The dissertation methodology describes the broad philosophical underpinnings for your chosen research methods, including whether you are using qualitative or quantitative methods, or a mixture of both, and why. You should be clear about the academic basis of all the choices of the research methods you have made. Assumptions like “I was interested” or “I thought” are not enough; There must be good academic reasons for your choice.

There are numerous research methods that can be used when performing scientific work. You should discuss which ones are most appropriate for your research directly with your teacher or supervisor.

The following research methods are commonly used in the social sciences, involving human beings:

  • Interviews
  • Comments
  • Questionnaires
  • Documentary analysis

Detailing the Dissertation Methodology

Let us explain in more depth each of the possible methodologies. The interview as a dissertation methodology is one of the most flexible and widely used methods to obtain qualitative information about the experiences, opinions and feelings of the people is the interview. An interview can be thought of as a guided conversation between a researcher (you) and someone from whom you want to learn something. The level of structure in an interview may vary, but most often the interviewers follow a semi-structured format. This means that the interviewer will develop a guide to the topics he or she wants to cover in the conversation, and can even write a series of questions to ask. The interviewer is free to follow different paths of conversation, if necessary to induce the informant to clarify and expand certain points. Therefore, interviews are particularly good tools for detailed information when the research question is opened in terms of the range of possible responses. Interviews are not particularly suitable for getting information from a large number of people. Interviews are time-consuming, and therefore great care must be taken to select informants who will have the knowledge or experience to answer the research question.

Observation is useful when a researcher wants to know what people do under certain circumstances. Observations can be part of a quantitative or qualitative research. For example, if a researcher wants to determine whether the introduction of a traffic sign makes any difference to the number of cars that slow down on a dangerous curve, he or she could sit near the curve and count the number of cars that do and those that do not slow down. Since the data will be numbers of cars, this is an example of quantitative observation. A researcher wondering how people react to an outdoor advertising can spend time watching and describing people’s reactions. In this case, the data would be descriptive and therefore qualitative. There are a number of potential ethical concerns that can arise with an observational study. Are the people being studied aware that they are under observation? Can you give your consent? If some people are not satisfied with the observation, can they be removed from the study while observations of the others around them are still being made?

If your research problem requires you to collect standardized (and therefore comparable) information from a number of people, then questionnaires may be the best method to use. Questionnaires can be used to collect quantitative and qualitative data, but you will not be able to get the same level of detail in qualitative answers through a questionnaire as you would with an interview. Questionnaires require great care in their design and delivery, but a well-developed questionnaire can be distributed to a much larger number of people than it would be possible to interview. Questionnaires are particularly suitable for surveys that seek to measure some parameters for a group of people (eg, mean age, level of awareness of a problem) or make comparisons between groups of people (eg determine if members of different generations have opinions on immigration).

Documentary analysis involves obtaining data from existing documents without having to question people through interviews, questionnaires or observing their behavior. Documentary analysis is the main way historians obtain data about their research themes, but it can also be a valuable tool for contemporary social scientists. Documents are tangible materials in which facts or ideas have been recorded. Typically, we think of writing or paper production, such as newspaper articles, government policy records, pamphlets, and minutes of meetings. Items in other media can also be subject to documentary analysis, including movies, music, websites and photographs. The documents can reveal much about the people or organization that produced them and the social context in which they emerged. Some documents are part of the public domain and are freely accessible, while other documents may be classified, confidential or otherwise inaccessible to the public. If such documents are used as research data, the researcher must reach an agreement with the document holder about how content can and can not be used and how confidentiality will be preserved.

Choosing Accurate Search Methods

Your methodology should be tied to your research questions and issues.

Visit your university library and ask librarians for help; They should be able to help you identify the books of the standard search method in your field. Such books will help you identify your broad research philosophy and then choose methods that relate to this. This section of your dissertation should define your research in the context of its theoretical bases.

The methodology should also explain the weaknesses of your chosen approach and how you plan to avoid the worst pitfalls, perhaps triangulating your data with other methods.

For each theory, you should be able to find research and research that will support it and others that do not.

Use the for and against arguments expressed in the literature to explain why you chose to use this methodology or why weaknesses do not matter here.

Structuring Your Methodology

Generally, it is helpful to begin the methodology section by defining the conceptual framework in which you plan to operate with reference to the key texts on this approach.

You should always be accurate about the strengths and weaknesses of your chosen approach and how you intend to approach them.

You should discuss your research questions and how you intend to address each of them. This is where the chosen literature will justify why you chose your chosen research methods, including their theoretical basis. You should make it clear that you think the method is reliable and has already been tested previously, and what kind of confidence you could put in the results. Your search may even aim to test your search methods to see if they work under certain circumstances.

You should conclude by summarizing your research methods, the approach to support and what you see as the key challenges you will face in your research.

Considerations in its Dissertation Methodology

If you are doing your dissertation in sections, you should use this section to define exactly what you intend to do. The methodology should be related to the literature to explain why you are using certain methods and the academic basis of your choice. If you are doing a single or primary monograph, then the dissertation methodology should explain what you did, referring to any refinements you have made and how your work has progressed.


Your methodology and the precise methods you choose to use in your research are crucial to your success. It pays to spend a lot of time on this section to make sure you do everything right. As always, take advantage of the resources available to you, for example by discussing your plans in detail with your teacher, as he may be able to indicate if your approach has significant flaws and that you could solve in some way.

Good luck!