Getting Started with your FYP (Final Year Project)
- What is a FYP?
- Research Topic
- Research Question
- Key Section: Literature Review
Main research methods
Quantitative versus qualitative, mixed methods research.
- Recommended Reading
- Some Final Tips
The two main types of research methods are quantitative research and qualitative research.
Quantitative research is a type of research relating to quantities that can be measured. This research method emphasises numbers or statistics in the collection and analysis of data. Examples of data collection tools for quantitative research include scientific experiments and structured surveys. Quantitative research is conclusive in nature. It is objective, concrete and measured.
Qualitative research is a type of research that aims to find out people's opinions and feelings rather than information that can easily be shown in quantities. This research method emphasises words rather than numbers in the collection and analysis of data. Examples of data collection tools for qualitative research include in-depth interviews and focus groups. Qualitative research is exploratory in nature. It is subjective, interpretive and descriptive.
The chart and video clip below outline some of the main differences between quantitative and qualitative research.
Mixed methods research uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative research. Some research topics will call for this kind of approach. If you think your FYP might benefit from using mixed methods, speak to your supervisor about how best to combine methods, for example, start your data collection and analysis with structured surveys (quantitative) and follow-up with focus groups (qualitative).
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How to Write a Research Methodology of your Final Year Project
A Research methodology is the fulcrum that balances what the researchers tend to do and how it would be done. The Research methodology is a critical part of thesis or research paper writing . Writing the method of analysis of a thesis can be a daunting task for inexperienced scholars, bearing in mind the sophisticated components discussed in this chapter. This review aims to assist amateur researchers in creating an effective methodological approach by providing them with a clear understanding of the mechanism of a methodology. In some institutions of learning, it is known as chapter three or section three. These are the key elements in the Research methodology section:
- introduction and overview
- methodology approach
- research design
- study population
- sample technique and sample size
- data collection methods
- Reliability and validity of research instrument
- data analysis and synthesis methods
- ethical considerations
- issues of trustworthiness
Guidelines on How to Write the Chapter 3 of your Final Year Project
We will be explaining how each component of the research methodology should be developed and presented. Demonstrate that you fully comprehend how all elements work together to form a coherent, intertwined sequence contributing to the study’s overall integrity of research methodology. The Research methodology is not limited to all the elements list above. Every institution of research or higher learning could add more to this list.
Step 1: Introduction and Overview
Just like in the previous chapter, explain the approach you would employ to achieve the research objectives. In this case, describe your methodological approach. At a glance, the introduction would show the reader how the researcher is set to accomplish the study’s objective. The introduction should contain all the elements listed from a-l. for instance, “this section describes the methods employed. It contains the methodological approach, research design, study area……..issues of trustworthiness.
Step 2: Methodology Approach
There are three methods of approaching or achieving the research objectives. They are quantitative methods, qualitative methods and mixed methods
- Quantitative Method: This method is frequently utilized by researchers who adhere to the scientific paradigm. This technique involves estimating and generalizing data from a sample of a target population. It employs a formalized data collection procedure with numerical data output. Quantitative research also employs empirical study through the use of statistical methods. Where the research employs the quantitative method, data must be analyzed either through descriptive or inferential statistics
- Qualitative Methods: In contrast to the quantitative method, which seeks to measure things in an attempt to elucidate what is observed, the qualitative approach seeks to create a comprehensive and thorough explanation of your observations as a researcher. Rather than offering assumptions and/or causal explanations, the qualitative approach provides translation and interpretation of the collected data. This research approach is contextual and necessitates a smaller sample size of carefully selected respondents.
- The combination of various quantitative and qualitative approaches resulted in a modern method. The emergence of the mixed methods research originated from its capacity to impact researchers better understand human relationships and their complexities by combining quantitative and qualitative research methods while acknowledging the constraints of both at the same time. In social and management science research, mixed methods are also recognised for the basic idea of triangulation. A triangulation allows students to process various observations about a single phenomenon by incorporating quantitative and qualitative approaches into one study.
Hence a researcher can use any of the methods listed based on the objectives of the study and the direction desired by the guide or supervisor. The researcher needs to justify why the methodology is adopted.
Step 3: Research Design
A scholars’ research design is a blueprint for the methodologies they will use in conducting a study. A study research design describes the type of investigation (exploratory, survey, relationships between variables, semi-experimental, analysis) as well as its sub-types (observational study, research issue, descriptive case-study). It is advisable that while using a primary source of data, descriptive survey research (cross-sectional data) is used, and the expo-facto research design is used for secondary data. The author should justify why this study area is used for analysis.
Step 4: Study Area
The next subheading should be the study area. The study area is the theatre of study or where the study is to be carried out. For instance, Branding and Firm Performance in South-West, Nigeria. The study area is the South-West, Nigeria. The author should justify why the study area is selected and used in the study.
Step 5: Study Population
A research population is a large group of people or things that are the target of a systematic investigation. A study population is also classified as a well-defined collection of elements with common traits. The researcher should note that a population of different characteristics should not be used in a study. For example, it is wise to use both customers, employers or other stakeholders in a study at once. The population should pick one stakeholder at a time. That is, customers alone, employers alone or other stakeholders alone at a time.
Step 6: Sample Size
In research, sample size refers to the number of participants included in a response rate. We define sample size as a group of respondents chosen from the population at large who are regarded to represent the entire population for that particular study. The number of individual samples measured or information collected in a study or experiment is the sample size. For instance, if you evaluate 300 biological samples (specimen, human beings customers, business owners, etc.), your sample size is 300. The sample size should be systematically gotten from the population of the study. Common methods used are Taro Yamane sample size estimation and online sample size calculators.
Step 7: Sampling Technique
As explained in step six, a sample is a subset of people drawn from a larger group. The sampling technique is a method or process of arriving at the sampling size. The sampling technique is also seen as selecting the group you will collect data for your research. Cluster sampling, stratified sampling, systematic sampling and simple random sampling are all methods of probability sampling. However, the simple random sampling technique is one of the most commonly used sampling techniques for saving time and resources. It is a trustworthy method of gathering information in which every single element of the population is selected randomly, purely by chance.
Step 8: Data collection methods
There are basically two data collection methods: primary and secondary sources of data collection. The primary source includes survey interviews, questionnaires, interviews, observation, etc., while the secondary source of data is extracting data from reliable sources such as World Bank, Financial Statements of Institutions or trading companies, Stock Exchange, etc. The author should determine the most convenient and realistic source which will provide the data needed timely for analysis
Step 9: Reliability And Validity Of Research Instrument
The concepts of reliability and validity are used to assess the quality of data analysis. They imply the accuracy with which a technique, procedure, or test measures a variable. The consistency of a measure is its reliability, whereas the precision of an indicator is referred to as its validity. There are five major sources of information for validity. These are clear indications predicated on (1) content validity, (2) feedback procedure, (3) internal structure, (4) relationships with other variables, and (5) diagnostics outcomes. It is a must to carry out reliability and validity while using a primary source of data.
Step 10: Data Analysis And Synthesis Methods
The method of data analysis should be indicated in the study. It should be revealed if the study will testing effects use, Regression, Anova, SEM, Factor Analysis, etc.) and if trends use descriptive analysis.
Step 11: Ethical Considerations
Ethical Considerations is a set of principles and values that address what is positive and negative in human existence. Ethics seeks justifications for acting or abstaining from behaving; for approving or rejecting behaviour; for trusting or rejecting something about virtue or cruel behaviour in research. One of the ethical considerations is not revealing the identity of the respondents or key information about them.
The methodology determines if the results will be generalized or not. Hence there is a need to justify each of the steps highlighted in the methodology with existing literature .
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- Knowledge Base
- What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips
What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips
Published on August 25, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on June 22, 2023.
Your research methodology discusses and explains the data collection and analysis methods you used in your research. A key part of your thesis, dissertation , or research paper , the methodology chapter explains what you did and how you did it, allowing readers to evaluate the reliability and validity of your research and your dissertation topic .
It should include:
- The type of research you conducted
- How you collected and analyzed your data
- Any tools or materials you used in the research
- How you mitigated or avoided research biases
- Why you chose these methods
- Your methodology section should generally be written in the past tense .
- Academic style guides in your field may provide detailed guidelines on what to include for different types of studies.
- Your citation style might provide guidelines for your methodology section (e.g., an APA Style methods section ).
Table of contents
How to write a research methodology, why is a methods section important, step 1: explain your methodological approach, step 2: describe your data collection methods, step 3: describe your analysis method, step 4: evaluate and justify the methodological choices you made, tips for writing a strong methodology chapter, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about methodology.
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Your methods section is your opportunity to share how you conducted your research and why you chose the methods you chose. It’s also the place to show that your research was rigorously conducted and can be replicated .
It gives your research legitimacy and situates it within your field, and also gives your readers a place to refer to if they have any questions or critiques in other sections.
You can start by introducing your overall approach to your research. You have two options here.
Option 1: Start with your “what”
What research problem or question did you investigate?
- Aim to describe the characteristics of something?
- Explore an under-researched topic?
- Establish a causal relationship?
And what type of data did you need to achieve this aim?
- Quantitative data , qualitative data , or a mix of both?
- Primary data collected yourself, or secondary data collected by someone else?
- Experimental data gathered by controlling and manipulating variables, or descriptive data gathered via observations?
Option 2: Start with your “why”
Depending on your discipline, you can also start with a discussion of the rationale and assumptions underpinning your methodology. In other words, why did you choose these methods for your study?
- Why is this the best way to answer your research question?
- Is this a standard methodology in your field, or does it require justification?
- Were there any ethical considerations involved in your choices?
- What are the criteria for validity and reliability in this type of research ? How did you prevent bias from affecting your data?
Once you have introduced your reader to your methodological approach, you should share full details about your data collection methods .
In order to be considered generalizable, you should describe quantitative research methods in enough detail for another researcher to replicate your study.
Here, explain how you operationalized your concepts and measured your variables. Discuss your sampling method or inclusion and exclusion criteria , as well as any tools, procedures, and materials you used to gather your data.
Surveys Describe where, when, and how the survey was conducted.
- How did you design the questionnaire?
- What form did your questions take (e.g., multiple choice, Likert scale )?
- Were your surveys conducted in-person or virtually?
- What sampling method did you use to select participants?
- What was your sample size and response rate?
Experiments Share full details of the tools, techniques, and procedures you used to conduct your experiment.
- How did you design the experiment ?
- How did you recruit participants?
- How did you manipulate and measure the variables ?
- What tools did you use?
Existing data Explain how you gathered and selected the material (such as datasets or archival data) that you used in your analysis.
- Where did you source the material?
- How was the data originally produced?
- What criteria did you use to select material (e.g., date range)?
The survey consisted of 5 multiple-choice questions and 10 questions measured on a 7-point Likert scale.
The goal was to collect survey responses from 350 customers visiting the fitness apparel company’s brick-and-mortar location in Boston on July 4–8, 2022, between 11:00 and 15:00.
Here, a customer was defined as a person who had purchased a product from the company on the day they took the survey. Participants were given 5 minutes to fill in the survey anonymously. In total, 408 customers responded, but not all surveys were fully completed. Due to this, 371 survey results were included in the analysis.
- Information bias
- Omitted variable bias
- Regression to the mean
- Survivorship bias
- Undercoverage bias
- Sampling bias
In qualitative research , methods are often more flexible and subjective. For this reason, it’s crucial to robustly explain the methodology choices you made.
Be sure to discuss the criteria you used to select your data, the context in which your research was conducted, and the role you played in collecting your data (e.g., were you an active participant, or a passive observer?)
Interviews or focus groups Describe where, when, and how the interviews were conducted.
- How did you find and select participants?
- How many participants took part?
- What form did the interviews take ( structured , semi-structured , or unstructured )?
- How long were the interviews?
- How were they recorded?
Participant observation Describe where, when, and how you conducted the observation or ethnography .
- What group or community did you observe? How long did you spend there?
- How did you gain access to this group? What role did you play in the community?
- How long did you spend conducting the research? Where was it located?
- How did you record your data (e.g., audiovisual recordings, note-taking)?
Existing data Explain how you selected case study materials for your analysis.
- What type of materials did you analyze?
- How did you select them?
In order to gain better insight into possibilities for future improvement of the fitness store’s product range, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 8 returning customers.
Here, a returning customer was defined as someone who usually bought products at least twice a week from the store.
Surveys were used to select participants. Interviews were conducted in a small office next to the cash register and lasted approximately 20 minutes each. Answers were recorded by note-taking, and seven interviews were also filmed with consent. One interviewee preferred not to be filmed.
- The Hawthorne effect
- Observer bias
- The placebo effect
- Response bias and Nonresponse bias
- The Pygmalion effect
- Recall bias
- Social desirability bias
- Self-selection bias
Mixed methods research combines quantitative and qualitative approaches. If a standalone quantitative or qualitative study is insufficient to answer your research question, mixed methods may be a good fit for you.
Mixed methods are less common than standalone analyses, largely because they require a great deal of effort to pull off successfully. If you choose to pursue mixed methods, it’s especially important to robustly justify your methods.
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Next, you should indicate how you processed and analyzed your data. Avoid going into too much detail: you should not start introducing or discussing any of your results at this stage.
In quantitative research , your analysis will be based on numbers. In your methods section, you can include:
- How you prepared the data before analyzing it (e.g., checking for missing data , removing outliers , transforming variables)
- Which software you used (e.g., SPSS, Stata or R)
- Which statistical tests you used (e.g., two-tailed t test , simple linear regression )
In qualitative research, your analysis will be based on language, images, and observations (often involving some form of textual analysis ).
Specific methods might include:
- Content analysis : Categorizing and discussing the meaning of words, phrases and sentences
- Thematic analysis : Coding and closely examining the data to identify broad themes and patterns
- Discourse analysis : Studying communication and meaning in relation to their social context
Mixed methods combine the above two research methods, integrating both qualitative and quantitative approaches into one coherent analytical process.
Above all, your methodology section should clearly make the case for why you chose the methods you did. This is especially true if you did not take the most standard approach to your topic. In this case, discuss why other methods were not suitable for your objectives, and show how this approach contributes new knowledge or understanding.
In any case, it should be overwhelmingly clear to your reader that you set yourself up for success in terms of your methodology’s design. Show how your methods should lead to results that are valid and reliable, while leaving the analysis of the meaning, importance, and relevance of your results for your discussion section .
- Quantitative: Lab-based experiments cannot always accurately simulate real-life situations and behaviors, but they are effective for testing causal relationships between variables .
- Qualitative: Unstructured interviews usually produce results that cannot be generalized beyond the sample group , but they provide a more in-depth understanding of participants’ perceptions, motivations, and emotions.
- Mixed methods: Despite issues systematically comparing differing types of data, a solely quantitative study would not sufficiently incorporate the lived experience of each participant, while a solely qualitative study would be insufficiently generalizable.
Remember that your aim is not just to describe your methods, but to show how and why you applied them. Again, it’s critical to demonstrate that your research was rigorously conducted and can be replicated.
1. Focus on your objectives and research questions
The methodology section should clearly show why your methods suit your objectives and convince the reader that you chose the best possible approach to answering your problem statement and research questions .
2. Cite relevant sources
Your methodology can be strengthened by referencing existing research in your field. This can help you to:
- Show that you followed established practice for your type of research
- Discuss how you decided on your approach by evaluating existing research
- Present a novel methodological approach to address a gap in the literature
3. Write for your audience
Consider how much information you need to give, and avoid getting too lengthy. If you are using methods that are standard for your discipline, you probably don’t need to give a lot of background or justification.
Regardless, your methodology should be a clear, well-structured text that makes an argument for your approach, not just a list of technical details and procedures.
If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.
- Normal distribution
- Measures of central tendency
- Chi square tests
- Confidence interval
- Quartiles & Quantiles
- Cluster sampling
- Stratified sampling
- Thematic analysis
- Cohort study
- Peer review
- Implicit bias
- Cognitive bias
- Conformity bias
- Hawthorne effect
- Availability heuristic
- Attrition bias
Methodology refers to the overarching strategy and rationale of your research project . It involves studying the methods used in your field and the theories or principles behind them, in order to develop an approach that matches your objectives.
Methods are the specific tools and procedures you use to collect and analyze data (for example, experiments, surveys , and statistical tests ).
In shorter scientific papers, where the aim is to report the findings of a specific study, you might simply describe what you did in a methods section .
In a longer or more complex research project, such as a thesis or dissertation , you will probably include a methodology section , where you explain your approach to answering the research questions and cite relevant sources to support your choice of methods.
In a scientific paper, the methodology always comes after the introduction and before the results , discussion and conclusion . The same basic structure also applies to a thesis, dissertation , or research proposal .
Depending on the length and type of document, you might also include a literature review or theoretical framework before the methodology.
Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.
Quantitative methods allow you to systematically measure variables and test hypotheses . Qualitative methods allow you to explore concepts and experiences in more detail.
Reliability and validity are both about how well a method measures something:
- Reliability refers to the consistency of a measure (whether the results can be reproduced under the same conditions).
- Validity refers to the accuracy of a measure (whether the results really do represent what they are supposed to measure).
If you are doing experimental research, you also have to consider the internal and external validity of your experiment.
A sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population . Sampling means selecting the group that you will actually collect data from in your research. For example, if you are researching the opinions of students in your university, you could survey a sample of 100 students.
In statistics, sampling allows you to test a hypothesis about the characteristics of a population.
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Final Year Projects 9: Writing up the methodology/field work results.
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Presentation on theme: "Final Year Projects 9: Writing up the methodology/field work results."— Presentation transcript:
CHAPTER TWELVE ANALYSING DATA I: QUANTITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS.
Wf Statistical Coursework There are more vowels used in a page written out in French rather than English. Girls are better at maths than boys.
INTRODUCTION TO STATISTICS MATH0102 Prepared by: Nurazrin Jupri.
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How To Write The Methodology Chapter
The what, why & how explained simply (with examples).
By: Jenna Crossley (PhD) | Reviewed By: Dr. Eunice Rautenbach | September 2021 (Updated April 2023)
So, you’ve pinned down your research topic and undertaken a review of the literature – now it’s time to write up the methodology section of your dissertation, thesis or research paper. But what exactly is the methodology chapter all about – and how do you go about writing one? In this post, we’ll unpack the topic, step by step .
Overview: The Methodology Chapter
- The purpose of the methodology chapter
- Why you need to craft this chapter (really) well
- How to write and structure the chapter
- Methodology chapter example
- Essential takeaways
What (exactly) is the methodology chapter?
The methodology chapter is where you outline the philosophical underpinnings of your research and outline the specific methodological choices you’ve made. The point of the methodology chapter is to tell the reader exactly how you designed your study and, just as importantly, why you did it this way.
Importantly, this chapter should comprehensively describe and justify all the methodological choices you made in your study. For example, the approach you took to your research (i.e., qualitative, quantitative or mixed), who you collected data from (i.e., your sampling strategy), how you collected your data and, of course, how you analysed it. If that sounds a little intimidating, don’t worry – we’ll explain all these methodological choices in this post .
Why is the methodology chapter important?
The methodology chapter plays two important roles in your dissertation or thesis:
Firstly, it demonstrates your understanding of research theory, which is what earns you marks. A flawed research design or methodology would mean flawed results. So, this chapter is vital as it allows you to show the marker that you know what you’re doing and that your results are credible .
Secondly, the methodology chapter is what helps to make your study replicable. In other words, it allows other researchers to undertake your study using the same methodological approach, and compare their findings to yours. This is very important within academic research, as each study builds on previous studies.
The methodology chapter is also important in that it allows you to identify and discuss any methodological issues or problems you encountered (i.e., research limitations ), and to explain how you mitigated the impacts of these. Every research project has its limitations , so it’s important to acknowledge these openly and highlight your study’s value despite its limitations . Doing so demonstrates your understanding of research design, which will earn you marks. We’ll discuss limitations in a bit more detail later in this post, so stay tuned!
Need a helping hand?
How to write up the methodology chapter
First off, it’s worth noting that the exact structure and contents of the methodology chapter will vary depending on the field of research (e.g., humanities, chemistry or engineering) as well as the university . So, be sure to always check the guidelines provided by your institution for clarity and, if possible, review past dissertations from your university. Here we’re going to discuss a generic structure for a methodology chapter typically found in the sciences.
Before you start writing, it’s always a good idea to draw up a rough outline to guide your writing. Don’t just start writing without knowing what you’ll discuss where. If you do, you’ll likely end up with a disjointed, ill-flowing narrative . You’ll then waste a lot of time rewriting in an attempt to try to stitch all the pieces together. Do yourself a favour and start with the end in mind .
Section 1 – Introduction
As with all chapters in your dissertation or thesis, the methodology chapter should have a brief introduction. In this section, you should remind your readers what the focus of your study is, especially the research aims . As we’ve discussed many times on the blog, your methodology needs to align with your research aims, objectives and research questions. Therefore, it’s useful to frontload this component to remind the reader (and yourself!) what you’re trying to achieve.
In this section, you can also briefly mention how you’ll structure the chapter. This will help orient the reader and provide a bit of a roadmap so that they know what to expect. You don’t need a lot of detail here – just a brief outline will do.
Section 2 – The Methodology
The next section of your chapter is where you’ll present the actual methodology. In this section, you need to detail and justify the key methodological choices you’ve made in a logical, intuitive fashion. Importantly, this is the heart of your methodology chapter, so you need to get specific – don’t hold back on the details here. This is not one of those “less is more” situations.
Let’s take a look at the most common components you’ll likely need to cover.
Methodological Choice #1 – Research Philosophy
Research philosophy refers to the underlying beliefs (i.e., the worldview) regarding how data about a phenomenon should be gathered , analysed and used . The research philosophy will serve as the core of your study and underpin all of the other research design choices, so it’s critically important that you understand which philosophy you’ll adopt and why you made that choice. If you’re not clear on this, take the time to get clarity before you make any further methodological choices.
While several research philosophies exist, two commonly adopted ones are positivism and interpretivism . These two sit roughly on opposite sides of the research philosophy spectrum.
Positivism states that the researcher can observe reality objectively and that there is only one reality, which exists independently of the observer. As a consequence, it is quite commonly the underlying research philosophy in quantitative studies and is oftentimes the assumed philosophy in the physical sciences.
Contrasted with this, interpretivism , which is often the underlying research philosophy in qualitative studies, assumes that the researcher performs a role in observing the world around them and that reality is unique to each observer . In other words, reality is observed subjectively .
These are just two philosophies (there are many more), but they demonstrate significantly different approaches to research and have a significant impact on all the methodological choices. Therefore, it’s vital that you clearly outline and justify your research philosophy at the beginning of your methodology chapter, as it sets the scene for everything that follows.
Methodological Choice #2 – Research Type
The next thing you would typically discuss in your methodology section is the research type. The starting point for this is to indicate whether the research you conducted is inductive or deductive .
Inductive research takes a bottom-up approach , where the researcher begins with specific observations or data and then draws general conclusions or theories from those observations. Therefore these studies tend to be exploratory in terms of approach.
Conversely , d eductive research takes a top-down approach , where the researcher starts with a theory or hypothesis and then tests it using specific observations or data. Therefore these studies tend to be confirmatory in approach.
Related to this, you’ll need to indicate whether your study adopts a qualitative, quantitative or mixed approach. As we’ve mentioned, there’s a strong link between this choice and your research philosophy, so make sure that your choices are tightly aligned . When you write this section up, remember to clearly justify your choices, as they form the foundation of your study.
Methodological Choice #3 – Research Strategy
Next, you’ll need to discuss your research strategy (also referred to as a research design ). This methodological choice refers to the broader strategy in terms of how you’ll conduct your research, based on the aims of your study.
Several research strategies exist, including experimental , case studies , ethnography , grounded theory, action research , and phenomenology . Let’s take a look at two of these, experimental and ethnographic, to see how they contrast.
Experimental research makes use of the scientific method , where one group is the control group (in which no variables are manipulated ) and another is the experimental group (in which a specific variable is manipulated). This type of research is undertaken under strict conditions in a controlled, artificial environment (e.g., a laboratory). By having firm control over the environment, experimental research typically allows the researcher to establish causation between variables. Therefore, it can be a good choice if you have research aims that involve identifying causal relationships.
Ethnographic research , on the other hand, involves observing and capturing the experiences and perceptions of participants in their natural environment (for example, at home or in the office). In other words, in an uncontrolled environment. Naturally, this means that this research strategy would be far less suitable if your research aims involve identifying causation, but it would be very valuable if you’re looking to explore and examine a group culture, for example.
As you can see, the right research strategy will depend largely on your research aims and research questions – in other words, what you’re trying to figure out. Therefore, as with every other methodological choice, it’s essential to justify why you chose the research strategy you did.
Methodological Choice #4 – Time Horizon
The next thing you’ll need to detail in your methodology chapter is the time horizon. There are two options here: cross-sectional and longitudinal . In other words, whether the data for your study were all collected at one point in time (cross-sectional) or at multiple points in time (longitudinal).
The choice you make here depends again on your research aims, objectives and research questions. If, for example, you aim to assess how a specific group of people’s perspectives regarding a topic change over time , you’d likely adopt a longitudinal time horizon.
Another important factor to consider is simply whether you have the time necessary to adopt a longitudinal approach (which could involve collecting data over multiple months or even years). Oftentimes, the time pressures of your degree program will force your hand into adopting a cross-sectional time horizon, so keep this in mind.
Methodological Choice #5 – Sampling Strategy
Next, you’ll need to discuss your sampling strategy . There are two main categories of sampling, probability and non-probability sampling.
Probability sampling involves a random (and therefore representative) selection of participants from a population, whereas non-probability sampling entails selecting participants in a non-random (and therefore non-representative) manner. For example, selecting participants based on ease of access (this is called a convenience sample).
The right sampling approach depends largely on what you’re trying to achieve in your study. Specifically, whether you trying to develop findings that are generalisable to a population or not. Practicalities and resource constraints also play a large role here, as it can oftentimes be challenging to gain access to a truly random sample. In the video below, we explore some of the most common sampling strategies.
Methodological Choice #6 – Data Collection Method
Next up, you’ll need to explain how you’ll go about collecting the necessary data for your study. Your data collection method (or methods) will depend on the type of data that you plan to collect – in other words, qualitative or quantitative data.
Typically, quantitative research relies on surveys , data generated by lab equipment, analytics software or existing datasets. Qualitative research, on the other hand, often makes use of collection methods such as interviews , focus groups , participant observations, and ethnography.
So, as you can see, there is a tight link between this section and the design choices you outlined in earlier sections. Strong alignment between these sections, as well as your research aims and questions is therefore very important.
Methodological Choice #7 – Data Analysis Methods/Techniques
The final major methodological choice that you need to address is that of analysis techniques . In other words, how you’ll go about analysing your date once you’ve collected it. Here it’s important to be very specific about your analysis methods and/or techniques – don’t leave any room for interpretation. Also, as with all choices in this chapter, you need to justify each choice you make.
What exactly you discuss here will depend largely on the type of study you’re conducting (i.e., qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods). For qualitative studies, common analysis methods include content analysis , thematic analysis and discourse analysis . In the video below, we explain each of these in plain language.
For quantitative studies, you’ll almost always make use of descriptive statistics , and in many cases, you’ll also use inferential statistical techniques (e.g., correlation and regression analysis). In the video below, we unpack some of the core concepts involved in descriptive and inferential statistics.
In this section of your methodology chapter, it’s also important to discuss how you prepared your data for analysis, and what software you used (if any). For example, quantitative data will often require some initial preparation such as removing duplicates or incomplete responses . Similarly, qualitative data will often require transcription and perhaps even translation. As always, remember to state both what you did and why you did it.
Section 3 – The Methodological Limitations
With the key methodological choices outlined and justified, the next step is to discuss the limitations of your design. No research methodology is perfect – there will always be trade-offs between the “ideal” methodology and what’s practical and viable, given your constraints. Therefore, this section of your methodology chapter is where you’ll discuss the trade-offs you had to make, and why these were justified given the context.
Methodological limitations can vary greatly from study to study, ranging from common issues such as time and budget constraints to issues of sample or selection bias . For example, you may find that you didn’t manage to draw in enough respondents to achieve the desired sample size (and therefore, statistically significant results), or your sample may be skewed heavily towards a certain demographic, thereby negatively impacting representativeness .
In this section, it’s important to be critical of the shortcomings of your study. There’s no use trying to hide them (your marker will be aware of them regardless). By being critical, you’ll demonstrate to your marker that you have a strong understanding of research theory, so don’t be shy here. At the same time, don’t beat your study to death . State the limitations, why these were justified, how you mitigated their impacts to the best degree possible, and how your study still provides value despite these limitations .
Section 4 – Concluding Summary
Finally, it’s time to wrap up the methodology chapter with a brief concluding summary. In this section, you’ll want to concisely summarise what you’ve presented in the chapter. Here, it can be a good idea to use a figure to summarise the key decisions, especially if your university recommends using a specific model (for example, Saunders’ Research Onion ).
Importantly, this section needs to be brief – a paragraph or two maximum (it’s a summary, after all). Also, make sure that when you write up your concluding summary, you include only what you’ve already discussed in your chapter; don’t add any new information.
Methodology Chapter Example
In the video below, we walk you through an example of a high-quality research methodology chapter from a dissertation. We also unpack our free methodology chapter template so that you can see how best to structure your chapter.
And there you have it – the methodology chapter in a nutshell. As we’ve mentioned, the exact contents and structure of this chapter can vary between universities , so be sure to check in with your institution before you start writing. If possible, try to find dissertations or theses from former students of your specific degree program – this will give you a strong indication of the expectations and norms when it comes to the methodology chapter (and all the other chapters!).
Also, remember the golden rule of the methodology chapter – justify every choice ! Make sure that you clearly explain the “why” for every “what”, and reference credible methodology textbooks or academic sources to back up your justifications.
If you need a helping hand with your research methodology (or any other component of your research), be sure to check out our private coaching service , where we hold your hand through every step of the research journey. Until next time, good luck!
Psst… there’s more (for free)
This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project.
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How To Write A Complete Final Year Project: Chapter One To Five
To complete your degree program in any tertiary university, home or abroad, you’ll have to write a final year project. A final year project is an independent research work typically of about 10,000 to 20,000 words in a word or PDF document. It will require that you carry out a scientific investigation using scientific methods to achieve specific objectives and answer predetermined research questions.
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You’ll work under the supervision of an academic staff, who will need to approve your project topic. After that, you’ll submit a research proposal to your supervisor, who will assess your proposal, approve it, and provide you with guidance to write a complete final year project. Note that when you complete your project, it will typically be assessed by an external supervisor from another tertiary institution, who will independently judge the value of your research work.
In your research proposal, you’ll need to state the intended subject of your study, briefly describe your work, give justification for your study, state the aims and objectives as well as assumptions that will be made, the methodologies that you’ll use, and provide references.
Specific standards will guide each stage of your final year project. From the build-up of your research to the research itself, your project presentation, and submission of your printed project, there are requirements you’ll need to follow. These requirements help to prepare final year students for the rigours of life after school.
Table of Contents
Here! Let’s now take an in-depth look at the different chapters (chapters one to five) of your research project.
Chapter one is the introduction of your project. Here, you need to give an overview of what the project is all about. It provides information on the problem that your research will address. By reading your introduction, anyone should get a clear understanding of your research project, although not in detail. The rest of your project will build on the information you provide in your introduction. Here is the format your introduction will typically follow:
- Background of the study : This gives an assessment of the research topic, current information about the topic, and similar research that has already been done.
- Statement of the problem : This clearly states the issue that the research will address or improve upon. It should show what others have done and what the research intends to do, and flow logically to the research objectives.
- Research objectives : This is a summary of what the researcher hopes to achieve from the study. It clearly shows the aims and objectives of the research; both general and specific.
- Research questions : This is the query that the research is centred on. The questions that the research will answer. It should be straightforward and flow logically from the research objectives.
- Research Hypothesis : This is a statement of expectation or prediction that will be tested by the research. It predicts the possible outcome of the study.
- Significance of the study : The significance of the study is a description of the importance of the study, the impact it will have on existing learning, and how it will be of benefit to others.
- Scope of the study : This shows the parameters within which the research will be done. It includes where the research will be carried out, the reason for choosing that place, and the timeframe of the research.
- Definition of terms : This provides a standardized definition of the keywords used in the study, and how they are used.
Chapter two is the literature review of your project. To write your literature review, you’ll need to survey academic resources that are available on your specific research topic. Your literature review should provide detailed information on the current knowledge, substantial findings, and contributions of previous research already done about your research topic. It should show to a reader that you have a clear, in-depth understanding of the major published works carried out in your research area.
Ensure that your literature review isn’t simply a description of the works published by other researchers but a thorough critical evaluation of the various arguments, theories and research strategies. The evaluation should be linked to your own research objectives and purpose. You’ll need to collect and evaluate research materials like books and journals that are apply to your research questions.
Simple steps to write a great literature review include:
- Compare and contrast various researchers’ views on your research topic
- Group researchers that have similar conclusions
- Look critically at the various aspects of their research method
- Note areas of disagreements between researchers
- Emphasize exemplary studies
- State gaps in research
- Show how your research work relates to the literature
- Conclude by summarizing what the literature says
Note that your literature review should give credit to previous researchers, i.e. proper referencing should be done. As much as possible, try to do more paraphrasing of other published works than direct quotations.
Chapter three is the research methodology. The research methodology is a crucial part of your research project as it explains in detail the way your research is structured and how you were able to achieve your research objectives. You’ll state the research method that you adopted, the instruments used, where and how you got the data for your research. This chapter basically provides details about your research design, study area, population area, sampling techniques, data collection methods, data analysis, ethical concerns, etc. Your research methodology should be simple enough for another researcher to follow and achieve the same results and conclusions. It should provide sufficient information that can be helpful to replicate your research.
This chapter should be introduced by restating the purpose of the research. The research design should show how all the major aspects of your project, including sampling, data collection, and analysis, work together to answer your research questions. Your survey instruments, like questionnaires, interviews, or experiments, need to be appropriate for your survey location. To choose the best research method for your study, you need to ask yourself a question: Will this research method generate sufficient information that is needed to solve the research problem?
In your research methodology, you’ll also need to state how you ensured the reliability and validity of your research findings, particularly when using primary sources of data. Reliability means the ability of the research instrument to produce the same results in multiple trials. Validity refers to the ability of the research instrument to effectively measure what it was designed for. Also, all ethical considerations in your research, such as anonymity of the respondents, should be clearly stated. Note that the language you use to write your research methodology should be in the past tense.
The chapter four of your final year project is typically the data presentation and analysis (results and discussion). After carrying out your research and writing your chapters one to three, it’s important that you analyze the data obtained from your research, show the results, and discuss your findings.
You should begin this chapter by restating the research problem as stated in chapter one. Then explain each research question and state the results obtained. Your results should be presented using tables, figures or other mediums of summarizing data. Carefully choose your tables and figures. Note that for some studies, you may state all your raw data in this chapter, while for other studies, it may be more appropriate to have the major part of your raw data in the appendix section.
In a Qualitative Research, the title of this chapter may be called: Results of Study or Analysis and Results. Regardless of the chapter title, the most important thing is that this chapter analyses the data obtained and displays the results. You should also use graphs and charts to display your results. You’ll need to discuss your results and compare them to those obtained by previous researchers. The applications of your results should also be explained.
This chapter usually has the title, ‘Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations’ but may vary depending on your institution. So, confirm with your supervisor. By this time in your project, you should have completed your study, and are now writing your final report. Ideally, start this chapter by once again stating the purpose of your study. Summarize the entire project from chapters one to four to remind your readers about what your study is all about.
Your conclusions should be drawn from the result findings, stating what the research was able to discover. Limitations to your research should also be stated. Limitations refer to the influences that impact on the research methodology and conclusions which are beyond the control of the researcher. Based on the result findings, conclusions and limitations, you’ll then give recommendations. These recommendations include ways to improve on the positive outcomes of your research or mitigation strategies against negative outcomes. Recommendations also include suggestions on how future researchers can improve on the results obtained and other similar topic areas that still need to be explored.
After writing the chapters one to five of your final year research project, your project report is still not complete without your reference and appendix sections.
Your reference provides a list of all the publications; books, journals, and all information sources you used to write your research, whether online or print. To ensure your project is plagiarism-free, make sure you reference all quoted words properly, both in-text and in your reference list/bibliography. There are several reference styles that are used in research work. The most popular ones include Chicago, MLA, and APA. However, you’ll need to confirm from your supervisor which reference style is accepted in your institution.
Your appendices include all extra information and materials that you didn’t include in the body of your project report. These could include official data from case studies, a copy of your questionnaire, a list of parameters, etc. Typically, this section helps to give a more in-depth understanding of your research, and it’s the last section in your final year project.
Now that you’ve successfully written the various chapters of your project, as well as the references and appendices, you can now write your abstract.
Your abstract is a brief summary of your research work. It provides information about the research problem, objectives, methodology used, findings, and recommendations. Your abstract should be just one paragraph, and typically not more than 100 words. Ensure that you stick to the word limit.
After your supervisor has gone through your project report and you have made all necessary corrections, you can include your title page, declaration, dedication, acknowledgment, table of content, list of contents, list of tables, and list of figures. You’re now ready to bind your final year project.
In conclusion, note that one important thing you must do is to carefully and thoroughly edit your entire project before binding it. Use grammar checker tools if possible to check for all grammatical and spelling mistakes. Ensure that the pages are properly numbered. Overall, make sure that the final submission of your research project is free from error and meets the required standards of your institution.
After reading this article, you’re now fully informed to write an excellent and complete final year project. Remember to share this article with other final year students.
All the best!!
Ofure Odibeli is a freelance writer and editor who has worked across a range of digital and traditional media platforms. As a versatile writer, her projects have cut across several niches, including public health, education, history, health and wellness, real estate, international relations, and lifestyle. Her specialties are writing and editing, content marketing, and creative services. She currently works as a freelance writer on Upwork, an Editorial Consultant for the African Women’s Collaborative for Healthy Food Systems, and a writer for MotivationAfrica. Ofure is available for editing and writing projects, as well as private consultation. Contact Ofure at [email protected]
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13 thoughts on “How To Write A Complete Final Year Project: Chapter One To Five”
Thank you for this. A complete guide!
Sure wish to meet with you in the long ground
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Well, I wish to recommend the source via which I did a perfect project work and analysis including my proposal.
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I NEED AN ADVICE ON HOW TO CREATE A TOPIC
So helpful Thanks
Thanks so much Sir, i have found this guidelines very relevant to my study
You did a great job here,k it is a big relieve. Thank you so much. God bless.
i found this so helpful after going through it. thanks.
Thanks very much it really help
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