What to include in the method section of a paper
Advanced research papers, like dissertations and theses, need to have methods sections. For students who are new to writing this type of paper, the methods section can be a mystery. This section is important because it lets the readers know what you did to get the outcome you found. This section is usually required in an APA-style paper and it is vital to maintain your credibility as a scholar and candidate for an advanced degree. There are special requirements that must be included in a methods section. These requirements need to be followed so the readers know what you did and why. These are the sections you should include:
Participants: As the reporter of the process and results, you need to record who participated in your study. You will want to include details that might have made a difference in the outcome. For example, you will want to include if your participants were certain ages or if you had outliers, as well as what races and genders were represented, too. It is best to avoid calling the participants subjects, simply because of the connotation it gives.
Materials Used: This subsection should include the equipment that was used and how that equipment was used by you and/or by the participants. Your equipment could be surveys, recording devices, video equipment, apps, or the scripts you used. It is important to include everything that you used to be sure your readers do not have any questions about what you used and how you used it.
Procedures: This is the section where you explain all of the steps you took during your experiment. You will want to include your experimental design with the variables, both dependent and independent. It is important to also include the steps that you took in chronological order. This section should be very detailed, because the people who will be reading your report will not be able to stop and ask you questions along the way.
This section should be reported in chronological order so the reader can follow through the entire process. As you are writing, be sure to follow the formatting style that APA requires so you style in compliance and do not have problems with plagiarism. Unlike the other sections, this is a simple, matter-of-fact part of the paper that requires no analysis. It really is just a simple reporting of the steps, equipment, and participants.
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