describing Your Research Plan.” In Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process. (Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications, 2015), pp. 87-115; What is Interpretive Research. Institute of Public and International Affairs, University of Utah; Writing the Experimental Report: Methods, Results, and Discussion. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Methods and Materials. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College.

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FAQs

What are the methodologies used in the study of social science? ›

These methods include laboratory experiments, field surveys, case research, ethnographic research, action research, and so forth.

What are the 6 sections of the research methodology? ›

Identify the key components of the methodology chapter: (a) Introduction and overview,(b) research sample, (c) overview of information needed, (d) research design, (e) methods of data collection, (f) methods for data analysis and synthesis, (g) ethical considerations, (h) issues of trustworthiness, (i) limitations of ...

How do you write a methodology in social research? ›

The methodology chapter should comprehensively describe and justify all the research design choices you made. For example, the type of research you conducted (e.g. qualitative or quantitative), how you collected your data, how you analysed your data and who or where you collected data from (sampling).

What is methodology example? ›

For example, a quantitative methodology might be used to measure the relationship between two variables (e.g. personality type and likelihood to commit a crime) or to test a set of hypotheses.

What is the importance of research methodology in social science research? ›

Research Methodology for Social Sciences provides guidelines for designing and conducting evidence-based research in social sciences and interdisciplinary studies using both qualitative and quantitative data.

What is the step 6 of the research process? ›

Step 6: Cite What You Find in Discipline-Appropriate Format

When conducting research, it's necessary to document sources you use; commonly, this is called citing your sources. Citing your sources is an important part of research and scholarship; it is important to give credit to the ideas of others.

What is chapter 6 in research all about? ›

Chapter 6 is the summary, conclusions and recommendations of all the previous chapters as well as an evaluation of the research goal, objectives and hypothesis.

How do you write a methodology for a research paper example? ›

How to write a methodology
  1. Restate your thesis or research problem. ...
  2. Explain the approach you chose. ...
  3. Explain any uncommon methodology you use. ...
  4. Describe how you collected the data you used. ...
  5. Explain the methods you used to analyze the data you collected. ...
  6. Evaluate and justify the methodological choices you made.

What are the 4 types of research methodology? ›

Data may be grouped into four main types based on methods for collection: observational, experimental, simulation, and derived.

What are the 5 steps of methodology? ›

  • Step 1 – Locating and Defining Issues or Problems. This step focuses on uncovering the nature and boundaries of a situation or question that needs to be answered or studied. ...
  • Step 2 – Designing the Research Project. ...
  • Step 3 – Collecting Data. ...
  • Step 4 – Interpreting Research Data. ...
  • Step 5 – Report Research Findings.

What are the 5 parts of methodology? ›

5 Key Elements of Methodology Section of a Research Paper
  • Logic of Inquiry (Qualitative or Quantitative) ...
  • Research Setting and participants. ...
  • Methods and Procedure of Data Collection. ...
  • Methods and Procedure of Data Analysis. ...
  • Ethical Issues.
1 Feb 2021

What are the types of methodology? ›

The three types of methodology used by researchers are qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods.

What is research methodology in simple words? ›

What is Research Methodology? Research methodology is the specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyze information about a topic. In a research paper, the methodology section allows the reader to critically evaluate a study's overall validity and reliability.

What is a research methodology pdf? ›

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY. 1.1 Methodology is the systematic, theoretical analysis of the methods applied to a field of. study. It comprises the theoretical analysis of the body of methods and principles associated with. a branch of knowledge.

What is methodology answer? ›

In its most common sense, methodology is the study of research methods. However, the term can also refer to the methods themselves or to the philosophical discussion of associated background assumptions. A method is a structured procedure for bringing about a certain goal.

What is a methodology in an essay? ›

In its most simplistic form, "methodology" refers to the way that you will compile the research that goes into the bulk of your essay.

What does methodology mean? ›

/ˌmeθ.əˈdɑː.lə.dʒi/ a system of ways of doing, teaching, or studying something: The methodology and findings of the research team have been criticized.

What is research methodology and types? ›

What is the research methodology? The techniques or the specific procedure which helps the students to identify, choose, process, and analyze information about a subject is called Research Methodology. It allows the readers to evaluate the validity and reliability of the study in the research paper.

What is the purpose of the methodology section in the research paper? ›

The methodology section of your paper describes how your research was conducted. This information allows readers to check whether your approach is accurate and dependable. A good methodology can help increase the reader's trust in your findings.

What is the importance of research methodology and design in conducting a research study? ›

A well-planned research design helps ensure that your methods match your research aims, that you collect high-quality data, and that you use the right kind of analysis to answer your questions, utilizing credible sources. This allows you to draw valid, trustworthy conclusions.

What is the purpose of step 6? ›

Each of the 12 steps of recovery outlined by Alcoholics Anonymous is focused on helping people with an alcohol use disorder work toward long-term recovery. Step 6 is focused on acceptance, which involves accepting character defects exactly as they are and then being willing to let them go.

What are the 6 and 7 steps in the research process? ›

The Seven Steps of the Research Process
  1. Step 1: Identify and Develop Your Topic. ...
  2. Step 2: Find Background Information. ...
  3. Step 3: Use Catalogs to Find Books and Media. ...
  4. Step 4: Use Databases to Find Journal Articles. ...
  5. Step 5: Find Internet Resources. ...
  6. Step 6: Evaluate What You Find. ...
  7. Step 7: Cite What You Find Using a Standard Format.
14 Apr 2022

What is Chapter 6 in qualitative research? ›

Summary of findings, conclusions and recommendations. 6.1 Summary of findings. This section summarizes the main research findings of the study.

What are the 6 parts of chapter 1 in research? ›

This chapter includes the introduction, theoretical framework, statement of the problem, hypothesis, scope and limitation, conceptual framework, significance of the study and the definition of terms used.

Is there a chapter 7 in research? ›

This chapter serves as the culmination of the previous chapters, in that it focuses on how to present the results of one's study, regardless of the choice made among the three methods.

What are the IS chapter 5 of a research is all about and give its components? ›

Understand the components of Chapter 5. Write the introduction to include the problem, purpose, research questions and brief description of the methodology. Review and verify findings for the study. Write the Summary of Findings.

How do you identify a methodology in a research paper? ›

The methodology section or methods section tells you how the author(s) went about doing their research. It should let you know a) what method they used to gather data (survey, interviews, experiments, etc.), why they chose this method, and what the limitations are to this method.

How do you write a research methodology for an article review? ›

The methods section should include:
  • the aim, design and setting of the study.
  • the characteristics of participants or description of materials.
  • a clear description of all processes, interventions and comparisons. ...
  • the type of statistical analysis used, including a power calculation if appropriate.

What are the 5 types of variable in terms of research methodology explain each? ›

There are different types of variables and having their influence differently in a study viz. Independent & dependent variables, Active and attribute variables, Continuous, discrete and categorical variable, Extraneous variables and Demographic variables.

What are the 7 components of research methodology? ›

A research report has seven components:
  • Abstract or Summary.
  • Introduction.
  • Review of Literature.
  • Methods.
  • Results.
  • Conclusions and Discussion.
  • References.

What are the 3 parts of methodology? ›

Abstract. Chapter 3 consists of three parts: (1) Purpose of the study and research design, (2) Methods, and (3) Statistical Data analysis procedure.

What is a methodology plan? ›

A research methodology plan is a written detailed explanation and description of what the researcher plans to do to attain their objective. The plan consists of steps and procedures that the researcher needs to undertake as well as content related to the topic to be researched.

How many steps are in a methodology? ›

The Ten Steps methodology can be used in any situation where the quality of data and information affect high priority business needs—the strategies, goals, issues, and opportunities that must be addressed to satisfy customers and provide products and services. The Ten Steps Process was designed to be flexible.

What are the 3 types of research? ›

Most research can be divided into three different categories: exploratory, descriptive and causal. Each serves a different end purpose and can only be used in certain ways.

How many types of research methodology are there? ›

There are two main categories of research methods: qualitative research methods and quantitative research methods.

Why is methodology important? ›

Methodology is crucial for any branch of scholarship because an unreliable method produces unreliable results and, as a consequence, undermines the value of your analysis of the findings. In most cases, there are a variety of different methods you can choose to investigate a research problem.

What is methodology introduction? ›

INTRODUCTION

It provides information on the participants, that is, the criteria for inclusion in the study, who the participants were and how they were sampled. The researcher describes the research design that was chosen for the purpose of this study and the reasons for this choice.

How many social science methodologies are there? ›

Approaches to methodology in the social sciences generally fall into three categories: positivist, interpretive, and critical social science. William Neumann writes that the positivist approach is the most widespread and is based on the methods of the natural sciences.

What are the 4 common methods used under social science? ›

Common Methods Used in Social Science Research
  • Case Studies. Society is comprised of people and the events with which these people are involved. ...
  • Focus Groups. A prime imperative of social science is to describe the dynamics of group mentality. ...
  • Questioning. ...
  • Field Research. ...
  • Analysis of Archival Data.

Which research method is the method most used by social scientists? ›

The survey, in which people are asked to answer a series of questions, is the most widely used research method among sociolo- gists. It is ideal for studying large numbers of people. The survey is the most widely used research method for collecting data in sociology.

What are methodologies in sociology? ›

Sociological Methodology seeks qualitative and quantitative contributions that address the full range of methodological problems confronted by empirical research in the social sciences, including conceptualization, data analysis, data collection, measurement, modeling, and research design.

How do you write a methodology example? ›

How to write a methodology
  1. Restate your thesis or research problem. ...
  2. Explain the approach you chose. ...
  3. Explain any uncommon methodology you use. ...
  4. Describe how you collected the data you used. ...
  5. Explain the methods you used to analyze the data you collected. ...
  6. Evaluate and justify the methodological choices you made.

What are the 6 types of social science? ›

The study of the social life of human individuals and how they relate to each other in all types of groups is called the social sciences. Usually included under this broad umbrella are the sciences of history, geography, political science, economics, psychology, sociology, and social studies.

What are the 6 major branches of social science? ›

The social sciences generally include cultural anthropology, economics, political science, sociology, criminology, and social psychology.

What are the 7 social sciences and what does each of the study? ›

Usually included within the social sciences are cultural (or social) anthropology, sociology, psychology, political science, and economics. The discipline of historiography is regarded by many as a social science, and certain areas of historical study are almost indistinguishable from work done in the social sciences.

Which of the following research methods has for its purpose to describe social processes present within human interactions? ›

Qualitative research is a process of naturalistic inquiry that seeks an in-depth understanding of social phenomena within their natural setting. It focuses on the "why" rather than the "what" of social phenomena and relies on the direct experiences of human beings as meaning-making agents in their every day lives.

Which research method is the best research method? ›

You should select a quantitative research methodology because:
  • It uses a deductive approach and objective approach. ...
  • Quantitative research tests theories.
  • Numeric data can be collected via surveys or laboratory instrumentational experiments.
  • It draws on large sample sizes and uses statistical data analysis techniques.

Why do we study social science answer in about 40 words? ›

Explanation: It is important to study social science to understand the responsibilities and values that one should know being a member of any society. Studying social science also improves understanding of various cultures and traditions and helps in the preservation of old customs.

What means methodology? ›

plural methodologies. : a body of methods, rules, and postulates employed by a discipline : a particular procedure or set of procedures. demonstrating library research methodology. the issue is massive revision of teaching methodology Bob Samples.

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