Friday, 6 May 2022

Writing the methods chapter

Continuing our series on the write up of research, this time we turn our attention to methodology and method. In the methods chapter, we need to give a precise description of the method employed in carrying out our investigation. 

Our methodology is based on the views of expert researchers, so includes what we have found in texts and papers examined in our literature review (providing we are lucky enough to come across studies containing methodologies which are close to ours, and which add validity, reliability or generalisability to our research project). There are many choices to be made. Starting our methods planning by using a concept map can be helpful: mapping out how our philosophy, strategy, design and method inter-relate, with notes showing where useful previous research papers fit in with our plan. 

The aim for this chapter is to have a 'recipe' that is so clear that anyone else could pick up our research project and repeat it. Our key steps include: research philosophy, inquiry strategy, research design, and methods.

Our methods will get quite specific now about HOW we will run our data collection, WHEN we plan to run it, WHAT type of questions we will ask (and WHY), what our actual questions will be, and WHO we will invite to participate (and WHY). This includes detailing the development of our data collection questions, sampling strategies, a detailed structure of the data collection sessions, and data analysis procedures. Data analysis procedures will include not only what kind of data we want to collect, but how we will code and structure our findings and how we will determine what is 'quality' data.

In addition, we may explore our research question and aims as part of our methodology, or we may have done this in our introduction. 

The main aims of the methods section are two-fold: (a) it allows the reader to assess the quality of our method in relation to both professional practice and the study’s objectives; and (b) subsequent researchers will be able to understand exactly how and why we set up the study in the way that we did – this is of immense importance if they wish to replicate our work.

We also need to explore our limiters and delimiters (assumptions) frankly and freely, so that the reader understands the boundaries of our process . Because our research will have gained academic approval long before our write up, the ethics issues in our Research Ethics Application are assumed to have been met, so this information should not be repeated here (but we could include a sample of our blank informed consent form in the Appendices for the reader's reference).

Although this is a fast and dirty list of what needs to be covered in this chapter, I hope is helpful. 


Sam

References:

  • Jones, I. (2015).Research Methods for Sports Studies (3rd ed.). Routledge.
  • Veal, A. J. (2005). Business Research Methods – A Managerial Approach (2nd ed.). Pearson Education Australia.

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