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Writing Essay Methodology

The importance of explaining the methodology in a research paper or an essay is that it imparts clarity. Methodology is just between you and your sources, it is the approach adopted in preparing the paper. Though essays are generally shorter and less elaborate in their content than research papers, they also require a methodology description. Short methodology overview will help you to avoid a lot of questions, like “Why did you use only these sources?”, or “Why didn’t you consider Mr. X’s research on the relevant topic”. This page was designed with the aim to explain you on examples how to write your essay methodology.

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Essay methodology examples may be easily accessible on the net. However, trying to adapt an essay methodology example from the net for your essay may become messy if care is not exercised. Even if the subject of the example and your assignment are similar, not necessarily the same approach is used in then. Therefore, though choosing the right methodology that suits your assignment is important.

How to introduce Methodology in the Essay?

Though preparing an essay involves defined methods, it is seldom revealed within the essay. But it does not mean that you cannot include essay methodology in your essay. While writing a Frankenstein essay or a Macbeth essay, you definitely would have used some method to collect, research, and organize your information. Try to reflect on that in the essay and it will provide your reader with a guideline to your essay.

For example an essay on Macbeth can be written very differently, depending on your essay question and your methodology.

  • Since 17th century a lot of scholars were trying to provide there interpretation of Macbeth. You may choose several interpretations and compare them. But then you need to explain why you choose such topic and these very interpretations. The answer to these questions will be your methodology description.
  • Macbeth is covered with superstitions, why not to study them? The topic is very interesting. But how are you going to approach it? Are you going to rely on some studies in your essay or do the research of your own? What sources are you going to use? Perhaps, you’ll decide to use articles from press, as it’s a great means of transition of gossips. Or perhaps, you’d like to take an interview with an actor from a local theater and ask him about that.
  • It is known that Shakespeare based his play on some other sources. So your essay may address the question how these sources were used in Macbeth.
  • You may be interested how customs and manners (including the attitude to witchcraft) are described in Macbeth, and reflect whether these attitudes were common in Shakespeare’s time.

Research methodology involves the collection and analysis of materials relevant to the study. Thus, in all of these cases there are 4 basic ways to deal with the essay methodology:

– identify data collecting methods

– identify data analysis methods

– adopt the approach of some scholar

– describe what are you doing and why

The type of research method that you follow will be much determined by the type of study. Depending on the purpose, your research method may take different forms. Some of the examples of research methods are: experimental, expository, action, pure, and applied research. Also, based on the source of materials for the research and study, you may have primary research and secondary research. But how do you know which research methods should you use? Decide your purpose of research first; then the purpose itself decides the method. The type of research method that you follow is determined by the type of study. Depending on the purpose, your research method may take different forms. Some of the examples of research methods are: experimental, expository, action, pure, and applied research. Also, based on the source of materials for the research and study, you may have primary research and secondary research. But how do you know which research methods should you use? Decide your purpose of research first; then the purpose itself decides the method.

Data Collecting Methodology

Data collecting methods may be different. If you’ve done something special to get your information, you definitely need to mention it. For example, you may mention that:

  • you conducted an interview. In this case you should specify how many people you have interviewed, what did you ask them, and who these people were.
  • prepared a questionnaire. If you have a questionnaire you need to specify which type of questions did you use, who your respondents were and how did you distribute it.
  • searched archive. Though we live in the information age, not all information is available on-line. So, when you are doing a research paper on history a visit to an archive will provide you with unique material for analysis.
  • decided to base your essay on observation.

Data collecting methodology also includes the explanation of your choice of sources. Even if in the essay you compare two articles that were given to you at class, your essay will benefit if you’ll try to explain these choice. For instance, that the authors held different views on the same issue because of their different professional background.

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Data Analysis Methodology (Click on Image to Enlarge)

Data analysis methods may be divided into quantitative and qualitative. For instance you may either conduct a number of interviews for quantitative analysis, or have just a couple of them for case studies.

Quantitative methods are used when you can rely on some reliable statistics. Mostly these are used in the essays connected with economics, where descriptive method can be applied. Quantitative methods are also widely used in social sciences and humanities. It’s hardly possible to imagine a sociological discussion that will not appeal to some statistics. Content analysis is a popular quantitative method used in philology, political science and history. Due to content analysis you may count how often certain topics are connected together in speeches of politics, and arrive at some interesting conclusion.

Qualitative methods are widely used in different research areas. The most popular qualitative method is case study, though context analysis, and surveys are also popular.

Adopting an Approach

You may also follow the methodology of some author in your analysis.
For instance, try to apply the approach of Edward Said to the analysis of some book that deals with foreign lands. Or try to find the similarities of description of ceremonies connected with presidential post with the ceremonies of the king’s court as described by Mark Bloch.
Though such methodologies don’t have names of their own, it is possible to apply them in your essay.

Describing Your Methodology

If you fail to identify your methods, you can always just describe steps of your research. If you keep notes on how you engaged in the research, you will have enough material to prop up a methodology segment in your essay. Ensure that you have data on

  • The means used in research, such as digital library, books and publications, internet, etc.
  • The sources of information, such as particular publications, books, websites, etc.
  • The reason you chose those sources of information. The authenticity of the website like encyclopedia.com or the popularity of the publication, say National geographic.
  • The steps you used to confirm the veracity of the information, namely how you have crosschecked the information at another authentic site or publication.

Project Methodology Examples

A project methodology gives an idea about how the project is carried out and an interpretation of the results. It may be related to entirely new activities, like a project, to bring out a new product or to existing activities like discovering problems and developing solutions. The following is an example of a project methodology for problem solving:

  • Developing the problem statement
  • Detecting the causes
  • Recognizing the alternative solutions
  • Deciding the best solution
  • Implementation of the solution
  • Review and feed back

A correct project methodology is a precondition to the successful execution of projects, as it gives the project required degree of consistency.

Research Methods Examples

A research methodology section will inform the reader about:

  • Scope of the Study – This lets the reader know your scope of study.
  • Sources of Data and Information – Whether it is primary and secondary.
  • Tools for Analysis- such as mathematical models, tables, graphs, etc.
  • Limitation of the Study

Research methodology is the main body of any research, thus it deserves good effort and endeavor from the students.

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We have compiled a list of the top 10 tips to help you write your dissertation methodology below. Think of this like a check-list for you to utilise throughout writing your methodology.

If you want further guidance on writing a dissertation methodology, our article Writing your dissertation methodology answers the most common questions asked by students and is packed full of helpful advice.

1. Problem

The methodology typically follows your literature review, so for the purposes of clarity and regaining focus it is useful briefly to recap the central research questions of your dissertation. Define and explain the problems which you seek to address.

2. Approach

Give an overview of your approach to primary research in order to guide the reader and contextualise your methodology. By identifying all methodological aspects to which to will attend – rationale, justification, sampling issues, etc. – you can signal unambiguously to the reader that you fully understand the implications of thorough, astute methodology.

3. Reproducibility

The ability to reproduce the results of an experiment is a hallmark of proper scientific method; in the humanities also, reproducibility indicates greater credibility and usefulness. Provide a detailed description of your techniques, such that those wishing to challenge your position could, if they wished, reproduce the same research.

4. Precedence

Consider whether your research methodology is typical of comparable research projects within your particular subject area. A review of the relevant literature will doubtless find some comparable endeavours, in which case the adoption of those methodologies may lend authority to your approach.

5. Justification

It is absolutely essential that you provide sound reasons for the methods your have chosen to conduct your research. This aspect is particularly important when adopting a novel or non-standard methodology. Approaches at odds with comparable endeavours require considerable rigorous justification.

6. Rationale

No matter what type of research, there are almost always a number of methodological approaches available. In your rationale, critically evaluate alternate approaches in order to defend the methods you have finally chosen. Weigh up the pros and cons of all relevant alternatives, including your own choice.

7. Reliability and validity

Essential considerations in all types of research, issues of reliability and validity must be explicitly discussed. Many matters fall under this area, including accuracy, precision, sources of error and statistical significance.

8. Sampling

Questions concerning sampling techniques and sample size can be considered under reliability and validity, but are often important enough to be given special attention. The impact of sample size upon statistical significance of your results is an issue of such importance that you should be mindful of this when designing and writing up your methodology.

9. Appendix

Keep your methodology chapter focussed and lucidly written by appending indirectly relevant material to the end of your dissertation writing. Copies of questionnaires and other methodological material should usually be placed in the appendix.

10. Generalisation

Include a section in your methodology which directly addresses the question of how far data obtained through your approach can be generalised. Bear this issue in mind when designing your methodology too, as results with general significance outside of your direct data set will tend to increase the persuasiveness of your eventual findings.

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