Research methodology section describes the methods and procedures used to carry out the study. This is an important section, which has direct influence on the findings of the study. Hence, the methodology used should be described very clearly so that another researcher can follow the procedures used to reach similar conclusions without difficulty. The methodology chapter should include the following subsections:
- Research design
- Sampling methods
- Data collection methods
- Research procedures
- Data analysis methods
- Chapter summary
Introduction: The chapter should start with a brief introduction highlighting the general methodology and organization or structure of the chapter.
Research Design: In this section, the researcher should identify, define, and provide justification for the specific research design or strategy used in carrying out the study. Research designs include experimental, quasi-experimental, co-relational, causal-comparative, action research, survey, case study or historical.
In descriptive studies, survey or case study, the emphasis is placed on defining the design, revealing its merits and providing justification for its selection. In experimental or quasi-experimental studies, the tests, equipment and control conditions should be described. The
researcher should also define the dependent and independent variables studied, the procedures used to examine the variables and steps taken to control for extraneous influences that might threaten the findings of the study.
Population and Sampling Design
- i. Population
The researcher should identify and describe the characteristics of the population involved in the study. Population refers to the entire group of people, events, or things of interest that the researcher wishes to investigate. Population forms a basis from which the sample or subjects for the study is drawn.
- ii. Sampling Design and Sample Size
In this section, detailed description of sampling method and the actual sample size should be provided. The research student should clearly identify a relevant sampling frame. Sampling methods may include probability and non-probability techniques.
In non-probability sampling designs, the elements in the population do not have any probabilities attached to their being chosen as sample subjects. This means that the findings from the study of the sample cannot be confidently generalized to the population. Typical examples of non-probability sampling techniques include convenience sampling, and purposive sampling.
To ensure fair representation and generalization of finding to the general population, probability sampling technique should be used. Typical examples of probability sampling include simple random sampling, systematic sampling, stratified random sampling and cluster sampling. The sample size should, therefore, be representative of the general population.
Data Collection Methods: In this section, the researcher should describe the major methods for collecting data from the subjects. The major methods for obtaining data in a study may include interviews, questionnaires and observation techniques. The data collection instruments should be developed and organized on the basis of the research questions or specific objectives to ensure
relevance to the research problem. A description of the instruments should be given, whether they are researcher developed or standardized instruments. A description of the nature of instrument items, validity and reliability, and administration procedures should be provided.
Research Procedures: A detailed description of the steps taken in the conduct of research should be provided for the purposes of replicability. The researcher should provide a complete account of the research process including pilot testing, scheduling of the subjects or participants, distribution and collection of the instruments and the running of the experiments. Procedures may also include timing of interviews or questionnaires and instructions given to subjects.
Data Analysis Methods: The researcher should identify and describe appropriate data analysis methods for the study. Quantitative approaches in terms of descriptive statistics or inferential statistics should be described.
Descriptive statistics include frequencies, measures of central tendencies (mean, medium or mode) and measures of dispersion (standard deviation, range or variance).
Inferential statistics involve measurement or relationships and differences between or among the variables. Inferential statistics include correlation, regression and analysis of variance among others.
Data analysis tools in terms of computer application packages (Excel, SPSS or SAS) should also be described. Data presentation methods in terms of tables, graphs or charts should also be described in this section. Qualitative data should be summarized and categorized according to common themes and presented in frequency distribution tables.
Chapter Summary: The methodology chapter should end with a summary or synopsis of the main elements discussed in the section.
Chapter 4: Results and Findings