Description Chapter 3: Research Methods Formatting:
The purpose of the Research Methods chapter is to explain and defend the specific design and methodology that will be used. Another way of looking at this chapter is it should give an experienced researcher enough information to replicate the study. The research methods chapter will show how all of the major parts of the research project work together to address the central research question(s) in the study. This applies to the hypothesis, question, or assumption research formats. Introduction: The chapter should begin with a brief introduction and overview of the research methods chapter, reiterating the purpose of the study and connecting it with the appropriateness of the research design, (e.g. experimental, quasi-experimental, correlational, causal-comparative, quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods, or another design). A strong introduction may defend the designated approach by contrasting and comparing it with alternate methods and rejecting those that do not meet the needs of the study. Research question and sub questions: (Hypothesis, independent and dependent variable): State the research question and sub questions. These may have been introduced in Chapter 1, but they will be presented in the context of the study’s methodology in this chapter. If you are using a hypothesis approach, state the study’s hypothesis and both the independent and dependent variable. You may also include the level of statistical significance (for quantitative measurement) that will be required to support the study’s hypothesis. Operational definitions: The operational definitions define the language used in your research question, sub questions, and hypothesis (or assumption). These should be explained in clear and concrete terms. The dependent variable should have definitions that demonstrate measurability, and connect to the level of statistical significance. Population sampling strategy (For dissertations involving human subjects): Who are the participants? Why are they selected? Do they represent the target population? Do they represent subject matter expertise or a particular experience that is relevant to your research? This section should defend the selection of research participants by explaining why they are the best resource for primary data collection relevant to this study. This should also defend the numbers of participants selected, (a representative sample or an adequate amount of key informants with expertise to inform the study). Data Strategy: If your research will rely on quantitative data, what are the sources? How will data be obtained. How will you ensure that quantitative data represents the area of inquiry? Procedure: Fully describe how the data will be collected. Data Processing and Analysis: In both qualitative and quantitative studies, the precise method of how the data will be processed and then analyzed should be described. Internal and External Validity: Internal validity is a confirmation of the correctness of the study design. Internal validity is the degree to which the researcher can guarantee that the only thing influencing the dependent variable was the independent variable. There can be threats to internal validity during the collection of data, or duration of the research. These should be explained External validity is the extent to which the results of the study can reflect similar outcomes elsewhere, and can be generalized to other populations or situations. Limitations: The Chapter 1 Introduction can introduce the scope and limitations to the study. In Chapter 3 there should be a statement that includes any limitations, restrictions, or constraints that may impact the study or affect the validity (i.e., internal or external) of the outcome. Conclusion or summary: Summarize the research design and prepare the reader for the next chapter.