By Claire Aitchison
I have worked with many students, particularly humanities and social science scholars, who have found writing the methodology chapter a hugely agonising experience.
I recall my own experience as a mature-aged student, acutely aware of my ignorance and uncertainty: I read and wrote blind for weeks and weeks before showing anything to my supervisor.
Like me, for many, the task of coming to understand methodology begins with reading. In the main, research methodology textbooks are big and dense, and it isn’t uncommon for students to disappear, like Alice, into Research Methodology Wonderland only to reappear months later, dazed and confused.
Writing the methodology chapter is hard because research methodology is complex; because the territory is littered with terminology that is frequently used differently even within the same disciplines; and because there are significantly different expectations for what this section of a thesis should look like. And also, almost inevitably, coming to understand methodology and its application to a particular study is a transformational step, a threshold concept that is arrived at after considerable intellectual challenge. Continue reading