How to write a simple research methods section

Some great advice when putting together a research methods section for a funding application. The trap that is described is something I come across often, especially when working with early career researchers or those fresh from a PhD. Getting bogged down in the background is easy to do. Make sure you talk to people, explain to them what you are doing. Those conversations can really help to clarify thinking.

The Research Whisperer

Photo by Mel Hattie | unsplash.com Photo by Mel Hattie | unsplash.com

Yesterday I read a research application that contained no research methods at all.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

In an eight-page project description, there were exactly three sentences that described the methods. Let’s say it went something like this:

  • There was to be some fieldwork (to unspecified locations),
  • Which would be analysed in workshops (for unspecified people), and
  • There would be analysis with a machine (for unspecified reasons).

In essence, that was the methods section.

As you might imagine, this led to a difficult (but very productive) discussion with the project leader about what they really planned to do. They knew what they wanted to do, and that conversation teased this out. I thought that I might replicate some of that discussion here, as it might be useful for other people, too.

I’ve noticed that most researchers find it easy to write about the…

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