45 Summary

The methods section briefly communicates the vital work that takes place behind the scenes of the final write-up. It outlines how the evidence was found and why that way of searching after the method was chosen. If done correctly, other capable researchers should be able to repeat your study exactly, helping to determine that your findings were not merely an invention of the imagination, but an observation that can be shared by anyone who follows your procedures. This type of communication thus aims to share and confirm a truth between researchers, not merely by an attitude of agreement, but through common observation of the evidence.

We suggested that this communicative task is best executed by breaking it down into five components: (1) summary of the method, including its merits and limits; (2) discussion of the nature of your data through outlining the pertinent demographics of your participants or the attributes of your artifacts; (3) discussion of the instruments and measures used to find and evaluate your data; (4) outline of the procedure, what actually took place to gather and organize your data; and (5) the analysis, which states how you began to make sense of what you found, a crucial lead in to your findings. By avoiding going into detail about the myriad of potential methods the social sciences use, we hoped to create a general guide of the communicative tasks for any method, a foundation to help you structure the methods section for your niche research. In the following chapters, we will attempt to do similarly. The sections on data collection, analysis, and discussion offer practical guidelines for organizing and writing each section, all while citing further resources to explore for each niche.


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Practicing and Presenting Social Research by Oral Robinson and Alexander Wilson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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