What’s in a methodology?

What’s in a methodology?

The difference inbetween method, methodology, and theory… and how to get the balance right

It’s the time of year when students are gearing up to write their thesis, and whether it’s at the undergraduate or graduate level, for many this means coming to grips with a tricky question: how do I best explain what it is I’m doing in my paper, and how do I make sure my explanations are up to the standards of academic research? In other words: how do I put together and write up my methodology?

Answering this question is by no means straight-forward. I’ve just recently had a discussion with a PhD student about the difference inbetween a method and a methodology, and about how these two things relate to questions of theory. These are not problems that cause frustration only at the undergraduate level, but that accompany many scholars their entire careers. In fact, at a meeting I attended a few weeks ago on how to apply for research funding from the European Research Council. one of the concerns that the Council regularly had with applications was that scholars did not provided a good methodology section. So if you are a student, and you are confused, recall that you share that confusion with many of the professionals.

What makes questions of method and methodology so thorny is that the answers depend on the respective discipline and on the particular research project. Someone in the arts and humanities may interpret the word methodology fairly differently than someone in the social sciences or the life sciences, and different supervisors usually have diverging expectations about the “methodology chapters” in their students’ research papers. In this post, I will attempt to highlight different perspectives on this topic, as well as options for coming to grips with methods and methodologies.

I’ll very first give you an overview of what a “research method” is, and how a method differs from a “methodology”. I’ll then take a look at how methodology relates to theory, and will discuss where methodological concerns might best fit in a research paper or thesis. I’ll provide examples via, but I’ve also included two hypothetical research projects at the end of this post that each deal with methodological issues in a different way: one project is at home in the humanities, and one takes a social science treatment. You’ll find suggestions for further reading in the reference section.

Method vs. methodology

A source of some confusion is that the words “method” and “methodology” are often treated synonymously, even tho’ they do not mean the same thing in academia. In scholarly work, “methods” are practical hands-on steps for doing research. This usually includes defining the scope of the research project, coming up with a research question or hypothesis, selecting and collecting data, processing that data with certain contraptions to enable analysis, and then going through the data systematically to response the central question. For example: a method for doing quantitative research on Japan’s economy might be to use the statistical software SPSS to check for correlations inbetween different variables in a data set; a method for doing qualitative research on China might be to use differently coloured highlighters to mark metaphors and similes in speeches by Mao Zedong and then discussing which ones draw from different Chinese intellectual traditions. In other words, methods are the devices you use to do your research.

So what is a methodology? In essence, methodology is the discussion of methods. This includes the theoretical ideas and concerns that inform the use of different methods. A methodology section in a research paper needs to achieve three things, however not necessarily in this order: Firstly, it should consider what the nature of academic work is more generally, and what this might mean for anyone who investigates the topic at palm. Secondly, it needs to provide a literature review, discussing what methods researchers have traditionally used to investigate the kind of topic that the project concentrates on. Thirdly, it should explain what methods this particular project uses and why.

The very first issue is a question of epistemology. the philosophy of skill. Crucial epistemological questions include: how can we know something? Is there such a thing as objective “truth”, or are we subjectively creating “truths” ourselves? What have different intellectual schools said on these issues, and what do our own answers to these questions say about the value of our research project? What do they say about the value of academic work in general? These are debates that have occupied thinkers for millennia, and no-one would expect you to response them in a term paper or thesis. Nevertheless, the practical methods you use to explore your subject come with certain assumptions, so it would be a good idea to demonstrate that you are aware of what these are.

For example, imagine you are planning to do research on how discussions on Facebook influences people’s political views, and that you are planning to do a large-scale survey to get your data. As part of your methodological considerations, you should spell out how we might know about someone’s “political views”, and what you mean by “influence”. These are by no means trivial questions, and even however they are theoretical, they have very real implications for how you conduct your own research. Next, you might want to review what experts in the field have said about the value and drawbacks of using surveys, about the relation inbetween information and human behaviour, and about the problems of establishing causalities inbetween different variables. A note on positivism as a research tradition would also very likely be wise. Eventually, you should explain where you got your data and what exactly it is you plan to do with it.

Similarly, if you are studying policy documents to find out what the agenda of a specific government is, you would be well advised to think about epistemological questions like the value that such documents might have as an indication of political preferences, about the nature of political decision-making, or about the various philosophical traditions that have debated whether the language in such sources reflects certain beliefs or conjures them into being (or maybe both?). How you then go on to select and explore the actual documents will likely go after from your answers to these questions.

How methodology connects to theory

As these examples already showcase, methodological discussions are both theoretical and practical in nature. This is also what makes writing a methodology section for an article or a thesis so hard. It can be difficult to draw a line inbetween a typical theory chapter and the epistemological discussion of the methods you used. Let’s say you are studying international relations. You’ll likely want to include a theory chapter that discusses what different schools of thought have to say about theoretical concepts like states, power, anarchy, international society, norms, preferences, and so on. Do you now need to include a 2nd theoretical chapter that discusses how we can know about the system of states? The response is not straight forward, and will strongly depend on what you are attempting to achieve.

Overall, it can help to see this overlap inbetween theory and methodology not as a problem but as an chance. In the example above, a good methodology discussion could pick up on earlier theory-driven considerations of what a state is and could then seamlessly connect these to the question of what different schools of thought count as “data” on state behaviour. From there, it is only a petite step to outlining what data your research project uses, and what work-steps you took. In this case, the methodology is the puzzle lump that sits inbetween broader theoretical debates and actual hands-on research work.

Nevertheless, it is fairly common to get the balance wrong inbetween the theoretical and the practical aspects of a methodology. Imagine a term paper that sets out to investigate a particular case of how people use digital media in everyday life. The case examine will consist of observing and interviewing teenagers in a particular high school in Seoul to see how they use mobile phones during school hours. Here’s two ways this paper could go wrong. The paper could discuss at good length the nature of human skill without ever mentioning why this particular high school was chosen, how the researcher conducted the interviews, how the participants were observed, or how the interviews and research notes were later analysed to arrive at a conclusion. This would be a paper that got its emphasis wrong, remaining almost entirely in the philosophical area of epistemology. Alternatively, imagine the same paper launching into the minutia of every single work-step, but never justifying why it might be useful to conduct a case examine in the very first place, why observations permit us to say something about people’s behaviour, how much credence we should give to the statements of interview subjects, or whether results from the project are representative of human beings in general or only of kids living in this neighbourhood of South Korea’s capital at this particular point in time.

How you get this balance inbetween theory and practice right will have to be a question you reaction on a case-to-case basis. There are certainly projects that do not require a lot of practical work-steps but instead concentrate more on epistemology. For example, if you plan to write a paper about a famous philosopher, you might only need one footnote to explain what texts you used and how you went about interpreting them. The question of what an interpretation is or why these philosophical texts matter will be much more central to your investigate, so that your methodology section will likely concentrate primarily on these issues. As another example, imagine you are running statistical tests on the relation inbetween different demographic and economic variables in Taiwan, using a dataset published by the United Nations and studied widely by economists. It may not be necessary to go into long discussions about how something like the Gross Domestic Product gets calculated, and what these numbers tell us about incomes in an economy – a few footnotes to other scholars who have discussed these matters will be enough to display that you are aware of such debates. The more interesting questions for your case might be how you set up your statistical calculations and how you went about visualizing the results for your readers. The methodology section of such a examine might therefore be rather light on epistemology but powerful on the nitty-gritty practical issues of using this particular data set.

Where in a thesis does the methodology section go?

As you’ve seen, methodological concerns differ widely, depending on the project and the discipline. The same is true for conventions on how to write up a methodology section. In some disciplines, notably the life sciences and certain social sciences, it is customary to write within a standard framework: introduction, literature review (often including theoretical concerns), research design (methodology), research results, discussion, and conclusion. What needs to go where can be very specific, and concepts like theory, methodology, method, and strategy are kept rigorously apart (for an example, see Rudestam & Newton 2007). In other areas, particularly in the arts and humanities or in branches of the social sciences that are less positivistic, the setup can be much looser. Questions of methodology might make up a paragraph in the introduction, or the last section of the theory chapter, or the very first section of the case examine, or even a number of footnotes via the investigate.

The scope of the methodological section will also depend on the level you are working at: most undergraduate degrees don’t normally require hands-on research with primary sources, and it is fairly possible that a term paper or even a BA thesis is essentially a literature review. In such a case, it would be wise to include at least a note on what a literature review is, what it can achieve, and what considerations went into picking this set of secondary sources rather than another (for inspiration, see Hart 1998). However, this very likely won’t require more than a brief paragraph. At the level of a doctoral thesis, the situation is fairly different. Such projects usually have fully-fledged methodology chapters, often with sub-sections to discuss epistemological questions, the selection of research materials, and the exact steps taken to conduct the explore. You will have to determine where you belong on this scale.

Two examples of how to deal with methodology

To display you how methodological concerns play out in practice, let me walk you through two hypothetical research projects at the graduate level that each deal with an aspect of politics in East Asia. These are the two projects: Alice studies Chinese at a humanities faculty, and she is writing her MA thesis about the role that pre-modern Confucian sources play in the political programme of China’s former president Hu Jintao. Becky studies East Asian Studies at a social science faculty, and she is writing her MA thesis on the way that Japan’s public broadcaster NHK covered the 2011 melt-down at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in its flagship news broadcast News Observe 9. Here are the choices that Alice and Becky are making as they are working on their projects.

Case A – Confucian thought in contemporary Chinese politics: Alice’s project starts with a thorough literature review on Chinese politics, the Hu-Wen administration, and the so-called “Confucian Revival” in contemporary China. This literature will later go into a very first chapter, in which Alice plans to outline the main issues and debates, along with a few theoretical ideas about how appeals to tradition are said to legitimate political decisions. After reading the literature, Alice determines that her investigate will concentrate on how Hu Jintao has used the word “harmonious society” – a term that loosely draws from the Confucian concept of harmony. Since this word was introduced at the National People’s Congress of 2005, she will look at speeches and news announcements that followed that congress, and she will cover six months. She will also look at Confucian classics to see how the word “harmony” is used there, and will then compare these sources.

As Alice works on her project, she determines that the methodological discussions should go at the begin of the thesis, in the introduction. She will write a paragraph about her choice of sources, including a footnote on how she will reference these sources via the text. Since much of Alice’s work consists of demonstrating her guideline of the Chinese language, and of wooing her readers of her arguments using translated quotes from the original sources, she determines to also write a paragraph on what it means to translate political texts from such different time periods into contemporary English, and what considerations went into her own translation work. This means that she’ll explain why she is providing both the Chinese original and her own English translation in the main text of her thesis as she examines different sources, and how her translations will be “annotated”, which means she will comment on her translation choices and will provide significant cultural or historical information in footnotes along the way.

She will then include an extra methodological section at the embark of her analysis chapter, right after the theoretical discussion of how and why political agents appeal to tradition to justify their policies. This brief section will discuss the nature of historical source materials, with a particular concentrate on the Confucian classics and what is presently known about their origin, their authenticity, and their use in later periods of Chinese history (…the very epistemic question of how we assess something’s “authenticity” will be part of this section). Following her analysis, Alice will draw all these elements together in her conclusion to discuss how Confucian traditions are creatively reworked in contemporary Chinese politics, and to elaborate what this says about the ruling party’s attempts to justify its work.

Case B – NHK news coverage of the 311 disaster: Since Becky wants her explore of Japanese media to include fairly a few technical elements, like the way that camera angles and studio design contribute to news reporting, she determines to discuss her methodology in a special chapter. Just like Alice, Becky starts her work with a literature review, and she determines that discussions about Japan’s media, Japan’s nuclear industry (the “nuclear village”), and about the Fukushima disaster will all be part of her introduction to the topic. Her research concentrate will be on how a national broadcaster contributes to skill about nuclear energy. To this end, she plans to include a theory chapter that examines how academics usually make sense of mass media and its role in political processes. This is also where she will discuss the works of Japanese media theorists who have written on politics and culture in Japan.

Following this discussion, she will write a methodology chapter, which she calls “Researching Japan’s national news broadcasts”. This chapter is going to have three sub-sections. The very first part will go after up on the issues she raised in her theory chapter (like: what is visual communication? What are TV news?) and will discuss epistemology: Does an pic on TV represent the actual situation on the ground, or are such photos selected and edited in ways that introduce visual rhetoric and specific tropes, biasing the news reports in the process? What does this mean for a person who now analyses these news materials? To explore this issue, Becky will discuss approaches to visual communication analysis. such as semiotics. In the 2nd section of her methodology chapter, she will explain why she picked NHK as a source of material, and which news broadcasts she picked (for example: all news broadcasts that dealt with nuclear energy in the three months before and the three months after the disaster). The third part of the chapter will discuss the exact work-steps that Becky followed to prepare the material for analysis and interpret her data. She determines that this will include creating sequence protocols of the news broadcasts, and then providing shot protocols for particularly significant segments.

Since her actual analysis will consist of a mixed quantitative and qualitative treatment, she will explain what this means in this third section of her methodology chapter: she will look at the amount of time that news broadcasts on different days report on nuclear issues, at shot frequencies in the segments that cover Fukushima, and at the meanings that certain camera angles and visual tropes introduce to the overall news narrative. In this section, she will also explain that she is compiling all of her data in an appendix, and that she will include graphics and statistics in tables across the actual analysis chapter. Since Becky’s analysis does not concentrate on the use of language, she will need to explain why she is bracketing this issue (and where readers might find out more about linguistic analyses of the news). Contrary to Alice, Becky determines to not discuss at superb length how she is translating the news, and only includes a footnote that states something like “if not noted otherwise, all translations in this thesis are my own”.

Becky’s analysis will now include a chapter with different visualization strategies that NHK used to report on nuclear energy in Japan. She will compare the reporting before and after the disaster, and discuss the implications in her conclusion – where she will tie her own work back to the theoretical concerns she raised in her theory chapter. She will also have a paragraph in her conclusion that outlines what her treatment left out and why. To demonstrate that she understands the limitations of her research, she will also suggest what kinds of follow-up studies could now shed light on any remaining questions. Her last paragraph will be a forceful argument about how national news play a powerful role in not simply reporting but actually constructing political crises.


As you can see, there is no single reaction to how you should build theory, methodology, and method into your research project. The best advice I can give, is: check what your supervisor or your publisher has in mind. They know your field, and they will be the ones judging your work, so you should always see what their specific requirements are. As with all good writing, keep your audience in mind.

I’ve provided sources for further reading below, in case you want to learn more about this fundamental part of academic work. You may want to also take a look at my own discussions of methodology, for example my blog post on how to do a discourse analysis (which is about methods) or how to set up such an analysis (which includes epistemological questions).

If you are presently working on your methodology, or you are instructing others on how to do so, feel free to leave a comment below. Conventions differ widely, and I’ve for example just learned that certain life sciences make a distinction inbetween «methodology» (the discussion of methods), «method» (a general technology in research), and «strategy» (the practical work-steps of how to apply a method to a specific case). As always, I’d love to hear how you are dealing with such distinctions, and where you place the emphasis in your own work.


Goodin, Robert E. & Lingemann, Hans-Dieter (Eds.) (1996), ‘Part IX: Political Methodology’. In: A Fresh Handbook of Political Science. Oxford & Fresh York: Oxford University Press (pp.717-799).

Hart, Chris (1998), Doing a Literature Review – Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination. Los Angeles et al. Sage.

Hine, Christine (Ed.) (2005), Virtual Methods – Issues in Social Research on the Internet. Oxford & Fresh York: Berg.

Marsh, David, & Stoker, Gerry (2010), Theory and Methods in Political Science (3rd ed.). Basingstoke & Fresh York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Rogers, Richard (2013), Digital Methods. Cambridge, MA & London: MIT Press.

Rudestam, Kjell Erik, & Newton, Rae R. (2007): ‘The Method Chapter: Describing Your Research Plan ’. In: Surviving Your Dissertation – A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA et al. Sage (pp.87-115).

Trachtenberg, Marc (2006), The Craft of International History – A Guide to Method. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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This is a good introduction and overview. I am in a doctoral program and the terms proceed to be conflated, misinterpreted and synonymized. Useful distinctions are made here to enable thoughtful construction of one’s research design and process. Many thanks.

February 24, 2014

Thanks Mich,
If you don’t mind my asking: what field are you working in? I’d love to know where you and your fellow researchers normally draw the line inbetween these different concepts.
At any rate, I’m glad if you found this useful.

Hello Mr Florian Schneider
Thank you for this usful explanation. I am doing a critical discourse analysis of presedetial speech of ex Egyptian president Morssi. I explained my research methodology in a brief paragraph. I said that I rely on interenet as the basis source of data collection. for text analysis I rely on software for text analysis in addition to the instruments provided in Fairclough treatment for text analysis and description.

Is this adequate. please tell me about the best software you know for text analysis I am wondering what to choose since I never held such an analysis. I look forward to you response.
Best regards!

What a good topic! What you describe could indeed work, but I would check with your examiner to be sure. Depending on the kind of paper you are writing (e.g. the length and level of investigate), I would for example include a bit more information on your selection process and on the way you analyzed the texts. It might also be good to add somewhere (in a footnote, maybe?) how Fairclough’s treatment compares to other approaches (e.g. Paul Chilton’s), and why you ended up choosing Fairclough’s CDA. But again, this depends on your concentrate, and on how much «discourse theory» you feel you need to include.

As for analytical software, I have mentioned in another post (http://bit.ly/1iwhH1R ) that NVivo works very well (if your university permits you free access – otherwise it can be a bit pricey). You can also re-appropriate other instruments, like Tagxedo, OneNote, or even Word to do your analysis. If you need to explore a large corpus of text, you might also find this contraption useful: http://www.lexically.net/wordsmith/

I hope this helps! Good luck with this fascinating research project.

Best – Florian

Hello Mr Florian
I have finished my analysis of the ex-Egyptian president Morsi in UN Assembly. I have followed your remarks concerning the research methods. Now I would like you to read my speech analysis totest it against mine. I used Fairclough’s treatment as the framework of the speech analysis. It is not long one as I focused mainly on the experiential valus of the lexical items. Please if you can read it and give me your precious remarks I will be greatful to you.
Thank you inadvance
Best of regards!

Thank you so much!
I now have insight to what methodology is indeed about… I was snooping around the internet; and I must say, your analysis resonates well with me. Thanks for the excellent job well done.

I’m presently an undergraduate writing a project on ‘Influence of violated home on the academic spectacle of secondary school students’.
Please I would like you to suggest for me a suitable research design that doesn’t need complicated mathematical computation…

Thanks as I await enerstly await your quick response.

September Five, 2014

Hi. Thankyou for your info. This has helped me make some distinctions inbetween the terms. I am a doctoral candidate working in History and education and the concept of interculturality.I am working with textual analysis and concentrate groups as my methods and think I am clear that my methodology is the discussion of these methods. I am still a little uncertain about the epistemological questions I should be worried with.

November Ten, 2014

Hi Kerri. Glad to hear this has been helpful. As for the epistemological questions, in your case they could include a discussion of what an interview permits you to know (i.e. can your interviewees ever provide you with ‘facts’ on a topic, or is everything they tell you part of their worldview? Does a distinction like this matter?). The same might apply to texts as well: to what extent are they able to provide you a window into your subject? More broadly speaking, an interesting epistemological question would concern the nature of history as a subject. Are historians able to reconstruct actual historical processes, or is their contribution that they provide a particular interpretation of historical sources in light of contemporary concerns? A nice book on these questions is Michael Trachtenberg’s book, which is in the list of references above. In either case, I’d check with your supervisor to what extent these questions need to be part of your doctoral thesis. It’s nice, of course, to display that as a PhD student you have a sense of how significant these issues are, but if such questions aren’t central to your work, then a brief paragraph or a footnote might already suffice to clarify what your position is.

Hi Aafia,
Do you mean you’re looking for an analysis of dramatic texts that deploys specifically van Dijk’s CDA treatment? That’s a pretty specific question. I’m sure there must be something of that sort, but I’m afraid I don’t know of any particular article. Have you looked at some of the back issues of journals that feature CDA analyses? Your best bets are likely going to be «Discourse – Society» (http://das.sagepub.com/ ) and «Discourse – Communication» (http://dcm.sagepub.com/ ), both of which are edited by Teun van Dijk. Maybe you’ll find what you’re looking for there. Most university libraries should provide access to both publications.
Sorry to not be of more help.

Dear Florian,
Thanks for your efforts. Your site is very helpful. I am a PhD candidate researching in the area of Political Communication. My topic is on Election Campaign Communication and Policy Issues in Nigerian Politics. I am hoping to use Content Analysis of speeches and press ads published during presidential campaigns of superior candidates from 1999 – 2015 to find out the extent they focused on policy issues, acclaim, attack and defense following Willian Benoit functional theory of political campaign discourse. Do you think that is enough. Should I add another theory. Is content analysis enough?

This is so helpful. I am an undergraduate student and am writing my senior thesis on political and social trust within Latin America and Mexico and whether or not this mistrust permits for narcotrafficking networks to thrive ultimately causing the state to fail in regards to human rights violations. I’ve been having a harsh time of how to treatment the methodology section. Does anyone have any tips? I would indeed appreciate it!!

October Eighteen, 2015

Hi Maria,
It’ll very likely be a good idea to check with your thesis supervisor to see what he or she expects of a methodology section, but I would normally want to know 1) what materials you selected to reaction your research question, Two) how and why you selected those materials, and Trio) what you then did with those materials (e.g. work steps that you applied in order to process and analyze them). In all of this, it would be wise to explain what other researchers have done in similar situations, and to discuss what strengths and weaknesses their approaches might have. In other words, your methodology section should include a brief literature review of relevant methods. That way you can then justify your own treatment, in an informed and knowledgeable way.
Hope this helps.

October Nineteen, 2015

l have a clear idea of the methodology l want to research on which is the effectiveness of rhymes in language development preschool children. but what l am not getting are the authors who supports the term methodology

November Two, 2015

Are there any authorities to support the word methodology that are current which are not from the dictionary, because l am failing to get one except for the explanation of the word

I’m not sure how to help – I would recommend taking a look at some of the compendiums on research methods and research design. In some of our programmes, we use Marsh – Stoker’s ‘Theory and Methods in Political Science’. but as the name says, that’s very much about the field of polisci. You could check out John Creswell’s ‘Research Design’. I might contain what you’re looking for, especially since he comes at the subject from an educational psychology angle.

November Four, 2015

I have a question i hope somebody can help me response this:

If a method is, in one sense, a «theory in practice», does that mean that theories have to be formulated or considered very first before applying a method in language instructing?

I hope you can help me

February 17, 2016

I can’t comment on language instructing, but generally there are two ways into any subject: a theory-driven (deductive) treatment and a method-driven (inductive) treatment. The deductive treatment starts with the theories and then picks methods that are adequate to checking those theories. The inductive treatment starts from empirical observations and then builds theoretical models from those. In the latter case, you’d embark with the methods, followed by the analysis, and you’d conclude with theoretical implications. That treatment is very popular for example in anthropology, where participant observation, interviews, and other qualitative methods are meant to shed light on the complexities of individual cases. Not sure how this relates to your work in language training, but maybe it’s a useful reminder that the degree to which theory and method connect, and the moments during a project when they connect, can differ substantially depending on the topic.

February 20, 2016

I am writing my BA research on the representation of refugees in the media. I am an English major in a non-English speaking country, so we didn’t concentrate on our curriculum on discourse analysis or any other method. We’ve only had a very basic introduction to semiotics. In my research, I’m analyzing lumps of news, articles, and editorials. What is the best way to do that? Can I develop my own analysis based on what I read on your previous articles about discourse analysis (since the supervisor doesn’t require any specific method?). I understood very well the discourse analysis from your article and many other articles I have read, but when I read researches that are based on discourse analysis I see a lot of jargon and terminology that evidently belong to discourse analysis that I know nothing of. I am sure I can efficiently apply the methods of discourse analysis you’ve explained, but I can’t use the terminology that I see being used in the researches based on discourse analysis since I knew nothing about it. Please help! Thank you a lot beforehand for taking the time to answering my questions!

February 25, 2016

I can understand your frustration with the jargon. A lot of what gets produced in communication probe is ironically communicated very poorly. I would not let that stop me from attempting to do a discourse analysis. You do not need the jargon to do so, most certainly not at the BA level. If you have sources that you can use to explain what ‘discourse’ is, what a ‘discourse analysis’ does, and what you then plan to do, you should be fine. Make sure, however, to discuss this with your supervisor. They need to read and grade the thesis in the end, so if they feel differently about your choice to develop your own empirical analysis for a BA thesis, you should listen to them. Personally, I would find that very amazing. I encourage BA students to attempt their arm at an empirical examine, but technically such work is not required until the MA level. At any rate, if you need more input for your treatment, I can recommend the edited books that Ruth Wodak has published. There are explosions of interesting articles in there (also on different media types, to response the question you left in the other section), and those could be helpful. A final chunk of advice: make sure not to do too much. Attempt to limit your question and your materials, otherwise doing an actual discourse analysis can become a lot of work very quickly. If you manage the scope of your project, however, it can also be very rewarding. Hope this helps!

February 26, 2016

Thank you for this article -it helped clear up some confusion that I had. I am writing my undergraduate dissertation for my social work degree on student disclosure of mental illness….which very little has been written on – especially in Australia…I am writing it as an autoethnography as I want to use my own disclosure practice as the foundation for what I want to talk about…not sure yet about how one incorporates theory into an autoethnography…I was told to have a seprate chapter which outlines what I am using…do you have any suggestions of where I might look to find out how I go about using theory in an autoethnography….thanks.

February 27, 2016

Hi Melissa, I’m not an authority on autoethnography, I’m afraid, but there’s a book from OUP that looks like it might be up your alley: Tony Adams’ ‘Autoethnography – Understanding Qualitative Research ‘. I would embark there, then check journals on the topic, and then work my way through the referenced literature. Hope this helps.

Dear Florian,
Thanks a lot for this amazingly helpful website! Very informative and grundlich ;). I came across it browsing for some clues about a methodology chapter in my phd dissertation.
Btw I indeed liked your BA course in Leiden in 2010. I ended up doing fieldwork in China and now a phd in amsterdam. All the best for now!

Hi Bram,
Thanks for the kind words. Fine to hear you’re pursuing a PhD, and at the UvA, no less. You’re working on religion, right? Very titillating. Make sure to let me know how that turns out. And if you happen to come across interesting practices that connect to digital media use (…I hear that’s increasingly an significant dimension of religious practice, particularly in East Asia), do think about taking some extra field notes. I have it on good authority that our journal ‘Asiascape: Digital Asia ‘ would be very interested in that sort of thing… just telling. ??
All the best for your research!


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