How to Justify Your Methods in a Thesis or Dissertation
  • 4-minute read
  • 1st May 2023

How to Justify Your Methods in a Thesis or Dissertation

Writing a thesis or dissertation is hard work. You’ve devoted countless hours to your research, and you want your results to be taken seriously. But how does your professor or evaluating committee know that they can trust your results? You convince them by justifying your research methods.

What Does Justifying Your Methods Mean?

In simple terms, your methods are the tools you use to obtain your data, and the justification (which is also called the methodology) is the analysis of those tools. In your justification, your goal is to demonstrate that your research is both rigorously conducted and replicable so your audience recognizes that your results are legitimate.

The formatting and structure of your justification will depend on your field of study and your institution’s requirements, but below, we’ve provided questions to ask yourself as you outline your justification.

Why Did You Choose Your Method of Gathering Data?

Does your study rely on quantitative data, qualitative data, or both? Certain types of data work better for certain studies. How did you choose to gather that data? Evaluate your approach to collecting data in light of your research question. Did you consider any alternative approaches? If so, why did you decide not to use them? Highlight the pros and cons of various possible methods if necessary. Research results aren’t valid unless the data are valid, so you have to convince your reader that they are.

How Did You Evaluate Your Data?

Collecting your data was only the first part of your study. Once you had them, how did you use them? Do your results involve cross-referencing? If so, how was this accomplished? Which statistical analyses did you run, and why did you choose them? Are they common in your field? How did you make sure your data were statistically significant? Is your effect size small, medium, or large? Numbers don’t always lend themselves to an obvious outcome. Here, you want to provide a clear link between the Methods and Results sections of your paper.

Did You Use Any Unconventional Approaches in Your Study?

Most fields have standard approaches to the research they use, but these approaches don’t work for every project. Did you use methods that other fields normally use, or did you need to come up with a different way of obtaining your data? Your reader will look at unconventional approaches with a more critical eye. Acknowledge the limitations of your method, but explain why the strengths of the method outweigh those limitations.

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What Relevant Sources Can You Cite?

You can strengthen your justification by referencing existing research in your field. Citing these references can demonstrate that you’ve followed established practices for your type of research. Or you can discuss how you decided on your approach by evaluating other studies. Highlight the use of established techniques, tools, and measurements in your study. If you used an unconventional approach, justify it by providing evidence of a gap in the existing literature.

Two Final Tips:

●  When you’re writing your justification, write for your audience. Your purpose here is to provide more than a technical list of details and procedures. This section should focus more on the why and less on the how.

●  Consider your methodology as you’re conducting your research. Take thorough notes as you work to make sure you capture all the necessary details correctly. Eliminating any possible confusion or ambiguity will go a long way toward helping your justification.

In Conclusion:

Your goal in writing your justification is to explain not only the decisions you made but also the reasoning behind those decisions. It should be overwhelmingly clear to your audience that your study used the best possible methods to answer your research question. Properly justifying your methods will let your audience know that your research was effective and its results are valid.

Want more writing tips? Check out Proofed’s Writing Tips and Academic Writing Tips blogs. And once you’ve written your thesis or dissertation, consider sending it to us. Our editors will be happy to check your grammar, spelling, and punctuation to make sure your document is the best it can be. Check out our services for free.

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