Methods

It is sometimes easiest to draft this chapter first as much should be contained in your protocol. When you plan and draft this section, ask yourself: "Could someone repeat exactly what I did, stage by stage?" If not, then this section is incomplete.

 

Think back to the teaching you have had on research methods, statistics, evaluation techniques etc. Revise concepts, models, statistics and terminology and/or read new material to make sure you are using absolutely accurate descriptions in your text and thoroughly understand the terms you are using. You will be expected by your supervisor, study design/analysis advisor - and the Examiners - to know these.

 

The style of writing should enable the reader to find out what you did quickly: use headings and subheadings and avoid being discursive. The style will therefore be very different from the first chapter(s) and the final chapter when you discuss your findings. Bear in mind that the protocol was written in the future tense and here it will be in the past tense. 

 

You need to make it absolutely clear to the examiners what you have done and what others have done – sometimes you can have done a great deal of work but not explained fully the work and time implications of what you did. If you do not then you cannot get credit for that work.

If you are using data that someone else collected then be explicit about that and about how you handled the data subsequently. 

The methods you chose should have been the most appropriate to meet your specific objectives. However, alternative methods should be considered here or in the previous section and reasons given for the selection of the particular method(s) you selected.

 

If you are carrying out a literature review as the main body of your work you must give a very detailed account of the search process.

 

If more than one method is used make sure they are clearly indicated. They may be listed as Method 1 indicating the objective to be met, Method 2 etc.

 

If you have collected your own data, the methods section will include study population identification, access to the study subjects, sampling (sample size and power should be considered), inclusion and exclusion criteria and a data collection method or methods appropriate to the specific objectives of the study. Data collection - the data collection instrument, delivery and return of the instrument - needs to be detailed. The analysis description will vary depending on the particular study but you will need to describe the type and method of analysis to be used, and what tests were used if appropriate.

 

If you are carrying out analysis of an existing data set you must thoroughly appraise the original study design and data collection (as above), and review the quality of data obtained in terms of completeness and accuracy, noting any potential biases.

 

You can report response from study subjects here or in the chapter on results.

 

Put copies of data extraction sheets, questionnaires, etc. in appendices.