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Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed-Methods Approaches to Research 

  • Applied Research Methods in Public and Nonprofit Organizations Mitchell Brown, & Kathleen Hale. (2014). Applied Research Methods in Public and Nonprofit Organizations: Vol. First edition. Jossey-Bass.

Please review Chapter 3. 

  • Research Methodology & Design - Qualitative Research Methods National University Library (2024). Qualitative research methods. This guide features NU Library resources for studying and planning qualitative research methodology and design.
  • Research Methodology & Design - Quantitative Research Methods National University Library (2024). Quantitative research methods. This guide features NU Library resources for studying and planning quantitative research methodology and design.
  • Doing Qualitative Research Creswell, J. (2015). Doing qualitative research [Video]. Sage Research Methods. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781506363448 This video discusses the characteristics of a qualitative researcher and defines qualitative research. (9:55).
  • Top Tips for Conducting Qualitative Research Hein, W. (2020). Top tips for conducting qualitative research [Video]. Sage Research Methods. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781529730708 This video reviews common student research problems, how to identify gaps in your research, figuring out what methods you favor, and challenging research problems. (9:32).
  • An Introduction to Reasoning in Qualitative & Quantitative Research  Rivas, C. (2017). An introduction to reasoning in qualitative & quantitative research [Video]. Sage Research Methods. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781473992269 This video reviews perspective and reasoning styles, deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, and abductive reasoning. (7:47).
  • What Is Best: Quantitative, Qualitative or Mixed Approaches? O'Leary, Z. (2017). What is best: Quantitative, qualitative or mixed approaches? [Video]. Sage Research Methods. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781526400147 This video discusses quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches. (10:32).
  • An Introduction to Mixed Methods Research Hitchcock, J. (2017). An introduction to mixed methods research [Video]. Sage Research Methods. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781473991712 This video reviews mixed methods research, how it can be used to address complex questions, and more. (16:05).
  • SAGE Research Methods: Qualitative vs Quantitative Research – Video Search Result List Spend some time exploring the videos in the search results list provided. This is a great place to start as you complete your own research for your culminating project proposal.

Statistics  

  • Elementary Statistics: A QuickStudy Digital Reference Guide Rumsey, D. (2020). Elementary Statistics: A QuickStudy Digital Reference Guide. QuickStudy Reference Guides.
  • Introductory Statistics Eusea, J., Okwan, P., Belmasrour, R., Patterson, S., & Andrus, S. (2024). Introductory Statistics. Pressbooks.
  • Basic Statistics Sandals29, & Leon, A. (2022). Basic Statistics. Pressbooks.
  • College Statistics LePine, M. (2022). College Statistics. Pressbooks.
  • Statistics for Research Students Fein, E. C., Gilmour, J., Machin, T., & Hendry, L. (2022). Statistics for Research Students. Pressbooks.
  • Introduction to Probability and Statistics Pardoe, I. (2022). Introduction to Probability and Statistics. Pressbooks.
  • Introduction to Statistics Lumen Learning, & OpenStax (2023). Introduction to Statistics. Pressbooks.
  • From Questions To Answers – Statistics For Everyone Roth, A. (2024). From Questions To Answers – Statistics For Everyone. Pressbooks.

Using Artificial Intelligence in Research

Resources  .

  • Artificial Intelligence: OpenAI, ChatGPT, Large Language Models, and You National University Library (2024). Artificial intelligence: OpenAI, ChatGPT, Large language models, and you. Explore this resource provided by National University to guide the ethical use of AI in your research.
  • Using Generative AI Academic Success Center (2024). Using generative AI. Familiarize yourself with the National University Academic Success Center’s resources for using generative AI. Please note that the misuse of AI in courses constitutes a breach of academic integrity as defined by the Student Code of Conduct.

Videos 

  • Using AI in Research Projects [Cory Lebson]. (2023, October 10). Using AI in Research Projects [Video]. LinkedIn Learning. This course gives tips and techniques for using generative AI to enhance, extend, and improve research projects of all types. (25m). Please make sure you are signed into OKTA prior to accessing the following LinkedIn Learning resources. Faculty, staff, and students have access to LinkedIn Learning and do not need to create an account.
  • How to Research and Write Using Generative AI Tools [Dave Birss]. (2023, March 15). How to Research and Write Using Generative AI Tools [Video]. LinkedIn Learning. This course teaches strategies for writing effective prompts for generative AI. (1h 15m). Please make sure you are signed into OKTA prior to accessing the following LinkedIn Learning resources. Faculty, staff, and students have access to LinkedIn Learning and do not need to create an account.
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chapter iii methodology (research design & methods)

Writing The Methodology Chapter

5 Time-Saving Tips & Tools

By: David Phair (PhD) and Amy Murdock (PhD) | July 2022

The methodology chapter is a crucial part of your dissertation or thesis – it’s where you provide context and justification for your study’s design. This in turn demonstrates your understanding of research theory, which is what earns you marks .

Over the years, we’ve helped thousands of students navigate this tricky section of the research process. In this post, we’ll share 5 time-saving tips to help you effectively write up your research methodology chapter .

Overview: Writing The Methodology Chapter

  • Develop a (rough) outline before you start writing
  • Draw inspiration from similar studies in your topic area
  • Justify every research design choice that you make
  • Err on the side of too much detail , rather than too little
  • Back up every design choice by referencing literature

Free Webinar: Research Methodology 101

1. Develop an outline before you start writing 

The first thing to keep in mind when writing your methodology chapter (and the rest of your dissertation) is that it’s always a good idea to sketch out a rough outline of what you are going to write about before you start writing . This will ensure that you stay focused and have a clear structural logic – thereby making the writing process simpler and faster.

An easy method of finding a structure for this chapter is to use frameworks that already exist, such as Saunder’s “ research onion ” as an example. Alternatively, there are many free methodology chapter templates for you to use as a starting point, so don’t feel like you have to create a new one from scratch.

Next, you’ll want to consider what your research approach is , and how you can break it down from a top-down angle, i.e., from the philosophical down to the concrete/tactical level. For example, you’ll need to articulate the following:  

  • Are you using a positivist , interpretivist , or pragmatist approach ?
  • Are you using inductive or deductive reasoning?
  • Are you using a qualitative , quantitative, or mixed methods study?

Keep these questions front of mind to ensure that you have a clear, well-aligned line of argument that will maintain your chapter’s internal and external consistency.

Remember, it’s okay if you feel overwhelmed when you first start the methodology chapter. Nobody is born with an innate knowledge of how to do this, so be prepared for the learning curve associated with new research projects. It’s no small task to write up a dissertation or thesis, so be kind to yourself!

Starting the process with a chapter outline will help keep your writing focused and ensure that the chapter has a clear structural logic.

2. Take inspiration from other studies 

Generally, there are plenty of existing journal articles that will share similar methodological approaches to your study. With any luck, there will also be existing dissertations and theses that adopt a similar methodological approach and topic. So, consider taking inspiration from these studies to help curate the contents of your methodology chapter.

Students often find it difficult to choose what content to include in the methodology chapter and what to leave for the appendix. By reviewing other studies with similar approaches, you will get a clearer sense of your discipline’s norms and characteristics . This will help you, especially in terms of deciding on the structure and depth of discussion.  

While you can draw inspiration from other studies, remember that it’s vital to pay close attention to your university’s specific guidelines, so you can anticipate departmental expectations of this section’s layout and content (and make it easier to work with your supervisor). Doing this is also a great way to figure out how in-depth your discussion should be. For example, word-count guidelines can help you decide whether to include or omit certain information.

Need a helping hand?

chapter iii methodology (research design & methods)

3. Justify every design choice you make

The golden rule of the methodology chapter is that you need to justify each and every design choice that you make, no matter how small or inconsequential it may seem. We often see that students merely state what they did instead of why they did what they did – and this costs them marks.

Keep in mind that you need to illustrate the strength of your study’s methodological foundation. By discussing the “what”, “why” and “how” of your choices, you demonstrate your understanding of research design and simultaneously justify the relevancy and efficacy of your methodology – both of which will earn you marks.

It’s never an easy task to conduct research. So, it’s seldom the case that you’ll be able to use the very best possible methodology for your research (e.g. due to time or budgetary constraints ). That’s okay – but make sure that you explain and justify your use of an alternate methodology to help justify your approach.

Ultimately, if you don’t justify and explain the logic behind each of your choices, your marker will have to assume that you simply didn’t know any better . So, make sure that you justify every choice, especially when it is a subpar choice (due to a practical constraint, for example). You can see an example of how this is done here.

The golden rule of the methodology chapter is that you need to justify each and every design choice that you make, no matter how small.

4. Err on the side of too much detail

We often see a tendency in students to mistakenly give more of an overview of their methodology instead of a step-by-step breakdown . Since the methodology chapter needs to be detailed enough for another researcher to replicate your study, your chapter should be particularly granular in terms of detail. 

Whether you’re doing a qualitative or quantitative study, it’s crucial to convey rigor in your research. You can do this by being especially detailed when you discuss your data, so be absolutely clear about your:  

  • Sampling strategy
  • Data collection method(s)
  • Data preparation
  • Analysis technique(s)

As you will likely face an extensive period of editing at your supervisor/reviewer’s direction, you’ll make it much easier for yourself if you have more information than you’d need. Some supervisors expect extensive detail around a certain aspect of your dissertation (like your research philosophy), while others may not expect it at all.

Remember, it’s quicker and easier to remove/ trim down information than it is to add information after the fact, so take the time to show your supervisor that you know what you’re talking about (methodologically) and you’re doing your best to be rigorous in your research.

The methodology chapter needs to be detailed enough information for another researcher to replicate your study, so don't be shy on detail.

5. Provide citations to support each design choice

Related to the issue of poor justification (tip #3), it’s important include high-quality academic citations to support the justification of your design choices. In other words, it’s not enough to simply explain why you chose a specific approach – you need to support each justification with reference to academic material.  

Simply put, you should avoid thinking of your methodology chapter as a citation-less section in your dissertation. As with your literature review, your methods section must include citations for every decision you make, since you are building on prior research.  You must show that you are making decisions based on methods that are proven to be effective, and not just because you “feel” that they are effective.

When considering the source of your citations, you should stick to peer-reviewed academic papers and journals and avoid using websites or blog posts (like us, hehe). Doing this will demonstrate that you are familiar with the literature and that you are factoring in what credible academics have to say about your methodology.

As a final tip, it’s always a good idea to cite as you go . If you leave this for the end, then you’ll end up spending a lot of precious time retracing your steps to find your citations and risk losing track of them entirely. So, be proactive and drop in those citations as you write up . You’ll thank yourself later!

Let’s Recap…

In this post, we covered 5 time-saving tips for writing up the methodology chapter:

  • Look at similar studies in your topic area
  • Justify every design choice that you make
  • Back up every design choice by referencing methodology literature

If you’ve got any questions relating to the methodology chapter, feel free to drop a comment below. Alternatively, if you’re interested in getting 1-on-1 help with your thesis or dissertation, be sure to check out our private coaching service .

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Methods Section: Chapter Three

The methods section , or chapter three, of the dissertation or thesis is often the most challenging for graduate students.  The methodology section, chapter three should reiterate the research questions and hypotheses, present the research design, discuss the participants, the instruments to be used, the procedure, the data analysis plan , and the sample size justification.

Research Questions and Null Hypotheses

Chapter three should begin with a portion that discusses the research questions and null hypotheses.  In the research questions and null hypotheses portion of the methodology chapter, the research questions should be restated in statistical language.  For example, “Is there a difference in GPA by gender?” is a t-test type of question, whereas “Is there a relationship between GPA and income level?” is a correlation type of question.  The important thing to remember is to use the language that foreshadows the data analysis plan .  The null hypotheses are just the research questions stated in the null; for example, “There is no difference in GPA by gender,” or “There is no relationship between GPA and income level.”

Research Design

The next portion of the methods section, chapter three is focused on developing the research design.  The research design has several possibilities. First, you must decide if you are doing quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods research. In a quantitative study, you are assessing participants’ responses on a measure.  For example, participants can endorse their level of agreement on some scale.  A qualitative design is a typically a semi-structured interview which gets transcribed, and the themes among the participants are derived.  A mixed methods project is a mixture of both a quantitative and qualitative study.

Participants

In the research methodology, the participants are typically a sample of the population you want to study.  You are probably not going to study all school children, but you may sample from the population of school children.  You need to include information about the characteristics of the population in your study (Are you sampling all males? teachers with under five years of experience?).  This represents the participants portion of your methods section, chapter three.

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Instruments

The instruments section is a critical part of the methodology section, chapter three.  The instruments section should include the name of the instruments, the scales or subscales, how the scales are computed, and the reliability and validity of the scales.  The instruments portion should have references to the researchers who created the instruments.

The procedure section of the methods chapter is simply how you are going to administer the instruments that you just described to the participants you are going to select.  You should walk the reader through the procedure in detail so that they can replicate your steps and your study.

Data Analysis Plan

The data analysis plan is just that — how you are going to analyze the data when you get the data from your participants.   It includes the statistical tests you are going to use, the statistical assumptions of these tests, and the justification for the statistical tests.

Sample Size Justification

Another important portion of your methods chapter three, is the sample size justification.  Sample size justification (or power analysis) is selecting how many participants you need to have in your study.  The sample size is based on several criteria:  the power you select (which is typically .80), the alpha level selected (which is typically .05), and the effect size (typically, a large or medium effect size is selected).  Importantly, once these criteria are selected, the sample size is going to be based on the type of statistic: an ANOVA is going to have a different sample size calculation than a multiple regression.

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Study of slope stability of the mining wall in an open-pit coal mine by the paste cut-and-backfill method, 1. introduction, 2. case study site, engineering geological conditions, 3. backfilling and mining methods, 3.1. principles of paste cut-and-backfill mining, 3.2. procedure for preparing and transporting materials for backfilling with cement paste, 3.3. the mining and backfilling sequence design, 4. mechanical properties of paste backfill materials made of cement, 4.1. materials and preparation of samples, 4.1.1. materials, 4.1.2. sample preparation, 4.1.3. testing program, 4.2. calculations and analysis of experimental results, the optimum cemented paste fill, 5. basic theory and definition, 5.1. limit equilibrium methods, 5.2. planar failure, 5.3. strength reduction finite element method, 5.4. slope failure definition, 5.5. mohr–coulomb plastic criterion, 6. limit equilibrium model with cemented paste backfill, 6.2. simulation slope with a different cement paste backfilling body, 7. discussion, 8. conclusions, supplementary materials, author contributions, institutional review board statement, informed consent statement, data availability statement, acknowledgments, conflicts of interest.

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Click here to enlarge figure

NumberLithologyThickness (m)Density (kg·m )Cohesion (MPa)Internal Friction Angle (°)
1Siltstone Sandstone50.7124602.4540
2Coal11.3216753.524
3Siltstone13.5720103.7538
4Coal20.4115003.524
5Siltstone22.0824003.7538
6Coal31.3616703.524
7Siltstone33.0622903.7538
8Coal41.8217303.524
9Siltstone43.4422803.7538
10Coal–Siltstone15.8020102.4540
11Siltstone51.0722203.7538
12Coal–Siltstone21.2318902.4540
13Siltstone61.1623903.7538
14Coal52.3217103.524
15Siltstone70.6825003.7538
14Coal–Siltstone30.7820202.4540
17Siltstone80.7124203.7538
18Coal–Siltstone41.2420502.4540
19Thin Variable Siltstone0.9724702.4540
20Coal60.9020502.4540
21Siltstone/Tillite0.9725902.4540
NumberNameType Specification
1Strength testing facilityWAW-1000D (Jinan Hensgrand Instrument Co., Ltd., Jinan, China)
2Digital curing chamberSHBY-40B (Trading Company, Nanjing, China)
3Cement mixerNJ160 (Shaoxing Kare Instrument Equipment CO., Ltd., Shaoxing, China)
4Mold70.7 mm × 70.7 mm × 70.7 mm
5Laser Particle Size AnalyzerWINNER3009
6Laboratory Small Jaw CrusherJXSC Machine (JXSC Mine Machinery, Ganzhou, China)
7Vibro-stand and soil sieve
LevelFactor
%) %) %)Curing Time (d)
1722561
2743083
37635107
478401228
NumberCuring Time (d)
S117225669
S217425867
S3176251065
S4178251263
S537230862
S6374301060
S7376301258
S837830664
S9772351055
S10774351253
S1177635657
S1277835857
S132872401248
S14287440654
S15287640852
S162878401050
Type of Paste Fill SpecimenDensity (kg·m )Peak Load (kN)UCS (MPa)StrainShear Stress (MPa)
6% Cement D1 = S134,571.43.02230.620.0230.31
6% Cement D3 = S834,333.34.73350.970.0180.485
6% Cement D7 = S1134,523.812.31632.510.0141.255
6% Cement D28 = S1433,428.625.36665.180.0282.59
8% Cement D1 = S234,095.25.68811.160.0320.58
8% Cement D3 = S533,142.99.46081.930.0360.965
8% Cement D7 = S1233,571.427.45385.600.0302.8
8% Cement D28 = 1533,714.31.509912.220.0226.11
10% Cement D1 = S334,095.213.77132.810.0151.405
10% Cement D3 = S631,619.019.34743.950.0281.975
10% Cement D7 = S933,571.436.45047.390.0343.695
10% Cement D28 = S1630,552.446.84469.560.0254.78
12% Cement D1 = S433,619.023.96624.890.0192.445
12% Cement D3 = S732,095.236.087.360.0163.68
12% Cement D7 = S1030,904.836.45047.440.0193.72
12% Cement D28 = S1331,333.366.05513.480.0176.74
NumberLithologyThickness (m)Density (kg·m )Cohesion (MPa)Internal Friction Angle (°)
1Siltstone Sandstone50.7124602.4540
2Coal Siltstone1.2420502.4540
3Thin Variable Siltstone0.9724702.4540
4Coal0.9020503.524
5Backfilling BodyVariableVariableVariableVariable
6Siltstone/Tillite0.9725902.4540
Type of Paste Fill SpecimenDensity
(kg·m )
UCS (MPa)StrainShear Strength
(MPa)
Cohesion
(MPa)
Internal Friction Angle (°)
6% Cement D1 = S134,571.40.620.0230.1940.07311.040
6% Cement D3 = S834,333.30.970.0180.3110.07113.910
6% Cement D7 = S1134,523.82.510.0141.1250.01223.920
6% Cement D28 = S1433,428.65.180.0282.9090.07028.730
8% Cement D1 = S234,095.21.160.0320.3580.07113.910
8% Cement D3 = S533,142.91.930.0360.8680.01223.920
8% Cement D7 = S1233,571.45.600.0303.1400.07028.730
8% Cement D28 = 1533,714.312.220.0227.3620.25330.190
10% Cement D1 = S334,095.22.810.0151.2580.01223.920
10% Cement D3 = S631,619.03.950.0282.4920.11531.040
10% Cement D7 = S933,571.47.390.0344.6230.08731.540
10% Cement D28 = S1630,552.49.560.0256.4870.10233.740
12% Cement D1 = S433,619.04.890.0193.0580.11531.040
12% Cement D3 = S732,095.27.360.0164.9820.32432.330
12% Cement D7 = S1030,904.87.440.0195.0710.10233.740
12% Cement D28 = S1331,333.313.480.0179.8600.33735.240
Type of Paste Fill SpecimenDensity
(kg·m )
UCS (MPa)StrainShear Strength
(MPa)
Cohesion
(MPa)
Internal Friction Angle (°)FOS
6% Cement D1 = S134,571.40.620.0230.1940.07311.0401.1
6% Cement D3 = S834,333.30.970.0180.3110.07113.9101.23
6% Cement D7 = S1134,523.82.510.0141.1250.01223.9200.97
6% Cement D28 = S1433,428.65.180.0282.9090.07028.7301.99
8% Cement D1 = S234,095.21.160.0320.3580.07113.9101.23
8% Cement D3 = S533,142.91.930.0360.8680.01223.9200.98
8% Cement D7 = S1233,571.45.600.0303.1400.07028.7301.99
8% Cement D28 = 1533,714.312.220.0227.3620.25330.1903.57
10% Cement D1 = S334,095.22.810.0151.2580.01223.9200.97
10% Cement D3 = S631,619.03.950.0282.4920.11531.0402.59
10% Cement D7 = S933,571.47.390.0344.6230.08731.5402.31
10% Cement D28 = S1630,552.49.560.0256.4870.10233.7402.67
12% Cement D1 = S433,619.04.890.0193.0580.11531.0402.53
12% Cement D3 = S732,095.27.360.0164.9820.32432.3304.36
12% Cement D7 = S1030,904.87.440.0195.0710.10233.7402.66
12% Cement D28 = S1331,333.313.480.0179.8600.33735.2404.74
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Share and Cite

Francisco, C.S.; Li, M.; Li, B.; Deon, M.G. Study of Slope Stability of the Mining Wall in an Open-Pit Coal Mine by the Paste Cut-and-Backfill Method. Appl. Sci. 2024 , 14 , 6141. https://doi.org/10.3390/app14146141

Francisco CS, Li M, Li B, Deon MG. Study of Slope Stability of the Mining Wall in an Open-Pit Coal Mine by the Paste Cut-and-Backfill Method. Applied Sciences . 2024; 14(14):6141. https://doi.org/10.3390/app14146141

Francisco, Chano Simao, Meng Li, Baiyi Li, and Makavelo Germain Deon. 2024. "Study of Slope Stability of the Mining Wall in an Open-Pit Coal Mine by the Paste Cut-and-Backfill Method" Applied Sciences 14, no. 14: 6141. https://doi.org/10.3390/app14146141

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  1. (PDF) Chapter 3 Research Design and Methodology

    Research Design and Methodology. Chapter 3 consists of three parts: (1) Purpose of the. study and research design, (2) Methods, and (3) Statistical. Data analysis procedure. Part one, Purpose of ...

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  26. Applied Sciences

    According to this study's findings, slope stability problems in open-pit coal mines can be avoided, and mine wall collapse can be effectively mitigated by the use of cut-and-backfill mining techniques. The main research results are as follows: (1) The stope and waste rock's geotechnical, physical, and mechanical characteristics were gathered and examined; the geotechnical and mechanical ...

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