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A Scholar’s Guide to Writing the Methods Section of a Research Paper

Written by David Santana
Posted: January 17, 2022
Last update date: March 22, 2024
10 min read

In the vast realm of academic writing, the research paper stands as a testament to a scholar’s systematic exploration of a particular subject. Each section of the paper plays a pivotal role, knitting together the fabric of the study. While the introduction sets the stage and the results showcase the findings, it is the Methods section that forms the backbone, providing a clear roadmap for any reader or researcher wishing to replicate or understand the study’s inner workings. As pivotal as it is, crafting an impeccable Methods section often poses challenges for researchers. This article aims to elucidate the intricacies of constructing a robust Methodology section in a research paper.

After reading our guide, you will:

  • Get a clear understanding of the importance and purpose of the Methods in a research paper.
  • Discover in details what should contain a comprehensive Methods section.
  • Learn essentials on writing a Methodology in a research paper.

Now, let’s take a detailed look at these points!

What Is the Methods Section of a Research Paper

Do you have any questions about how to write the Methodology? Firstly, let’s define this section for research. The Methods or Methodology section of the research paper gives the road map for how the research was conducted. A well-crafted Methods section not only guides the researcher but also helps other scholars understand, replicate your study.

In other words, it’s like a recipe in a cookbook. If you want others to recreate your experiment or study, this section tells them exactly how you did it. It includes details about the steps you took, the tools or ingredients you used, and how you measured your results. This way, others can see if they get the same outcome when they follow your “recipe” or if they can trust your findings.

This means that the Methodology should be thoughtfully planned, executed, and reported. The reader should understand the basic research structure and the steps taken to conduct the study, including the research design, methods, gathered data, and data analysis techniques used.

The Methodology of a research study is essential for several reasons:

Validity and Reliability: A well-defined Methodology provides the foundation for the criteria and reliability of the study, particularly in addressing the research question for research. It helps to ensure that the research is conducted in a systematic and controlled manner and that the results are accurate and trustworthy.

Replicability: It allows other researchers to understand and replicate the study, which is important for building on existing knowledge and advancing the field.

Clarity and Transparency: A clear and concise Methods part makes it easier for readers to understand the research process and evaluate the results. This helps to increase transparency and build trust in the findings.

Justification of Approach: The research methodology provides a rationale for the approach taken, including why certain methods and techniques were chosen and how they relate to the question for research.

Evidence of Rigor: A well-executed research methodology demonstrates the rigor and thoroughness of the study, which is important for establishing the credibility of the results.

Methodology vs. Methods

In rigorous academic and research contexts, there is a distinction between “methods” and “methodology.” However, outside of strict scholarly circles or in more informal discussions, there might be some overlapping use. The “methods” generally refer to the specific techniques or procedures, while “methodology” dives into the theoretical framework and rationale behind those techniques. It’s essential to use the terms correctly in formal academic and research writings to maintain clarity and precision.

Nevertheless, in many research papers, the specifics of the methods (the “how”) are the primary focus, and the theoretical rationale (the “why”) might be briefly touched upon within the same section.

Structure of the Methodology In A Research Paper

The Methods section typically begins with a brief overview of its contents and a reiteration of the research question. This is followed by a description of the participants, detailing their demographics, and how they were recruited. The materials or apparatus used are then specified, from tools to equipment, with any unique specifications highlighted.

The core of the Methods section is the procedure, a step-by-step account of the study, from experimental tasks to the sequence of operations. This is complemented by an explanation of the experimental design, where the type of research design is described, along with the variables involved. Detailed accounts of how data was gathered, whether through surveys, interviews, or other methods, are provided, ensuring the reader understands the data collection nuances.

Critical to the credibility of the study is the section on statistical analysis, which reveals how data was processed, what statistical tests were used, and the software or tools employed. If the research involved humans or animals, the ethical considerations section becomes pivotal. Here, measures taken to ensure participants’ rights, confidentiality, and informed consent are documented. Towards the end, the limitations of the study are discussed, providing insights into potential biases or constraints faced during the research process. The section wraps up with a brief recap, emphasizing the methods’ role in ensuring the study’s integrity and reproducibility.

According to APA style, there are three major subsections to report here: participants, apparatus, and procedure.


This segment reports the characteristics of the participants involved in the experiment, the method of sampling, and the sample size.

  • Characteristics

This details the demography of the respondents that may be relevant to the experiment. This includes but is not limited to age, gender, ethnicity or race, religion, level of education, socioeconomic status, origin of the population, and any restrictions.


Fifty female undergraduate students between the ages of 19 and 23 participated in the experiment. All were sophomores in the Faculty of Engineering and native English speakers who lived on the university campus. The participants were separated into two groups of 25 students, each without any determining criteria. This study was conducted at the University of Alabama, USA.

  • Sampling Strategy

Identify the selection criteria and whether the sample was random or not. Include it if you have access to data informing the percentage of people invited to participate and how many agreed. You should also report the selection mode; was it voluntary, or were the participants assigned to the study? Additionally, identify any compensation that was provided to participants.


The ethics board was petitioned, and approval was granted before the recruitment of participants commenced. All the female sophomores from the faculty of Engineering at the University of Alabama, USA, were invited to participate, and those who did were self-selected. In liaison with department heads, the students were offered additional credits in a faculty-wide course as compensation for their time.

  • Sample Size

Identify the sample size per group, the statistical power you aimed to attain, whether you could attain it, and the analyses you used to determine the figures you arrived at. You should also include whether the final sample you got was what you initially required.


The required power for this experiment to detect a 15% effect at a significance level of .08 was 75%. To achieve this, we needed 25 participants in each group. The final sample met these conditions.


This subsection describes the materials and apparatus used in the experiment. It calls for detailed information on all devices and techniques used to collate data, measure suitable variables, and reach analysis, including tests and surveys. You must include a proper count of the number of apparatus used, their names, model number, manufacturer, reliability, and validity. For surveys, including the meaning of the formats used and the number of questions asked.


A survey that consisted of 15 multiple-choice questions was carried out to determine the safety of female students on the school campus. The participants were asked to answer the questions using a 5-point grading system (1 = Extremely True and 5 = Extremely False).


This includes the conditions in which data was collated, instructions given to the participants, and data analysis methods.


The two groups of participants were placed in two different classrooms at individual desks and given 10 minutes to answer the questions. They were instructed to give the first answers they thought of without thinking too deeply. Each group had a supervisor attached to it.

Writing a research paper requires a great deal of skill and knowledge, so if you need help compiling the Methods section of your paper, consider using a professional coursework writing service to help you.

Advice On How to Write the Methods Section

You already know the relevance of the Methods part to your research paper. Additionally, you must adhere to formatting guidelines specific for your field.

If you cannot write according to standards, you can use a research paper writing service to get good results. Go for one with good reviews and a super online reputation.

Here are some more tips for a concise and meticulously written Methodology:

  • Method Introduction: Begin the section on methodology by introducing the methods used in the research. Provide a brief overview of the research design and the data collection and analysis techniques used.
  • Methodological Connection: Establish the connection between the methodology and the research query.
  • Instrument Introduction: Introduce the instruments used to assemble data, such as surveys, interviews, or observation. Provide a brief description of each instrument and how it will be used in the study.
  • Analysis Discussion: Discuss the analysis techniques used to analyze the data collected. Explain how the data will be organized, coded, and analyzed to address the research query.
  • Background Information: Provide background information about the methodology and the relevant literature. Explain how the methodology fits into the broader context of the research area and what it contributes to the current understanding of the topic.
  • Sampling Process: Discuss the sampling process used in the study. Explain how the sample was selected, what criteria were used, and how the samples taken were determined.
  • Limitations: It was required to discuss any research constraints in the past tense, such as limited sample sizes, issues with the data collection process, or issues with the analysis methods employed. Researchers had to explain how these constraints might have affected the study’s findings and conclusions.

Methods and Results Should Match

In the Methods section, the results obtained should be discussed based on the experimental procedures used. Explain the methodology behind the techniques used to acquire all the observations and results of the experiment in the right order. You can create a detailed flowchart or block flow diagram (BFD) to easily describe the complexities of the study and its procedures to the reader.

Preparing the Statistical Methods Subsection

The statistical analysis subsection comes at the end of the Methods section. It includes a thorough description of the analyzed data to arrive at the results and conclusion. Due to its technicality, it might be a little difficult and daunting to write. If this is the case, you can get the statistician who participated in the study to write it.

Here, you must indicate all the data variables, including the control variables, dependent and independent variables, and any potentially irrelevant variables that could affect your results and conclusion. Specify the exact tests carried out on the different types of data you have, the requirements you tested, like distribution normality, and all assumptions you initially applied.

You should also include all data alterations, possible mix-ups, confidence intervals or significance levels used, techniques for data analysis, and ensuing statistical tests that were employed. Furthermore, specify any criteria particular to the experiment, like set baselines and any specific software used to conduct the statistical analysis.

The Style of the Methodology

As mentioned earlier, it aims to explain how and why the experiment was carried out so that readers can understand it and possibly repeat the procedure.

Therefore, it is essential to be aware of your audience so you can modify your writing based on what they know and explain technical terms where necessary. If you are finding it difficult to write in the appropriate style, you can buy a research paper written by writers. You can find these writers on several platforms for college essays.

The methodology should read as though you describe the experiment to your reader. For this reason, it should be worded in third-person constructs and a passive voice. For example, you should use “We carried out a survey” and not “I carried out a survey.” Since the experiment has already been carried out, you must write the entire section in the past tense.

Key Information to Include in Methodology

Now you know what the Methods section is, what information must be included in this segment of your paper? Here’s a summary of the things you need to include:

  • Literature review. The sources that helped in the methods are cited under this heading.
  • Research participants. This includes all information about the study participants, including compensations, mode of selection, and demographics.
  • Criteria for inclusion or exclusion include the factors determining what participants were eliminated and why.
  • Grouping conditions are the factors determining the subgrouping of the chosen participants.
  • Procedures. These are the conditions under which the experiment was carried out.
  • Materials and apparatus. These include all devices, equipment, reliability, and validity.
  • Statistical analysis. This is detailed information about the data, measured and analyzed, and the tests carried out.

Helping Hand in Writing Methodology Chapter

It can be challenging for researchers to adequately describe their study methodologies and strategies when writing the methodology chapter of a research report. Organizing and presenting complex material, retaining clarity and conciseness, and describing technical processes or approaches are among the usual difficulties.

To overcome these challenges, researchers can consider seeking feedback from peers, utilizing a https://papersowl.com/ or editor, and thoroughly reviewing and revising their methodology chapter multiple times. With the help of an essay writing service, you can ensure that your research paper is accurate and successful.


Which information is not included in the methodology section of a research article?

The section on the methodology of a research article typically does not include detailed data analysis or results, as these are typically presented in separate sections of the scientific paper. The methodology section is primarily focused on describing the research proposal and techniques used to collect and analyze data.

Where does the research methodology section go in a research paper?

Its placement and presentation can vary depending on the format or style of the paper, but in most traditional research papers, it’s located after the introduction and literature review sections.

What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative methods?

To write a research methodology for a study, it is important to consider the experimental research methods and determine whether a qualitative or quantitative approach is more appropriate. On the other hand, if a qualitative approach is chosen, the methodology should outline the steps involved in collecting and analyzing non-numerical data, including the research design, the selection of participants, and the techniques for data analysis, such as coding or thematic analysis.
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