• 3-minute read
  • 4th September 2015

Top Tips for Writing Your Dissertation Methodology Chapter

Not many people enjoy writing up the methodology chapter of their dissertation. Some even skip the fine details. After all, you know what you did. Why should it matter if you miss out something about the sampling process?

NOW STOP! We saw you there, itching to jump ahead to the results section. You might know everything that you’ve done up to this point, but that doesn’t mean your reader will. This is why the methodology chapter is crucial.

Your methodology is where you provide a step-by-step breakdown of how you gained your results, including your research approach, data-gathering process and analysis techniques. This ensures the validity of your research, as it allows others to replicate your work. This is, in fact, the entire basis of science!

Thus, to help make life a little easier, we’ve come up with this handy list of things to keep in mind when writing up your methodology.

Research Approach

One of the first things you should do in your methodology is outline the research approach adopted. There are three main categories of research approach: qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods.

Qualitative research focuses on subjective meanings, while quantitative research primarily uses numerical data and statistics. Mixed-methods research involves a combination of these approaches, such as using a survey (quantitative) alongside in-depth interviews (qualitative).

Be Descriptive

You should include as much detail as possible in your methodology. You can do this by breaking down the research process, from the literature review right through to analysing the data, into a series of step-by-step stages.

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Explain Yourself!

Providing plenty of detail is important, but you also need to justify your choices. Why have you adopted a qualitative approach? Why have you used a certain sample size? What are the benefits of the techniques you chose?

If you can answer these questions for each step of your study, your methodology will be clear and easy to follow.


Knowing the limitations of the methods you use is just as vital as understanding their strengths. Your methodology should acknowledge these limitations, regardless of whether they’re the result of a deliberate choice, human error or just a lack of resources.

It’s especially important to consider the generalisability of your work in this context, because overestimating the scope of application is a common problem in academic research.

Ethical Considerations

The days of being able to get away with stuff like the Stanford Prison Experiment without anyone batting an eyelid are long gone. Modern research demands high ethical standards, including seeking consent from all participants, protecting confidentiality and ensuring that risks are minimised. Such ethical considerations should be documented in your methodology.


The appendices are your friend. Use them as a place to put any indirectly relevant material when writing up your methodology. This includes surveys, consent forms and any other documentation used in your research. Just remember to indicate clearly where these can be found in the actual methodology chapter!

Comments (1)
Josephine Ntoampe
25th July 2022 at 19:07
This is incredibly useful

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