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Tips When Writing the Methods Section for a Research Paper

25 May 2018Research Paper Writing Guides

This part of a scientific text described the study one conducted. If you want to learn how to write methods section, it is necessary to learn how to write about an investigation in APA. The section has its place in the text to ensure the results are valid. Be careful to apply only the past tense. The investigation has already been conducted.

By adding this section, one allows the future scientists to repeat the study. You can always buy research papers online in APA style if it sounds too complicated.

Below you will discover all vital elements in APA, see the examples of method sections and find some useful tips.

The Structure of the Methods Sections in a Research Paper

The structure of the ‘methods’ section in APA style is logically simple. At first, in the method section in APA you need to describe those who took part in the experiment, then what you have used to conduct the experiment and, finally, how it went. Below there are exemplified contents of methods section APA:


In the “Participants” section you need to describe those who were involved in the investigation. Focus on the following criteria depending on the subject:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Education

Mention the quantity of each group. In APA you need to describe the place or method the participants were recruited and if they were compensated or not. Do not use the term ‘subject.’ The word ‘participant’ will do well for APA style.



One hundred of middle school students were enrolled in the experiment. The age range was narrow: from 12 (55 students) to 13 (45 students) years. There were 33 boys and 77 girls correspondingly. The participants were divided into two groups 50 persons each without any criteria of choice. The experiment was conducted in the First Middle School of Jamestown, Georgia, USA.


In this section in APA, you need to list the apparatus of the experiment. We mean every technical device that was used for gathering data and making the analysis, including computers, tests, etc. Every psychological test usually has got an inventor, do not forget to mention the name while writing a methods section.

The scientific experiment materials can include such testing instruments as microscopes, flasks, retorts, etc. Do not forget to count them and give the proper names to the equipment. If you apply a survey, mention these criteria for proper APA referencing:

  • How the participants responded
  • All-sufficient measures of the experiment
  • The number of questions or statements
  • The interpretation format (what the high and low results mean)
  • The reliability of the materials
  • Describe the process if you have invented your own measure



The participants were asked to pass the survey using a five points scale (1 = absolutely not and 5 = absolutely yes). For the measure of dream post-effects on health, the Mariam-Johnson Dream Post-Effects Test was applied. It reflects the vulnerability of a child’s subconsciousness towards the harmful effect of nightmares.


Here according to APA rules you need to discuss how the data was collected. Make sure that any other person will be able to repeat the experiment after your notes. In APA you have to add as many details as possible: variables, ratios, etc. Mention the conditions the experiment was run in. Place the instructions that were given to the participants.



Two groups of participants were asked to pass the test as quickly as possible, without thinking over the questions. They were sitting by the individual tables in the classroom. Each question was read by the teacher. The average time of the experiment was 15 minutes.

Tips for Writing the Methods Section for a Research Paper 

The APA style of referencing and paper writing has some regulations concerning the method section:

  • Use the active voice and avoid complicated and fused sentences
  • In APA the title word ‘Method’ must be centralized. The sub-sections ‘Participants,’ ‘Materials,’ and ‘Procedure’ have to be on the left side of a line and written in italics
  • There can be more subsections, like ‘Design,’ ‘Apparatus,’ etc. Add them if you need
  • Apply the proper APA style of referencing to all resources mentioned
  • Mind placing only relevant information, as you will use it in conclusions. Read our article on how to write a conclusion for a research paper if you need to know more and watch the connections between all parts of a paper

Now you know how to describe the methodology of a research paper properly in APA. With it, you will be able to write an exceptional research paper and allow everyone to use it for the future studies

Do not forget to read more of our materials concerning research paper writing. For example, learn how to write an abstract of a research paper in order to master research paper writing and avoid many problems in the future.


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