LibGuides: Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: The Methodology (2022)

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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 will use 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.

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:

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  • 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.
  • 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.

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, 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.

III. Problems to Avoid

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Irrelevant Detail
The methodology section of your paper should be thorough but to the point. 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

How do you organize the research report writing in social science? ›

Structure of a Research Paper in Social Sciences
  1. Introduction. In addition to introducing the topic under discussion, you demonstrate your style to the reader in this part. ...
  2. Literature review. ...
  3. Methodology. ...
  4. Findings. ...
  5. Discussion. ...
  6. Conclusion. ...
  7. References. ...
  8. Appendices.
24 Dec 2021

What is methodology in 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 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

How do you write a methods section for a research paper in sociology? ›

Therefore, the methods section structure should: describe the materials used in the study, explain how the materials were prepared for the study, describe the research protocol, explain how measurements were made and what calculations were performed, and state which statistical tests were done to analyze the data.

What is social science research example? ›

Social science research is used to investigate human behavior and relationships. Some common fields of social science research include education, sociology, anthropology, criminology, and psychology.

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 is the most commonly used methods in social science research? ›

Surveys. As a research method, a survey collects data from subjects who respond to a series of questions about behaviors and opinions, often in the form of a questionnaire or an interview. The survey is one of the most widely used scientific research methods.

Why research methodology is important? ›

Why is a research methodology important? A research methodology gives research legitimacy and provides scientifically sound findings. It also provides a detailed plan that helps to keep researchers on track, making the process smooth, effective and manageable.

What is methodology example? ›

In this article we will be seeing various types of research methodology that are classified based on their common features and use.
...
Research Methodology Example.
methodologyPurposeExample
Qualitative researchIt is used collect, compare, analyse large descriptive data from the sampleStudy conducted to understand the effects of exercise on health
15 more rows
17 Dec 2021

What is 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.

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.

How do you write a methodology chapter? ›

How to write a methodology
  1. Restate your thesis or research problem. ...
  2. Explain the approach you chose. ...
  3. Discuss any uncommon methodologies you use. ...
  4. Describe how you collected the data you used. ...
  5. Explain the methods you used to analyse the data you collected. ...
  6. Evaluate and justify the methodological choices you made.
3 Jan 2022

What is 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 social research methodology? ›

Social research methodologies can be classified as quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative designs approach social phenomena through quantifiable evidence, and often rely on statistical analysis of many cases (or across intentionally designed treatments in an experiment) to create valid and reliable general claims.

What is the importance of research in social sciences? ›

Social research helps to acquire knowledge of human society. The dynamic nature of society makes it challenging to understand to move towards progress and welfare. Social research enables us to analyze social behavior, understand the causes, and accelerate its evolution.

What are the main components of report writing in social science research? ›

Every report should have the following sections:
  • Title page.
  • Table of contents.
  • Executive summary.
  • Introduction.
  • Discussion.
  • Conclusion.
  • Recommendations.
  • References.

Which type of report is suitable for research in social sciences? ›

❖ Use APA Format.

For a social science research paper, APA format is typically expected. APA format was developed for the social sciences, so it is followed fairly strictly in these types of papers in both formatting the paper and citing sources.

What is social science writing style? ›

Social science writing style is impersonal, plain, and precise. Follow these rules for social science writing and preparing social science papers. Use standard margins of one inch on the sides and at the top and bottom of a page.

How do you write a literature review in social science research? ›

When writing your review, keep in mind these issues.
  • Use Evidence. A literature review section is, in this sense, just like any other academic research paper. ...
  • Be Selective. ...
  • Use Quotes Sparingly. ...
  • Summarize and Synthesize. ...
  • Keep Your Own Voice. ...
  • Use Caution When Paraphrasing.
23 Sept 2022

What is the standard structure of a report in research methodology? ›

The typical structure of a report, as shown on this page, is often referred to as IMRAD, which is short for Introduction, Method, Results And Discussion. As reports often begin with an Abstract, the structure may also be referred to as AIMRAD.

What is research report in research methodology pdf? ›

Simply, a research paper/report is a systematic write up. on the findings of the study including methodologies, discussion, conclusions etc.

What is the most commonly used method in social science research? ›

Surveys. As a research method, a survey collects data from subjects who respond to a series of questions about behaviors and opinions, often in the form of a questionnaire or an interview. The survey is one of the most widely used scientific research methods.

What are the methods of data collection in social science? ›

Qualitative Data Collection

Holding focus Group. Conducting interviews. Observing phenomena. Conducting surveys with open-ended questions.

What is the purpose of social science research? ›

Social Science Research is the activity of gathering, analysing and interpreting information for a variety of social, economic, educational and political purposes. Social Science Research is not offered as an undergraduate major or supporting subject.

What should the conclusion and results of good social science research do? ›

A good conclusion should restate your answer to your research question, hypothesis, or primary claim based on your findings. It should also make recommendations for further studies or changes that should be made in practice.

What is social science research PDF? ›

Social science research is a method to uncover social happenings in human societies. Through social research, new knowledge is derived to help societies progress and adapt to change. Today, the concept of social science research has become important to researchers especially for those in the social sciences.

What does a research paper need? ›

A complete research paper in APA style that is reporting on experimental research will typically contain a Title page, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and References sections. Many will also contain Figures and Tables and some will have an Appendix or Appendices.

What is literature review in research methodology pdf? ›

A quality literature review is a synthesis of the materials. in a coherent and purposeful way so that. it reports the story of the topic to the readers. and identifies the potential gaps. in the current body of knowledge on the topic.

What is literature review in social studies research? ›

Doing a Literature Review

A literature review is the systematic written analysis of previously published research on a specific topic or subject. A literature review is not merely a summary of another scholar's articles or books.

What are the 5 importance of literature review? ›

The purpose of a literature review is to:

Identify inconstancies: gaps in research, conflicts in previous studies, open questions left from other research. Identify need for additional research (justifying your research) Identify the relationship of works in context of its contribution to the topic and to other works.

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