Not every degree requires a methodology section, and not every degree requires a results section. But, if you are working in the social sciences you will need to understand the conventions of your field, and that means having each of these sections, and ensuring that they contain the appropriate information. So, what is required in the methodology section and the results section of your master’s thesis?
The methodology section comes quite early in your study. It is intended to do two things: First, it tells your reader how you have explored your subject, how you have attained your data, how you have analysed your data. Secondly, it lets the reader know that you understand the pros and cons of the various kinds of data collection. For example, you may choose a qualitative research method, relying on self-reporting and questionnaires. In the methods section, you can let your reader know the strengths and weaknesses of this method, and that you have taken these into account in your research. The methodology, simply put, tells your reader the ‘how’, after sections which describe the ‘what’ and ‘why’.
In your research paper, you thesis, you will have presented the reader with a huge amount of information, and a huge amount of data, which was collected using the methodology described in your method section. Each time you introduced data, you should have discussed the relevance of that data. But, in your results section, you need to bring all of that together, to make sure that the most salient points of evidence are clear. This means going back through the data and the conclusions, and reading these in relation to your thesis: ask yourself ‘what does this data say, and what does it say about my research purpose?’ when you know this, you can inform the reader, without simply repeating all of the graphs and tables that you have used throughout. You must do the work here, tell the reader what you need them to know!
The methods section and the results section are crucial to your study; the first tells your reader that you understand how to get data, and the second tells your reader that you know how to evaluate that data for relevance. Get these right and half the work is done!
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