Dissertation Help: Get Started By Writing Chapter Three – Your Methodology

In the United States, there are reputedly 60% PhD, ABD or all but dissertation. While this may be a travesty of the higher education world, it is a personal failure as well. How disappointing for a doctoral student, to spend upwards of $45,000 and then not to be able to claim a degree or its benefits at the end. This article is written to give dissertation help to those who may be close to finished, but still struggling with writing the actual document for their doctoral dissertation. The starting point here is the three chapter dissertation proposal, assuming that getting to the proposal stage is a blockage. Another article will be written for those stuck finishing up after they have collected data.

Okay, you’ve read tons of literature on your subject, you finished your classes, and now you have to pay to get the proposal ready so you can do your research. It has been my experience that chapter 3, the methodology chapter, is usually the hang up. Why not just be brave and write it first? This will also prove to be a good strategy because everything in chapter 2 needs to support chapter 3. Therefore economy of time can be had by starting at the end of the three chapter proposal and working backwards.

Writing methodology really amounts to sorting through a number of choices and applying them to your particular circumstance. What do you want to study? What questions emerge from that topic as being the most interesting and the least covered in the literature? Who are available to give you data that will answer your questions? As long as you have general answers to these questions you should be able to put together a solid methods chapter. Do you need to gather information from a large group? Probably quantitative options will work for you. Do you need to understand the human feelings or decision points involved in your topic? Then you need to employ qualitative methods. Perhaps first you need one and then the other? Consider whether you have the time it takes and then do a sequential mixed methods study. Many texts will outline your choices, but I recommend Creswell (2009), Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches as a great text to help you make your choices, and to give you the words you will need to back up your ideas in your defense.

Once that is decided the rest is more or less filling in the blanks. Pull out your headings, either proscribed by your university or cobbled together by you from dissertations that you have read and liked. There are many resources including books on the subject of dissertation writing, research methodologies, and web-based articles such as these to help you. Look at your dissertation models to see what kinds of information go in each section and then apply that to your study. A draft of the whole chapter should be complete fairly quickly and then you can show it to your colleagues, your editor, or your advisor, as is appropriate in your situation.

Once written, there are some considerations that will come into play as you fine tune your work. How do the questions you are asking relate to the topics you are considering for discussion in your review of literature? Put another way, when you consider what other researchers have done before you, what are the key themes and are you asking questions that develop from that work? Who has influenced your ideas? How are those ideas put into motion as you query your subjects? There will need to be a correspondence between what you discuss in chapter 2 – this will be covered in the next article in this series.

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