How to Write a Research Methodology: Complete Guide for PhD Students

What Is the Methodology in Research Paper?

If you’re working on a PhD academic paper, you might be required to write a research methodology paper. And for those students who have never written it before, it can be confusing. That’s why we are here to explain how to write a methodology section of an academic paper. But, let’s start by figuring out the definition of methodology in research and why it is important to write a strong methodology paper.

In simple words, a methodology of research refers to the approach you chose to collect and analyze data. In a methodology chapter for an academic paper, a researcher has to explain what methods and materials they used and why these methods are the best for their type of investigation.

It is a critical section of any academic paper. A methodology paper demonstrates to the readers that the results presented in your academic paper are reliable and the methods you utilized are the most appropriate to conduct your study. Thus, you should explain how the methodological approaches you chose fit the goals and objectives.

Main Types of Research Methodology: What Method to Choose

It is obvious that to select the best way to conduct research, you must know the types of research methodology used in different fields of study. There are three main methodologies: quantitative, qualitative, and mixed.

The method that will be better for your research depends on your fields of study and main goals. Let’s take a closer look at each research paper methodology you can choose for your paper.

The first one, quantitative research, is used to prove theories and mainly focuses on analyzing statistics, numerical data, and graphs. Such research is always expressed in numbers and helps to test some assumptions and find the regularities regarding a certain problem. Usually, it is required to analyze a relatively big amount of data from different sources or many respondents to conduct quantitative research.

The second one, qualitative research, is the opposite of quantitative research. The results of such research are usually represented in new ideas or points of view on an existing topic. For qualitative research, a researcher analyzes texts, audio, videos, and other non-numerical data. Some of the data-gathering methods for this type of research can be interviews, direct observation, and analysis of documents, journal papers, etc.

The last type, mixed methods research, combines qualitative and quantitative methods. It is a widely used PhD research methodology, as in this way, it is possible to take advantage of both methods and conduct a more comprehensive research.

Preparing for Methodology Section of Research Paper Writing

Knowing different academic methodologies is not enough to write a clear methodology paper. To ensure the explanations of your methodology choice will be full and concise, you should spend some time figuring out what to include in the chapter (or section).

There are several points you should include when explaining the utilized academic methods:

  • Your academic objectives and main questions.
  • What data you need to collect (numerical, non-numerical, or both).
  • All data gathering methods you used.
  • All data analysis methods you used.
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the chosen methodology.

It is important to prepare the material, as the main point of explaining your methodology in research proposal or academic paper is to justify chosen methods and prove they are valid. With rigorous preparation, it will be much easier to accurately explain why you used the exact methodology and not another.

How to Explain Your Methodology in Research Proposal Properly

Now, let’s move to the main thing we want to tell you about in the article — how to write a research methodology paper for a PhD paper. Once you understand what information this chapter should include, it’s time to start writing.

Presenting the information comprehensively and accurately in the paper is critical, as based on the information, the audience will evaluate the correctness of chosen academic methods. To write a well-structured paper, answer the questions below in the following sequence:

  • What topic or question did you want to explore by carrying out the research?
  • What type of data did you expect to collect?
  • What methods did you choose to collect and analyze data?
  • Did you use any alternative or unusual methods?
  • What criteria did you use to evaluate different approaches?
  • Why is the chosen methodology the most suitable for your research?
  • What can reliable sources prove that your choice is correct?

Provide answers to these questions in different paragraphs (one paragraph for one question). In this way, your methodology research paper will be well-structured and easy to read for the audience.

If you have any instructions on methodology chapter writing from your supervisor, make sure you follow them. The instruction will help you to figure out how to format your paper.

Tips on Writing Research Paper Methodology Successfully

These tips will help you write an excellent methodology section of research paper and stick to the common writing requirements:

  • Create an outline to make sure your methodology paper is well-structured and includes all needed information.
  • It is better to write the paper in the past tense.
  • To better demonstrate your academic methods, you can include materials(interviews, graphics, surveys, etc.) in the appendix of your paper.
  • Make sure that you stick to your university’s instructions on academic paper writing.
  • Focus not only on providing the list of all utilized methods and techniques but also on strong arguments that prove the validity of your methodological choice.

Keep in mind that it is always important to accurately explain and justify your methodology in research paper, as it is the way to show the audience that you followed valid and acceptable methods to conduct research. Be consistent and proofread your paper several times to avoid any mistakes.