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What to include in the methodology section of a thesis

RELATED QUESTIONS

It has to be acknowledged, though, that the word limit that some journals put on abstracts means that it is not possible to answer all five of the above questions in your abstract, but in such cases key findings should not be something that gets sacrificed.

Finally, as a summary of the entire thesis, the abstract is the often the last thing to get finalised, but it shouldn't necessarily be the last thing to get written. If you're drowning in data or literature and feel you're not sure where you're going anymore, writing a "working abstract" might help you to get a "big-picture" view of what you're trying to do and, therefore, help you to get focussed again.

The Introduction and Literature Review All theses require introductions and literature reviews, but the structure and location of these vary considerably. Options that are used include: A brief introductory chapter with a lengthy separate literature review chapter.

A lengthy introductory chapter which includes a brief "Introduction" section followed by literature review sections. A lengthy introduction which includes a literature review.

  • It also indicates to thesis assessors a capacity to learn from experience;
  • What are power grid instabilities?
  • Options that are used include:

A brief introductory chapter with detailed literature reviews relevant to the topic of each chapter provided separately in each chapter this is typical when each chapter is basically or literally a paper for publication. More than one literature review chapter. For example, one chapter might review what's known in an area and identify gaps or problems to address, while another might review the methodological approaches taken to investigating questions in this area and identify the strengths and weaknesses of each of these, thus providing a justification for the approach taken in this thesis this may also occur in the first sections of a Methodology chapter.

Regardless of the approach taken, the Introduction to a thesis answers the three questions: May be stated in terms of both general aims e. Why was it done?

If the introduction is brief, then provide only the broad motivation e. Why is there interest in this area? Why is it important? Why is this an interesting topic? Why pursue the specific line of investigation you do?

One way of thinking about a brief introduction, is to think about providing the level of motivation or justification that would satisfy a well-educated friend of yours curious about what you are doing and why, with the literature review providing the level of motivation and justification that would satisfy an expert in the field. Longer introductions might occur when a significant amount of background material needs to be reviewed in order for the reader to appreciate the context and significance of your research question.

But if this is the case, then it is important to make it clear to the reader what the point of a long review is! How do the pieces of the thesis fit together? This is the "outline" or "overview". Provides the rationale for proceeding in the way you did and perhaps for why you have organised things the way you have e.

  • 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;
  • But if this is the case, then it is important to make it clear to the reader what the point of a long review is!
  • A lengthy introductory chapter which includes a brief "Introduction" section followed by literature review sections.

W737gives a good example of what a useful outline looks like. These three questions can be used to broadly analyse the structure of other people's writing so that you can get an overview of what they have done and how they have organised things. Another way of analysing your writing and the writing of others is to consider which of the following three "moves" are being made in each paragraph or section of a paragraph see Paltridge and Starfield, 2007, Ch.

This involves showing or explaining why the area is of interest or important. Some writers also state their main findings at this point sort of like stating your thesis in the opening paragraph of an essay. A common structure is to start with the broadest possible motivation and then gradually narrow the scope until the particular focus of the thesis or article is reached e.

However, some writers prefer to start with a statement of the aim of the research, then proceed to give the arguments for pursuing that aim. Because of these reasons or observations, I'm going to do this, as opposed to: I am going to do this because of these reasons. In many instances, researchers don't know exactly where they will end up until they get there, so introductions and abstracts are often the last sections of a paper or thesis which are written.

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However, writing "working" abstracts and introductions as you go along can be useful to force you to think about the overview of, and motivation for, what you are doing. And while they will have to be revised and fine-tuned, having a general sense of where you are going and why is very useful when making the what to include in the methodology section of a thesis. Common problems Providing unnecessary or uncontextualised background Background is necessary to orientate the reader to what you are doing, but it is possible to give too much detail so that the reader starts to wonder why they need to know all of what they are being told.

Not explaining things enough To simply say that your research will look at ways to deal with power grid instabilities indicates to the reader that you're working on solving a problem, but not why that problem is significant enough to work on. To indicate the significance of the problem, it would be necessary to briefly explain: What are power grid instabilities?

How often do they occur? What are the economic consequences of power grid instabilities? Some indicative statistics would be enough to make your point, you wouldn't need masses of statistics.

Working out what should go in the Introduction and what in the Literature Review It might help here to think of your Introduction as being what you would tell an educated friend who wanted to know what your research is all about and why you are doing it, while the Literature Review is for other researchers in the field.

It needs to be noted, however, that in some disciplines or areas the Introduction includes the Literature Review, and so can be quite lengthy. Writing an outline that reads like the table of contents in paragraph form See Example 6 and Dr Leslie Sage's comments on this at the end of her article.

What should I write in the Research methodology chapter of my thesis?

See the literature review section for more detailed information. Methods The methods section should explain: How you went about collecting and analysing your data Only in enough detail that another expert in the field could repeat what you have done.

  1. These three questions can be used to broadly analyse the structure of other people's writing so that you can get an overview of what they have done and how they have organised things. If you've come up with a methodology that is both original and grounded in the research, this will probably be the aspect of your work that other scholars value the most.
  2. A brief introductory chapter with a lengthy separate literature review chapter.
  3. Your methodology section allows you to rationalise and justify the approach you've taken to your research question s , and to define your own criteria for the project's success. A description of your design or method This is the heart of the methodology but is not, by itself, a methodology.
  4. For most students, an undergraduate dissertation is their first opportunity to engage in detail with scholarship in their fields and to design and conduct a rigorous research project.

For example, since the Fast Fourier Transform FFT is a standard technique for determining the frequency spectrum of digital signals, in an electrical engineering thesis it would be enough to simply say, "The spectrum of the signal output from. This is done by explaining how certain types of data will help you to answer your research questions. The thesis assessors want to be assured that you didn't simply collect as much data as you possibly could that might have been useful and then hoped for the best.

Doing this also maintains a "connected story" for your thesis. Why use Inventory X rather than Inventory Y?

  1. An extensive review of methodologies It's likely you'll want to refer to precedents for your dissertation methodology, and to the theorists or practitioners upon whose work it is based, as you describe your own methodology. Again, your dissertation methodology is a critical space in which to establish these criteria.
  2. Some writers also state their main findings at this point sort of like stating your thesis in the opening paragraph of an essay.
  3. Up until the point of writing your methodology, you will have defined your research question and conducted a detailed review of what other scholars in the field have to say about your topic. This is the part of your methodology where you clearly explain your process for gathering and analysing data, or for approaching your research question.

Indicative Examples In order to account for any learning or fatigue effects amongst participants, a counter-balanced design was used. Semi-structured interviews rather than surveys were used to. In order to determine the effectiveness of speed cameras in reducing the road toll in.

One possible structure is an introductory section that provides a justification and explanation of the methodological approach es chosen, followed by relevant elements of the classical sub-sections: Design Materials Procedure However, there is a lot of disciplinary variation in the way these things are done, so use the ideas from here to analyse what you see in your discipline.

Common problems include see Paltridge and Starfield 2002Ch.

  • What is the scope of your data and conclusions?
  • Your methodology chapter is not the place to go into detail about these methodologies hopefully your literature review does this , but you should remind your reader that you actively considered these other methodologies before deciding on your own;
  • Not explaining things enough To simply say that your research will look at ways to deal with power grid instabilities indicates to the reader that you're working on solving a problem, but not why that problem is significant enough to work on.

Insufficient justification of the proposed approach as being the best way to achieve the research objectives. Insufficient appreciation of the limitations of particular methods for achieving the desired research objectives.

Results If you present your results separately from your discussion, then the Results section for quantitative research is where you: Specify what the data were and how they were prepared for analysis.

Sections of a thesis

Present a summary and descriptive statistics in a suitable graphical or tabular form. Provide a verbal summary of the most important features of the above. Describe the data analysis e. DON'T Interpret or offer any explanations for the results although you can say whether the data support or contradict any of your hypotheses.

For guidance on how to effectively incorporate quantitative data in the forms of tables and figures in your writing, see this Info Sheet PDF, 38 KB. Discussion Typically in a Discussion section, one would: Summarise, appraise, interpret and explain the results, relating them to your aims!

Consider the significance or implications of the results. Compare, contrast and integrate your results with the findings of other studies. Point out and offer solutions for any methodological weaknesses or limitations. This is to help both you and your readers decide on the strength of your findings and to determine where any gaps or deficiencies might lie.

Writing your dissertation methodology

It also indicates to thesis assessors a capacity to learn from experience. Make suggestions for future research these often come out of identified methodological weaknesses, but it could be that your research has revealed yet more complexity and unanswered questions that need investigating.

End with a concluding paragraph summarising the main findings and the lessons to be drawn from the study.