It also means articulating the various viewpoints of the issue. The key to the investigative essay is to begin with a legitimate question to research. Doing this allows you to keep an open mind throughout the process.
On the other hand, if you choose an issue which you have already made up your mind about, objectivity may be lost. Topic Selection As mentioned above, you should pick a topic that you have not already made up your mind about. In addition, it is also important that the topic be current, debatable, researchable and manageable. A current topic is one that has not been overdebated and is still being decided by society. Most writers and readers are sick of topics that have been debated for years: abortion, the death penalty, the legalization of marijuana, etc.
For instance, if you propose to conduct interviews, how do you intend to select the sample population? If you are analyzing texts, which texts have you chosen, and why? If you are using statistics, why is this set of data being used? If other data sources exist, explain why the data you chose is most appropriate to addressing the research problem. Describe potential limitations. Are there any practical limitations that could affect your data collection?
How will you attempt to control for potential confounding variables and errors? If your methodology may lead to problems you can anticipate, state this openly and show why pursuing this methodology outweighs the risk of these problems cropping up. The description of how you prepared to study the research problem, how you gathered the data, and the protocol for analyzing the data should be organized chronologically. For clarity, when a large amount of detail must be presented, information should be presented in sub-sections according to topic.
ANOTHER NOTE: If you are conducting a qualitative analysis of a research problem, the methodology section generally requires a more elaborate description of the methods used as well as an explanation of the processes applied to gathering and analyzing of data than is generally required for studies using quantitative methods. Because you are the primary instrument for generating the data, the process for collecting that data has a significantly greater impact on producing the findings.
Therefore, qualitative research requires a more detailed description of the methods used. If this is the case, you must include a statement in your methods section that you received official endorsement and adequate informed consent from the IRB and that there was a clear assessment and minimization of risks to participants and to the university.
This statement informs the reader that your study was conducted in an ethical and responsible manner. In some cases, the IRB approval notice is included as an appendix to your paper. Problems to Avoid Irrelevant Detail The methodology section of your paper should be thorough but to the point.
Do not provide any background information that does not directly help the reader understand why a particular method was chosen, how the data was gathered or obtained, and how the data was analyzed in relation to the research problem [note: analyzed, not interpreted!
Save how you interpreted the findings for the discussion section]. With this in mind, the page length of your methods section will generally be less than any other section of your paper except the conclusion.
Unnecessary Explanation of Basic Procedures Remember that you are not writing a how-to guide about a particular method. You should make the assumption that readers possess a basic understanding of how to investigate the research problem on their own and, therefore, you do not have to go into great detail about specific methodological procedures.
The focus should be on how you applied a method, not on the mechanics of doing a method. An exception to this rule is if you select an unconventional methodological approach; if this is the case, be sure to explain why this approach was chosen and how it enhances the overall process of discovery. Problem Blindness It is almost a given that you will encounter problems when collecting or generating your data, or, gaps will exist in existing data or archival materials. Do not ignore these problems or pretend they did not occur.
Often, documenting how you overcame obstacles can form an interesting part of the methodology. It demonstrates to the reader that you can provide a cogent rationale for the decisions you made to minimize the impact of any problems that arose.
Literature Review Just as the literature review section of your paper provides an overview of sources you have examined while researching a particular topic, the methodology section should cite any sources that informed your choice and application of a particular method [i.
A description of a research study's method should not be confused with a description of the sources of information. Such a list of sources is useful in and of itself, especially if it is accompanied by an explanation about the selection and use of the sources. The description of the project's methodology complements a list of sources in that it sets forth the organization and interpretation of information emanating from those sources.
Azevedo, L. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers , pp. Structuring Your Research Thesis. Methods Section. Writing Center. For example, sometimes you need to do just a bit of background research and reading before you can develop a research question.
Sometimes you need to go back and find additional sources to corroborate your viewpoint. The research writing steps that we offer represent a general, ideal, movement through the research writing process. In reality, writers often repeat or circle back as needed.
Interpretive methods allow you to recognize your connection to the phenomena under investigation. It's also not efficient to do too much research before you really know what you're looking for. A good strategy is to break the literature into "conceptual categories" [themes] rather than systematically describing groups of materials one at a time. The method must be appropriate to fulfilling the overall aims of the study.
Bryman, Alan. If necessary, print out documents and literally cut and paste scissors and tape them together by heading. Another is to use note cards to organize your notes. A current topic is one that has not been overdebated and is still being decided by society. The next stage is editing. Examples from various disciplines[ edit ] It is probably worth noting that the above examples are probably a bit too simple to be reppresentative of actual thesis statements, but the following are examples of reasonable thesis statements one might use to address a wide variety of topics and for a variety of purposes: 1.
It also means articulating the various viewpoints of the issue. No matter whichever one you choose to use, you must be consistent throughout your essay. You points are: 1 Zeus had parents, he did not always exist 2 Zeus is lusty and often pursues women 3 Zeus gets angry and exhibits his anger through behavior 4 Zeus has an ego 5 Zeus has the ability to show compassion 6 Zeus can be disloyal Your job now is to discuss each of your points in more detail and use contextual evidence to support the main points. A description of a research study's method should not be confused with a description of the sources of information.
Why do you want to do it? How are you going to do it? Compare and Contrast. Part 1, Chapter 3. In addition, it is also important that the topic be current, debatable, researchable and manageable. Literature Review Just as the literature review section of your paper provides an overview of sources you have examined while researching a particular topic, the methodology section should cite any sources that informed your choice and application of a particular method [i.
In other words, the writer needs to be able to find unbiased research performed by qualified individuals to help answer the initial question. Methodology refers to a discussion of the underlying reasoning why particular methods were used. Don't just describe what you intend to achieve from applying the methods you choose, but state how you will spend your time while applying these methods [e.
The description of how you prepared to study the research problem, how you gathered the data, and the protocol for analyzing the data should be organized chronologically. Main points[ edit ] The main points of your argument will be contained in the body of your paper. Thus, the objective here is to convince the reader that your overall research design and methods of analysis will correctly address the problem and that the methods will provide the means to effectively interpret the potential results. In short, your introduction is your time to ease your readers into your topic and let them know what it is you are going to tell them about it. What is disturbing, insightful, interesting, revealing about the visual argument purpose?
In this way, you will feel a little disoriented and will be able to catch more mistakes. What exactly should I plan to do, and can I get it done in the time available?