Confirmation Reports >> Methods

The Methods delineates the experimental or mathematical procedures and steps performed in the research study. Preceded by Introduction and Literature Review and followed by Preliminary Findings and Significance and Implications, the Methods is crucial in a confirmation report. The section heading can be either a generic name or a specific name in the form of a noun phrase that describes the experiment or the algorithm. Students who have not developed the methods in full during the preliminary stage of the study may opt to use a generic name as the section heading. The title for the Methods may vary and alternative headings include:

  • Algorithm;
  • Experimental Design;
  • Materials and Methods;
  • Methodology; and
  • System Model and Problem Formulation.

The length and organisation of the Methods vary across studies. Even within the same discipline, confirmation reports can be heterogeneous, depending on the design and purpose of the study. In general, this chapter should describe the experiment and/or calculation in a step-by-step manner with adequate details. This is to enable the replication of the experiment and/or the re-performing of calculation steps.

Many supervisors think that the Methods is the most important chapter in a confirmation report. This is because in the initial stages of the research study, the assessment of the feasibility and expected results and significance of the study focusses on the research design. The Methods explicates the research design which involves experiments and/or algorithms in an organised and logical manner. Procedural choices and considerations are spelt out with justifications.

For confirmation reports without preliminary results, the Methods provides the examiners with necessary information to assess the feasibility, the expected validity, and the generalisability of the study. The Methods therefore needs to be organised carefully and written clearly, reflecting the nature and logic of the research design. Any imprecise description or omission of a step could be detrimental to the examiner’s assessment of the confirmation report.

In summary, the main purposes of the Methods in a confirmation report include the following:

  • enabling examiners to assess the feasibility and the generalisability of the research design by describing the materials involved in the experiments, experimental and calculation steps, and data analysis procedures sequentially and logically
  • establishing the validity for the preliminary results by justifying the choices of materials used and procedural choices made in the experiments or the algorithm calculation; and,
  • allowing the replication of the preliminary experiment(s) or the re-verification of the algorithm(s) by providing sufficient details of the experimental setup as well as the experimental and calculation steps

Requirements for different universities and different disciplines may vary. Please refer to the university guide or consult with the supervisor for clarification about the requirements.

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