GUIDELINES FOR WRITING THE METHODOLOGY

The Methodology or Procedures or Method chapter of an FYP serves a number of valuable purposes.

Look at the list below and tick those descriptions that apply to your methodology. Suggest other reasons for providing a detailed methodology.

Describes the exact procedures carried out to achieve the aim of the project.
Shows a careful and methodical approach to the investigation.
Gives the reader confidence in the study.
Provides sufficient detail for another researcher to replicate the study precisely.

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The following is some of the information that may be included in the methodology chapter.

Tick those items that are appropriate to describe your methodology. Add additional items that are needed to describe your particular study.

Overview of the study
Data collection methods used
Site(s) investigated
Equipment used
Materials used
Simulations carried out
Statistical treatment of data collected
Software/statistical packages used
Period of investigation
Sample population surveyed
Sampling system used
Interview arrangements
Construction of questionnaire/interview questions
Reference to detailed information provided in appendices

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Once you have decided on all the information that needs to be included in the methodology chapter, careful thought needs to be given to the most logical order of presentation. One of the most logical ways to do this is to describe the procedures step-by-step, in the order in which they were carried out.


Language Used in Writing the Methodology

Choice of Tense

What tense is usually used to describe the methodology?

Simple present
Simple past
Simple future
Present perfect
Past perfect
Present continuous
   

The tense usually used to describe the procedures that have been carried out in a research project is the simple past tense. The reason for the choice of simple past tense is that it is assumed that you are describing work that has already been completed. Avoid the common mistake of simply copying the methodology described in the proposal because this would have been written in the future tense.

There are however, two possible exceptions to the use of the simple past tense.

  • Existing facts and standard procedures are written in the simple present tense.
    e.g. Advanced software is now available to test the amount of radon emitted.
  • Some disciplines prefer the use of the simple present tense to describe the methodology. If in doubt, check with your supervisor as he/she will be familiar with the expectations of your discipline.


Choice of Appropriate Voice: Active or Passive?

Which voice is usually used in the Methodology chapter?
Click your choice.

Active Voice
Passive Voice

 

The passive voice is usually used to describe the methodology because emphasis needs to be placed on the action rather than the person who carried out the action. The use of the passive voice has the effect of depersonalizing the information and thus making the tone more academic and professional.

Note: It has been noted that some disciplines may actually recommend the use of the active voice to describe the methodology. Check with your supervisor to find out which style is preferred by your discipline.

When using the passive voice, note the sentence structure illustrated below and take extra care with the use of the past participle. It has been noted that many students often omit the 'ed' ending of regular verbs.

Subject

+

Verb 'to be'

+

Past Participle: regular verb + ed

Is

collected

Are

recorded

Was

tabulated

Were

separated

e.g. The air temperature was measured every 24 hours.

 

Decide whether the Active or Passive voice is used in each of the four sentences below. Click on your choice.

1. I tested the air quality in the car park every hour from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. over a 5-day period, Monday to Friday, in the first week of October.

Passive

 

2. The air quality in the car park was tested every hour from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. over a 5-day period, Monday to Friday, in the first week of October 2001.

 

3. The air quality in the car park was tested, by the researcher, every hour from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. over a 5-day period, Monday to Friday, in the first week of October 2001.

 

4. The author tested the air quality in the car park every hour from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. over a 5-day period, Monday to Friday, in the first week of October 2001.

 

Read through the following extract from a student's methodology chapter and fill in each blank with the active or passive of the verb given..

Read through the extract below of a student's methodology chapter and highlight all the uses of simple past tense verbs and the passive voice.

 


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