Tips When Writing the Methods Section of a Research Paper

This part of a scientific text describes the study that was conducted. If you want to learn how to write the methods section, it is necessary to learn how to write about an experiment in the APA formatting style. This section has its place in the text to ensure the results are valid. Be careful to apply only the past tense and that the experiment has already been conducted.

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

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

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The Structure of the Methods Section in a Research Paper

The structure of the ‘methods’ section in APA style is logical 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 examples of the 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:

  1. Age
  2. Race
  3. Gender
  4. 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’ is preferred in APA style.



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

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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 an analysis, including computers, tests, etc. Every psychological test usually has got an inventor, do not forget to mention the name while writing the methods section.

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 of the format (what the high and low results mean)
  • The reliability of the materials
  • Describe the process if you have created your own measure



The participants were asked to pass a 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 effects 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. State the instructions that were given to the participants.



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

  1. Use the active voice and avoid complicated and fused sentences.
  2. In APA the title ‘Method’ must be centralized. The sub-sections ‘Participants,’ ‘Materials,’ and ‘Procedure’ have to be on the left side and written in italics.
  3. There can be more subsections, like ‘Design,’ ‘Apparatus’, etc. Add them if needed.
  4. Apply the proper APA style of referencing to all resources mentioned.
  5. Be sure to place only relevant information as you will use it in your 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 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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