The methodology of a master's dissertation is by far one of the most critical success (or failure) factors. You want to pick a research methodology that makes sense for your topic, your experience and skill level, and your resources.
It also has to deliver a way to findings and conclusions that will produce results and garner you the master's grade you are seeking.
This guide offers some tips on how to select your research methodology and what you need to consider when approaching this portion of your master's dissertation project.
Purpose of a Research Methodology
Your research methodology is there to:
- Explain how you will undertake research on a topic.
- Help you discover potential for new findings in terms of a subject or a problem.
- Define how you collect and analyse data.
- Shape your findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
So, yes, it is kind of important!
Considerations When Selecting a Research Methodology
Ask yourself the following:
- Is the topic something that can be quantified in terms of statistics or numbers? You might want to use surveys to quantify your research.
- Is the topic about something that is intangible and can’t be defined by numbers, which is usually something related to a social problem? Interviews and case studies as well as secondary source material are good ways to address a qualitative topic.
Potential Research Methodology Pathways
You may need to use primary research, secondary research, or a little bit of both. Here are some information basics on each:
- Primary research: Interviews, questionnaires, and observation offer a way to get a first-hand account of the issues, opportunities, and challenges associated with a particular topic. The primary research can be quantified within a survey or it can be qualified through interviews and observation.
- Secondary research: Online source material, books, articles, reports, magazines, blogs, and company information are some of the places to gather secondary information. Also, databases that contain statistical information are good methodological tools that substantiate certain hypotheses.
Approaches to Take with Research Methodology Tools
Whatever source or tactic you follow with research methodology tools, here are some important tips to remember:
- Try to use more than one research tool to reduce bias.
- Stick with research methodologies within your scope of understanding and abilities. Do not use SPSS software to analyse survey information unless you understand how to use it.
- Gauge the amount of time you realistically have to collect and analyse data. While some topics could use a whole year of data collection, you may only have one month for this part of the study.
- Consider ethics in your research to ensure that you respect people’s privacy and personal information. You will need to get people’s permission to participate in a research study. Also, attribute all your evidence to a source.
- Do not create your own conclusions prior to data collection and then try to make the data fit those conclusions. Admit if you were wrong or if you discovered something entirely different. That is the point of following a research methodology.
- Learn from your research methodology mistakes or success and determine how you can progress in your understanding for the next research project you undertake.
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