How to Write a Research Methods Paper: Hints for Beginners
The methodology section is the core part of a research paper. It should analyze how the data was collected, organized and what scientific methods were used. The validity of your study is evaluated based on this section. Here is a guide on how to write a research methods paper for beginners, who often find it challenging to present a large amount of details clearly and logically in sub-sections.
- Compose an introduction. You must provide clear, concise and at the same time reasonable information on how a particular experiment of a study was done, so that the audience would be able to repeat it and then judge if your results are reasonable.
- Describe the basic research concepts. You should start by establishing the cause-effect relationships between the variables of the experiment and developing a study design, which is a strategy to control and manipulate those variables. Credibility and validity of the study are measured by the degree to which the outcome can be applied to a general population of interest. The validity depends on the effectiveness of the conclusions drawn from the experiment (internal validity) and if the results can be generalized (external validity).
- Define the focus of the content. The methods section traditionally focuses on two basic areas: materials and methods. The first term refers to the examined subject and the second - to the way in which the object or subject was manipulated in order to analyze the details and answer the experimental question.
- Choose the structure of the methods section. To avoid confusion in a complex scientific research paper it is necessary to write it according to an orderly structure. You can consequently describe what materials were used, how they were prepared, explain how the measurements and calculations were made and state what tests were done to analyze the data.
- Take care of your writing style. When writing a research paper you should avoid unimportant details. Start by creating the initial draft and then a subsequent one, where you focus on the structure and figure out a way to present the data as clearly and logically as possible. Try presenting the facts chronologically and precisely in the past tense.
- Clarify the protocol design. The description of sequence manipulations of independent variable and measurement of the changes in the dependent variable make up the research protocol. Some of the assumptions made during the procedures might be not obvious to the audience and should be explained in detail.
- Summarize the written. It is crucial to sum up precisely how the experiment was done in order to make the paper look valid to the reader.
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