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METHODOLOGY

CHAPTER III
The methods section describes actions to be taken to
investigate a research problem and the rationale for the
application of specific procedures or techniques used to
identify, select, process, and analyze information applied
to understanding the problem, thereby, allowing the
reader to critically evaluate a study’s overall validity and
reliability.
 The methodology section of a research paper answers
two main questions:
 How was the data collected or generated?
 And, how was it analyzed?

 The writing should be direct and precise and always


written in the past tense.
 Readers need to know how the data was obtained because
the method you chose affects the results and, by extension,
how you interpreted their significance.
 Methodology is crucial for any branch of scholarship
because an unreliable method produces unreliable results
and, as a consequence, undermines the value of your
interpretations of the findings.
You must explain  In most cases, there are a variety of different methods you
how you obtained can choose to investigate a research problem. The
methodology section of your paper should clearly
and analyzed your articulate the reasons why you chose a particular
results for the procedure or technique.
 The reader wants to know that the data was collected or
following reasons: generated in a way that is consistent with accepted
practice in the field of study. For example, if you are using a
multiple choice questionnaire, readers need to know that it
offered your respondents a reasonable range of answers to
choose from.
 The method must be appropriate to fulfilling the overall
aims of the study. For example, you need to ensure that you
have a large enough sample size to be able to generalize
and make recommendations based upon the findings.
 The methodology should discuss the problems that were
anticipated and the steps you took to prevent them from
You must explain occurring. For any problems that do arise, you must
how you obtained describe the ways in which they were minimized or why
these problems do not impact in any meaningful way your
and analyzed your interpretation of the findings.

results for the  In the social and behavioral sciences, it is important to


always provide sufficient information to allow other
following reasons: researchers to adopt or replicate your methodology. This
information is particularly important when a new method
has been developed or an innovative use of an existing
method is utilized.
 Quantitative methods emphasize objective
measurements and the statistical, mathematical, or
numerical analysis of data collected through polls,
questionnaires, and surveys, or by manipulating pre-
Quantitative existing statistical data using computational techniques.
Research  Quantitative research focuses on gathering numerical
data and generalizing it across groups of people or to
explain a particular phenomenon.
 Your goal in conducting quantitative research study is to
determine the relationship between one thing [an
independent variable] and another [a dependent or
outcome variable] within a population.
 Quantitative research designs are
either descriptive [subjects usually measured once]
or experimental [subjects measured before and after a
treatment]. A descriptive study establishes only
associations between variables; an experimental study
establishes causality.
 Quantitative research deals in numbers, logic, and an
objective stance. Quantitative research focuses on
numeric and unchanging data and detailed, convergent
reasoning rather than divergent reasoning [i.e., the
generation of a variety of ideas about a research
problem in a spontaneous, free-flowing manner].
 Questionnaires
 Questionnaires often seem a logical and easy option as
a way of collecting information from people. They are
actually rather difficult to design and because of the
Quantitative frequency of their use in all contexts in the modern
world, the response rate is nearly always going to be a
research methods problem (low) unless you have ways of making people
complete them and hand them in on the spot (and this
of course limits your sample, how long the
questionnaire can be and the kinds of questions asked).
 As with interviews, you can decide to use closed or
open questions, and can also offer respondents multiple
choice questions from which to choose the statement
which most nearly describes their response to a
statement or item.
 Their layout is an art form in itself because in poorly
laid out questionnaires respondents tend, for example,
to repeat their ticking of boxes in the same pattern.
 If given a choice of response on a scale 1-5, they will
usually opt for the middle point, and often tend to miss
out subsections to questions. You need to take expert
advice in setting up a questionnaire, ensure that all the
information about the respondents which you need is
included and filled in, and ensure that you actually get
them returned.
Developing and using a questionnaire - some tips:
 Identify your research questions
 Identify your sample
 Draw up a list of appropriate questions and try them out with a colleague
 Pilot them
 Ensure questions are well laid out and it is clear how to 'score them' (tick,
circle, delete)
 Ensure questions are not leading and confusing
 Code up the questionnaire so you can analyze it afterwards
 Gain permission to use questionnaires from your sample
 Ensure they put their names or numbers on so you can identify them but keep
real names confidential
 Hand them out/post them with reply paid envelopes
 Ensure you collect in as many as possible
 Follow up if you get a small return
 Analyze statistically if possible and/or thematically
 The word qualitative implies an emphasis on the
qualities of entities and on processes and meanings that
are not experimentally examined or measured [if
measured at all] in terms of quantity, amount, intensity,
or frequency.
 Qualitative researchers stress the socially constructed
Qualitative nature of reality, the intimate relationship between the
researcher and what is studied, and the situational
research constraints that shape inquiry.

 Such researchers emphasize the value-laden nature of


inquiry. They seek answers to questions that stress how
social experience is created and given meaning.
 In contrast, quantitative studies emphasize the
measurement and analysis of causal relationships
between variables, not processes.
 Qualitative forms of inquiry are considered by many
social and behavioral scientists to be as much a
perspective on how to approach investigating a
research problem as it is a method.
 Interviews
 Interviews enable face to face discussion with human subjects. If
you are going to use interviews you will have to decide whether
you will take notes (distracting), tape the interview (accurate but
time consuming) rely on your memory (foolish) or write in their
answers (can lead to closed questioning for time’s sake).

Qualitative  If you decide to interview you will need to draw up an interview


schedule of questions which can be either closed or open
research methods questions, or a mixture of these.
 Closed questions tend to be used for asking for and receiving
answers about fixed facts such as name, numbers, and so on. They
do not require speculation and they tend to produce short answers.
 With closed questions you could even give your interviewees a
small selection of possible answers from which to choose. If you do
this you will be able to manage the data and quantify the responses
quite easily.
 If you ask open questions such as ‘what do you think
about the increase in traffic?’ you could elicit an almost
endless number of responses.
 This would give you a very good idea of the variety of
ideas and feelings people have, it would enable them to
think and talk for longer and so show their feelings and
views more fully.

 But it is very difficult to quantify these results. You will


find that you will need to read all the comments through
and to categorize them after you have received them, or
merely report them in their diversity and make general
statements, or pick out particular comments if they
seem to fit your purpose.
If you decide to use interviews:
 Identify your sample.
 Draw up a set of questions that seem appropriate to what
you need to find out.
 Do start with some basic closed questions (name etc.).
 Don't ask leading questions.
 Try them out with a colleague.
 Pilot them, then refine the questions so that they are
genuinely engaged with your research object.
 Contact your interviewees and ask permission, explain the
interview and its use.
 Carry out interviews and keep notes/tape.
 Transcribe.
 Thematically analyze results and relate these findings to
others from your other research methods.