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But you should resist the temptation to include the following in your dissertation methodology, even if they seem to belong there quite naturally: When you start your dissertation project, you may already have some broad ideas about the methodology you want to use.
In particular, it's vitally important that your dissertation methodology shows an appreciation of the historical and cultural contexts of the theoretical frameworks you use, especially where there's fundamental disagreement between theorists.
If you use the work of theorists from differing or even opposing schools of thought to support your readings, your methodology section should show a clear understanding of how these schools of thought disagree and a justification of why there are nevertheless aspects of each approach that you've decided to use in your own work.
In addition to answering all these questions, you must satisfy your reader that you have considered all the ethical questions associated with your research.
Part of this, of course, entails obtaining sign-off for your design from the appropriate ethics bodies, but even then there might be aspects of your study – inviting subjects to relive episodes of grief and trauma, for instance, or broaching culturally sensitive matters within a particular target group – that some readers could consider contentious or problematic.
However, if you're writing an arts or humanities dissertation the way in which you convey this rigour – and convince your audience of it - is a little different.
The methodology section in an arts or humanities dissertation is likely to be much more closely linked to the literature review than a scientific or social sciences study; even the most innovative dissertation in the arts or humanities typically involves applying X's theories in a new context, or combining X and Y's insights to yield a new theoretical framework.Will you be conducting recorded interviews with your subjects, asking them to complete a written questionnaire, or observing them undertaking some activity or other?Or will you avoid doing your own research with human subjects at all, and base your research on documentary evidence or a pre-existing data set? Is there reason to believe it can be generalised to other contexts, or is it highly specific to the particular location or cultural context in which you conducted your research?Remember that a scholar might use any single part of your methodology as a departure point for their own work; they might follow your experiment design but choose a different model for analysing the results, or vice versa!A study in the social or behavioural sciences As with a scientific study, a social or behavioural sciences methodology needs to demonstrate both rigour and reproducibility, allowing another researcher to reproduce your study in whole or in part for their own ends.No part of your dissertation should be hermetically sealed off from the others, and there will undoubtedly be some overlap between your methodology and literature review section, for example.You might even find yourself moving material back and forth between sections during edits.A creative arts dissertation Many programmes in the arts offer the option of completing a creative rather than critical dissertation; that is, of submitting a piece of creative writing or a portfolio of artworks, rather than an extended critical project, for the dissertation component of the programme.However, in virtually all cases, your creative project must be accompanied by a substantial critical essay (or introduction, or commentary) that theorises your creative practice.If you're completing a postgraduate dissertation, the chances are you already have a broad awareness of the different theoretical positions and schools of thought in your field, and you may well have a good idea of the schools of thought with which you most closely identify (and, just as importantly, those you don't identify with).If you're writing an undergraduate dissertation, this may very well be the first time you've been asked to engage with such a broad field of literature, and categorising this into distinct approaches and schools of thought may seem like an overwhelming task at first.