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How do I Choose the Best Thesis Methodology?

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  • Written By: Vasanth S.
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2016
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The thesis methodology is the component of a dissertation that outlines the methods used to conduct research and gather data. In most dissertations, the thesis methodology provides information about the specific steps or procedures taken by the researcher to test a hypothesis or confirm results. This includes the type of statistical analysis used to evaluate the data. The type of methodology you choose for your dissertation depends on the type of information that you have gathered. Usually, you should choose the most convenient and feasible research methods.

Initial research methods are aimed at gathering background information about the subject area. This typically involves library research to find published articles and papers related to your thesis. Primary sources and interviews contain useful information and provide a reference point from which to expand and contribute additional knowledge through research in the subject area. Research that does not contribute something new or unique is useless and generally will not pass a dissertation committee.

After the background information has been studied and a thesis has been established, it is time to conduct field research. Your approach is dependent on the nature of the thesis and the goal of the research. If a hypothesis is being considered, usually you should plan an experiment to test it. When you require the opinions of a large group of individuals, you should conduct a survey. If you are studying the behavior of select individuals, then you could do a case study.

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The thesis methodology should explain why you used a particular research method and what data you derived from it. In some instances, one method is enough to gather sufficient data, while other instances require two or more methods. The reasoning for using each method and how it was implemented should be clear. A step by step account of the procedure gives other researchers adequate information to replicate the study.

In addition to the methods, the thesis methodology describes the statistical tools used to analyze the data collected from the research. For example, in an experiment to test a hypothesis, the variables and constant must be clearly identified and a t-test should be performed to evaluate the results. The t-test compares two sets of data to see if they are similar or different. Another statistical method used by researchers to analyze data is the analysis of variance, which is a set of models in which the observed differences between each set are due to different sources of variation. Statistical analysis validates research methods and supports the conclusions presented in a dissertation.

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anon332546
Post 4

Can you guide me which methodology I can use for my thesis about the effectiveness of Audio-visual materials in an English classroom?

irontoenail
Post 3

@bythewell - Honestly, that's not always true. Sometimes people go back to school to complete a thesis and may not be in touch with the latest techniques. Sometimes they want to answer a question that covers ground they haven't worked on before.

And also, even when you know your stuff quite well, it's different when you are figuring out thesis research methodology yourself. It's all too easy to fail to account for one of the variables and then all your hard work and research can be called into doubt. Much better to be too vigilant and unsure in the beginning than to realize you had a problem later on.

bythewell
Post 2

@umbra21 - I would go so far as to say that anyone who has truly no idea what kind of methodology they need to use to answer their thesis problem may not be ready to do a thesis.

Generally, by the time you get to a thesis, you've already done a lot of study, if not paid work, in your subject area, so you know what kinds of methodology work well for what kinds of questions.

I can see it being hard to decide when suddenly it's all on you, but you should have lots of resources to call on to make the right decision.

umbra21
Post 1

Really, this is the kind of thing that you need to figure out depending on what you want to do for your thesis. There are so many different kinds of thesis that can be successful. I've even heard of one mathematics student who handed in a thesis that consisted of one page, which held an elegant mathematical proof, and he managed to get his degree.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, it's a good idea to talk to your supervisor about it. Maybe look at some thesis examples in your field. Because you really have to have the methodology down before you do anything else. If you screw it up, you might have to start from scratch since everything else hinges on the methodology.

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