A research paper has several sections which must be evaluated individually before the final mark is given. The research paper methods section is the only place where the writer gets to expound on the various methods used in data collection and analysis. This section contains details of the methods used in collecting the raw data and the process of converting that data in to useful information. There are various styles of writing that every student should have an idea of. Each style places different demands on the writer on how to handle the various sections of the paper. Regardless of the difference in the styles of writing, there are general rules of writing a proper research paper methods section. The following are the basic guidelines:
- Tense: This section should be written in the past tense. The main reason is that by the time the paper is completed, the research methodology will be a thing of the past. The data collection and analysis must happen before writing the final copy and this fact rules out any other tense for the methods section.
- Experiment Design: The design of study used in the experiment should be vividly described in the methods section. Highlighting both the dependent and independent variables is also important to help the reader in connecting the flow of the study.
- Materials used: One cannot complete a research methods exam paper without mentioning the materials used in the study. Depending on the category of participants in the experiment, the materials used may differ from one study to another. For instance, the materials used for sampling are not the same as those used for a whole population study.
- Study participants: This refers to the population from which the data has been extracted. Different categories of participants require different modes of data collection and materials.
- Actual procedure: This refers to the process that was used to collect data and more specifically the steps followed in the whole procedure.
- Brevity: Even though the methods section should provide enough details for future use by other researchers, it should not contain unnecessary details. One should be brief yet clear in their methodology not just for the current study but also for the future.
It is actually not the method of data collection that makes a paper lengthy or short. A research paper on sampling methods can be lengthy depending on the sizes of samples used. Completing a standard research paper requires unrelenting commitment from the start to the end. Even though the methods section is just as important as the other sections, a lot more happens in other sections. However, each section is considered individually hence the need for thoroughness in the whole paper. Get additional hints here.