When preparing a research study for publication, there are several standard sections that should be included. An empirical study article should include an abstract, an introduction, a discussion of the methodology employed, a statement of the results, a conclusion, and a list of references. This series will address each of those sections and provide suggestions for preparing each section of the study.
The methodology section of a research study explains to the reader how the study was conducted. It is similar to the methodology section of a research proposal, but in the study write-up, this section explains what actually was done rather than what was intended to be done. Methods employed in the study may be qualitative, quantitative, or a mixture of both. In any case, the reader should be able to clearly determine how the study was conducted and, should he or she be so inclined, be able to duplicate the study in identical, similar, or deliberately different circumstances.
The methodology section should clearly discuss the population sample. The population sample should be richly described with appropriate descriptive statistics and language. The means for selecting the members of the sample should be indicated, and any bias that could result from the selection methods should be identified. In addition, the researcher should identify any assumptions made when determining the selection methods. These statements of potential biases and assumptions should be accompanied with information regarding how they influenced the study.
The procedures for collecting the data must also be clearly explained. Whether using qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methodology, it is important for the reader to know how the data was gathered. Again, bias or assumptions could influence the data collection, so the reader needs to be assured that all reasonable precautions were taken to mitigate these influences. In addition, a clear description of the data collection procedures allows for future duplication of the study by other researchers.
Finally, if any other procedures were used during the study such as specific means of administering a survey instrument or tools for randomization of study participants, these should be identified and explained to the reader.
A well-crafted methodology section of an empirical study can provide the reader with a good understanding of the methods used in the study and help to assure that the procedures used were those commonly accepted as scholarly in the discipline of the study.