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How to write the methods section of a research paper

by tutlance
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The method section of any research paper gives the criteria by which you judged your study’s validity. It should describe the activities done to:

  • Answer the research question
  • Justify the experimental design
  • Explain how you analyzed the findings; and
  • Describe the research process.

Your methods section should have a precise and exact description of how you did the research or experiment. It should also explain why you are using specific experimental procedures.

In the article, we will give you tips on how to write the method section of a research paper and give you a step-by-step guide. Read and learn.

Use of the methods section

When writing a research paper, you will need to include the methods you used to do your study dissertation. The section should:

  • Explain your calculations and any measurements made.
  • State the statistical tests you did to analyze data.
  • Describe the research protocol used
  • Mention the materials used in the experiment
  • Discuss how you prepared the materials for the study.

After all the elements, present the features clearly and logically in the subsequent section. If you are dealing with a tremendous amount of data, divide your work into sub-sections according to the topic.

What to include in the methods section

Please remember that this section aims at explaining what you did during the study and how you did it. By doing that, you give the reader a chance to evaluate the validity and reliability of the conducted research. The method section must include:

  • Methods used when collecting data
  • Ways of analyzing data
  • The type of research done
  • The materials and tools used during the study
  • The rationale used when choosing these research methods.

Please note that you should write this section in the past tense since we assume you are reporting what you already did.

How to write the methods section in a research paper

The methods section of a research paper should provide a detailed account of the procedures that were used in the study. This information will allow other researchers to replicate the experiment and test the validity of the results. The section should be divided into subsections, with each subsection covering a different stage of the experiment.

  • The first subsection should describe the participants in the study, including their age, gender, and any relevant background information.
  • The second subsection should describe the materials that were used in the experiment.
  • The third subsection should detail the procedures that were followed during the experiment.
  • Finally, the fourth subsection should discuss the data analysis methods that were used.

Arrange the details in this section chronologically. To achieve this, follow the detailed steps given below:

Step 1: Discuss your methodological approach

The methodology is the overarching rationale and strategy of your project. It involves studying the different methods used in the field and the principles behind them to create an approach that matches the specific objectives.

Start writing your methods section by mentioning the overall approach to the research. Explain the research question you investigated and the type of data used to achieve the given aim.

Step 2: Give the methods of data collection

Data is the information gathered during the study. There are two standard methods of data collection: quantitative and qualitative.

While conducting quantitative research, you should aim at describing your methods by giving adequate details for another researcher to replicate your work. Explain your inclusion and exclusion criteria, the tools used in data collection, and how you measured your variables.

On the other hand, when conducting qualitative research, reflect on the approach you took and discuss the choices you made and why you created them. In this kind of research, you need to describe the context in which you conducted the study, the criteria for selecting participants, and the role you played when collecting information.

Step 3: Explain the method of analysis

After gathering all the necessary information, it is now time to process and analyze the data. However, you should not present results at this point yet. Avoid giving too many details. In quantitative research, you base your analysis on numbers. For instance, you can mention how you prepared the data before analyzing the statistical test used and analyzing information.

Alternatively, you can base your analysis on language, observations, and images, but only if you are conducting qualitative research in such a case, including the thematic analysis, content analysis, and the discourse analysis.

Step 4: Justify your methodological choices

You are almost done writing your methods section. Here comes our last step! Here you will explain why you chose a particular method and discuss why other forms did not match the objectives. Remember to mention how the approach contributes to a new understanding.

You may choose to give the limitations of the approach you used but do not forget to mention why the strengths or advantages outweigh them. Your methods section is now complete.

Lastly, here are the tips to remember when writing the methods section in your research paper:

  • Cite relevant sources
  • Discuss obstacles
  • Focus on the relevant questions and objectives
  • Write for your audience


This section should describe the methods used in your study. The Methods section should provide enough detail that someone else could replicate your study.

In general, you should describe the participants, the setting, the intervention (if applicable), and the measures used in your study.

You should also describe any statistical analyses that were conducted.

Be sure to include a description of any data that were excluded from your analyses. The details provided in this section will depend on the type of study you are conducting.

For example, if you are conducting a clinical trial, you will need to provide more information about the intervention than if you are conducting a survey.

If you are conducting a qualitative study, you will need to provide more information about the data collection methods used.

Regardless of the type of study you are conducting, be sure to provide enough detail that someone else could replicate your study.

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