A methodology chapter is the third section of an academic composition, large research paper, or journal article. The methodology chapter explains the procedure of a researcher's academic study. Methodology chapters are intended to be complete, detailed reports of studies with the objective that any other researcher could replicate the study exactly to determine if the same results would be obtained.
It is sometimes tempting for writers to insert commentary into the methodology chapter. This should be avoided, as methodology chapters are intended to be the objective presentation of the research procedure. All discussion of the procedure should occur after the methodology chapter in a separate section or chapter called "Results" or "Discussion."
Though institutions will likely dictate their requirements for the exact format and execution of the methodology chapter, there are several primary components included in nearly all methodology chapters. First, the chapter should begin with a brief paragraph summarizing the general approach to and construction of the study. Following this, there should be a clear description of the research participants. This should include details about the demographics of the participants, particularly focusing on demographics that may be relevant to the study. For instance, if the study were attempting to determine elementary school educators' perceptions of students who do not speak English as a first language, it would be important to note in what areas of the country those educators are teaching, as some areas have high populations of non-native speakers, and some have only a few pupils.
Next, the chapter should discuss how the study sample was obtained. Clearly, the researcher will not survey all elementary school educators, but will select a random few to participate in the study. The determination of the sample selection should be clearly disclosed so that researchers could replicate this selection process and also so that outside readers can determine if the sample was fairly selected.
Next, the methodology chapter should explain exactly how the study was conducted, including a detailed description of all steps the researchers took. This will likely be the longest section because it requires a comprehensive explanation of each component of the study.
Finally, the chapter should report on the data collected from the study and how the researcher analyzed the data. This will almost always involve some type of statistical analysis, and if so, the tools used for this analysis should be described. The results should not be reported here, as these will be discussed in the following section.
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