The Dissertation Methodology chapter is extremely relevant because it is the part of your research where you offer the reader a defense of the validity and reliability (trustworthiness)of your research. This is a detailed and accurate description of what was done, where, when, involving whom, and how allows another researcher to replicate your study and verify your findings. This chapter often benefits from a flowchart detailing and the description of various stages, which have taken place in the research project. The chapter can usefully be divided into sections: details of what you planned to do; details of what you did; and what went well and badly.
Your plan description
The dissertation methodology chapter should firstly introduce to the reader the aims of the research. Straight after that is done, you should identify the implications in terms of methodology of the nature of the research problem. You should detail what you had to do to access, measure and analyses the data that allowed you to address this problem. In the process, you must also identify the challenges and potential problems. There should be an explanation, and justification of the choices made that relating specific aspects of your project to the debates in the research literature about the range of alternative research approaches and the methods available.
The summary of your dissertation methodology indicating – what exactly you did and what went well and what went badly
Here, you should record explicitly what actually happened when you conducted the research, and importantly, what went well and what went badly.
A crucial part of the methodology chapter should be the examination and evaluation of the methods you have employed for your research, and the implications that arose from their specific use in your project. It is vital to remember not to simply describe basic, text book definitions of different methodologies, but identify the complexities of the actual issues raised by your research and describe how you tackled them and why. At this point you can draw on the relevant debates in research methods theory in order to support the decisions made in your project.
The key factor in the research is honesty and the clarity. In your dissertation methodology is important to understand that the ideal research process rarely occurs in practice.
Every researcher is beset by a range of problems that are often resolved in a less than satisfactory manner: not getting a high enough response to a postal ballot; selecting the wrong variables; potential subjects failing to turn up; recorded interviews that are inaudible, and interviews that are constantly interrupted. The important thing is to record accurately and honestly the problems you encounter, say what you did, or tried to do about it, and indicate that you recognize that the research is flawed. This honesty about the detail of the actual research process provides the reader with an audit trail that contributes to the credibility or the validity and reliability of the research.
Development and Credibility
Development of credibility and trustworthiness in the dissertation methodology also resides in the degree to which you can demonstrate that you are a reflective researcher. This is particularly important in qualitative research, where the researcher is the research instrument. In the methodology chapter, therefore, it is important to record factors which may have a bearing on your role as the researcher (this might include, for example, gender, age, ethnicity or religion). In addition, the feelings you experienced and actions you undertook during the research could conceal what might turn out to be instances of bias. It is important to take a hard look at your performance and record it for the reader: how was an interview conducted, did you use leading questions, did you fail to probe subjects’ responses?
The dissertation methodology section should be made of between 1000 and 1500 words.