Dissertations & projects: Literature-based projects

  • Research questions
  • The process of reviewing
  • Project management
  • Literature-based projects

On these pages:

“As a general rule, the introduction is usually around 5 to 10 per cent of the word limit; each chapter around 15 to 25 per cent; and the conclusion around 5 per cent.” Bryan Greetham, How to Write Your Undergraduate Dissertation

This page gives guidance on the structure of a literature-based project.   That is, a project where the data is found in existing literature rather than found through primary research. They may also include information from primary sources such as original documents or other sources.

How to structure a literature-based project

The structure of a literature-based dissertation is usually thematic, but make sure to check with your supervisor to make sure you are abiding by your department’s project specifications. A typical literature-based dissertation will be broken up into the following sections:

Abstract or summary

Acknowledgments, contents page, introduction.

  • Literature Review

Themed Chapters

  • Bibliography

Use this basic structure as your document plan . Remember that you do not need to write it in the order it will finally be written in. 

For more advice on managing the order of your project, see our section on Project Management.   

If you use the template provided on our Formatting page, you will see that it already has a title page included. You just need to fill in the appropriate boxes by typing or choosing from the drop-down-lists. The information you need to provide is: 

Title page

  • Type of assignment (thesis, dissertation or independent project)
  • Partial or full fulfilment information
  • Subject area
  • Your name (and previous qualifications if applicable)
  • Month and year of submission

This may not always be required - check with your tutor.

Abstract - single page, one paragraph

  • It is  independent  of the rest of the report - it is a mini-report, which needs to make sense completely on its own.
  • References should  not  be included.
  • Nothing should appear in the abstract that is not in the rest of the report.
  • Usually between 200-300 words.
  • Write as a  single  paragraph.

It is recommended that you write your abstract  after  your report.

Contents page with list of headings and page numbers

If you choose not to use the template, then you will need to go through the document after it is written and create list showing which heading is on which page of your document.

Purpose: To thank those who were directly involved in your work .

  • Do not confuse the acknowledgements section with a dedication - this is not where you thank your friends and relatives unless they have helped you with your manuscript.
  • Acknowledgments are about courtesy, where you thank those who were directly involved in your work, or were involved in supporting your work (technicians, tutors, other students, financial support etc).
  • This section tends to be  very brief , a few lines at the most. Identify those who provided you with the most support, and thank them appropriately.
  • At the very least, make sure you acknowledge your supervisor!!

Purpose: To state the research problem, provide justification for your research questions and explain your methodology and main findings.

dissertation methodology literature based

  • Explain what the problem you will be addressing is, what your research questions are, and why they will help address the issue.
  • Explain your basic methodology
  • Define the scope of the dissertation, explaining any limitations.
  • Layout the structure of the dissertation, taking the reader through each section and providing any key definitions.
  • Very briefly describe what your main findings are - but leave the detail for the sections below.

It is good practice to come back to the introduction after you have finished writing up the rest of the document to ensure it sets the appropriately scene for subsequent sections.

Background Literature Review

This may be part of your introduction - check what your supervisor advises.

Purpose: Positions your project within the wider literature. Justifies your research questions

As you are undertaking a literature-based project, it can seem odd to include a separate literature review - and indeed some supervisors may suggest it is not necessary. However, most will have a section, either as a separate chapter, or as part of the introduction, that:

  • Provides a background to your study
  • Shows where your study fits within the existing literature
  • Justifies your research questions and methods (your search strategy etc).  

For more advice on writing a literature review see the Literature Review pages on this guide.

Purpose: To present the themes you have identified in your research and explain how they contribute to answering your research questions

You will typically have 3-5 themed chapters. Each one should contain:

  • An introduction to the theme - what things it means and what it incorporates.
  • How the theme was addressed within the literature - this should be analytical not just descriptive.
  • A conclusion which shows how the theme relates to the research question(s).

Ensuring your themed chapters flow

Choosing the order of your theme chapters is an important part of the structure to your project. For example, if you study History and your project covers a topic that develops over a large time period, it may be best to order each chapter chronologically. Other subjects may have a natural narrative running through the themes. Think about how your reader will be able to follow along with your overall argument.

Although each chapter must be dedicated to a particular theme, it must link back to previous chapters and flow into the following chapter. You need to ensure they do not seem like they are unrelated to each other. There will be overlaps, mention these.

Some literature-based projects will focus on primary sources. If yours does, make sure primary sources are at the core of your paragraphs and chapters, and use secondary sources to expand and explore the theme further. 

Purpose: To present the conclusion that you have reached as a result of both the literature review and the analysis in your thematic chapters

Conclusion in separate chapter

A conclusion summarises all the points you have previously made and it  should not  include any evidence or topics you have not included in your introduction or main body. There should be no surprises.

It should be about 5-10% of your word limit so make sure you leave enough words to do it justice. There will be marks in the marking scheme specifically allocated to the strength of your conclusion which cannot be made up elsewhere.

Some conclusions will also include recommendations for practice or ideas for further research. Check with your supervisor to see if they are expecting either or both of these.

Appendices showing appendix 1, 2 etc

  • Questionnaires
  • Transcriptions
  • Correspondence

If you have information that you would like to include but are finding it disrupts the main body of text as its too cumbersome, or would distract from the main arguments of your dissertation, the information can be included in the appendix section. Each appendix should be focused on one item. 

Appendices  should not include any information that is key to your topic or overall argument. 

Reference list

dissertation methodology literature based

It is good practice to develop a reference list whilst  writing the project, rather than leaving it until the end. This prevents a lot of searching around trying to remember where you accessed a particular source. If using primary sources, it also allows you to monitor the balance between primary and secondary sources included in the project. There is software available to help manage your references and the university officially supports RefWorks and EndNote. 

For more advice on reference management, see our Skills Guide: Referencing Software

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  • What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips

What Is a Research Methodology? | Steps & Tips

Published on 25 February 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 10 October 2022.

Your research methodology discusses and explains the data collection and analysis methods you used in your research. A key part of your thesis, dissertation, or research paper, the methodology chapter explains what you did and how you did it, allowing readers to evaluate the reliability and validity of your research.

It should include:

  • The type of research you conducted
  • How you collected and analysed your data
  • Any tools or materials you used in the research
  • Why you chose these methods
  • Your methodology section should generally be written in the past tense .
  • Academic style guides in your field may provide detailed guidelines on what to include for different types of studies.
  • Your citation style might provide guidelines for your methodology section (e.g., an APA Style methods section ).

Table of contents

How to write a research methodology, why is a methods section important, step 1: explain your methodological approach, step 2: describe your data collection methods, step 3: describe your analysis method, step 4: evaluate and justify the methodological choices you made, tips for writing a strong methodology chapter, frequently asked questions about methodology.

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Your methods section is your opportunity to share how you conducted your research and why you chose the methods you chose. It’s also the place to show that your research was rigorously conducted and can be replicated .

It gives your research legitimacy and situates it within your field, and also gives your readers a place to refer to if they have any questions or critiques in other sections.

You can start by introducing your overall approach to your research. You have two options here.

Option 1: Start with your “what”

What research problem or question did you investigate?

  • Aim to describe the characteristics of something?
  • Explore an under-researched topic?
  • Establish a causal relationship?

And what type of data did you need to achieve this aim?

  • Quantitative data , qualitative data , or a mix of both?
  • Primary data collected yourself, or secondary data collected by someone else?
  • Experimental data gathered by controlling and manipulating variables, or descriptive data gathered via observations?

Option 2: Start with your “why”

Depending on your discipline, you can also start with a discussion of the rationale and assumptions underpinning your methodology. In other words, why did you choose these methods for your study?

  • Why is this the best way to answer your research question?
  • Is this a standard methodology in your field, or does it require justification?
  • Were there any ethical considerations involved in your choices?
  • What are the criteria for validity and reliability in this type of research ?

Once you have introduced your reader to your methodological approach, you should share full details about your data collection methods .

Quantitative methods

In order to be considered generalisable, you should describe quantitative research methods in enough detail for another researcher to replicate your study.

Here, explain how you operationalised your concepts and measured your variables. Discuss your sampling method or inclusion/exclusion criteria, as well as any tools, procedures, and materials you used to gather your data.

Surveys Describe where, when, and how the survey was conducted.

  • How did you design the questionnaire?
  • What form did your questions take (e.g., multiple choice, Likert scale )?
  • Were your surveys conducted in-person or virtually?
  • What sampling method did you use to select participants?
  • What was your sample size and response rate?

Experiments Share full details of the tools, techniques, and procedures you used to conduct your experiment.

  • How did you design the experiment ?
  • How did you recruit participants?
  • How did you manipulate and measure the variables ?
  • What tools did you use?

Existing data Explain how you gathered and selected the material (such as datasets or archival data) that you used in your analysis.

  • Where did you source the material?
  • How was the data originally produced?
  • What criteria did you use to select material (e.g., date range)?

The survey consisted of 5 multiple-choice questions and 10 questions measured on a 7-point Likert scale.

The goal was to collect survey responses from 350 customers visiting the fitness apparel company’s brick-and-mortar location in Boston on 4–8 July 2022, between 11:00 and 15:00.

Here, a customer was defined as a person who had purchased a product from the company on the day they took the survey. Participants were given 5 minutes to fill in the survey anonymously. In total, 408 customers responded, but not all surveys were fully completed. Due to this, 371 survey results were included in the analysis.

Qualitative methods

In qualitative research , methods are often more flexible and subjective. For this reason, it’s crucial to robustly explain the methodology choices you made.

Be sure to discuss the criteria you used to select your data, the context in which your research was conducted, and the role you played in collecting your data (e.g., were you an active participant, or a passive observer?)

Interviews or focus groups Describe where, when, and how the interviews were conducted.

  • How did you find and select participants?
  • How many participants took part?
  • What form did the interviews take ( structured , semi-structured , or unstructured )?
  • How long were the interviews?
  • How were they recorded?

Participant observation Describe where, when, and how you conducted the observation or ethnography .

  • What group or community did you observe? How long did you spend there?
  • How did you gain access to this group? What role did you play in the community?
  • How long did you spend conducting the research? Where was it located?
  • How did you record your data (e.g., audiovisual recordings, note-taking)?

Existing data Explain how you selected case study materials for your analysis.

  • What type of materials did you analyse?
  • How did you select them?

In order to gain better insight into possibilities for future improvement of the fitness shop’s product range, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 8 returning customers.

Here, a returning customer was defined as someone who usually bought products at least twice a week from the store.

Surveys were used to select participants. Interviews were conducted in a small office next to the cash register and lasted approximately 20 minutes each. Answers were recorded by note-taking, and seven interviews were also filmed with consent. One interviewee preferred not to be filmed.

Mixed methods

Mixed methods research combines quantitative and qualitative approaches. If a standalone quantitative or qualitative study is insufficient to answer your research question, mixed methods may be a good fit for you.

Mixed methods are less common than standalone analyses, largely because they require a great deal of effort to pull off successfully. If you choose to pursue mixed methods, it’s especially important to robustly justify your methods here.

Next, you should indicate how you processed and analysed your data. Avoid going into too much detail: you should not start introducing or discussing any of your results at this stage.

In quantitative research , your analysis will be based on numbers. In your methods section, you can include:

  • How you prepared the data before analysing it (e.g., checking for missing data , removing outliers , transforming variables)
  • Which software you used (e.g., SPSS, Stata or R)
  • Which statistical tests you used (e.g., two-tailed t test , simple linear regression )

In qualitative research, your analysis will be based on language, images, and observations (often involving some form of textual analysis ).

Specific methods might include:

  • Content analysis : Categorising and discussing the meaning of words, phrases and sentences
  • Thematic analysis : Coding and closely examining the data to identify broad themes and patterns
  • Discourse analysis : Studying communication and meaning in relation to their social context

Mixed methods combine the above two research methods, integrating both qualitative and quantitative approaches into one coherent analytical process.

Above all, your methodology section should clearly make the case for why you chose the methods you did. This is especially true if you did not take the most standard approach to your topic. In this case, discuss why other methods were not suitable for your objectives, and show how this approach contributes new knowledge or understanding.

In any case, it should be overwhelmingly clear to your reader that you set yourself up for success in terms of your methodology’s design. Show how your methods should lead to results that are valid and reliable, while leaving the analysis of the meaning, importance, and relevance of your results for your discussion section .

  • Quantitative: Lab-based experiments cannot always accurately simulate real-life situations and behaviours, but they are effective for testing causal relationships between variables .
  • Qualitative: Unstructured interviews usually produce results that cannot be generalised beyond the sample group , but they provide a more in-depth understanding of participants’ perceptions, motivations, and emotions.
  • Mixed methods: Despite issues systematically comparing differing types of data, a solely quantitative study would not sufficiently incorporate the lived experience of each participant, while a solely qualitative study would be insufficiently generalisable.

Remember that your aim is not just to describe your methods, but to show how and why you applied them. Again, it’s critical to demonstrate that your research was rigorously conducted and can be replicated.

1. Focus on your objectives and research questions

The methodology section should clearly show why your methods suit your objectives  and convince the reader that you chose the best possible approach to answering your problem statement and research questions .

2. Cite relevant sources

Your methodology can be strengthened by referencing existing research in your field. This can help you to:

  • Show that you followed established practice for your type of research
  • Discuss how you decided on your approach by evaluating existing research
  • Present a novel methodological approach to address a gap in the literature

3. Write for your audience

Consider how much information you need to give, and avoid getting too lengthy. If you are using methods that are standard for your discipline, you probably don’t need to give a lot of background or justification.

Regardless, your methodology should be a clear, well-structured text that makes an argument for your approach, not just a list of technical details and procedures.

Methodology refers to the overarching strategy and rationale of your research. Developing your methodology involves studying the research methods used in your field and the theories or principles that underpin them, in order to choose the approach that best matches your objectives.

Methods are the specific tools and procedures you use to collect and analyse data (e.g. interviews, experiments , surveys , statistical tests ).

In a dissertation or scientific paper, the methodology chapter or methods section comes after the introduction and before the results , discussion and conclusion .

Depending on the length and type of document, you might also include a literature review or theoretical framework before the methodology.

Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.

Quantitative methods allow you to test a hypothesis by systematically collecting and analysing data, while qualitative methods allow you to explore ideas and experiences in depth.

A sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population. Sampling means selecting the group that you will actually collect data from in your research.

For example, if you are researching the opinions of students in your university, you could survey a sample of 100 students.

Statistical sampling allows you to test a hypothesis about the characteristics of a population. There are various sampling methods you can use to ensure that your sample is representative of the population as a whole.

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  • Dissertation

What Is a Dissertation? | Guide, Examples, & Template

Structure of a Dissertation

A dissertation is a long-form piece of academic writing based on original research conducted by you. It is usually submitted as the final step in order to finish a PhD program.

Your dissertation is probably the longest piece of writing you’ve ever completed. It requires solid research, writing, and analysis skills, and it can be intimidating to know where to begin.

Your department likely has guidelines related to how your dissertation should be structured. When in doubt, consult with your supervisor.

You can also download our full dissertation template in the format of your choice below. The template includes a ready-made table of contents with notes on what to include in each chapter, easily adaptable to your department’s requirements.

Download Word template Download Google Docs template

  • In the US, a dissertation generally refers to the collection of research you conducted to obtain a PhD.
  • In other countries (such as the UK), a dissertation often refers to the research you conduct to obtain your bachelor’s or master’s degree.

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Table of contents

Dissertation committee and prospectus process, how to write and structure a dissertation, acknowledgements or preface, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review, methodology, reference list, proofreading and editing, defending your dissertation, free checklist and lecture slides.

When you’ve finished your coursework, as well as any comprehensive exams or other requirements, you advance to “ABD” (All But Dissertation) status. This means you’ve completed everything except your dissertation.

Prior to starting to write, you must form your committee and write your prospectus or proposal . Your committee comprises your adviser and a few other faculty members. They can be from your own department, or, if your work is more interdisciplinary, from other departments. Your committee will guide you through the dissertation process, and ultimately decide whether you pass your dissertation defense and receive your PhD.

Your prospectus is a formal document presented to your committee, usually orally in a defense, outlining your research aims and objectives and showing why your topic is relevant . After passing your prospectus defense, you’re ready to start your research and writing.

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The structure of your dissertation depends on a variety of factors, such as your discipline, topic, and approach. Dissertations in the humanities are often structured more like a long essay , building an overall argument to support a central thesis , with chapters organized around different themes or case studies.

However, hard science and social science dissertations typically include a review of existing works, a methodology section, an analysis of your original research, and a presentation of your results , presented in different chapters.

Dissertation examples

We’ve compiled a list of dissertation examples to help you get started.

  • Example dissertation #1: Heat, Wildfire and Energy Demand: An Examination of Residential Buildings and Community Equity (a dissertation by C. A. Antonopoulos about the impact of extreme heat and wildfire on residential buildings and occupant exposure risks).
  • Example dissertation #2: Exploring Income Volatility and Financial Health Among Middle-Income Households (a dissertation by M. Addo about income volatility and declining economic security among middle-income households).
  • Example dissertation #3: The Use of Mindfulness Meditation to Increase the Efficacy of Mirror Visual Feedback for Reducing Phantom Limb Pain in Amputees (a dissertation by N. S. Mills about the effect of mindfulness-based interventions on the relationship between mirror visual feedback and the pain level in amputees with phantom limb pain).

The very first page of your document contains your dissertation title, your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date. Sometimes it also includes your student number, your supervisor’s name, and the university’s logo.

Read more about title pages

The acknowledgements section is usually optional and gives space for you to thank everyone who helped you in writing your dissertation. This might include your supervisors, participants in your research, and friends or family who supported you. In some cases, your acknowledgements are part of a preface.

Read more about acknowledgements Read more about prefaces

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dissertation methodology literature based

The abstract is a short summary of your dissertation, usually about 150 to 300 words long. Though this may seem very short, it’s one of the most important parts of your dissertation, because it introduces your work to your audience.

Your abstract should:

  • State your main topic and the aims of your research
  • Describe your methods
  • Summarize your main results
  • State your conclusions

Read more about abstracts

The table of contents lists all of your chapters, along with corresponding subheadings and page numbers. This gives your reader an overview of your structure and helps them easily navigate your document.

Remember to include all main parts of your dissertation in your table of contents, even the appendices. It’s easy to generate a table automatically in Word if you used heading styles. Generally speaking, you only include level 2 and level 3 headings, not every subheading you included in your finished work.

Read more about tables of contents

While not usually mandatory, it’s nice to include a list of figures and tables to help guide your reader if you have used a lot of these in your dissertation. It’s easy to generate one of these in Word using the Insert Caption feature.

Read more about lists of figures and tables

Similarly, if you have used a lot of abbreviations (especially industry-specific ones) in your dissertation, you can include them in an alphabetized list of abbreviations so that the reader can easily look up their meanings.

Read more about lists of abbreviations

In addition to the list of abbreviations, if you find yourself using a lot of highly specialized terms that you worry will not be familiar to your reader, consider including a glossary. Here, alphabetize the terms and include a brief description or definition.

Read more about glossaries

The introduction serves to set up your dissertation’s topic, purpose, and relevance. It tells the reader what to expect in the rest of your dissertation. The introduction should:

  • Establish your research topic , giving the background information needed to contextualize your work
  • Narrow down the focus and define the scope of your research
  • Discuss the state of existing research on the topic, showing your work’s relevance to a broader problem or debate
  • Clearly state your research questions and objectives
  • Outline the flow of the rest of your work

Everything in the introduction should be clear, engaging, and relevant. By the end, the reader should understand the what, why, and how of your research.

Read more about introductions

A formative part of your research is your literature review . This helps you gain a thorough understanding of the academic work that already exists on your topic.

Literature reviews encompass:

  • Finding relevant sources (e.g., books and journal articles)
  • Assessing the credibility of your sources
  • Critically analyzing and evaluating each source
  • Drawing connections between them (e.g., themes, patterns, conflicts, or gaps) to strengthen your overall point

A literature review is not merely a summary of existing sources. Your literature review should have a coherent structure and argument that leads to a clear justification for your own research. It may aim to:

  • Address a gap in the literature or build on existing knowledge
  • Take a new theoretical or methodological approach to your topic
  • Propose a solution to an unresolved problem or advance one side of a theoretical debate

Read more about literature reviews

Theoretical framework

Your literature review can often form the basis for your theoretical framework. Here, you define and analyze the key theories, concepts, and models that frame your research.

Read more about theoretical frameworks

Your methodology chapter describes how you conducted your research, allowing your reader to critically assess its credibility. Your methodology section should accurately report what you did, as well as convince your reader that this was the best way to answer your research question.

A methodology section should generally include:

  • The overall research approach ( quantitative vs. qualitative ) and research methods (e.g., a longitudinal study )
  • Your data collection methods (e.g., interviews or a controlled experiment )
  • Details of where, when, and with whom the research took place
  • Any tools and materials you used (e.g., computer programs, lab equipment)
  • Your data analysis methods (e.g., statistical analysis , discourse analysis )
  • An evaluation or justification of your methods

Read more about methodology sections

Your results section should highlight what your methodology discovered. You can structure this section around sub-questions, hypotheses , or themes, but avoid including any subjective or speculative interpretation here.

Your results section should:

  • Concisely state each relevant result together with relevant descriptive statistics (e.g., mean , standard deviation ) and inferential statistics (e.g., test statistics , p values )
  • Briefly state how the result relates to the question or whether the hypothesis was supported
  • Report all results that are relevant to your research questions , including any that did not meet your expectations.

Additional data (including raw numbers, full questionnaires, or interview transcripts) can be included as an appendix. You can include tables and figures, but only if they help the reader better understand your results. Read more about results sections

Your discussion section is your opportunity to explore the meaning and implications of your results in relation to your research question. Here, interpret your results in detail, discussing whether they met your expectations and how well they fit with the framework that you built in earlier chapters. Refer back to relevant source material to show how your results fit within existing research in your field.

Some guiding questions include:

  • What do your results mean?
  • Why do your results matter?
  • What limitations do the results have?

If any of the results were unexpected, offer explanations for why this might be. It’s a good idea to consider alternative interpretations of your data.

Read more about discussion sections

Your dissertation’s conclusion should concisely answer your main research question, leaving your reader with a clear understanding of your central argument and emphasizing what your research has contributed to the field.

In some disciplines, the conclusion is just a short section preceding the discussion section, but in other contexts, it is the final chapter of your work. Here, you wrap up your dissertation with a final reflection on what you found, with recommendations for future research and concluding remarks.

It’s important to leave the reader with a clear impression of why your research matters. What have you added to what was already known? Why is your research necessary for the future of your field?

Read more about conclusions

It is crucial to include a reference list or list of works cited with the full details of all the sources that you used, in order to avoid plagiarism. Be sure to choose one citation style and follow it consistently throughout your dissertation. Each style has strict and specific formatting requirements.

Common styles include MLA , Chicago , and APA , but which style you use is often set by your department or your field.

Create APA citations Create MLA citations

Your dissertation should contain only essential information that directly contributes to answering your research question. Documents such as interview transcripts or survey questions can be added as appendices, rather than adding them to the main body.

Read more about appendices

Making sure that all of your sections are in the right place is only the first step to a well-written dissertation. Don’t forget to leave plenty of time for editing and proofreading, as grammar mistakes and sloppy spelling errors can really negatively impact your work.

Dissertations can take up to five years to write, so you will definitely want to make sure that everything is perfect before submitting. You may want to consider using a professional dissertation editing service , AI proofreader or grammar checker to make sure your final project is perfect prior to submitting.

After your written dissertation is approved, your committee will schedule a defense. Similarly to defending your prospectus, dissertation defenses are oral presentations of your work. You’ll present your dissertation, and your committee will ask you questions. Many departments allow family members, friends, and other people who are interested to join as well.

After your defense, your committee will meet, and then inform you whether you have passed. Keep in mind that defenses are usually just a formality; most committees will have resolved any serious issues with your work with you far prior to your defense, giving you ample time to fix any problems.

As you write your dissertation, you can use this simple checklist to make sure you’ve included all the essentials.

Checklist: Dissertation

My title page includes all information required by my university.

I have included acknowledgements thanking those who helped me.

My abstract provides a concise summary of the dissertation, giving the reader a clear idea of my key results or arguments.

I have created a table of contents to help the reader navigate my dissertation. It includes all chapter titles, but excludes the title page, acknowledgements, and abstract.

My introduction leads into my topic in an engaging way and shows the relevance of my research.

My introduction clearly defines the focus of my research, stating my research questions and research objectives .

My introduction includes an overview of the dissertation’s structure (reading guide).

I have conducted a literature review in which I (1) critically engage with sources, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of existing research, (2) discuss patterns, themes, and debates in the literature, and (3) address a gap or show how my research contributes to existing research.

I have clearly outlined the theoretical framework of my research, explaining the theories and models that support my approach.

I have thoroughly described my methodology , explaining how I collected data and analyzed data.

I have concisely and objectively reported all relevant results .

I have (1) evaluated and interpreted the meaning of the results and (2) acknowledged any important limitations of the results in my discussion .

I have clearly stated the answer to my main research question in the conclusion .

I have clearly explained the implications of my conclusion, emphasizing what new insight my research has contributed.

I have provided relevant recommendations for further research or practice.

If relevant, I have included appendices with supplemental information.

I have included an in-text citation every time I use words, ideas, or information from a source.

I have listed every source in a reference list at the end of my dissertation.

I have consistently followed the rules of my chosen citation style .

I have followed all formatting guidelines provided by my university.

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Dissertations 4: methodology: start.

  • Introduction & Philosophy
  • Methodology

The Methodology Chapter

The methodology chapter flows organically from the literature review. This means that at this stage you should have reviewed the literature in your field of study, analysed research that has been conducted and highlighted how it was conducted. In turn, this should reflect the foundation of your own project as you will have to link it to your chosen research method.  

The methodology chapter also involves describing your method in detail and justifying the approach you are going to adopt, taking into consideration the limitations and ethical implications of your model. Your description should be detailed enough that someone reading your methodology can recreate your approach. 

Therefore, the methodology requires you to:

  • describe your methods
  • demonstrate a clear connection between your research question (or hypothesis) and the means by which you will reach your conclusions 
  • present justification (strengths) and limitations (weaknesses) of your methods  

What are Methods & Methodology?

Methods 

In order to appreciate what methods are, let us remember what research is about. Research can be summarised into three points (Cottrell, 2014, p9): 

A question 

Methods of arriving at an answer 

The answer 

Thus, methods are the means to research and answer the research question, or test the hypothesis. Methods include techniques and procedures used to obtain and analyse data (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2015, p4). Your methods can consist of primary and secondary sources, qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods, as illustrated in this guide.  

Methodology 

Methodology is sometimes used interchangeably with methods, or as the set of methods used in a research. More specifically, as the name would suggest, methodo-logy is the logos, the reasoning, on the methods. It is also referred to as the theory of how research should be undertaken (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2015, p4). This is why you normally would have a methodology, rather than methods, chapter in a dissertation.  

First Key Tip

We hope this guide will be helpful, but it is of fundamental importance that you also use a  research methods book  (or other authoritative source) for your discipline . The book will guide you on best methods for your research, give you practical guidance, and present critical insights and limitations of the methods.

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Writing your Dissertation: Methodology

A key part of your dissertation or thesis is the methodology. This is not quite the same as ‘methods’.

The methodology describes the broad philosophical underpinning to your chosen research methods, including whether you are using qualitative or quantitative methods, or a mixture of both, and why.

You should be clear about the academic basis for all the choices of research methods that you have made. ' I was interested ' or ' I thought... ' is not enough; there must be good academic reasons for your choice.

What to Include in your Methodology

If you are submitting your dissertation in sections, with the methodology submitted before you actually undertake the research, you should use this section to set out exactly what you plan to do.

The methodology should be linked back to the literature to explain why you are using certain methods, and the academic basis of your choice.

If you are submitting as a single thesis, then the Methodology should explain what you did, with any refinements that you made as your work progressed. Again, it should have a clear academic justification of all the choices that you made and be linked back to the literature.

Common Research Methods for the Social Sciences

There are numerous research methods that can be used when researching scientific subjects, you should discuss which are the most appropriate for your research with your supervisor.

The following research methods are commonly used in social science, involving human subjects:

One of the most flexible and widely used methods for gaining qualitative information about people’s experiences, views and feelings is the interview.

An interview can be thought of as a guided conversation between a researcher (you) and somebody from whom you wish to learn something (often referred to as the ‘informant’).

The level of structure in an interview can vary, but most commonly interviewers follow a semi-structured format.  This means that the interviewer will develop a guide to the topics that he or she wishes to cover in the conversation, and may even write out a number of questions to ask.

However, the interviewer is free to follow different paths of conversation that emerge over the course of the interview, or to prompt the informant to clarify and expand on certain points. Therefore, interviews are particularly good tools for gaining detailed information where the research question is open-ended in terms of the range of possible answers.

Interviews are not particularly well suited for gaining information from large numbers of people. Interviews are time-consuming, and so careful attention needs to be given to selecting informants who will have the knowledge or experiences necessary to answer the research question.  

See our page: Interviews for Research for more information.

Observations

If a researcher wants to know what people do under certain circumstances, the most straightforward way to get this information is sometimes simply to watch them under those circumstances.

Observations can form a part of either quantitative or qualitative research.  For instance, if a researcher wants to determine whether the introduction of a traffic sign makes any difference to the number of cars slowing down at a dangerous curve, she or he could sit near the curve and count the number of cars that do and do not slow down.  Because the data will be numbers of cars, this is an example of quantitative observation.

A researcher wanting to know how people react to a billboard advertisement might spend time watching and describing the reactions of the people.  In this case, the data would be descriptive , and would therefore be qualitative.

There are a number of potential ethical concerns that can arise with an observation study. Do the people being studied know that they are under observation?  Can they give their consent?  If some people are unhappy with being observed, is it possible to ‘remove’ them from the study while still carrying out observations of the others around them?

See our page: Observational Research and Secondary Data for more information.

Questionnaires

If your intended research question requires you to collect standardised (and therefore comparable) information from a number of people, then questionnaires may be the best method to use.

Questionnaires can be used to collect both quantitative and qualitative data, although you will not be able to get the level of detail in qualitative responses to a questionnaire that you could in an interview.

Questionnaires require a great deal of care in their design and delivery, but a well-developed questionnaire can be distributed to a much larger number of people than it would be possible to interview. 

Questionnaires are particularly well suited for research seeking to measure some parameters for a group of people (e.g., average age, percentage agreeing with a proposition, level of awareness of an issue), or to make comparisons between groups of people (e.g., to determine whether members of different generations held the same or different views on immigration).

See our page: Surveys and Survey Design for more information.

Documentary Analysis

Documentary analysis involves obtaining data from existing documents without having to question people through interview, questionnaires or observe their behaviour. Documentary analysis is the main way that historians obtain data about their research subjects, but it can also be a valuable tool for contemporary social scientists.

Documents are tangible materials in which facts or ideas have been recorded.  Typically, we think of items written or produced on paper, such as newspaper articles, Government policy records, leaflets and minutes of meetings.  Items in other media can also be the subject of documentary analysis, including films, songs, websites and photographs.

Documents can reveal a great deal about the people or organisation that produced them and the social context in which they emerged. 

Some documents are part of the public domain and are freely accessible, whereas other documents may be classified, confidential or otherwise unavailable to public access.  If such documents are used as data for research, the researcher must come to an agreement with the holder of the documents about how the contents can and cannot be used and how confidentiality will be preserved.

How to Choose your Methodology and Precise Research Methods

Your methodology should be linked back to your research questions and previous research.

Visit your university or college library and ask the librarians for help; they should be able to help you to identify the standard research method textbooks in your field. See also our section on Research Methods for some further ideas.

Such books will help you to identify your broad research philosophy, and then choose methods which relate to that. This section of your dissertation or thesis should set your research in the context of its theoretical underpinnings.

The methodology should also explain the weaknesses of your chosen approach and how you plan to avoid the worst pitfalls, perhaps by triangulating your data with other methods, or why you do not think the weakness is relevant.

For every philosophical underpinning, you will almost certainly be able to find researchers who support it and those who don’t.

Use the arguments for and against expressed in the literature to explain why you have chosen to use this methodology or why the weaknesses don’t matter here.

Structuring your Methodology

It is usually helpful to start your section on methodology by setting out the conceptual framework in which you plan to operate with reference to the key texts on that approach.

You should be clear throughout about the strengths and weaknesses of your chosen approach and how you plan to address them. You should also note any issues of which to be aware, for example in sample selection or to make your findings more relevant.

You should then move on to discuss your research questions, and how you plan to address each of them.

This is the point at which to set out your chosen research methods, including their theoretical basis, and the literature supporting them. You should make clear whether you think the method is ‘tried and tested’ or much more experimental, and what kind of reliance you could place on the results. You will also need to discuss this again in the discussion section.

Your research may even aim to test the research methods, to see if they work in certain circumstances.

You should conclude by summarising your research methods, the underpinning approach, and what you see as the key challenges that you will face in your research. Again, these are the areas that you will want to revisit in your discussion.

Your methodology, and the precise methods that you choose to use in your research, are crucial to its success.

It is worth spending plenty of time on this section to ensure that you get it right. As always, draw on the resources available to you, for example by discussing your plans in detail with your supervisor who may be able to suggest whether your approach has significant flaws which you could address in some way.

Continue to: Research Methods Designing Research

See Also: Dissertation: Results and Discussion Writing a Literature Review | Writing a Research Proposal Writing a Dissertation: The Introduction

Grad Coach

How To Write The Methodology Chapter

The what, why & how explained simply (with examples).

By: Jenna Crossley (PhD) | Reviewed By: Dr. Eunice Rautenbach | September 2021 (Updated April 2023)

So, you’ve pinned down your research topic and undertaken a review of the literature – now it’s time to write up the methodology section of your dissertation, thesis or research paper. But what exactly is the methodology chapter all about – and how do you go about writing one? In this post, we’ll unpack the topic, step by step .

Overview: The Methodology Chapter

  • The purpose  of the methodology chapter
  • Why you need to craft this chapter (really) well
  • How to write and structure the chapter
  • Methodology chapter example
  • Essential takeaways

What (exactly) is the methodology chapter?

The methodology chapter is where you outline the philosophical underpinnings of your research and outline the specific methodological choices you’ve made. The point of the methodology chapter is to tell the reader exactly how you designed your study and, just as importantly, why you did it this way.

Importantly, this chapter should comprehensively describe and justify all the methodological choices you made in your study. For example, the approach you took to your research (i.e., qualitative, quantitative or mixed), who  you collected data from (i.e., your sampling strategy), how you collected your data and, of course, how you analysed it. If that sounds a little intimidating, don’t worry – we’ll explain all these methodological choices in this post .

Free Webinar: Research Methodology 101

Why is the methodology chapter important?

The methodology chapter plays two important roles in your dissertation or thesis:

Firstly, it demonstrates your understanding of research theory, which is what earns you marks. A flawed research design or methodology would mean flawed results. So, this chapter is vital as it allows you to show the marker that you know what you’re doing and that your results are credible .

Secondly, the methodology chapter is what helps to make your study replicable. In other words, it allows other researchers to undertake your study using the same methodological approach, and compare their findings to yours. This is very important within academic research, as each study builds on previous studies.

The methodology chapter is also important in that it allows you to identify and discuss any methodological issues or problems you encountered (i.e., research limitations ), and to explain how you mitigated the impacts of these. Every research project has its limitations , so it’s important to acknowledge these openly and highlight your study’s value despite its limitations . Doing so demonstrates your understanding of research design, which will earn you marks. We’ll discuss limitations in a bit more detail later in this post, so stay tuned!

Need a helping hand?

dissertation methodology literature based

How to write up the methodology chapter

First off, it’s worth noting that the exact structure and contents of the methodology chapter will vary depending on the field of research (e.g., humanities, chemistry or engineering) as well as the university . So, be sure to always check the guidelines provided by your institution for clarity and, if possible, review past dissertations from your university. Here we’re going to discuss a generic structure for a methodology chapter typically found in the sciences.

Before you start writing, it’s always a good idea to draw up a rough outline to guide your writing. Don’t just start writing without knowing what you’ll discuss where. If you do, you’ll likely end up with a disjointed, ill-flowing narrative . You’ll then waste a lot of time rewriting in an attempt to try to stitch all the pieces together. Do yourself a favour and start with the end in mind .

Section 1 – Introduction

As with all chapters in your dissertation or thesis, the methodology chapter should have a brief introduction. In this section, you should remind your readers what the focus of your study is, especially the research aims . As we’ve discussed many times on the blog, your methodology needs to align with your research aims, objectives and research questions. Therefore, it’s useful to frontload this component to remind the reader (and yourself!) what you’re trying to achieve.

In this section, you can also briefly mention how you’ll structure the chapter. This will help orient the reader and provide a bit of a roadmap so that they know what to expect. You don’t need a lot of detail here – just a brief outline will do.

The intro provides a roadmap to your methodology chapter

Section 2 – The Methodology

The next section of your chapter is where you’ll present the actual methodology. In this section, you need to detail and justify the key methodological choices you’ve made in a logical, intuitive fashion. Importantly, this is the heart of your methodology chapter, so you need to get specific – don’t hold back on the details here. This is not one of those “less is more” situations.

Let’s take a look at the most common components you’ll likely need to cover. 

Methodological Choice #1 – Research Philosophy

Research philosophy refers to the underlying beliefs (i.e., the worldview) regarding how data about a phenomenon should be gathered , analysed and used . The research philosophy will serve as the core of your study and underpin all of the other research design choices, so it’s critically important that you understand which philosophy you’ll adopt and why you made that choice. If you’re not clear on this, take the time to get clarity before you make any further methodological choices.

While several research philosophies exist, two commonly adopted ones are positivism and interpretivism . These two sit roughly on opposite sides of the research philosophy spectrum.

Positivism states that the researcher can observe reality objectively and that there is only one reality, which exists independently of the observer. As a consequence, it is quite commonly the underlying research philosophy in quantitative studies and is oftentimes the assumed philosophy in the physical sciences.

Contrasted with this, interpretivism , which is often the underlying research philosophy in qualitative studies, assumes that the researcher performs a role in observing the world around them and that reality is unique to each observer . In other words, reality is observed subjectively .

These are just two philosophies (there are many more), but they demonstrate significantly different approaches to research and have a significant impact on all the methodological choices. Therefore, it’s vital that you clearly outline and justify your research philosophy at the beginning of your methodology chapter, as it sets the scene for everything that follows.

The research philosophy is at the core of the methodology chapter

Methodological Choice #2 – Research Type

The next thing you would typically discuss in your methodology section is the research type. The starting point for this is to indicate whether the research you conducted is inductive or deductive .

Inductive research takes a bottom-up approach , where the researcher begins with specific observations or data and then draws general conclusions or theories from those observations. Therefore these studies tend to be exploratory in terms of approach.

Conversely , d eductive research takes a top-down approach , where the researcher starts with a theory or hypothesis and then tests it using specific observations or data. Therefore these studies tend to be confirmatory in approach.

Related to this, you’ll need to indicate whether your study adopts a qualitative, quantitative or mixed  approach. As we’ve mentioned, there’s a strong link between this choice and your research philosophy, so make sure that your choices are tightly aligned . When you write this section up, remember to clearly justify your choices, as they form the foundation of your study.

Methodological Choice #3 – Research Strategy

Next, you’ll need to discuss your research strategy (also referred to as a research design ). This methodological choice refers to the broader strategy in terms of how you’ll conduct your research, based on the aims of your study.

Several research strategies exist, including experimental , case studies , ethnography , grounded theory, action research , and phenomenology . Let’s take a look at two of these, experimental and ethnographic, to see how they contrast.

Experimental research makes use of the scientific method , where one group is the control group (in which no variables are manipulated ) and another is the experimental group (in which a specific variable is manipulated). This type of research is undertaken under strict conditions in a controlled, artificial environment (e.g., a laboratory). By having firm control over the environment, experimental research typically allows the researcher to establish causation between variables. Therefore, it can be a good choice if you have research aims that involve identifying causal relationships.

Ethnographic research , on the other hand, involves observing and capturing the experiences and perceptions of participants in their natural environment (for example, at home or in the office). In other words, in an uncontrolled environment.  Naturally, this means that this research strategy would be far less suitable if your research aims involve identifying causation, but it would be very valuable if you’re looking to explore and examine a group culture, for example.

As you can see, the right research strategy will depend largely on your research aims and research questions – in other words, what you’re trying to figure out. Therefore, as with every other methodological choice, it’s essential to justify why you chose the research strategy you did.

Methodological Choice #4 – Time Horizon

The next thing you’ll need to detail in your methodology chapter is the time horizon. There are two options here: cross-sectional and longitudinal . In other words, whether the data for your study were all collected at one point in time (cross-sectional) or at multiple points in time (longitudinal).

The choice you make here depends again on your research aims, objectives and research questions. If, for example, you aim to assess how a specific group of people’s perspectives regarding a topic change over time , you’d likely adopt a longitudinal time horizon.

Another important factor to consider is simply whether you have the time necessary to adopt a longitudinal approach (which could involve collecting data over multiple months or even years). Oftentimes, the time pressures of your degree program will force your hand into adopting a cross-sectional time horizon, so keep this in mind.

Methodological Choice #5 – Sampling Strategy

Next, you’ll need to discuss your sampling strategy . There are two main categories of sampling, probability and non-probability sampling.

Probability sampling involves a random (and therefore representative) selection of participants from a population, whereas non-probability sampling entails selecting participants in a non-random  (and therefore non-representative) manner. For example, selecting participants based on ease of access (this is called a convenience sample).

The right sampling approach depends largely on what you’re trying to achieve in your study. Specifically, whether you trying to develop findings that are generalisable to a population or not. Practicalities and resource constraints also play a large role here, as it can oftentimes be challenging to gain access to a truly random sample. In the video below, we explore some of the most common sampling strategies.

Methodological Choice #6 – Data Collection Method

Next up, you’ll need to explain how you’ll go about collecting the necessary data for your study. Your data collection method (or methods) will depend on the type of data that you plan to collect – in other words, qualitative or quantitative data.

Typically, quantitative research relies on surveys , data generated by lab equipment, analytics software or existing datasets. Qualitative research, on the other hand, often makes use of collection methods such as interviews , focus groups , participant observations, and ethnography.

So, as you can see, there is a tight link between this section and the design choices you outlined in earlier sections. Strong alignment between these sections, as well as your research aims and questions is therefore very important.

Methodological Choice #7 – Data Analysis Methods/Techniques

The final major methodological choice that you need to address is that of analysis techniques . In other words, how you’ll go about analysing your date once you’ve collected it. Here it’s important to be very specific about your analysis methods and/or techniques – don’t leave any room for interpretation. Also, as with all choices in this chapter, you need to justify each choice you make.

What exactly you discuss here will depend largely on the type of study you’re conducting (i.e., qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods). For qualitative studies, common analysis methods include content analysis , thematic analysis and discourse analysis . In the video below, we explain each of these in plain language.

For quantitative studies, you’ll almost always make use of descriptive statistics , and in many cases, you’ll also use inferential statistical techniques (e.g., correlation and regression analysis). In the video below, we unpack some of the core concepts involved in descriptive and inferential statistics.

In this section of your methodology chapter, it’s also important to discuss how you prepared your data for analysis, and what software you used (if any). For example, quantitative data will often require some initial preparation such as removing duplicates or incomplete responses . Similarly, qualitative data will often require transcription and perhaps even translation. As always, remember to state both what you did and why you did it.

Section 3 – The Methodological Limitations

With the key methodological choices outlined and justified, the next step is to discuss the limitations of your design. No research methodology is perfect – there will always be trade-offs between the “ideal” methodology and what’s practical and viable, given your constraints. Therefore, this section of your methodology chapter is where you’ll discuss the trade-offs you had to make, and why these were justified given the context.

Methodological limitations can vary greatly from study to study, ranging from common issues such as time and budget constraints to issues of sample or selection bias . For example, you may find that you didn’t manage to draw in enough respondents to achieve the desired sample size (and therefore, statistically significant results), or your sample may be skewed heavily towards a certain demographic, thereby negatively impacting representativeness .

In this section, it’s important to be critical of the shortcomings of your study. There’s no use trying to hide them (your marker will be aware of them regardless). By being critical, you’ll demonstrate to your marker that you have a strong understanding of research theory, so don’t be shy here. At the same time, don’t beat your study to death . State the limitations, why these were justified, how you mitigated their impacts to the best degree possible, and how your study still provides value despite these limitations .

Section 4 – Concluding Summary

Finally, it’s time to wrap up the methodology chapter with a brief concluding summary. In this section, you’ll want to concisely summarise what you’ve presented in the chapter. Here, it can be a good idea to use a figure to summarise the key decisions, especially if your university recommends using a specific model (for example, Saunders’ Research Onion ).

Importantly, this section needs to be brief – a paragraph or two maximum (it’s a summary, after all). Also, make sure that when you write up your concluding summary, you include only what you’ve already discussed in your chapter; don’t add any new information.

Keep it simple

Methodology Chapter Example

In the video below, we walk you through an example of a high-quality research methodology chapter from a dissertation. We also unpack our free methodology chapter template so that you can see how best to structure your chapter.

Wrapping Up

And there you have it – the methodology chapter in a nutshell. As we’ve mentioned, the exact contents and structure of this chapter can vary between universities , so be sure to check in with your institution before you start writing. If possible, try to find dissertations or theses from former students of your specific degree program – this will give you a strong indication of the expectations and norms when it comes to the methodology chapter (and all the other chapters!).

Also, remember the golden rule of the methodology chapter – justify every choice ! Make sure that you clearly explain the “why” for every “what”, and reference credible methodology textbooks or academic sources to back up your justifications.

If you need a helping hand with your research methodology (or any other component of your research), be sure to check out our private coaching service , where we hold your hand through every step of the research journey. Until next time, good luck!

dissertation methodology literature based

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Leeds Beckett University

Skills for Learning : Dissertations & Literature Reviews

Dissertations  are extended projects in which you choose, research and write about a specific topic. They provide an opportunity to explore an aspect of your subject in detail. You are responsible for managing your dissertation, though you will be assigned a supervisor. Dissertations are typically empirical (based on your own research) or theoretical (based on others’ research/arguments).

The  Dissertation IT Kit  contains information about formatting your dissertation document in Word.

Look at the  Library Subject Guides  for your area. These have information on finding high quality resources for your dissertation. 

We run interactive workshops to help you prepare for your dissertation. Find out more on the  Skills for Learning Workshops  page.

We have online academic skills modules within MyBeckett for all levels of university study. These modules will help your academic development and support your success at LBU. You can work through the modules at your own pace, revisiting them as required. Find out more from our FAQ  What academic skills modules are available?  

Dissertation proposals

What are dissertation proposals.

A dissertation proposal is an outline of your proposed research project. It is what you imagine your dissertation might look like before you start. Consider it a temporary document which might change during the negotiation process between you and your dissertation supervisor.  The proposal can help you clarify exactly what you want to cover in your dissertation. It can also outline how you are going to approach it. Your dissertation plan and structure might change throughout this process as you develop your ideas. Your proposal is the first step towards your goal: a completed dissertation.

Structuring your dissertation proposal

The structure, content, and length of your dissertation proposal will depend on your course requirements. Some courses may require that your aims and objectives are separate from the main body of the proposal. You might be expected to write a literature review, and/or provide a detailed methodology. You might also be asked to include an extensive context for your proposed study. Consult your module handbook or assignment brief for the specific requirements of your course. 

Give each section of your proposal a heading You can also experiment with giving your proposed dissertation a title. Both of these approaches may help you focus and stay on topic. Most dissertation proposals will have a fairly standard structure, under the following headings:

Sections of a dissertation proposal

  • Aims and objectives
  • Rationale for your study
  • Methodology
  • Brief literature review
  • Benefits of your research

Describe what you plan to investigate. You could write a statement of your topic, a research question(s), or a hypothesis.

  • Explain why you want to do this research.
  • Write a justification as to why the project is worth undertaking.
  • Reasons might include: a gap in existing research; questioning or extending the findings of earlier research; replicating a piece of research to test its reliability.
  • Describe and justify how you plan to do the research.
  • You might be reviewing the work of others, which mainly involves secondary, or desk-based, research. Or you might plan to collect data yourself, which is primary research. It is common for undergraduate dissertations to involve a mixture of these.
  • If you are doing secondary research, describe how you will select your sources. For primary research, describe how you will collect your data. This might include using questionnaires, interviews, archival research, or other methods. 
  • Others will have researched this topic before, or something similar.
  • The literature review allows you to outline what they have found and where your project fits in. For example, you could highlight disagreements or discrepancies in the existing research.

Outline who might potentially gain from your research and what you might find out or expand upon. For example, there could be implications for practice in a particular profession.

Dissertation style and language

A dissertation is a logical, structured, argument-based exploration of a topic. The style of your writing may vary slightly in each chapter. For example, your results chapter should display factual information, whereas your analysis chapter might be more argument-based. Make sure your language, tone and abbreviations are consistent within each section. Your language should be formal and contain terminology relevant to your subject area. Dissertations have a large word count. It is important to structure your work with headings and a contents page. Use signposting language to help your reader understand the flow of your writing. Charts, tables or images may help you communicate specific information. 

Top tip!  To signpost in your dissertation, use the ‘Signalling Transition’ section of the  Manchester Academic Phrasebank .

Download the Dissertation Project Checklist Worksheet to help with planning your dissertation work. 

  • Dissertation Project Checklist Worksheet

The  Dissertation IT Kit  also contains information about formatting your dissertation document in Microsoft Word.

Past dissertations

Exploring past dissertations within your academic field can give you an idea as to how to structure your dissertation and find similar research methodologies. You can access dissertations and theses completed by students at Leeds Beckett and other universities. To find external dissertations, look at our FAQ answer ' Are there other dissertations I can look at?' . To find dissertations completed by Leeds Beckett students, search in the Discover theses search box below or look at our FAQ answer ' Can I find copies of past dissertations in the Library?

Sections of a dissertation

Not all dissertations will follow the same structure.  Your style can change depending on your school. Check your module handbook, assignment brief or speak with your course tutor for further guidance.

To decide what to include:

  • Think about your project from an outsider’s perspective. What do they need to know and in what order? What is the most clear and logical way for you to present your research?  
  • Discuss your project with your supervisor. Be open about ideas or concerns you have around the structure and content. 

Each section of a dissertation has a different purpose. Think about whether you're doing an empirical or theoretical dissertation and use the headings below to find out what you should be including.

You can also use the Leeds Beckett Dissertation Template to help you understand what your dissertation should look like. 

  • Leeds Beckett Dissertation Template

Empirical (research-based)

  • 1. Abstract
  • 2. Contents Page
  • 3. Introduction
  • 4. Literature Review
  • 5. Methodology
  • 6. Findings / Results
  • 7. Discussion
  • 8. Conclusion
  • 9. Reference List / Bibliography
  • 10. Appendices

Abstract : provides a brief summary of your whole dissertation.

The abstract outlines the purpose of your research and your methodology (where necessary). You should summarise your main findings and conclusion.

Top tips! Give the reader a sense of why your project is interesting and valuable. Write in the past tense. Aim for about half a page.

Contents page : lists all the sections of your dissertation with the page numbers. Do this last by using the automatic function in Word.

Introduction: introduces the reader to your research project.

Provide context to the topic and define key terms. Ensure that the scope of your investigation is clear. Outline your aims and objectives, and provide a brief description of your research methods. Finally, give an indication of your conclusion/findings.

Top tips! Start broad (background information) and get more specific (your research aims and findings). Try writing the introduction after the literature review and methodology chapters. This way, you will have a better idea of your research aims.

Literature Review : positions your research in relation to what has come before it.

The literature review will summarise prior research on the topic, such as journal articles, books, government reports and data. You should introduce key themes, concepts, theories or methods that provide context for your own research. Analyse and evaluate the literature by drawing comparisons and highlighting strengths and weaknesses. Download the Critical Analysis Questions and Evidence Matrix Worksheets to help you with this process and for more information on literature searching see Finding Information .

  • Critical Analysis Questions Worksheet
  • Evidence Matrix Worksheet

The literature review should justify the need for your research and highlight areas for further investigation. Avoid introducing your own ideas at this point; instead, compare and comment on existing ideas.

Top tips! Your literature review is not a descriptive summary of various sources. You need to synthesise (bring together) and critically analyse prior research. Sophisticated use of reporting verbs is important for this process. Download our Reporting Verbs Worksheet to help you with this.

  • Reporting Verbs Worksheet

Find out more about literature reviews elsewhere on this topic page.

Find out more about critical thinking.

Methodology : provides a succinct and accurate record of the methodology used and justifies your choice of methods.

In this section, you describe the qualitative and/or quantitative methods* used to carry out your research/experiment. You must justify your chosen research methodology and explain how it helps you answer your research question. Where appropriate, explain the rationale behind choices such as procedures, equipment, participants and sample size. You may need to reference specific guidelines that you have used, especially in subjects such as healthcare. If your research involves people, you may also need to demonstrate how it fulfils ethical guidelines.

Top tips! Your account should be sufficiently detailed so that someone else could replicate your research. Write in the passive voice. Remember, at this point you are not reporting any findings.

*Qualitative research is based on opinions and ideas, while quantitative research is based on numerical data.

Find out more about the research process.

Findings/Results : presents the data collected from your research in a suitable format.

Provide a summary of the results of your research/experiment. Consider the most effective methods for presenting your data, such as charts, graphs or tables. Present all your findings honestly. Do not change any data, even if it is not what you expected to find.

Top tips! Whilst you might acknowledge trends or themes in the data, at this stage, you won’t be analysing it closely. If you are conducting qualitative research, this section may be combined with the discussion section. Important additional documents, such as transcriptions or questionnaires, can be added to your appendices.

Discussion : addresses your research aims by analysing your findings.

In this chapter, you interpret and discuss your results and draw conclusions. Identify trends, themes or issues that arise from the findings and discuss their significance in detail. These themes can also provide the basis for the structure of this section. You can draw upon information and concepts from your literature review to help interpret your findings. For example, you can show how your findings build upon or contradict earlier research.

Top tips! Ensure that the points you make are backed up with evidence from your findings. Refer back to relevant information from your literature review to discuss and interpret your findings.

Conclusion : summarises your main points.

Provide an overview of your main findings and demonstrate how you have met your research objectives. Set your research into a wider context by showing how it contributes to current academic debates. Discuss the implications of your research and put forward any recommendations.

Top tips! Do not introduce any new information in this section. Your conclusion should mirror the content of your introduction but offer more conclusive answers.

Reference List / Bibliography : a complete list of all sources used.

List all the sources that you have consulted in the process of your research. Your Reference List or Bibliography must follow specific guidelines for your discipline (e.g. Harvard or OSCOLA). Look through your module handbook or speak to your supervisor for more information.

Find out more about referencing and academic integrity .

Appendix (single) or Appendices (plural):  presents raw data and/or transcripts that aren’t in the main body of your dissertation.

You may have to be selective in the data you present in your findings section. If this is the case, you may choose to present the raw data/extended version in an appendix. If you conduct qualitative research, such as interviews, you will include the transcripts in your appendix. Appendices are not usually included in the word count.

Top tips! Discuss with your supervisor whether you will need an appendix and what to include.

Theoretical (argument based)

  • Contents page
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Main body (divided into chapters)
  • Reference list / Bibliography

Provides a brief summary of your whole dissertation.

The abstract outlines the purpose of your research and your methodology (where necessary). You should summarise your main findings and conclusion.

Top tip!  Give the reader a sense of why your project is interesting and valuable. Write in the past tense. Aim for about half a page.

Contents page : lists all the sections of your dissertation with the page numbers. Using the automatic table of contents feature in Microsoft Word can help you format this.

The  Dissertation IT kit provides guidance on how to use these tools. 

Introduces the reader to your research project.

Provide context to the topic and define key terms. Ensure that the scope of your investigation is clear. Outline your aims and objectives, and provide a brief description of your research methods. Introduce your argument and explain why your research topic is important. Finally, give an indication of your conclusion/findings.

Top tip!  Start broad (background information) and get more specific (your research aims and findings). Try writing the introduction after the literature review and methodology chapters. This way, you will have a better idea of your research aims.

Summarises prior research on the topic, such as journal articles, books, and other information sources. You should introduce key themes, concepts, theories or methods that provide context for your own research. You should also analyse and evaluate the literature by drawing comparisons and highlighting strengths and weaknesses. 

Many (although not all) theoretical dissertations will include a separate literature review. You may decide to include this as a separate chapter. Otherwise, you can integrate it into your introduction or first themed chapter.

Find out more about literature reviews on the  Literature Reviews  page.

Divide the main body of your research into chapters organised by chronology or themes. Each chapter should be like a mini-essay that helps you answer your research questions. Like an essay, each chapter should have an introduction, main body and conclusion. Develop your argument and demonstrate critical thinking by drawing on relevant sources. Compare and contrast ideas, and make suggestions or recommendations where relevant. Explain how each chapter helps answer your main research question.

Top tip! Divide each chapter into chunks and use subheadings where necessary to structure your work.

Find out more on the  Critical Thinking  pages. 

Top tip!  Do not introduce any new information in this section. Your conclusion should mirror the content of your introduction but offer more conclusive answers.

List all the sources that you have consulted in the process of your research. Your Reference List or Bibliography must follow specific guidelines for your discipline (Harvard, APA or OSCOLA). Look through your module handbook or speak to your supervisor for more information.

Find out more about  referencing and academic integrity .

Appendix (single) or Appendices (plural):  presents any data, such as images or tables, that aren’t in the main body of your dissertation.

You may have to be selective about the information you include in the main body of your dissertation. If this is the case, you may place data such as images or tables in the appendix. Appendices are not usually included in the word count.

Top tip!  Discuss with your supervisor whether you will need any appendices and what to include.

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How to Write Your Dissertation Methodology

What Is a Dissertation Methodology?

How to choose your methodology, final thoughts, how to write your dissertation methodology.

Updated September 30, 2021

Edward Melett

Due to the complexities of the different research methods, writing your dissertation methodology can often be the most challenging and time-consuming part of your postgraduate dissertation .

This article focuses on the importance of writing a good PhD or master's dissertation methodology – and how to achieve this.

A postgraduate dissertation (or thesis) is usually formed of several detailed sections, including:

Abstract – A summary of your research topic.

Introduction – Provides background information on your topic, putting it into context. You will also confirm the main focus of your study, explain why it will add value to your area of interest and specify your key objectives.

Literature Review – A critical review of literature that relates to your chosen research topic. You will also need to identify which gap in the literature your study aims to address.

Methodology – Focuses on the research methods used within your research.

Results – Used to report on your main findings and how these relate to your research question.

Conclusion – Used to confirm the answer to your main research question, reflect on the research process and offer recommendations on future research.

The dissertation methodology forms the skeleton of any research project. It provides the reader with a clear outline of the methods you decided to use when carrying out your research.

By studying your dissertation methodology, the reader will be able to assess your research in terms of its validity and reliability.

In line with the outline given above, the methodology chapter usually appears after the literature review . Your methodology should be closely linked to the research that you conducted as part of this review, as well as the questions you aim to answer through your research and analysis.

Taking the time to find out about the different types of research available to you will allow you to identify any potential drawbacks to the method you have chosen to use. You should then be able to make allowances or adjustments to address these when it comes to carrying out your research.

dissertation methodology literature based

Choosing your methodology will largely depend on the discipline of the qualification you are studying for and the question your dissertation will seek to answer. In most cases, you will use quantitative or qualitative research methods, although some projects will benefit from using a combination of both.

Quantitative research methods are used to gather numerical information. This research method is particularly useful if you are seeking to count, categorise, measure or identify patterns in data. To collect quantitative data, you might choose to conduct experiments, tests or surveys.

Qualitative research methods are used to gather non-statistical data. Instead of using numbers to create charts or graphs, you will need to categorise the information according to identifiers. This research method is most useful if you are seeking to develop a hypothesis. To collect qualitative data, you might choose to conduct focus groups, interviews or observations.

What to Include in Your Dissertation Methodology

Below is a dissertation methodology example to show you what information to include:

You will need to reiterate your research topic or question and give an overview of how you plan to investigate this. If there were any ethical or philosophical considerations to be made, give details.

For example, you may have sought informed consent from the people taking part in interviews or surveys.

Outline of the Methods Chosen

Confirm whether you have chosen to use quantitative research, qualitative research or a combination of both.

When choosing between qualitative and quantitative research methods, you will need to carry out initial literature and textbook research to establish the standard research methods that are normally used within your chosen area of research.

If you are not sure where to start, you could visit the library at your college or university and ask one of the librarians to help you to identify the most relevant texts.

Explanation of the Methods Chosen

Explain your rationale for selecting your chosen research methods. You should also give an overview of why these were more appropriate than using another research method.

Think about where and when the research took place and who was involved. For example, this might include information on the venue used for interviews or focus groups, dates and timescales, and whether participants were part of a particular demographic group.

Here are some examples of the type of information you may wish to include:

Qualitative Research Methods

Personal observations – Where and when did you conduct the observations? Who did you observe? Were they part of a particular community or group? How long did each observation take? How did you record your findings – did you collect audio recordings, video footage or written observations?

Focus groups – Where and when did the focus group take place? Who was involved? How were they selected? How many people took part? Were the questions asked structured, unstructured or semi-structured? Remember to include a copy of the questions that were used as an appendix.

Interviews – Where and when did the interviews take place? Who took part? How did you select the participants? What type of questions did you ask? How did you record your findings? Remember to include a copy of the questions that were used as an appendix.

The researcher’s objective was to find out customer perceptions on improving the product range currently offered by Company Y. Semi-structured interviews were held with 15 returning customers from the key target demographic for Company Y (18- to 35-year-olds). For research purposes, a returning customer was defined as somebody who purchased products from Company Y at least two times per week during the past three months. The interviews were held in an office in the staff area of the retail premises. Each interview lasted approximately 25 minutes. Responses were recorded through note-taking as none of the respondents wished to give their consent to be filmed.

Quantitative Research Methods

Existing information or data – What were the sources of the material used? How did you select material? Did you only use data published within a particular time frame?

Experiments – What tools or equipment did you use? What techniques were required? Note that when conducting experiments, it is particularly important to provide enough information to allow another researcher to conduct the experiment and obtain the same results.

Surveys – Were respondents asked to answer multiple-choice questions or complete free-text fields? How many questions were used? How long were people given to answer all of the questions? What were the demographics of the participants? Remember to include a copy of the survey in the appendices.

The survey was made up of 10 multiple-choice questions and 5 questions to be rated using a 5-point Lickert scale. The objective was to have 250 customers of Company Z complete the survey at the Company Z HQ between 1st and 5th February 2019, between the hours of 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. For research purposes, a customer was defined as any person who had purchased a product from Company Z during 2018. Customers completing the survey were allowed a maximum of 10 minutes to answer all of the questions. 200 customers responded, however not all of the surveys were completed in full, so only 150 survey results were able to be used in the data analysis.

How Was the Data Analysed?

If you have chosen to use quantitative research methods, you will need to prepare the data before analysing it – for example, you will need to check for variables, missing data and outliers. If you have used computer software to aid with analysis, information on this should also be included.

For qualitative data, you will need to categorise and code the ideas and themes that are identified from the raw data. You may also need to use techniques such as narrative analysis or discourse analysis to interpret the meaning behind responses given.

What Materials and Equipment Were Used During the Research?

This could include anything from laboratory equipment used in a scientific experiment to computer software used to analyse the results.

Were There Any Hurdles or Difficulties Faced During the Research?

If so, what were they and how did you manage to overcome them? This could be anything from difficulties in finding participants, problems obtaining consent or a shortage of the required resources needed to conduct a scientific experiment.

This paragraph should be used to evaluate the research you have conducted and justify your reasons for choosing this approach.

You do not need to go into great detail, as you will present and discuss your results in-depth within your dissertation’s ‘Results’ section.

You will need to briefly explain whether your results were conclusive, whether there were any variables and whether your choice of methodology was effective in practice.

dissertation methodology literature based

Tips for Writing Your Dissertation Methodology

The objective for the methodology is not only to describe the methods that you used for your research. You will also need to demonstrate why you chose to use them and how you applied them.

The key point is to show that your research was conducted meticulously.

Try to keep your writing style concise and clear; this will ensure that it is easy for the reader to understand and digest.

Here are five top tips to consider when writing your dissertation methodology:

1. Look at Other Methodology Sections

Ask your supervisor to provide you with a few different examples of previously written dissertations. Reading through methodologies that have been written by past students will give you a good idea of what your finished methodology section should look like.

2. Plan Your Structure

Whichever research methods you have chosen to use, your dissertation methodology should be a clearly structured, well written section that gives a strong and justified argument for your chosen research methods.

You may wish to use headings such as:

  • Research methods
  • Explanation of research methods chosen
  • Data analysis and references

Once you have drafted an outline, ask your supervisor for advice on whether there is anything you have missed and whether your structure looks logical.

3. Consider Your Audience

When writing your methodology, have regard for the people who are likely to be reading it. For example, if you have chosen to use research methods that are commonly chosen within your area of research or discipline, there is no need to give a great deal of justification or background information.

If you decide to use a less popular approach, it is advisable to give much more detailed information on how and why you chose to use this method.

4. Remain Focused on Your Aims and Research Questions

Your dissertation methodology should give a clear indication as to why the research methods you have chosen are suitable for the aims of your research.

When writing your dissertation methodology, ensure that you link your research choices back to the overall aims and objectives of your dissertation. To help you to remain focused, it can be helpful to include a clear definition of the question you are aiming to answer at the start of your methodology section.

5. Refer to Any Obstacles or Difficulties That You Dealt With

If you faced any problems during the data collection or analysis phases, use the methodology section to talk about what you did to address these issues and minimise the impact.

Whether you are completing a PhD or master's degree, writing your thesis or dissertation methodology is often considered to be the most difficult and time-consuming part of completing your major research project.

The key to success when writing a methodology section is to have a clear structure. Remember, the purpose of the methodology section of your research project is to ensure that the reader has a full understanding of the methods you have chosen.

You should use your methodology section to provide clear justification as to why you have chosen a particular research method instead of other potential methods. Avoid referring to your personal opinions, thoughts or interests within your methodology; keep the information that you include factual and ensure that everything is backed up by appropriate academic references.

You might also be interested in these other Wikijob articles:

How to Write a Dissertation Proposal

Or explore the Postgraduate / PHD sections.

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  • How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 11, 2023.

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

  • Search for relevant literature
  • Evaluate sources
  • Identify themes, debates, and gaps
  • Outline the structure
  • Write your literature review

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions, introduction.

  • Quick Run-through
  • Step 1 & 2

When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
  • Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
  • Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
  • Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
  • Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

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Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

  • Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
  • Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
  • Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
  • Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

Download Word doc Download Google doc

Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

  • Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
  • Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
  • Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

  • Your university’s library catalogue
  • Google Scholar
  • Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
  • Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
  • EconLit (economics)
  • Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)

You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.

Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

  • What question or problem is the author addressing?
  • What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
  • What are the key theories, models, and methods?
  • Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
  • What are the results and conclusions of the study?
  • How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?

Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

  • Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
  • Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
  • Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
  • Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
  • Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

  • Most research has focused on young women.
  • There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
  • But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.

There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).

Chronological

The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.

Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.

If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.

Methodological

If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:

  • Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources

Theoretical

A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

  • Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts

In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.

Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

  • To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
  • To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
  • To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
  • To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
  • To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

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How to write a literature-based dissertation?

literature-based dissertation

Author : Jessy

  • Dissertation

Have you been asked to write a dissertation on contemporary literature? It may not be as easy as you think. Writing a dissertation on any topic requires performing a deep study into the variegated aspects of the topic. You need to conduct a rigorous study and evaluation of the literature in question. A good literature-based dissertation has a detailed explanation of the literature itself as well as the author and the narrative that the author intends to put forth. A literature-based dissertation discusses all aspects of the literature, the theme, the style of narration that the author has adopted as well as the cultural context and background against which a particular plot is set. This is the case with fictional literature.

Literature-based Dissertation

In this blog, we shall discuss the important aspects of a literature-based dissertation. The two most important types of literature reviews are empirical literature dissertations and literature long essays. Let's take a look at some of the most important differences between the two.

Researchers have highlighted that the correct literature review methodology consists of performing a detailed non-structural analysis of the qualitative aspects of the structure of the literature review. A literature-based dissertation is centred around the selection of small samples or characteristics of topics. The specific requirements of the research are taken into account when it comes to writing a detailed literature review.

What is a systematic review? How does a systematic review provide a clear interpretation of literature?

A systematic review is a widely accepted academic practice for reviewing the literature. For example, in a dissertation on the topic “differentiating between white-collar crimes and blue-collar crimes”, it is important to discuss the important underlying factors such as corruption, crime rate. A systematic review entails addressing the problem in question from diverse perspectives. A review provides a detailed definition of the problems associated with the problematic aspects of literature. 

A literature-based dissertation also makes use of secondary data. This is because secondary data comes in handy while writing a full-fledged review of a problem. Therefore this means that it can only use evidence that has already been published and therefore validated. The basic point of differentiation between a literature-based dissertation and other forms of dissertations is that it is not done to discover new aspects of a subject. Its objective is to elucidate and add to the existing body of literature available on a particular topic. 

A literature based dissertation is never 100% Empirical

This also implies that a literature-based dissertation can never be completely empirical as it is largely founded on the groundwork performed by prior researchers. The research is not evidence-based. It is based more on the theory of literature. A literature-based dissertation does not concern itself with the new development on a subject or new research, rather with the existing research findings that are already available on a particular subject. Therefore, it is a significant way to determine the efficacy and depth of the research.

When is a literature-based dissertation useful?

A literature-based dissertation is more useful where a descriptive account of the existing facts and the material statements is required. It might not be so useful where the requirement is exploring new branches of an old discipline. To reiterate what we have already discussed above, it is safe to say that it simply validates or negates what has already been established or stated through previous work. It is important to clearly define and describe the methodology adopted to go about the research for a particular subject. In a literature-based dissertation, it is also equally important for the dissertation writers to articulate and justify the methods that have been used in reviewing particular literature.

Here are two abstracts of the literature dissertations recently written by our team

Literature-based Dissertation sample

Below is a description of the most widely accepted methodology and structure for a literature-based dissertation

Methodology- this describes the exact approach which has been adopted by the author in putting together the literature-based dissertation. The methodology must discuss all the aspects of the topic that the author has chosen to elaborate upon. The methodology also entails the depth of research that the writer has undertaken to put together a dissertation.

Extended Literature Review - Extended literature reviews are written to write an elucidate description of the piece of literature in question.

Addressing the particular issues: the literature-based dissertation is also founded on the particular issues or the inherent debate that is central to the dissertation topic. Over the years, there have been several developments and significant evolution in the widely accepted norms for the contents of a literature-based review. However, there is a consensus on the issues around a dissertation.

Conclusion: The conclusion also consists of a summary of the most rudimentary findings of the existing data available on the topic. The conclusion is written to forge a functional relationship between the different types of evaluation available in the dissertation. 

When is the best time to take help from a dissertation writing expert?

A literature-based dissertation is therefore of great significance where the author is required to present a detailed and informative evaluation of a particular research subject. If you have been struggling with your essay topic, it is best to get professional dissertation writer.

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About the Author

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With a PhD in Finance, Jessy often helped his juniors and peers understand finance concepts. He witnessed his knowledge of becoming a guiding light for others and decided to help finance students with their assignments. His areas of expertise are taxation and also has a commanding understanding of accounting and marketing. Jessy joined My Assignment Services as a Finance assignment writing expert and has been among the students' top-rated expert writers. He never fails to deliver the assignments on time, and the assignments written by him are extensively researched.

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Research Methods for Dissertation – Types with Comparison

Published by Carmen Troy at August 13th, 2021 , Revised On June 14, 2023

Introduction

“Research methods for a dissertation refer to the specific approaches, procedures, and techniques employed by researchers to investigate and gather data for their dissertation projects.”

These methods provide a systematic and structured framework for conducting research, ensuring the reliability, validity, and rigour of the study.

What are the different research methods for the dissertation, and which one should I use?

Choosing the right research method for a dissertation is a grinding and perplexing aspect of the dissertation research process. A well-defined  research methodology  helps you conduct your research in the right direction, validates the  results  of your research, and makes sure that the study you’re conducting answers the set  research questions .

The research  title,  research questions,  hypothesis , objectives, and study area generally determine the best research method in the dissertation.

This post’s primary purpose is to highlight what these different  types of research  methods involve and how you should decide which type of research fits the bill. As you read through this article, think about which one of these research methods will be the most appropriate for your research.

The practical, personal, and academic reasons for choosing any particular method of research are also analysed. You will find our explanation of experimental , descriptive , historical , quantitative , qualitative , and mixed research methods useful regardless of your field of study.

While choosing the right method of research for your own research, you need to:

  • Understand the difference between research methods and  methodology .
  • Think about your research topic, research questions, and research objectives to make an intelligent decision.
  • Know about various types of research methods so that you can choose the most suitable and convenient method as per your research requirements.

Research Methodology Vs. Research Methods

A well-defined  research methodology  helps you conduct your research in the right direction, validates the  results  of your research, and makes sure that the study you are conducting answers the set  research questions .

Research Methodology Vs. Research Methods

Research methods are the techniques and procedures used for conducting research. Choosing the right research method for your writing is an important aspect of the  research process .

You need to either collect data or talk to the people while conducting any research. The research methods can be classified based on this distinction.

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Types of Research Methods

Research methods are broadly divided into six main categories.

Experimental Research Methods

Descriptive research methods, historical research methods, quantitative research methods, qualitative research methods, mixed methods of research.

Experimental research  includes the experiments conducted in the laboratory or observation under controlled conditions. Researchers try to study human behavior by performing various experiments. Experiments can vary from personal and informal natural comparisons. It includes three  types of variables;

  • Independent variable
  • Dependent variable
  • Controlled variable

Types of Experimental Methods

Laboratory experiments

The experiments were conducted in the laboratory. Researchers have control over the variables of the experiment.

Field experiment

The experiments were conducted in the open field and environment of the participants by incorporating a few artificial changes. Researchers do not have control over variables under measurement. Participants know that they are taking part in the experiment.

Natural experiments

The experiment is conducted in the natural environment of the participants. The participants are generally not informed about the experiment being conducted on them.

Example : Estimating the health condition of the population.

Quasi-experiments

A quasi-experiment is an experiment that takes advantage of natural occurrences. Researchers cannot assign random participants to groups.

Example: Comparing the academic performance of the two schools.

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Descriptive research aims at collecting the information to answer the current affairs. It follows the Ex post facto research, which predicts the possible reasons behind the situation that has already occurred. It aims to answer questions like how, what, when, where, and what rather than ‘why.’

In  historical research , an investigator collects, analyses the information to understand, describe, and explain the events that occurred in the past. Researchers try to find out what happened exactly during a certain period of time as accurately and as closely as possible. It does not allow any manipulation or control of variables.

Quantitative research  is associated with numerical data or data that can be measured. It is used to study a large group of population. The information is gathered by performing statistical, mathematical, or computational techniques.

Quantitative research isn’t simply based on  statistical analysis or quantitative techniques but rather uses a certain approach to theory to address research hypotheses or research questions, establish an appropriate research methodology, and draw findings &  conclusions .

Some most commonly employed quantitative research strategies include data-driven dissertations, theory-driven studies, and reflection-driven research. Regardless of the chosen approach, there are some common quantitative research features as listed below.

  • Quantitative research is based on testing or building on existing theories proposed by other researchers whilst taking a reflective or extensive route.
  • Quantitative research aims to test the research hypothesis or answer established research questions.
  • It is primarily justified by positivist or post-positivist research paradigms.
  • The  research design can be relationship-based, quasi-experimental, experimental, or descriptive.
  • It draws on a small sample to make generalisations to a wider population using probability sampling techniques.
  • Quantitative data is gathered according to the established research questions and using research vehicles such as structured observation, structured interviews, surveys, questionnaires, and laboratory results.
  • The researcher uses  statistical analysis  tools and techniques to measure variables and gather inferential or descriptive data. In some cases, your tutor or members of the dissertation committee might find it easier to verify your study results with numbers and statistical analysis.
  • The accuracy of the study results is based on external and internal validity and the authenticity of the data used.
  • Quantitative research answers research questions or tests the hypothesis using charts, graphs, tables, data, and statements.
  • It underpins  research questions  or hypotheses and findings to make conclusions.
  • The researcher can provide recommendations for future research and expand or test existing theories.

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It is a type of scientific research where a researcher collects evidence to seek answers to a  question . It is associated with studying human behaviour from an informative perspective. It aims at obtaining in-depth details of the problem.

As the term suggests,  qualitative research  is based on qualitative research methods, including participants’ observations, focus groups, and unstructured interviews.

Qualitative research is very different in nature when compared to quantitative research. It takes an established path towards the  research process , how  research questions  are set up, how existing theories are built upon, what research methods are employed, and how the  findings  are unveiled to the readers.

You may adopt conventional methods, including phenomenological research, narrative-based research, grounded theory research,  ethnographies ,  case studies , and auto-ethnographies.

Again, regardless of the chosen approach to qualitative research, your dissertation will have unique key features as listed below.

  • The research questions that you aim to answer will expand or even change as the  dissertation writing process continues. This aspect of the research is typically known as an emergent design where the research objectives evolve with time.
  • Qualitative research may use existing theories to cultivate new theoretical understandings or fall back on existing theories to support the research process. However, the original goal of testing a certain theoretical understanding remains the same.
  • It can be based on various research models, such as critical theory, constructivism, and interpretivism.
  • The chosen research design largely influences the analysis and discussion of results and the choices you make. Research design depends on the adopted research path: phenomenological research, narrative-based research, grounded theory-based research, ethnography, case study-based research, or auto-ethnography.
  • Qualitative research answers research questions with theoretical sampling, where data gathered from an organisation or people are studied.
  • It involves various research methods to gather qualitative data from participants belonging to the field of study. As indicated previously, some of the most notable qualitative research methods include participant observation, focus groups, and unstructured  interviews .
  • It incorporates an  inductive process where the researcher analyses and understands the data through his own eyes and judgments to identify concepts and themes that comprehensively depict the researched material.
  • The key quality characteristics of qualitative research are transferability, conformity, confirmability, and reliability.
  • Results and discussions are largely based on narratives, case study and personal experiences, which help detect inconsistencies, observations, processes, and ideas.s
  • Qualitative research discusses theoretical concepts obtained from the results whilst taking research questions and/or hypotheses  to draw general  conclusions .

Now that you know the unique differences between quantitative and qualitative research methods, you may want to learn a bit about primary and secondary research methods.

Here is an article that will help you  distinguish between primary and secondary research and decide whether you need to use quantitative and/or qualitative primary research methods in your dissertation.

Alternatively, you can base your dissertation on secondary research, which is descriptive and explanatory in essence.

Types of Qualitative Research Methods

Action research

Action research  aims at finding an immediate solution to a problem. The researchers can also act as the participants of the research. It is used in the educational field.

A  case study  includes data collection from multiple sources over time. It is widely used in social sciences to study the underlying information, organisation, community, or event. It does not provide any solution to the problem. Researchers cannot act as the participants of the research.

Ethnography

In  this type of research, the researcher examines the people in their natural environment. Ethnographers spend time with people to study people and their culture closely. They can consult the literature before conducting the study.

When you combine quantitative and qualitative methods of research, the resulting approach becomes mixed methods of research.

Over the last few decades, much of the research in academia has been conducted using mixed methods because of the greater legitimacy this particular technique has gained for several reasons including the feeling that combining the two types of research can provide holistic and more dependable results.

Here is what mixed methods of research involve:

  • Interpreting and investigating the information gathered through quantitative and qualitative techniques.
  • There could be more than one stage of research. Depending on the research topic, occasionally it would be more appropriate to perform qualitative research in the first stage to figure out and investigate a problem to unveil key themes; and conduct quantitative research in stage two of the process for measuring relationships between the themes.

Note: However, this method has one prominent limitation, which is, as previously mentioned, combining qualitative and quantitative research can be difficult because they both are different in terms of design and approach. In many ways, they are contrasting styles of research, and so care must be exercised when basing your dissertation on mixed methods of research.

When choosing a research method for your own dissertation, it would make sense to carefully think about your  research topic ,  research questions , and research objectives to make an intelligent decision in terms of the philosophy of  research design .

Dissertations based on mixed methods of research can be the hardest to tackle even for PhD students.

Our writers have years of experience in writing flawless and to the point mixed methods-based dissertations to be confident that the dissertation they write for you will be according to the technical requirements and the formatting guidelines.

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Please Find Below an Example of Research Methods Section in a Dissertation or Thesis.

Background and Problem

Diversity management became prominent in the late twentieth century, with foundations in America. Historically homogeneous or nondiverse nations, such as Finland, have not yet experienced the issues associated with rising cultural and ethnic diversity in the workforce. Regardless of the environment, workforce diversity garners greater attention and is characterised by its expanding relevance due to globalised and international companies, global and national worker mobility, demographic shifts, or enhancing productivity.

As a result, challenges of diversity management have been handled through legal, financial, and moral pressures (Hayes et al., 2020). The evolving structure of the working population in terms of language, ethnic background, maturity level, faith, or ethnocultural history is said to pose a challenge to human resource management (HRM) in utilising diversity: the understanding, abilities, and expertise prospects of the entire workforce to deal with possible developments.

The European approach to diversity management is regarded as growing. However, it is found to emphasise the relationship to business and lack competence in diversity management problems. Mass immigration concentrates variety, sometimes treated as cultural minority issues, implying the normalisation of anti-discrimination actions (Yadav and Lenka, 2020).

These causes, in turn, have provided the basis of comprehensive diversity research, which has generated different theories, frameworks, concepts, and guidelines from interdisciplinary viewpoints, such as industrial and organisational psychology and behaviour (OB), cultural studies, anthropology, migration, economics, postcolonialism, and so on. And in the form of international, social and cultural, organisational, group, and individual scale diversity analysis. This dissertation focuses on diversity concerns from impression management, specifically from HRM as an executive-level phenomenon (Seliverstova, 2021).

As conceptual frameworks, organisational structures concentrating on the production of diversity and social psychology, notably social identity theory with diverse ‘identities’ of persons or intergroup connections, are primarily employed. The study’s primary goal in the workplace is to discover inequities or examine the effects of diversity on workplace outcomes.

Individual study interests include behaviours, emotions, intelligence, intercultural skills or competencies, while group research interests include group dynamics, intergroup interactions, effectiveness, and cooperation or collaboration. Organisational studies address themes such as workforce composition, workplace equality, and diversity challenges and how they may be managed accordingly. Domestic diversity, omitting national distinctions, or global diversity, about diverse country cultures, might be studied further (AYDIN and ÖZEREN, 2018).

Diversity is a context-dependent, particular, comparative, complicated, plural phrase or idea with varying interpretations in different organisations and cultures and no unified definition. As a result, in addition to many internal and external elements, diversity may be managed, individuals taught, and organisations have grown in various ways. This dissertation considers diversity in an organisational environment as a construct of ‘differences’ to be handled (Cummings, 2018).

Various management systems have grown in stages, bringing diverse diversity management concepts. Equality/equal opportunities (EO) legislation and diversity management are the two conventional approaches and primary streams with differing theoretical foundations for managing and dealing with workforce diversity challenges (DM).

These approaches relate to whether diversity is handled by increasing sameness by legal pressures or by voluntarily respecting people’s differences, which shows an organisation’s responsiveness and proactivity toward managing diversity. But most of the literature in this area has avoided the impression management theories (Coad and Guenther, 2014). Therefore, this study will add a new dimension in this area by introducing impression management analysis.

Research Aim and Objectives

This research aims to analyse the impact of organisational structure on human resources diversification from the viewpoint of impression managerial theory. It has the following objectives:

  • It will examine the existing impression management literature to draw insights into the relationship under consideration.
  • It will identify various factors such as competency, social inclusion, etc., affecting the management’s decision to recruit diverse human resources.
  • It will recommend appropriate organisational structures and HR policies to improve diversification of HR by reviewing impression management theories.

Research Questions

This research will answer the following questions:

  • How does organisational structure affect human resources diversification from the viewpoint of impression managerial theory?
  • What factors such as competency, social inclusion, etc., affect the management decision to recruit diverse human resources?
  • What are appropriate organisational structures and HR policies to improve diversification of HR by reviewing impression management theories?

Research Hypothesis

The organisational structure significantly impacts the recruitment of diverse human resources.

Literature Review

According to Staniec and Zakrzewska-Bielawska (2010), considering strategy-oriented activities and organisational components are the critical foundation in the organisational structure required to align structure strategy. Each company’s internal organisation is somewhat distinctive, resulting from various corporate initiatives and historical conditions.

Furthermore, each design is based on essential success elements and vital tasks inherent in the firm plan. This article offers empirical research on unique organisational structure elements in Polish firms in the context of concentration and diversification tactics. And companies that adopted concentration techniques mainly used functional organisational structures.

Tasks were primarily classified and categorised based on functions and phases of the technical process, with coordination based on hierarchy. Jobs were also highly centralised and formalised. Organisational structures of an active type were also prevalent in many firms. Only a handful of the evaluated organisations possessed flexible contemporary divisional or matrix structures appropriate to differentiation. However, it appears that even such organisations should adjust their organisational solutions to perform successfully in an immensely complex and chaotic environment.

Similarly, according to Yang and Konrad (2011), diversity management techniques are the institutionalised methods created and applied by organisations to manage diversity among all organisational shareholders. They examined the existing research on the causes and significance of diversity management approaches.

They construct a research model indicating many potential routes for future study using institutional and resource-based theories. They also offer prospective avenues for study on diversity management techniques to further the two theoretical viewpoints. The findings indicate that research on diverse management practises might provide perceptions into the two ideologies. Diversity management provides a method for reconciling the agency vs structure issue for institutional concept.

Furthermore, diversity management is a suitable framework for studying how institutional pressures are translated into organisational action and the relationship between complying with institutional mandates and attaining high performance. Research on diversity management raises the importance of environmental normative elements in resource-based reasoning.

It allows for exploring essential resource sources and the co-evolution of diversity resources and management capacities, potentially developing dynamic resource-based theory. Furthermore, a review of the existing research on diversity management practices reveals that research in this field has nearly entirely concentrated on employee-related activities.

However, in establishing the idea of diversity management practises, we included the practises that companies put in place to manage diversity across all stakeholder groups on purpose. Management techniques for engaging with consumers, dealers, supervisors, board directors, and community members are critical for meeting institutional theory’s social and normative commitments.

Moreover, according to Sippola (2014), this research looks at diversity management from the standpoint of HRM. The study aims to discover the effects of expanding workforce diversity on HRM inside firms. This goal will be accomplished through four papers examining diversity management’s impacts on HRM from various viewpoints and mostly in longitudinal contexts.

The purpose of the first article, as a pilot survey, is to determine the reasons, advantages, and problems of rising cultural diversity and the consequences for HRM to get a preliminary grasp of the issue in the specific setting. According to the report, diversity is vital for productivity but is not often emphasised in HRM strategy.

The key areas that were changed were acquisition, development, and growth. The second article examines how different diversity management paradigms recognised in businesses affect HRM. It offers an experimentally verified typology that explains reactive or proactive strategic and operational level HRM activities in light of four alternative diversity management perspectives.

The third essay will examine how a ‘working culture bridge group’ strategy fosters and enhances workplace diversity. The research looks into how development goals are defined, what training and development techniques are used, and the consequences and causal factors when an analysis measures the training and development approach.

The primary goal of article four is to establish which components of diversity management design are globally integrated into multinational corporations (MNCs) and which integrating (delivery) methods are employed to facilitate it. Another goal is to identify the institutional problems faced by the Finnish national diversity setting during the integration process.

The findings show that the example organisation achieved more excellent global uniformity at the level of diversification concept through effective use of multiple frameworks but was forced to rely on a more multinational approach to implementing diversification policies and procedures. The difficulties faced emphasised the distinctiveness of Finland’s cognitive and normative institutional setting for diversity.

Furthermore, according to Guillaume et al. (2017), to compensate for the dual-edged character of demographic workplace diversity impacts on social inclusion, competence, and well-being-related factors, research has shifted away from straightforward main effect methods and begun to investigate factors that moderate these effects.

While there is no shortage of primary research on the circumstances that lead to favourable or poor results, it is unknown which contextual elements make it work. Using the Classification framework as a theoretical lens, they examine variables that moderate the impacts of workplace diversity on social integration, performance, and well-being outcomes, emphasising characteristics that organisations and managers can influence.

They suggest future study directions and end with practical applications. They concluded that faultlines, cross-categorisation, and status variations across demographic groupings highlight variety. Cross-categorisation has been proven to reduce intergroup prejudice while promoting social inclusion, competence, and well-being. Whether faultlines and subgroup status inequalities promote negative or good intergroup interactions and hinder social integration, performance, and well-being depends on whether situational factors encourage negative or positive intergroup connections. The impacts were not mitigated by team size or diversity type.

Furthermore, our data demonstrate that task characteristics are essential for workgroup diversity. Any demographic diversity in workgroups can promote creativity, but only when combined with task-relevant expertise improves the performance of teams undertaking complicated tasks. The type of team and the industrial context do not appear to play an effect. It is unclear if these findings apply to relational demography and organisational diversity impacts. There is some evidence that, under some settings, relational demography may increase creativity, and, as previously said, demographic variety may help firms function in growth-oriented strategy contexts.

Likewise, according to Ali, Tawfeq, and Dler (2020), diversity management refers to organisational strategies that strive to increase the integration of people from diverse backgrounds into the framework of corporate goals. Organisations should develop productive ways to implement diversity management (DM) policies to establish a creative enterprise that can enhance their operations, goods, and services.

Furthermore, human resource management HRM is a clever tool for any firm to manage resources within the company. As a result, this article explores the link between DM, HR policies, and workers’ creative work-related behaviours in firms in Kurdistan’s Fayoum city. According to the questionnaire, two hypotheses were tested: the influence of HRM on diversity management, HRM on innovation, and the impact of diversity management on innovation.

The first premise is that workplace diversity changes the nature of working relationships, how supervisors and managers connect, and how workers respond to one another. It also addresses human resource functions such as record-keeping, training, recruiting, and employee competence needs. The last premise on the influence of diversity management on innovation is that workplace diversity assists a business in hiring a diverse range of personnel.

In other words, a vibrant population need individuals of varied personalities. Workplace diversity refers to a company’s workforce consisting of employees of various genders, ages, faiths, races, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, religions, dialects, training, capabilities, etc. According to the study’s findings, human resource management strategies have a substantial influence on diversity management.

Second, diversity management was found to have a considerable impact on creativity. Finally, human resource management techniques influenced innovation significantly. Based on the findings, it was discovered that diversity management had a more significant influence on creation than human resource management.

Lastly, according to Li et al. (2021), the universal trend of rising workplace age diversity has increased the study focus on the organisational effects of age-diverse workforces. Prior research has mainly concentrated on the statistical association between age diversity and organisational success rather than experimentally examining the probable processes behind this relationship.

They argue that age diversity influences organisational performance through human and social capital using an intellectual capital paradigm. Moreover, they investigate workplace functional diversity and age-inclusive management as two confounding factors affecting the benefits of age diversity on physical and human capital.

Their hypotheses were evaluated using data from the Association for Human Resource Management’s major manager-reported workplace survey. Age diversity was favourably linked with organisational performance via the mediation of higher human and social capital. Furthermore, functional diversity and age-inclusive management exacerbated the favourable benefits of age variety on human and social capital. Their study gives insight into how age-diverse workforces might generate value by nurturing knowledge-based organisational resources.

Research Gap/ Contribution

Although there is a vast body of research in diversity in the human resource management area, many researchers explored various dimensions. But no study explicitly discovers the impact of organisational culture on human resource diversification. Moreover, no researchers examined the scope of impression management in this context.

Therefore, this research will fill this considerable literature gap by finding the direct impact of organisational structure on human resource diversification. Secondly, by introducing a new dimension of impression management theory. It will open new avenues for research in this area, and it will help HR managers to formulate better policies for a more inclusive organisational structure.

Research Methodology

It will be mixed quantitative and qualitative research based on the secondary data collected through different research journals and case studies of various companies. Firstly, the quantitative analysis will be conducted through a regression analysis to show the organisational structure’s impact on human resource diversification.

The dummy variable will be used to show organisational structure, and diversification will be captured through the ethnic backgrounds of the employees. Moreover, different variables will be added to the model, such as competency, social inclusion, etc. It will fulfil the objective of identifying various factors which affect the management decision to recruit diverse human resources. Secondly, a systematic review of the literature will be conducted for qualitative analysis to add the impression management dimension to the research. Google Scholar, JSTOR, Scopus, etc., will be used to search keywords such as human resource diversity, impression management, and organisation structure.

Research Limitation

Although research offers a comprehensive empirical analysis on the relationship under consideration due to lack of resources, the study is limited to secondary data. It would be better if the research would’ve been conducted on the primary data collected through the organisations. That would’ve captured the actual views of the working professionals. It would’ve increased the validity of the research.

Ali, M., Tawfeq, A., & Dler, S. (2020). Relationship between Diversity Management and Human Resource Management: Their Effects on Employee Innovation in the Organizations. Black Sea Journal of Management and Marketing, 1 (2), 36-44.

AYDIN, E., & ÖZEREN, E. (2018). Rethinking workforce diversity research through critical perspectives: emerging patterns and research agenda. Business & Management Studies: An International Journal, 6 (3), 650-670.

Coad, A., & Guenther, C. (2014). Processes of firm growth and diversification: theory and evidence. Small Business Economics, 43 (4), 857-871.

Cummings, V. (2018). Economic Diversification and Empowerment of Local Human Resources: Could Singapore Be a Model for the GCC Countries?. In. Economic Diversification in the Gulf Region, II , 241-260.

Guillaume, Y., Dawson, J., Otaye‐Ebede, L., Woods, S., & West, M. (2017). Harnessing demographic differences in organizations: What moderates the effects of workplace diversity? Journal of Organizational Behavior, 38 (2), 276-303.

Hayes, T., Oltman, K., Kaylor, L., & Belgudri, A. (2020). How leaders can become more committed to diversity management. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 72 (4), 247.

Li, Y., Gong, Y., Burmeister, A., Wang, M., Alterman, V., Alonso, A., & Robinson, S. (2021). Leveraging age diversity for organizational performance: An intellectual capital perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 106 (1), 71.

Seliverstova, Y. (2021). Workforce diversity management: a systematic literature review. Strategic Management, 26 (2), 3-11.

Sippola, A. (2014). Essays on human resource management perspectives on diversity management. Vaasan yliopisto.

Staniec, I., & Zakrzewska-Bielawska, A. (2010). Organizational structure in the view of single business concentration and diversification strategies—empirical study results. Recent advances in management, marketing, finances. WSEAS Press, Penang, Malaysia .

Yadav, S., & Lenka, U. (2020). Diversity management: a systematic review. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal .

Yang, Y., & Konrad, A. (2011). Understanding diversity management practices: Implications of institutional theory and resource-based theory. Group & Organization Management, 36 (1), 6-38.

FAQs About Research Methods for Dissertations

What is the difference between research methodology and research methods.

Research methodology helps you conduct your research in the right direction, validates the results of your research and makes sure that the study you are conducting answers the set research questions.

Research methods are the techniques and procedures used for conducting research. Choosing the right research method for your writing is an important aspect of the research process.

What are the types of research methods?

The types of research methods include:

  •     Experimental research methods.
  •     Descriptive research methods
  •     Historical Research methods

What is a quantitative research method?

Quantitative research is associated with numerical data or data that can be measured. It is used to study a large group of population. The information is gathered by performing statistical, mathematical, or computational techniques.

What is a qualitative research method?

It is a type of scientific research where a researcher collects evidence to seek answers to a question . It is associated with studying human behavior from an informative perspective. It aims at obtaining in-depth details of the problem.

What is meant by mixed methods research?

Mixed methods of research involve:

  • There could be more than one stage of research. Depending on the research topic, occasionally, it would be more appropriate to perform qualitative research in the first stage to figure out and investigate a problem to unveil key themes; and conduct quantitative research in stage two of the process for measuring relationships between the themes.

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Baffled by the concept of reliability and validity? Reliability refers to the consistency of measurement. Validity refers to the accuracy of measurement.

A case study is a detailed analysis of a situation concerning organizations, industries, and markets. The case study generally aims at identifying the weak areas.

A meta-analysis is a formal, epidemiological, quantitative study design that uses statistical methods to generalise the findings of the selected independent studies.

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A literature-based dissertation is an academically rigorous work that requires students to use their research, analysis, and writing skills. It is an important part of a student's academic career and demonstrates their ability to analyze existing research and draw meaningful conclusions from the data they have gathered.

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Below are some complete literature-based dissertation examples that can help you meet the quest of writing an amazing literature dissertation. 

  • The Abuse of Corporate Veil: A Comparative Analysis of Corporate Veil Lifting Approaches
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  • An Investigation of Cyberbullying and Its impact on Adolescents’ Mental Health

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What is a literature-based dissertation.

A literature-based dissertation is when a student uses existing literature as the basis for their empirical study. This type of dissertation requires students to read and analyze prior studies, identify gaps in the literature, develop questions to answer those gaps, and then use their research to answer those questions.

Main Components of a Literature-Based Dissertation

Get the literature-based dissertation pdf example of the above examples and learn about the main components of a literature-based dissertation.

1.   Introduction

The introduction should lay down an overview of the literature you will review and explain the main arguments you will make in your dissertation. It should also introduce the reader to the main themes you will discuss in your literature review.

2.   Literature Review

The literature review is where you will critically evaluate the existing research on your chosen topic. This section includes a discussion of the different approaches that have been taken to study your topic, as well as an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. You should also use this section to identify gaps in the existing research and formulate your research questions.

3.   Methodology

This section will describe the methods you will use to collect and analyze data for your dissertation. That may include a discussion of different research designs, data collection methods, and data analysis techniques. It is important to note that your methodology should align with the research questions you formulated in your literature review.

4.   Results

You will summarise your research's findings in the results section. It should include a detailed discussion of your collected data and how it relates to your research questions. It is crucial to note that you should not interpret your results in this section; rather, you should present the facts.

5.   Discussion

In the discussion section, you will interpret your results and discuss their implications for theory and practice. That is where you will address any limitations in your study and suggest areas for future research. You should also discuss how your findings contribute to our understanding of your chosen topic.

6.   Conclusion

The conclusion should summarise your main arguments and findings from your literature review and discussion sections.

The Process of Writing a Literature-Based Dissertation

Writing a successful literature-based dissertation involves several steps.

  • First, you must choose your topic and define your research question(s).
  • Next, you will need to select which sources you will use for your review.
  • After that, you should begin by reading all the chosen material and making notes on key points.
  • Once you have completed this step, it is time to create an outline for your paper that includes an introduction, body paragraphs with evidence supporting your thesis statement, and a conclusion. Lastly, it is time for you to write your final paper using proper citations for any information not original to your work.

Tips for Writing Your Literature-Based Dissertation

a.   Research Thoroughly 

The first step in writing your literature-based dissertation is researching thoroughly. Take the time to read through relevant academic sources, such as journal articles and books, to understand your chosen topic's current thinking.

That will help you form an argumentative stance and provide evidence for your claims. It's important to include recent research findings so that your paper is up-to-date with current knowledge and trends. 

b.   Develop a Clear Argument 

Once you have completed your research, developing a clear argument that you plan to discuss in your dissertation is important. Your argument should be based on facts from reliable sources rather than personal opinions or beliefs.

Make sure your argument is well supported with evidence from other academic sources, and check for any logical inconsistencies before presenting it in your paper.

c.   Organize Your Work Strategically 

When organizing and structuring your work for the literature-based dissertation, it’s helpful to divide it into sections such as the introduction, main body of text, discussion/conclusion section, and references/works cited page. It will help keep all the information organized and easy to follow when reading the paper.

Additionally, ensure that each section is clearly labelled so that readers can easily navigate throughout the document if they need additional information on any particular topic or claim made in the paper. 

d.   Be Concise and Direct 

When writing a literature-based dissertation, it is important to be concise and direct with your words. Avoid the temptation of using long sentences or complicated language; instead, focus on being clear with what you want to say.

Also, ensure not to include unnecessary details or information; stick with only relevant facts and data that contribute directly to your argument or thesis statement. Finally, try to avoid repeating yourself, as this can make your paper seem longer than necessary without providing additional insight into the topic.

Challenges Associated with L iterature-Based D issertation

I.   Time Management 

One of the most difficult characteristics of writing a literature-based dissertation is managing your time efficiently. You must dedicate enough time to research, reading, planning, drafting, and revising your work.

You need to ensure that each chapter follows logically from the previous one and contributes to the overall structure of your paper. To help manage your time more effectively and avoid procrastination, set achievable goals such as writing 500 words daily or reading 3 articles per week. It will help keep you on track throughout the entire process. 

ii.   Finding Relevant Sources 

Any literature-based dissertation's success depends on finding relevant sources supporting your argument or study topic. As such, it’s important that you have access to many different sources – including books, journal articles, websites etc. – to ensure that you have all the information necessary for your paper.

The internet is useful for finding relevant sources; however, it’s also important to use library databases such as JSTOR or EBSCOhost, which offer access to millions of academic journals and books covering a wide range of topics. 

iii.   Maintaining Focus 

When researching for your literature-based dissertation, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information available; this can make it difficult to stay focused on your topic area or specific question/argument.

To help combat this issue, make sure you create an outline at the start which clearly states what each chapter should include as well as what points should be made in each section/paragraph; this will provide guidance throughout the process and help keep things focused on what’s important in terms of answering your research question/argument.

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Writing a literature-based dissertation can be both challenging and rewarding simultaneously! It is important for students who are embarking on this type of project to remember that taking small steps will get them closer to completing their projects successfully. By following these tips, they should be able to make steady progress toward completing their dissertations in no time! Good luck!

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Writing methodology literature based dissertation writing

Writing methodology literature based dissertation writing and count the number of

A key part of your dissertation or thesis is the methodology. This is not quite the same as ‘methods’.

The methodology describes the broad philosophical underpinning to your chosen research methods, including whether you are using qualitative or quantitative methods, or a mixture of both, and why.

You should be clear about the academic basis for all the choices of research methods that you have made. ‘I was interested ‘ or ‘I thought. ‘ is not enough; there must be good academic reasons for your choice.

What to Include in your Methodology

If you are submitting your dissertation in sections, with the methodology submitted before you actually undertake the research, you should use this section to set out exactly what you plan to do.

The methodology should be linked back to the literature to explain why you are using certain methods, and the academic basis of your choice.

If you are submitting as a single thesis, then the Methodology should explain what you did, with any refinements that you made as your work progressed. Again, it should have a clear academic justification of all the choices that you made and be linked back to the literature.

Common Research Methods for the Social Sciences

There are numerous research methods that can be used when researching scientific subjects, you should discuss which are the most appropriate for your research with your supervisor.

The following research methods are commonly used in social science, involving human subjects:

One of the most flexible and widely used methods for gaining qualitative information about people’s experiences, views and feelings is the interview.

Writing methodology literature based dissertation writing chosen research methods

The level of structure in an interview can vary, but most commonly interviewers follow a semi-structured format. This means that the interviewer will develop a guide to the topics that he or she wishes to cover in the conversation, and may even write out a number of questions to ask.

However, the interviewer is free to follow different paths of conversation that emerge over the course of the interview, or to prompt the informant to clarify and expand on certain points. Therefore, interviews are particularly good tools for gaining detailed information where the research question is open-ended in terms of the range of possible answers.

Interviews are not particularly well suited for gaining information from large numbers of people. Interviews are time-consuming, and so careful attention needs to be given to selecting informants who will have the knowledge or experiences necessary to answer the research question.

See our page: Interviews for Research for more information.

Observations

If a researcher wants to know what people do under certain circumstances, the most straightforward way to get this information is sometimes simply to watch them under those circumstances.

Because the data will be numbers of cars, this is an example of quantitative observation.

A researcher wanting to know how people react to a billboard advertisement might spend time watching and describing the reactions of the people. In this case, the data would be descriptive. and would therefore be qualitative.

There are a number of potential ethical concerns that can arise with an observation study. Do the people being studied know that they are under observation? Can they give their consent? If some people are unhappy with being observed, is it possible to ‘remove’ them from the study while still carrying out observations of the others around them?

Questionnaires

If your intended research question requires you to collect standardised (and therefore comparable) information from a number of people, then questionnaires may be the best method to use.

Questionnaires can be used to collect both quantitative and qualitative data, although you will not be able to get the level of detail in qualitative responses to a questionnaire that you could in an interview.

Questionnaires require a great deal of care in their design and delivery, but a well-developed questionnaire can be distributed to a much larger number of people than it would be possible to interview.

Questionnaires are particularly well suited for research seeking to measure some parameters for a group of people (e.g. average age, percentage agreeing with a proposition, level of awareness of an issue), or to make comparisons between groups of people (e.g. to determine whether members of different generations held the same or different views on immigration).

See our page: Surveys and Survey Design for more information.

Documentary Analysis

Documentary analysis involves obtaining data from existing documents without having to question people through interview, questionnaires or observe their behaviour. Documentary analysis is the main way that historians obtain data about their research subjects, but it can also be a valuable tool for contemporary social scientists.

Documents are tangible materials in which facts or ideas have been recorded. Typically, we think of items written or produced on paper, such as newspaper articles, Government policy records, leaflets and minutes of meetings. Items in other media can also be the subject of documentary analysis, including films, songs, websites and photographs.

Documents can reveal a great deal about the people or organisation that produced them and the social context in which they emerged.

Some documents are part of the public domain and are freely accessible, whereas other documents may be classified, confidential or otherwise unavailable to public access. If such documents are used as data for research, the researcher must come to an agreement with the holder of the documents about how the contents can and cannot be used and how confidentiality will be preserved.

How to Choose your Methodology and Precise Research Methods

Your methodology should be linked back to your research questions and previous research.

Visit your university or college library and ask the librarians for help; they should be able to help you to identify the standard research method textbooks in your field. See also our section on Research Methods for some further ideas.

Such books will help you to identify your broad research philosophy, and then choose methods which relate to that. This section of your dissertation or thesis should set your research in the context of its theoretical underpinnings.

The methodology should also explain the weaknesses of your chosen approach and how you plan to avoid the worst pitfalls, perhaps by triangulating your data with other methods, or why you do not think the weakness is relevant.

For every philosophical underpinning, you will almost certainly be able to find researchers who support it and those who don’t.

Use the arguments for and against expressed in the literature to explain why you have chosen to use this methodology or why the weaknesses don’t matter here.

Structuring your Methodology

It is usually helpful to start your section on methodology by setting out the conceptual framework in which you plan to operate with reference to the key texts on that approach.

You should be clear throughout about the strengths and weaknesses of your chosen approach and how you plan to address them. You should also note any issues of which to be aware, for example in sample selection or to make your findings more relevant.

You should then move on to discuss your research questions, and how you plan to address each of them.

This is the point at which to set out your chosen research methods, including their theoretical basis, and the literature supporting them. You should make clear whether you think the method is ‘tried and tested’ or much more experimental, and what kind of reliance you could place on the results. You will also need to discuss this again in the discussion section.

Your research may even aim to test the research methods, to see if they work in certain circumstances.

You should conclude by summarising your research methods, the underpinning approach, and what you see as the key challenges that you will face in your research. Again, these are the areas that you will want to revisit in your discussion.

Your methodology, and the precise methods that you choose to use in your research, are crucial to its success.

It is worth spending plenty of time on this section to ensure that you get it right. As always, draw on the resources available to you, for example by discussing your plans in detail with your supervisor who may be able to suggest whether your approach has significant flaws which you could address in some way.

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    Written by Edward Mellett Due to the complexities of the different research methods, writing your dissertation methodology can often be the most challenging and time-consuming part of your postgraduate dissertation. This article focuses on the importance of writing a good PhD or master's dissertation methodology - and how to achieve this.

  17. How to Write a Literature Review

    Examples of literature reviews. Step 1 - Search for relevant literature. Step 2 - Evaluate and select sources. Step 3 - Identify themes, debates, and gaps. Step 4 - Outline your literature review's structure. Step 5 - Write your literature review.

  18. How to write a literature based dissertation?

    Here are two abstracts of the literature dissertations recently written by our team. Below is a description of the most widely accepted methodology and structure for a literature-based dissertation. Methodology- this describes the exact approach which has been adopted by the author in putting together the literature-based dissertation.

  19. Literature review as a research methodology: An ...

    Synthesis Research methodology Systematic review Integrative review 1. Introduction Building your research on and relating it to existing knowledge is the building block of all academic research activities, regardless of discipline. Therefore, to do so accurately should be a priority for all academics.

  20. Research Methods for Dissertation

    Dissertations based on mixed methods of research can be the hardest to tackle even for PhD students. ... But most of the literature in this area has avoided the impression management theories (Coad and Guenther, 2014). Therefore, this study will add a new dimension in this area by introducing impression management analysis. ...

  21. How to Write a Literature-Based Dissertation?

    A literature-based dissertation is an academically rigorous work that requires students to use their research, analysis, and writing skills. It is an important part of a student's academic career and demonstrates their ability to analyze existing research and draw meaningful conclusions from the data they have gathered.

  22. (PDF) Research Methodology: Literature Review

    December 2022 · Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching. Icy Lee. This paper reviews and reflects on developments in classroom-based research on second or foreign language (L2) writing ...

  23. Literature Based Research Methodology

    Literature based methodology - designing a research project where existing literature is the population where the researcher needs to go for: Sampling Data collection Data analysis Ethics. 12. Constitutes two types 1. Systematic literature review [also known as systematic overview] 2.

  24. Writing methodology literature based dissertation writing

    The methodology should be linked back to the literature to explain why you are using certain methods, and the academic basis of your choice. If you are submitting as a single thesis, then the Methodology should explain what you did, with any refinements that you made as your work progressed. Again, it should have a clear academic justification ...