Activity 5: Outline Your Method

It is in your methodology chapter that you will explain your approach to your research and the design that you have chosen.  You’ll need to outline your methods and analysis, and what you actually did in the research – people, places, materials, etc. You’ll also need to explain how you have addressed ethical issues (if any).
Use the subheadings in the column on the left to help you draft a chapter.




Justify the approach you have taken:

  • Why have you decided to adopt an interpretivist stance or an objectivist stance?
  • Why have you adopted this particular design frame?

Account for the decisions you have made, compare those decisions with possible alternatives.


(including you)

Outline your sample:

  • What was the population you took the sample from and why did you choose this population?
  • Did you try to take a representative sample and how was it collected?
  • Or did you look at a single person, giving a day-in-the-life case history? If so, account for why you chose this person.

If you are working in an interpretivist frame, explain your own positionality.

  • How did you get access to your research participants? Were there any problems? How did you overcome them?


  • Spell out how you have been addressing ethical issues since you started considering them (see Chapter 2)
  • Explain what steps you have taken to ensure that you are working within ethical guidelines

Data gathering and materials used

Explain your use of data-gathering tools (see Chapter 7):

  • Tests – which ones, and why?
  • Questionnaires – including information on response rates and whether you followed up non-respondents. Explain your choice of questions, and, if appropriate, how you piloted them. How did you deal with problems of non-response?
  • Interviews – structured, semi-structured or unstructured? Why? Explain your use of any interview schedule, and the use of probes. Explain your choice of questions and how your recorded interview data: audio, video, written notes?
  • Focus groups
  • Observation – structured, unstructured or participant observation? Include full details.
  • Diary – what form?
  • Images – photos, cartoons, video, graffiti, etc? Why?
  • Documents
  • Official statistics, etc. (see Chapter 7)

Describe and defend your choice of data gathering instrument, accounting for why you chose this rather than that technique.


Explain what you asked your participants to do

Explain how and when you used your instruments for data gathering:

  • What steps were taken, and in what order?


Explain your choice of analytical methods (see Chapter 8):

  • Constant comparative method
  • Thick description
  • Software such as NVivo
  • Particular statistical tests

Discuss validity and reliability and outline how triangulation has played its part, if appropriate

Discuss your coding of your informants’ responses, if necessary