The materials and methods section describe in detail all the materials that have been used to conduct a study as well as the procedures that are undertaken. As research writing should be orderly and organized therefore the materials in each of its sub-section should be presented in a logical manner. In each section of the materials and methods start with the most important procedure and go on to the least important. Also provide headings and subheading to make each sub part of the materials and methods section clear and understandable. There are various reasons why you should state all the materials and methods in detail:
- it enables the readers to evaluate the appropriateness of your research methodology,
- it helps you prove the reliability and validity of your results,
- it enables other researchers to replicate your research exactly the same way you did it,
Begin with identifying the subsections of the materials and methods section of the research paper. You have to first write the materials that have been used in the research and then you need to write the methods and procedures employed. The first part of the materials and methods section should state the subjects or the participants involved in the research. This sub-section usually deals with the population parameters, sample size, sample selection criteria, and sampling precision. The other part should state the procedures used in the research. The procedures used include the research design, methods of data collection, instruments used to collect data, data analysis techniques, and the statistical procedures used in the research.
Identify the criteria for the selection or non-selection of specific participants of your research. It not only helps the readers understand your study but other people in replicating the study. It makes your study more generalizable and valid. If the sample consists of human being inform the readers about the demographic characteristics of the population. This will enable the readers to understand the nature of the sample and its impact on your research outcomes. The demographic characteristics include the age, income, socioeconomic status, education, height, weight, gender, and language. You can provide as much detail about the respondents as is required according to the topic of your research paper.
The sampling procedure includes the type of sampling technique that you have used in your research. The sampling technique can be random or non-random. Also explain in between random or non-random what sampling procedure did you use for your research. Let the readers know the outcomes of your research in light of the sampling technique and its characteristics.
Also discuss the sample size you have used for your research. Your sample size influences your research in many ways. While selecting sample size you have to make agreement between the reliability of the research as well as the resources available to undertake your study. Provide the rationale for selecting a particular sample size.
Standard deviation, variance, and covariance are the measures of the precision of the sample size. The measure that you have used to measure the precision of your sample size should be mentioned. A low variance shows that there is high precision and high certainty of the sample and sampling procedure.
Measures and data collection
Describe in brief about the type of measures used to collect data. The measures used can be a questionnaire, interview, observations, experiments, or a combination of more then one of these. Describe in details about the additional measures you have taken to enhance the quality of your data instrument.
If interview, questionnaire, or observation method is used tell the readers about the respondent characteristics that we have discussed above in the subject characteristics. Information like how the respondents were grouped, where did you record your data, was it a group administered technique or individual observation, how long did it take to administer the questionnaire and get them back? These and other such questions should be answered in the methods section.
In case you have collected data using experiments you should provide the following details. Provide details about the place where you performed your experiments it may be a public laboratory, your institution laboratory, or your personal apparatus. Also provide details about the model number and names of the apparatus involved. If you used specific parameters of the apparatus in your study to gain specific results do mention them as well. You can do observe an experiment in a naturalistic settings or you can do it in a laboratory so also mention what method you have used.
Whatever tools, instruments, measures, techniques you have used in your research data collection you should state them clearly. Also tell the readers about any specific training or expertise you gained to collect data. This will help other researchers replicate the same study. This will also help them know about the validity of your research.
- Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. American Psychological Association: 6TH Ed. Washington D.C. 2009. Pp-29-32.
- “Measures of Precision”. University of St. Andrews. Retrieved from https://workshops.distancesampling.org/online-course/lecturepdfs/Ch2/L2-4%20Measures%20of%20Precision.pdf. Retrieved on 2019/2/12.