The Method section explains, in concise and accurate detail, the procedures you would follow in conducting your study. When you write the Method section, your goal is to communicate the details of your study so completely that a reader who had only your report to go on could conduct an exact replication study.
A conventional Method section contains the three subsections below. You may also need a fourth section for the Design if you are proposing an especially complex research design.
Who your participants will be: how many, how you will recruit them, age range, gender(s), ethnicities, etc. Be realistic (if you were to actually conduct this study, would it be feasible to do, or too time-consuming/expensive?) and keep your priorities straight (random selection for participation is not necessary for association or causal claims; a convenience sample will do). Will you plan to compensate them, or what other incentive will you give them for participation?
How will you operationalize your conceptual variables? Be as specific as possible. For experimental designs, what will be your manipulated variable, and how exactly will you manipulate it? For experimental and correlational designs, what will be your measured variable(s), and how exactly will you measure it (them)? If you plan to use questionnaires or published scales to measure your variables, devote one paragraph to each measurement scale. Indicate who wrote the items by citing the authors who first published the scale. Give one or two sample items from the questionnaire and indicate what the response scale was (e.g., “a 5-point scale ranging from 1 [strongly disagree] to 5 [strongly agree]”). Explain how you combined items for the scales, for example, if you computed a mean or a sum. Indicate what higher and lower scores signify (e.g., “high scores indicated higher self-esteem”). Also indicate the scale’s reliability and construct validity. For example, you might give the Cronbach’s alpha value you obtained in your own study, and the extent to which past researchers have validated the measure. Discuss how you will ensure high construct validity. If you are not using previously validated measures from the research literature, describe the kinds of testing that would be appropriate to establish reliability and construct validity.
To make a causal claim, you should plan to conduct an experiment. To make an association claim, you can conduct a simple bivariate correlation or a longitudinal design; in either case, plan to measure at least one other possible confounding variable (you can analyze this using multiple regression; we’ll talk about this strategy in Chapter 9). Describe the study from start to finish, including details such as how participants will be assigned to groups (if relevant), what participants will experience in your study, and what you will do at the end of the study to debrief them. If you chose to propose a correlational study instead of an experimental study, explain why. Discuss how you will ensure high internal validity – for correlational studies, this should include what other “third variables” you will measure to attempt to control their influence on your predicted relationship. Please also include one paragraph discussing the ethical considerations relevant to your study.
What you’ll submit:
A Method section with separate sub-headings for Participants, Materials, and Procedure that includes all of the details described above. (Note: the Method section is typically fairly long, as there is a lot of detail to include.)
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