What Should Be Included in the Methodology of Marketing and Management Dissertations?

Contents of the Methodology Chapter

A dissertation as an academic paper written by scholars from different educational levels (i.e. Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD) and must contain a clearly defined methodology. The methodology chapter should include the most convenient research types, methods and techniques which researchers find useful for the purposes formulated in their dissertations and academic papers. Identifying the research questions and objectives is crucial for choosing the best methodology that would shape the structure of the whole research. At the beginning of the methodology chapter, researchers should provide a brief introduction of the contents which should be a short overview of the research philosophy, research approaches, data collection methods used for the study and the data analysis methods.

Understanding the Research Methodology

Mark Saunders developed a very useful framework named the “research onion”, which has made a significant contribution to the design of research methods. The whole research process is shown as an onion consisted of several layers with each layer represents a different phase of the methodology process. The centre represents the main research question that is supposed to be reached after the researcher successfully completes all the research phases. In other words, peeling the onion’s layers would make the researcher reach and cover the main research question.

Types of Research, Research Approaches and Data Collection Methods

Researchers should choose between practical or theoretical types of enquiry. In turn, the chosen type of research defines the research approaches. Theoretical research is usually non-empirical whereas practical research requires the collection of primary data as it takes the form of an empirical study. This involves a primary data collection method that offers a variety of research instruments to use such as questionnaires, surveys, interviews, observations and experiments. There are two types of research approaches, namely deduction and induction. The deductive approach is built upon some chosen scientific theory, which serves as the basis of formulating the research hypotheses. It is widely used amongst researchers who try to prove whether their observations are consistent with the previous scholars’ research.

Conversely, the inductive approach starts with observations. There is no theory that would serve as a base, but researchers firstly go through the data selection process and after undertaking analysis they are able to confirm whether the research data would make a contribution to some already existing theory. In other words, the collection and examination of the gathered data would determine the significance of the research findings.

Next, researchers should determine whether they are going to use quantitative or qualitative data. It is another classification of the data collection process which depends on the research question and sample size. The quantitative approach is found to be suitable to use when there is a large number of respondents whereas the qualitative approach relies on interviews as this approach requires researchers to focus on the respondents’ perceptions. After the data collection process is completed, researchers divide the data into two groups: namely primary and secondary data, and switch to using suitable data analysis methods such as content analysis and statistical analysis to evaluate the findings.