Dissertation Proposal Methodology

Your methodology section appears immediately after the literature review in your dissertation, and should flow organically from it.Up until the point of writing your methodology, you will have defined your research question and conducted a detailed review of what other scholars in the field have to say about your topic.

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You should not only include the necessary information about your equipment, lab setup, and procedure to allow another researcher to reproduce your method; you should also demonstrate that you've factored any variables that are likely to distort your data (for example, by introducing false positives into your design), and that you have a plan to handle these either in collecting, analysing, or drawing conclusions from your data.

Your methodology should also include details of – and justifications for – the statistical models you'll use to analyse your data.

For this reason it can be tempting to gloss over the methodology section in an arts or humanities dissertation, and move more or less seamlessly from literature review into analysis.

But it's crucial that you provide a detailed justification of your chosen frameworks and how they relate to your research question here too; without this justification a critical reader may very well take issue with your entire analysis because you've failed to convince them of the appropriateness of your theoretical underpinnings to the material you're analysing.

In addition to answering all these questions, you must satisfy your reader that you have considered all the ethical questions associated with your research.

Part of this, of course, entails obtaining sign-off for your design from the appropriate ethics bodies, but even then there might be aspects of your study – inviting subjects to relive episodes of grief and trauma, for instance, or broaching culturally sensitive matters within a particular target group – that some readers could consider contentious or problematic.

You’ll have also reviewed the in which these scholars have arrived at their conclusions – the assumptions on which their work is based, the theoretical frameworks they've used, and the methods they've used to gather, marshal and present their data.

You will have used these observations, along with discussions with your supervisor, to plan how you're going to tackle your research question.

Critically engaging with one's own work is a notoriously difficult thing to do, which makes the development and adherence to a rigorous methodology especially important in this context.

You need to not only show that you're capable of detaching yourself from your own creative work and viewing it through an objective lens, but that you are able to see your own creative practice as methodology – as a method of creating work that is grounded in theory and research and that can be evaluated against clear target goals.

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