This post is part of a series of guides that explain in the simplest terms possible how to structure each of the major chapters of a typical PhD thesis. If you haven’t already, download our free PhD Thesis Writing Template for a simple way of visualising your entire thesis on one page.
Chances are that the methods chapter will be the most descriptive chapter in the thesis (it is worth noting that not all theses will have dedicated methods chapters, especially those with more straightforward methods). 

The job of a methods chapter is:


  • To summarise, explain and recount how you answered your research questions and to explain how this relates to the methods used by other scholars in similar contexts and similar studies.
  • To discuss – in detail – the techniques you used to collect the data used to answer your research questions. 
  • To discuss why the techniques are relevant to the study’s aims and objectives
  • To explain how you used them. 

Your reader should be able to answer the following questions when they’re done reading it:


  • What did you did do to achieve the research aims?
  • Why did you choose this particular approach over others?
  • How does it relate to your epistemological and ontological positions?
  • What tools did you use to collect data and why? What are the implications?
  • When did you collect data, and from whom?
  • What tools have you used to analyze the data and why? What are the implications? Are there ethical considerations to take into account?
If you like these guides, you’ll love the email based How To Write A PhD Course we’ve put together for you.  
Alongside this, we’ve also written brief guides to writing your abstractintroductionliterature review and theory framework chapters. 

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