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Dissertation Methodology Definition Principles

Ethical Considerations can be specified as one of the most important parts of the research. Dissertations may even be doomed to failure if this part is missing.

According to Bryman and Bell (2007)[1] the following ten points represent the most important principles related to ethical considerations in dissertations:

  1. Research participants should not be subjected to harm in any ways whatsoever.
  2. Respect for the dignity of research participants should be prioritised.
  3. Full consent should be obtained from the participants prior to the study.
  4. The protection of the privacy of research participants has to be ensured.
  5. Adequate level of confidentiality of the research data should be ensured.
  6. Anonymity of individuals and organisations participating in the research has to be ensured.
  7. Any deception or exaggeration about the aims and objectives of the research must be avoided.
  8. Affiliations in any forms, sources of funding, as well as any possible conflicts of interests have to be declared.
  9. Any type of communication in relation to the research should be done with honesty and transparency.
  10. Any type of misleading information, as well as representation of primary data findings in a biased way must be avoided.

In order to address ethical considerations aspect of your dissertation in an effective manner, you will need to expand discussions of each of the following points to at least one paragraph:

1. Voluntary participation of respondents in the research is important. Moreover, participants have rights to withdraw from the study at any stage if they wish to do so.

2. Respondents should participate on the basis of informed consent. The principle of informed consent involves researchers providing sufficient information and assurances about taking part to allow individuals to understand the implications of participation and to reach a fully informed, considered and freely given decision about whether or not to do so, without the exercise of any pressure or coercion.[2]

3. The use of offensive, discriminatory, or other unacceptable language needs to be avoided in the formulation of Questionnaire/Interview/Focus group questions.

4. Privacy and anonymity or respondents is of a paramount importance.

5. Acknowledgement of works of other authors used in any part of the dissertation with the use of Harvard/APA/Vancouver referencing system according to the Dissertation Handbook

6. Maintenance of the highest level of objectivity in discussions and analyses throughout the research

7. Adherence to Data Protection Act (1998) if you are studying in the UK

In studies that do not involve primary data collection, on the other hand, ethical issues are going to be limited to the points d) and e) above.

Most universities have their own Code of Ethical Practice. It is critically important for you to thoroughly adhere to this code in every aspect of your research and declare your adherence in ethical considerations part of your dissertation.

My e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Dissertation in Business Studies: a step by step assistance offers practical assistance to complete a dissertation with minimum or no stress. The e-book covers all stages of writing a dissertation starting from the selection to the research area to submitting the completed version of the work within the deadline. John Dudovskiy



[1] Bryman, A. &  Bell, E. (2007) “Business Research Methods”, 2nd edition. Oxford University Press.

[2] Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2012) “Research Methods for Business Students” 6th edition, Pearson Education Limited.

How To Write The Research Methodology Section Of Your Dissertation

Those who arepursuing a Masters or doctoral degree must be familiar with the term research methodology. It provides a sound rationale for your choice of research methods and analytical toolsand hence is a vital component of dissertations and theses. Having a thoroughly-thought-outresearch methodology gives researchers a strong grip on their methods, data, tools, and techniques. However, many scholars, even the ones at advanced stages of research, have little or no idea what methodology means. What's worse, many confuse research methodology with research methods, which leads to several ambiguities.

What is a research methodology?

The term research methodology evades adefinite or easy definition. However, in academia, it is typically used to refer to the methodical and theoretical analysis of the methods you employ to carry out your research within a certain discipline or field. This means research methodology is not a fixed principle, but something that changes across disciplines and fields. While writing dissertations, the methodology section serves as a broad research strategy that tells your readers how the research is undertaken, what methods and techniques are used, and why.

Difference between method and methodology

As already made mention of, many students mistake research methodsfor methodology. To put it simply, the tools, processes and techniques you use to collect data are called methods. For instance, interviews, questionnaires, surveys, observation, etc. are some of the methods commonly used for data collection. Methodology, on the other hand, determines what your methods are and how they should be used. It is centered on the principles that shape your approach and guide your research practices; it further provides a broad philosophical support to the research methods you have chosen. For instance, the methodology section of your dissertation helps justify why you have chosen the qualitative method over quantitative, or why a mixed approach is necessary to gather and analyze data.

Tips for writing a sound methodology

A research project is always as good as its methodology. Unsurprisingly,research guides and evaluators pay special attention to the methodology section of your dissertation. The more methodological rigor your thesis has, the better it will be. Here are a few things your methodology section should contain

  • Mention your methods: At the outset, make a mention of the methods you are using, such as surveys, archival research, participant observation, interviews, etc., to collect data and information. This is of extreme importance in social sciences and allied fields where different methods and approached may lead to different conclusions. Likewise, if your methodologies are uncommon to readers, you need to throw more light on them by providing additional explanation or background information.
  • Paint the larger picture:  You should provide the broad picture of your methodological approach in an unequivocal manner. For instance, you should indicate whether you are following a qualitative approach, a qualitative one, a mixed approach or any special approach to go deeper into your field of study.
  • Make the connection: Equally important it is to indicate how the methods and approach you employ correspond to the overall objectives of your research. You need to ensure that the methods used in your research are actually helpful in addressing the research questions you raised.
  • Justify your choices: Be it sampling or subject selection, justify why you chose what you have chosen. From a multitude of texts, data, sources, people, demography, and statistics, you are choosing a specific set as your sample, so it is mandatory that you explain why your choice matters.
  • Give a hint about result analysis: The methodology section of your dissertation should indicate the ways in which you intend to analyze the results obtained from collected data. How you analyze your results have a significant bearing on what your conclusions and findings will be. Those doing quantitative research may use statistical analysis while those who use the qualitative approach may resort to theoretical analysis to explain observed patterns, behaviors, trends, contradictions, etc. in the collected data.
  • Don’t hide the limitations of your methodology: Finally, a good methodology section always points out its own potential limitations, instead of hiding them from readers. No data sample is complete, nor is any method devoid of drawbacks. While some limitations stem from practical difficulties, others indicate theoretical issues; while some limitations can be anticipated, others crop up only as you proceed with your research. Any methodological limitation you can anticipate should be mentioned, and the reasons why you think the benefits of using a particular methodology will outweigh its limitations should also be given in your dissertation methodology.