How to Write a Methods Section Appropriately

Any research paper requires a methods section. So it is of the utmost importance to know how to write it right for every student or any other scholar who wishes to receive good results from his research paper. But before we proceed on how to write it, we must clarify what is the methods section of a research paper.

Let’s deal with it step-by-step. To define how to write methods section, you first must realize that the methods section is basically that part of your writing where you explain to the reader how you did your research and what assets you used in order to finish it.

That is why there are no clear demands concerning how long should a methods section be since every kind of research in any area of study will always be different. So it kind of depends on the situation and discipline.

Writing a Methods Section: Step-by-Step Strategy

Before clarifying the process of writing a methods section, first, let’s talk about the possible pitfalls you must avoid. This way, you will prevent making your paper hard to read. That is essential to know how to write a proper methods section.

First and foremost – any background information which is neither useful nor helpful should be avoided at all costs. Same goes for lots of details. Don’t overfill the article.

Secondly, you should focus more on how the method was used to achieve your writing goal and not writing down all the mechanics. Basically, it’s another reminder not to overfill your research paper with non-essential describing details.

Last but not least – tell about all the obstacles you’ve encountered and overcame. Here the rule “Fewer details” does not apply. It will help you a lot to get a positive reaction to your paper from anyone since people always love and admire those who are capable of overcoming obstacles in their way.

What to Include in a Methods Section of a Research Paper: Must-Have Elements

Now let’s find out what to include in a methods section of a research paper so that you didn’t miss anything.

What is essential for every methods part of a research paper is the way you have chosen participants or subject (if yours required any), data on what literature you’ve used, your inclusion and exclusion criteria, procedures you have done and of course – statistical analyses.

Now let’s clarify the methods in a research paper highly mentioned.

  1. Participants and subjects. Participants or subjects are those who are involved in the research experiment. Give information about them: who they are and how they got chosen. It could be an excellent bonus to mention some special features which distinguish them from most of the ordinary people. General information like sex and age, social and ethnic group or religious beliefs also must be mentioned.
    Explain the method that has been used in their selection or tell that they got selected randomly. That data really helps to understand how the study was done
  2. Materials. Mention and describe all the materials and equipment or measures you’ve had in the experiment. It includes everything – technical equipment, books, images and literally anything else which can be used.
    If it was something that everybody knows, like computer screens or keyboards – then you should only mention its name. Should it be some rare and specialized equipment, then you should explain its purpose in general. Also, you could attach an illustration in the appendix.
  3. Design. Tell what design you used in the course of your experiment. Give info about variables and their levels. Mention all the variables there are ( independent, dependent, control, etc.). Tell if the experiment was with the groups or if there was a competition
  4. Procedure. Describe every procedure you used. What participants did, the way you gathered data and in which order everything was going on

Research Paper Method Section Outline Example to Focus On

This research paper method section outline example is here to show what is expected from your method section. So let’s get down to it.

  • Let’s start with describing participants.
    • Let’s say we want to make a comparison of the influence of words on athletes. In a nutshell, we want to check whether demotivation hinders their performance.
    • We’ve selected some of the best athletes and divided them into two teams.
    • Now we know who is taking part and the way they do it.
  • Now — materials.
    • We’ve gathered all the information about demotivators and motivators, such as books, journals, etc. (mention each one of them and their authors).
    • Now we know what materials are used.
  • Now — about design.
    • We’ve divided athletes into two groups and made them compete with each other. One team will always be motivated, while others will be demotivated. We will check how their performance is influenced by this.
    • Now we know what’s being done during the experiment with the athletes.
  • Finally, the procedure.
    • And so it began. In the first week, there was a significant decline in the demotivated team’s performance, while the motivated one made huge progress. With each passing week, the distance between both teams was growing bigger and bigger. We exchanged some athletes, and still, the demotivated ones were losing.

Now we know how the procedure was going and how everything ended. Also, now we know that if somebody is always being demotivated, they perform much worse than the one who is being motivated.