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OASIS Writing Skills

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Writing About Methods and Design

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Writing About Methods and Design

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Presented May 22, 2019

Last updated 6/26/2019



Visual: Slide changes to the following: Housekeeping

  • Recording
    • Will be available online within 24 hours.
  • Interact
    • Polls, files, and links are interactive.
  • Q&A
    • Now: Use the Q&A box.
    • Later: Send to or visit our Editor Office Hours.
  • Help
    • Use the Q&A box.
    • Choose “Help” in the upper right-hand corner of the webinar room

Audio: Alright, hello everyone and thank you so much for joining us today. My name is Beth Nastachowski and I'm going to get us started here. By going over a couple of quick housekeeping notes, I promise it will just take a couple minutes here and then I will hand the session over to our presenter for the day, Meghan.

Welcome, we’re so glad to have you here, and it’s great to see everyone come here from all over, all over the world. A couple of things I want to note, the first is that I have started the recording for the session. So, if you have to leave for any reason or if you’d like to come back and review the session, you’re more than welcome to do so. I’ll be posting that recording in our webinar archive within 24 hours you can access it there. And I always like to take a moment here just to remind everyone that we record all of the webinars in the writing center. So, if you ever see a webinar being presented live that you can’t attend. You’ll always welcome to find that recording in our archive. Also I’ll also just note that those recordings are available anytime, so if you’re ever just looking for help on a particular topic, those archives are available 24/7.

The other thing I’ll note today is that we have interaction that we welcome you to participate in. So, I know that Meghan has a poll that she’ll be using. And there are also links throughout the slide that you can click, and those will open up information throughout the writing center, as well as, throughout the university. Feel free to click the links and they will open up in a new tab on your browser. But, if you would like to save the links or say the slides that Meghan will be using here, those are available in the files pods that’s at the bottom right-hand corner, there’s a couple of files listed one is a handout as well as slides and a certificate of attendance too, so feel free to save those and if you’d like access to them, and if you don't save them and you’d like to come back to them you can access those through the recording as well.

Finally also note that we have a Q&A box that is on the right side of your screen and so if you have any questions or comments throughout the session, I know Sam introduced himself earlier in the lobby but he will be there waiting for your questions and your comments waiting eagerly for them so please do let him know if you have questions or if he can help in anyway and he would be happy to do that. I do like to note though if we get to the end of the session and maybe we have to close out before you get to ask your question or if we get busy at the end and we can get to the questions, in those cases we do welcome you to email the editors and we have the address listed here at or visit the editor's office hours, those are live chat hours that you can also use to ask questions so feel free to visit those and we will also display the information of the end of the session.

Finally, the last thing I’ll just note here. If you have any technical issues let me know in the Q&A box I will be monitoring that brought the session if you have any issues let me know, I have a couple of tips and tricks I can give you so I can let you in on those secrets but also note that there’s a help button at the top right-hand corner and that's the best place to go if you have any significant technical issues.


Visual: Slide changes to the title of the webinar, “Writing About Methods and Design” and the speaker’s name and information: Meghan Irving, Dissertation Editor, Coor. Chapter Edit Services, Walden University Writing Center

Audio: Alright that is my quick housekeeping there and Meghan at this point I will hand it over to you to start us off.

Meghan: Thank you, Beth. I'm Meghan Irving, I’m one of the dissertation editors here with the writing center and I’m also the coordinator for chapter edit services, which is something we offer that goes to faculty that they can submit work of their students if they feel a little extra is needed. I'm going to talk about today chapter 3 which is the methods and design and just go over tips of how to create a really strong chapter 3 and some things where you can save yourself a little bit of work so you won't - - things you won’t need to include as well.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Webinar Objectives

  • Understand the goal of and general tips for writing about methods, procedure, and design
  • Identify and distinguish between well-written examples and examples that need improvement
  • Know where/how to begin writing these sections
  • Have access to support resources for writing about methods in doctoral studies and dissertations

Audio: Our objectives here, to really kind of get a good grasp of what writing about the methods, procedures and design of your study are. We’re going to look at some really good examples as well as some areas that will need improvement and tips on how to get started on those and then we will be presenting a lot of resources for you that you can take from here on out to go through that.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Poll

What stage are you at in the Capstone development process?

Audio: So, we are going to start with this poll here, just kind of want to see with all of our people here, who is - - where they are in there study- - if you're in your proposal or final study if you’re not there yet and you just want information just give us an idea here.

[silence as participants respond]

Alright, from what I can see it looks like most of the votes are kind of in, the numbers have slowed down. It looks like most people here are just looking to get information as well as a fair amount people who are looking at the proposal which makes sense, we are glad you are here regardless. To let - - lets me know what I'm looking at here. I'm going to go ahead and end the poll at that point. So, alright.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Main Goals of Writing About Method and Design

As a scholar you must explain

  • What you did/will do (the precise steps you took/will take to carry out your research)
  • Why you did/will do it that way (provide evidence and justification for why this type of procedure was right for addressing your research questions)

One of the goals is to produce a step-by-step recipe; other researchers must be able to recreate your study, exactly

  • Transparent
  • Replicable

Audio: So, with the main goal about writing about method and design, what you are doing is you’re going to explain what you did or will do when you're working at the proposal stage. You are discussing what you are planning to do, what steps will take. When you move from proposal to your final study, you do have to go back and change all of those future tense into explaining what you did do, because by that point you've done it.

And so, the goal really is that you need to be able to not only give the steps to explain what you did. But provide the information so that someone else could replicate your study. That’s one way that research becomes very um… and it can be provable is that it is a replicable study, and someone could do it again. And if they get the same kind of result, it’s a bigger step, showing hey look, this kind of thing happened again, it’s a definite trend, versus they might be looking at a completely different audience, but using the same study and then go, oh hey, this is different for this area.

It's almost like a recipe in that way, following it step-by-step. Making sure things are, the transparency is there of what you did, as well as someone else could replicate it.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: General Methods Writing Tips

Create a User Manual for Your Research:

You should be able to give someone your proposal confident that he or she has all the information needed to collect and analyze your study’s data just as you would.


Audio: You’re kind of creating a user manual, so that if someone else is doing it that they would be able to do it. This isn’t a point where you're trying to be crafty and not let someone know what you did exactly. APA is all about being transparent with these kinds of things. Straightforward so someone else could do this exactly the way you did and see how those results would show up. It may come across in your research studies where people don't do that and it may be a different style or something else but with APA particular in the dissertation you’re really looking for that clear clarity and what did you do and how did you do it and making sure someone else could do it again.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Beginning to write…

  • Your research question determines your method.
  • You should already have determined your research question, methodology, and research design.
    • If you don’t, stop and have a conversation with your Chair.
  • You should describe your research design and how you conducted your study, your sample, and your measures (or will do).
  • See pages 29-32 in the APA Manual (6th Edition).

Audio: Really, when you're starting is your research question determines your method. This is something when you're beginning to work on this, obviously if your ahead on that and you haven't reached the point where you started you might not have your research question but once you have that when you're starting to work on a proposal, someone, if you're conversing with your chair, the research question, which leads to your methodology and then determining your design.

So really in chapter 3 you're describing your design and how you conducted your study and all those, got participants in describing your sample and how your measurements were applied. And as I mentioned proposals it's in the future tense so you cannot start collecting data until you’ve gotten your institutional review board approval, your IRB information and that doesn't happen until you after you have a - - have your proposal done so that's where the difference comes from. A little note of where you can get more information in your APA manual which is your best friend when you're writing your study.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: All methods sections have:

  • A clear introduction
  • An identification of the methodology and research design
  • The purpose of the study and the research questions
  • A description of the setting and acquiring access to the setting
  • A description of population and sample, sampling method, and data collection processes
  • The role of the researcher and informed consent (where applicable)

See your specific rubric or checklist for more details

Download the Resources PDF from the Files pod!

Audio: In these method sections regardless of your program, this… if you're a PHD student its chapter 3. If your DBA student, it falls under chapter or section 2. Where it falls in your study differs depending on the program but all sections still have the same information. There is an introduction to the section where your - - then you will identify your methodology and research design, your purpose, your research questions, the setting and how - - what access is needed to get to the setting. Your population and sample, method, the collection process. Your role as the researcher as well as informed consent depending on your study, how that gets addressed.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: General Writing and APA Tips

  • Provide details on
    • Obtaining access to my research site and sample
    • Determining my sampling procedures and inviting respondents to participate
  • Remember to cite scholarly sources
    • Each step you choose to take in your research should be grounded in literature
    • Find a couple of hallmark studies in your area (method and content) that you can use as you write.
  • For students at the final capstone stage:
    • Include the Walden IRB approval number (in the methods chapter/section or in an appendix)

Audio: Some just general writing and APA tips. You're really wanting to provide as much information as needed. You don't want to go overboard and give so much that it's too much for a reader to take in but also you want to make sure all those steps are clear. So, really details on how you got access to your population, your sample, your research site. Is it something where you were on site if you're a nursing student and were doing some kind of work, how did you gain access to that particular site?

If you were doing a survey of a certain population, how did you determine what there, how you could recruit those - - how did you do that? You do also need to remember to cite your sources although some parts of the section are where you're just getting what you are going to do or not, or what you did. There are things that need to be cited. And each step you're taking needs to be grounded in literature. Often you may be using whenever we refer to other key studies in your area that did that and that you would be referring to, read some studies that use the same kind of method and use that as a justification toward some of your information.

When you're at the capstone stage you will also need to make sure your IRB approval number from Walden is included. The methods section is the best place. It's where it fits the best, it can be put in appendix which is the approval number. Not the full email not a consent form. But it really works well to fit it into the narrative of this section. Where you're letting - - going after I received IRB approval, then you would include your IRB number, I began to recruit participants, that kind of sentence.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Verb Tense

In the proposal, use the future tense to describe methods and processes which you have not yet conducted

“Using a phenomenological approach, I will explore the effects of childhood obesity on self-esteem in young adults.”

In the final capstone, use the past tense to describe research that has been completed

“Using a cross-sectional survey, I analyzed the effects of exposure to violence as a child on divorce rates in mid-life.”

Audio: I did touch on this before but it's a very important part between proposal and final capstone. Proposal is future tense because you have not actually completed your study. However, once you’ve moved into that final capstone stage, it’s for everything you’ve done is referred to in the past because you’ve completed your research. There is sometimes a feeling of once you've done your proposal and it's been approved; you can just let it be. It sadly not true. Once you have gone through and you’ve done the other parts come you have to make sure to back through the proposal parts and make sure that anything you described as something you were going to do, you were planning to do, is referred to as what you’ve done. This is particularly and important if you're talking about the number of participants and in your proposal your goal was to have and conduct 10 to 15 interviews. And that's great that’s something you’d want in your proposal, it's that ballpark and you haven't done it and you don't know what kind of response you’ll get to your recruitment.

But when it comes to that final capstone, your reader that's going to be published your reader wants to know how many did you do. So, you want to go back and say I completed 11 interviews. Or maybe you only completed eight, due to some issues of getting the number of participants. That something to keep in mind that you want to make into the final capstone into one cohesive document. And that comes with the tenses.

So, here's the example of what you will - - would do, plan to do and here is an example of where something was changed.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Voice

              Avoid writing in the third person.

The researcher introduced the study to participants and explained to them that they could refuse to answer any questions or stop the interview at any time.”

I introduced the study to participants and explained to them that they could refuse to answer any questions or stop the interview at any time.”

Audio: Something, your chair might push a little on this, depending on your program if you do have concerns, do always feel free to write up to the writing center about this, and that’s the voice. And we both Walden University and APA want students to avoid writing and the third person. That would be referring to yourself as the researcher. It can be confusing especially when you're talking about other sources - - other works that are using to support that kind of going what researcher. Here the first example, the researcher introduced the study to the participants. Really, you’d want to change that too, I, and that's the second example is I introduced the study to the participants. You're the person taking action, we want that first-person structure there.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Voice

              Prefer the active voice:

  • Clearly indicate the actor or agent who is doing or taking the action in the sentence

“In this study, data were collected using intensive interviews.”

“In this study, I conducted intensive interviews.”

Audio: We also prefer things to be in the active voice. To make it very clear who is doing what. So here this first example is passive voice. We have in the study; data were collected using intensive interviews. We don't know who collected the data. Yes, it's kind of inferred, but it's not on it sentence level alone, there's no information that can make it clear who did that. So, here's it's been adjusted to be an active voice. I conducted intensive interviews. Much more clearer we know who was doing what with this process.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Voice

Who sent these e-mails? The researcher or administrators in the organization?

Passive versus active voice is critical in letting the reader know who the actor or agent was who took the action:

              “In this study, I collected data in partnership with XYZ Corporation. Organizational administrators in the Human Resources Office worked to create a sample of 100 potential respondents. Surveys were emailed to these 100 individuals and 82 employees responded.”

Audio: It's really and this is an example of where it might not be clear who took the action. So, I’ll just start it out, I collected data and then the organizational administrators created a sample of 100 potential respondents. And then we have the sentence that's in passive voice, surveys were emailed. Well, it's not clear who surveyed, who put out the surveys. Was it you? The person who was collecting data or was it the administrators?


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Voice

At the same time, avoid all first person. Many “I”s can be redundant. Add a mixture of the active, first person voice and the passive voice for clarity.

GOAL: Make sure it is clear who did what

In this study, I administered a survey. Using a convenience sample, 68 teachers were invited to participate in the survey by emailing them an invitation. The principal of the school provided e-mail addresses…

Audio: So, it's just not obvious. So, on things like that you do want to be very clear who sent information. It is true and you may hear this from faculty that using, I, a lot can be very redundant. Especially if every sentence in the paragraph says, I did this or I did that. You can do a little mix of active voice, first-person voice and passive voice to help with clarity. So here because the way the sentences are lined up it's very clear whose being…what’s happening. So, I administered a survey. That is the first person then using a convenient sample, 68 teachers were invited to participate. Surveying - - that sentence alone it’s not clear who is doing the action but there's only been one person in this paragraph or one that could be so we understand that it is the writer who did that.

Then we have the principle of the school provided the email addresses so then again, we are getting that active voice.


Visual: Slide changes the following: Citations

  • Know what to cite, like:
    • Methodology
    • Decisions about sampling or interactions with participants
    • Discussion of the role of the researcher
  • Reference scholarly methods/design authors/publications outside of Creswell or standard/textbook methods pieces
    • Exception: Yin (for case study methodology) mostly books
  • Limit secondary sources
    • Who does Creswell or others cite?
    • Locate the original/seminal source

Audio: A little bit on citations. Things that are going to be needed to be cited talking about your methodology, information that helped you make decisions about sampling or interactions with participants. And often discussing the role of the researcher. What your part referred to. The referencing when you’re talking about methods, and we’re going to have a few more examples but you’ll be explaining when you do this, what type of study and what method you used within this, you know within that type and you will be relying on information from researchers.

In general, at this point you want to avoid Creswell and there's nothing wrong with Creswell’s text book and Walden uses it but the problem kind of falls to that Creswell is mostly siting other people. And, APA really prefers the use of the primary source so instead of referring that Creswell said that this person said this, you really want to go back and, look and go, oh what did this person actually say? So as a textbook for gaining general knowledge Creswell is wonderful. When it comes to providing direct support for your decisions in methodology it’s not such a great source because it serves as that secondary source of information.

We do see Yin a lot thought, that is often especially if you're discussing case study that is what you end up choosing as a methodology - - that is one that sometimes is often a textbook but is a very direct primary source on case studies. Generally, these references discussing the methods mostly they are going to be books versus any other articles just because of the broader nature of the information. It would be a book on doing a doing a grounded theory or whatever your choice is. So that's where the secondary sources limit that so looking to see who is Creswell citing or other general resources and then going and finding that. If you struggle to find those sources certainly reach out to our librarians. They are a wonderful group and they can help you find those original primary sources.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Citating an Example of Methodology

In this case, you are not citing them because you want to give credit to a finding, but to give credit to their research as an example of the method. Both are correct samples:

Sample 1:

Since 1975, two longitudinal surveys have measured binge drinking (e.g., Johnston et al., 2010; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2010).

Sample 2:

“In my method, I followed previous studies (e.g., Archer, 1991; Epstein, 2008; Oransky & Marecek, 2009; Witt, 1997), where researchers determined that gender-role development influences behavior and self-perception.”

Audio: So here is an example in citing within the methodology. What can be a little bit different than normal citing is that we are not - - you're not just trying to give credit to the finding but giving their research as an example. So, both of these samples are correct. You'll see, since 1975 two longitudinal surveys have measured binge drinking's. In here they're being referenced. You'll see that e.g., that Latin abbreviation has been added. Without that, you would be, those sources that are cited you would be saying that these sources said that the two studies have been done, but that is not what they are. Those are the two studies that did that measurement. So, you're showing the example of these two studies.

Sample 2 is sort of that same idea where in my method I followed previous studies. For example, these where researchers determined that gender role development influences behavior and self-perception. So again, with that e.g. you’re giving that credit to those studies but not saying, these sources said this. That's the difference on there.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Researcher Bias

  • Keep your background free from emotion.
  • Be upfront about any relationship you may have to participants and how you bracketed that.
    • Worked at the school or organization
    • Knew any participants (i.e., if you used snowball sampling)
  • Disclose any preconceived notions of what you might find—or what you hope to find—in your results.

See the Form and Style page on Avoiding Bias

Audio: The other thing you’re always going to want to keep in mind and throughout your writing, but it does show up a little bit more in the methodology, is your own bias. Everyone has opinions and sometimes it can be difficult to control those feelings that you have for your topic. The reason you chose your topic is it’s mostly something you care about, that you’re passionate about. If you weren't, you would not choose it because the capstone study is such a big in-depth piece of knowledge. If you don't have a connection to the topic, you're not going to make it through it. You're going to just be like why am I doing this. But you do need to keep that - - those feelings you have about it, you do need to keep them in check.

APA is not a style that allows for any authorial or researcher opinion to show through. It's really just that straightforward information. So, you really you want to keep your background information very free from emotion. A way to keep this in check is to avoid the use of adjectives and adverbs that could show an opinion. Choose language that doesn't really have an opinion attached to it. As well as if something even if you find something might be terrible, that's being done, you need to kind of pull that back because if you suggest this terrible event, well then it's very clear what you feel about it and then your reader could be biased by that information.

Another thing you'll need to think about is bias in regards to participant pool and information. So, you will have to make sure to be upfront about any relationship you have to participants or where you conducted the study and how you dealt with that. So, if you happen to work at the school or organization where your sample, where you’re surveying teachers you need to be clear about that. Even if you previously worked there you need to make it very… say I previously worked at this study site though I do not, I no longer work there, and I did not know any of the participants who were sampled.

If there's a chance that you might have because depending on where your study is coming from you just have to be very clear that you might have - - it might be actual coworkers that are being surveyed and how you address that. You will also want to disclose any preconceived notions of what you might find or what you're hoping to find. When you're conducting your study.

We do have some information on the form and style webpage about avoiding bias. There's also information in your APA manual. It's a really good thing to sit and discuss, you know read through and go and it's also a discussion that’s going to happen with your chair especially about study sites and participants. And you will gain resource information from there but something even now to keep in mind, how are you going to be keeping that sense of your opinions, your views separate and not only in what you present in your written capstone but when you're collecting data and recruiting participants. How you make sure to keep your opinion out of the situation.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Confidentiality

Ensure that you redact the appropriate information:

  • Names of people/organizations/addresses/e-mails/phone numbers
  • Highlighting in black is not redacting; can be copied and pasted. Instead, use:
    • a real black marker and scan
    • “XXXX”
    • a black text box


Audio: Confidentiality is a very big and important thing to think about really starting from the very beginning. One you’ll want to make sure that you’re going to redact the appropriate information. Certainly, any personal contact information - - this is even going to include your own. So when you're putting your study together, if you're including a flyer that you put up for reaching to find participants and on the flyer you included your phone number and your email address which you would want to do so that people could contact you, you are going to want to make sure to remove that for your study because you don't want that information published. Once something is published its completely out there.

Also, the names of people, certainly organizations all that information you want to have removed for that. You don't want to highlight in black using word features because that's not redacting it, they can change that the highlighting color and get information so either you’re going to want to use an actual physical black marker on a printed piece and scan it in and that's particularly important if you're using a letter of permission you got to do something with the site and you physically have this letter. You going to want to print that out and mark out that personal information potentially even the name of the site that might appear on the letterhead and remove that.

In typing something if you’re re… [inaudible] and that flyer that you created you have the hard copy on your computer. Going through and then, where your phone number or email are, putting in X’s instead of your actual information. You can also, depending on what it is, insert a black text box over it. It’s a little more complicated thing because text boxes can be annoying to try to get in the right place, but it is an option.

We have form and style Frequently Asked questions on confidentiality. As well as a smart guide on how to give credit to sources without compromising confidentiality. This is particularly an item of concern for those of you in an education program or if your…regardless of your program if your focus is on something with education especially K-12 school. Information gets much more concerned with getting information regarding children. That kind of thing, that extra level of protection. Certainly you'll be getting information from your chair and through your courses on that but we want to make sure you have the sources of information as well so when you're starting to write and think about it, you have these ideas already turning in your mind, alright, how am I going to talk about this with making sure my confidentiality agreement is still in place.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Confidentiality

  • Emphasis on keeping participant’s names confidential
    • Did I promise confidentiality (do I intend to) on my IRB approval form?

Identifying the organization may be acceptable, but does identifying the organization allow people to be identified?

  • Do I mention the CEO superintendent, even with a pseudonym?
  • Do I mention other characteristics of people that could identify individual people if someone knew the name of the organization?

Audio: Are you going to when you're doing that on your IRB approval form, a completely separate step to your capstone proposal and final study but a required one. How you're going to deal with that. Depending on it, you might - - depending on your study, identifying organization might be acceptable but does that… is that going to allow people to be identified? If it's - - oh I had a student, a nursing student how had been… who did something at a certain site but that particular clinic was part of a very large network within a very large metro area. So there, things can slightly be referred to but it was much harder - - if they mentioned the super CEO superintendent, even with the pseudonym because it was such a large - - the director of nursing - - it could've been multiple people within that area because it was such a large area. Now if that same student had been conducting their study at a small rural health clinic then we’d have potentially a different confidentiality issue. Maybe about the area that might've been given or it might have been clear that this was the clinic that this was at and these were the people, because this was the only one within a 100-mile radius, so that kind of thing to keep in mind.

Are characteristics - - are characteristics mentioned that could be identifiable? If they're using descriptive things beyond general demographics, is that information too clear? Of going, oh I know which ,you know- - if you knew where it was you knew exactly who was being talked to - - you want to keep that in mind to protect your participants.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Confidentiality & Citations


  • There is no fake or masked information in a citation (or reference)
  • Why? Citations are necessary for the reader to verify the information presented, so if the citation is fake or masked, it does not lead to a legitimate source.
  • Do not include a reference, as the same theory applies here

Audio: Something to keep in mind, there is no fake or masked information in a citation or a reference. The reason is this - - citations are needed, are required for the reader to verify your information. So, if it’s a fake citation or it's masked, it doesn't lead to source. The same way when you're not including something on a reference page because you wouldn't be up to follow back to that source.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Confidentiality & Citations

If you are keeping a source confidential (using a pseudonym),

do not use the pseudonym in a citation or a reference.


“The school’s population had grown in the past decade and the rate of seniors dropping out had almost doubled from 5% in 2002, to 9% in 2013 (Happy Valley Schools, 2014).”


According to a 2014 Happy Valley School report, the school’s population had grown in the past decade and the rate of seniors dropping out had almost doubled from 5% in 2002, to 9% in 2013.”

Audio: This goes to using those pseudonyms and things so you wouldn't want to use a pseudonym in the citation or a reference. Here are the ideas - - to avoid using the actual name of the school, but in not having to continually refer to something as the study site, the author provided a pseudonym of happy Valley schools perhaps throughout the district. Here because of the pseudonym, it would actually be cited. As it is here in parentheses where this information - - because you can't go look that up, you can’t find a 2014 report by the pseudonym because that's not a real thing. So, the correct way to do this is to refer to it in the actual paragraph. According to a 2014 happy Valley school report, the school's population had grown and go from there.

That's just a little bit of adjusting your writing so that you can use the pseudonym and give some general important information. The year that they're discussing this information came from but not making it look like a real citation and a real source that your reader could go and find.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Confidentiality & Citations

Another example:


“The company mission statement promoted their idea of social change and corporate responsibility. Over the last 5 years, XYZ Company had donated over $1 million to various different causes (XYZ company, 2014).”


“The company mission statement promoted their idea of social change and corporate responsibility. According to the XYZ company website, over the last 5 years, XYZ Company had donated over $1 million to various different causes.”

Audio: Here is another example. Here the actual name of the company has been hidden and is being referred to as XYZ. And then this information - - not wanting to have it as this citation at the end of the paragraph because then the reader would expect to find XYZ company, 2014, on your reference page and it’s not going to be there because it's not a real source. And certainly, you couldn't put the actual company's name source on there because that would take away the purpose of using a pseudonym - - if it appears in your reference page, well there is so you don't want to disclose it in any part of your study. So, the correct way is - - according to the XYZ company website - - that way it’s clear that the information you're talking about regarding the amount of money they donated does come from a source. It isn’t information that you are making up or speculating on, it’s information that you found and is seen potentially as truthful because it’s what the company said. But you’re also not making - - providing an access where the reader is expecting they will find that source and follow it back because of the level of confidentiality that’s been put in where you're not disclosing the company name.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Let’s Pause for Some Questions on Language

Next Up: Examples of Writing About Methods

Audio: I'm going to take a moment here to pause and see if you have any questions. If it's anything that Sam has come across that he would like me to address. I’ll let him jump in and if you want to share bigger questions, I will do my best to answer them.

Sam: Great Meghan, Thank you so much Meghan. I had several questions coming into the box and I tried to answer them and provide links to further information, but it might be interesting for others to hear this as well. I thought I might pose a couple of these questions to you. A student’s asking about secondary data. In which case it does get more complicated I suppose but my advice was to be transparent about he or she is using the data.

Meghan: Was that looking at is survey like if you're taking the survey results that maybe they did from…a school did with their own students and looking at the results

Sam: describing the methodology in a case like that. The person wanted to know if there are considerations there.

Meghan: Yeah, once you have your committee you will have someone who knows your methodology and they will be able to help you with the super details of that. But a lot of the times - - I see those secondary data, it can be get interesting results. And that really just describes that that is your data collection - - your reviewing the secondary data from this other survey or collection that someone else did. That just sort of comes across very straightforward when your discussing how you are collecting your data. But your methodologist generally that's your second committee chair and they can help you through the actual, best way to work that and point you towards examples and things but really there something that you will be talking about - -yep this is secondary data and I looked at this survey from this group that was collected this day. That's information that you need.

Sam: I don't know about you but it seems to me when writers are working with secondary data, as far as form and style concerns go, one pitfall seems to be clarity determining who did what, so that's where your advice about using active voice about using the appropriate use of, I, would really come in and even verb tenses, making sure it's clear who did what and kind of when. - - Form and style - - there's going to be a problem with secondary data come that's where I sit from my perspective as you said how to describe it exactly is a great thing to talk about with faculty.

Another thing that came up - - this was a great question but several different ways a person to do this it seems - - how do you indicate that something is a pseudonym?

Meghan: Generally, I would say I most often see it at the very beginning so part of chapter 1 where - - in this study, I examined or interviewed teachers at a secondary school in a South Western state of the United States. That would be sort of the description - - and it's a long thing to keep repeating. It would be just from here on, referred to as happy Valley school. You just kind of identify it as that fairly early on. It is possible they might not do it until later depending on how your addressing things but really, it’s just sort of, once you do it, you make it out there and make sure you're consistent. In referring and using the pseudonym and not going back and forth so the reader might be confused if it's that site or not.

Sam: You see people using the pseudonyms more or sort of regional descriptors more often?

Meghan: Lately I've been seeing the regional descriptors more. A few years back, I felt that I saw more pseudonyms so I don't know if that is just a culture shift with our faculty that they are preferring general descriptions versus pseudonyms. If it's our students who aren’t realizing pseudonyms and making sure they are not actually siting the pseudonym is an extra thing to remember that they don't want to deal with and prefer the description. I'm not sure that but I'm seeing a lot less of actual pseudonyms. Except for things where participants, surveys, certainly those are most always assigned a pseudonym whether it's a participant one or participant that were interviewed chose their own names that they were using or generally assigned by the person - - I talked to John Jacob and James and you could say I assigned pseudonyms for these people. For ease of that. So, you’ll see it there but for actual site, I’m seeing that a lot less was pseudonyms.

Sam: Well thank you for that, I will let you get on with the next few slides.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Too Much Information

Research Design

              Phenomenology was not suitable for this study because it would

have involved …

              Ethnography is another form of qualitative research methods. This is a scientific research strategy (Creswell, 2003) often used…

              Historical research is another type of qualitative research design. It is a systematic collection…

              Case study research is about… A case study was not appropriate because…

              Grounded theory is another form of qualitative research design.

Grounded theory is a systematic generation of theory…

              In summary, qualitative research, as an inquiry, is aimed at…

              There are some factors to consider when a researcher is deciding to adopt a qualitative research methodology. Strauss and Corbin (1990) claimed…

Conclusion: Focus on explaining why your selected method and design fit the RQ. No need to discuss all possible options and why you didn’t do each one.

Audio: Meghan: Alright, so here the important part about writing. This is an example where we've got way more information that when need and here are all these different types of designs that are described. They are being described in detail. That is not really what we need at this point because you're not teaching your reader about all of these. You're certainly going to possibly mention what you didn't use leading up to what you did use but you don't need to give detailed information about that. What you’re focusing on is why you stuck to this method and why it fit the research question. You don't have to go detailed into each one and why you didn't choose it. It can be very repetitive and it’s just more information than is really needed.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Not Enough Information

Research Design

              I chose a quantitative research design to demonstrate a correlation between two variables. I did not choose a qualitative study because it would not allow me to do this.

Make sure that you do provide ENOUGH description to establish your rationale for the method and/or design.

Audio: However, you don't want to pull back too far because this is really enough information to say you chose a quantitative research designed to demonstrate a correlation between variables. And you didn't choose a qualitative study because it wouldn't allow you to do this. That is true but that’s not really quite enough. You want to be explaining why is being able to find a correlation between variables, how is that connected to the research question. Why is that part important? You really are explaining your rationale for this, at this point and it's something to keep in mind to have those - - I will see those sometimes - - this didn't allow me to do this. That's not really why you didn't choose this. There are aspects of it.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Just Right

Research Design

              In this study, I employed mixed methods research. Mixed methods research is “a type of research in which a researcher or team of researchers combines elements of qualitative and quantitative research approaches (e.g., use of qualitative and quantitative viewpoints, data collection, analysis, inference techniques) for the broad purposes of breadth and depth of understanding and corroboration” (Johnson, Onwuegbuzie, & Turner, 2007, p. 123).

            Conducting mixed methods research has several advantages compared to conducting quantitative or qualitative research alone, many of which are particularly significant to this study. First, mixed methods research allows for a more complete understanding of complex phenomena. Second, it allows the researcher to compensate for the weaknesses of one method with the strengths of another. For instance, qualitative data can help explain, clarify, and provide meaning to quantitative data. Similarly, quantitative data can limit the influence of confounding variables and increase the generalizability of results. Third, mixed methods research can add to the credibility and validity of findings through the corroboration of qualitative and quantitative findings and by reducing bias related to using one type of methodology (Bryman, 2006; Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004; Kelle, 2006).

Effective mixture of summary, synthesis, discussion, and rationale for the decisions. ALSO, includes sources to support the decisions.

Audio: Here's an example where we are looking at the right amount of information. I’m not going to read it all because it's a long - - here you can see it started out that the writer explains what they used and then they defined that. Then explained that there's advantages to their thing and even saying these are significant to their study. And kind of letting - - laying those out and explaining why they selected mixed methods over qualitative or quantitative study. And you can see that they’re using some sources to back that up. To help support that but we haven't included - - you can look more closely and read it thoroughly. There is not a detailed definition of qualitative or quantitative. And on that it's focusing just on their design and highlighting what was right about that choice.

Effective mixture following the meal plan of your main ideas, your evidence your analysis, those rationales for that but the important part is that the sources to support your decision. The information that is out there that shows a reader that you really were looking into what is going to best fit for my research question, what I want to look at and how can I research that the best way.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Just Right


              In this chapter, I describe the qualitative research paradigm and life history design for this study of adult readers and will discuss the rationale for choosing each in this context. In addition, in this chapter, I describe the methodology for this study, including a description of the participants, how participants were selected, the researcher’s role, and ethical issues. This chapter also includes explanations of the data collection tools, how data were collected and analyzed, and threats to data quality.

Audio: Here's an example of introduction. For the layout of what they're going to explain. Truthfully this is a fill in the blank of introduction and sometimes that's okay. Because really you're laying out what you're going to describe, participants, how they were selected, the role, laying out the basic parameters of the chapter. And so, for the information in there.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Just Right

Methodology: Qualitative Paradigm and Tradition

                             According to Denzin and Lincoln (2008), the qualitative research paradigm should be undertaken based on the following rationales: (a) research questions begin with how and what, (b) the topic requires exploration because of multiple variables and/or a lack of theory, (c) a natural setting is required…Thus, I chose a qualitative research design because words are more indicative of the experience of learning in reference to the cultural invention of reading than the numerical data of quantitative research…

Audio: So here is something to look at a little deeper at the methodology. Qualitative paradigm and tradition. Here we have a source talking about what that is. So, the general definition of method and then the reason that the author chose the qualitative research design. And words are more indicative of the experience then numerical data, oh I cannot speak, numerical data that would appear in quantitative research - - that would depend on the research question, what they were looking for. If they were looking for experiences of participants, you are leaning toward qualitative to get that and that would be hard to understand or get from just numbers.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Just Right


              According to Champion (2002), purposive sampling is used when there is a clear reason to choose the participants for the sample group (p. 62). Rather than gathering a random sample of the accessible population from all of the 2-year institutions in Ohio, I employed a purposive sampling of students from the 16 schools that used the COMPASS test for placement...

Audio: Here's an example of a sample. We’ve got the definition of purpose - - the purpose of sampling versus random sampling of looking to see what are the best options and why this was used as well, so getting that balance.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Just Right


            I chose participants for this qualitative life history because they had the shared experience of struggling to learn to read… The participants for this qualitative life story were selected by from a rural central Florida community. A convenience sample of 18 men and women who self-identified as having learned to read as adults was located through (a) referrals from teachers in public school adult education programs, (b) notices sent to community volunteer adult tutoring programs, (c) referrals from the researcher’s professional contacts…

Audio: Here this one you can see it's important to think about that sample of number of people who identified of that. But you’ll keep that - - it'll be something you update from your proposal to that to - - you probably don't know you're looking at 18 until you have completed your research. But the information of a rural central Florida community gives the reader an idea of the area but not exactly where.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Just Right


                             Over the past several decades, researchers have attempted to determine the conditions under which successful training transfer occurs. In doing so, they found that training transfer is influenced by a number of individual, training design, and environmental factors (Burke & Hutchins, 2007; Blume et al., 2010; Cheng & Hampson, 2008; Cheng & Ho, 2001). Despite the wealth of research that has been conducted, the influence of supervisor support and specific dimensions of support, on training transfer are still unknown (Chiaburu, 2010; Cromwell & Kolb, 2004; Sookhai & Budworth, 2010). The goal of this mixed methods study was to examine the influence of specific dimensions of support (coaching, mentoring, task support, and social support) on training transfer. In order to address this gap, I employed a mixed-methods design in which quantitative data were collected and analyzed. In Chapter 4, the quantitative and qualitative results are presented.

Audio: Here's an example of a conclusion. Just sort of restating what was said within that section. Section or chapter of different reasons and kind of following up with, I employed this design in which these things were looked at in leading us nicely into chapter 4 where are the dissertation results. And the results are presented - - there we go - - we are nicely - - we don't need a full detail of what chapter 4 is going to be here at the end of chapter 3 because you’re going to have to have an introduction to chapter 4 to lay things out so here's a rough idea that.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Main Takeaways

  • Recipe for other researchers
    • Clarity and specificity
    • Prefer the active voice (some passive voice is fine)
  • Use citations to support methods decisions
  • Confidentiality: What details am I including and are those appropriate?
  • Pseudonyms: Have I discussed them in the text and used citations appropriately?
  • Bias: Is my own (researcher) bias addressed (explicit and implicit)?
  • Level of detail: Have I provided enough, too much, or just right (reexamine the examples here)?

Audio: So, the main takeaways for this. Working on this section or chapter is really, it’s thinking of that idea of it's a recipe for someone else to follow. And you want to think of it really in that way where you're leaving those, the clear expedition of what you did so someone else could replicate it. If you ever got actual recipe from an older relative, something that has been passed down. Sometimes you get it and you don't know what - - you go oh a handful, how much is a handful, you want to be clear than that. A Recipe is good if it tells you, you need one cup of flour and not a handful. That's where that clarity is coming in the keep in mind you want the active voice. A little bit of passive is fine when it still clear who is taking the action. And to balance out so you're not feeling like every sentence is starting, I will, or I did for that.

You’re going to be using your citations to support the decisions. What kind of information was out there that helps you choose your method? How did you decide to do this over that? Keeping confidentiality is something you will be addressing in that section. What details are you including, are they appropriate, is it too much? And keeping in mind things that you might be including or not including, the information and will that be to disclosing information on participants or on a study site? Keeping that level. That is something you your committee will be keeping an eye on and looking for as well when you're doing that. Pseudonyms along with that confidentiality. Have you discussed them in the text so that somewhere you introduce that happy Valley school is pseudonym for your study site. Or from that, and therefore, are you using citations appropriately and not putting it into the parenthetical citation but referencing it in the text so that it's clear it’s coming from a source but is not a source that's going to appear on the reference pages.

Bias. One we didn't address as deeply as one can, because there are many different layers but it's a good thing to keep in mind. Is your own bias addressed? Straightforward, knowing that if your conducting a study regarding the behavior of police officers and you are a police officer, you are going to want to state that because you want to make sure your reader knows and your addressing - - I could have bias about how police officers act because I'm also part of that population. Now you may not be surveying your own squad, your own area, but it's that information of keeping that in mind.

You’ll also find as you are doing your research, and conducting your study, you will be led to sources on how to address bias and check and that's something we are not go over here because it is something you will learn in courses in regarding using a journals and doing bracketing and when you're writing research questions and interview questions, how you are making sure your bias is staying out of that. It's here at this level to keep in mind. And making sure it gets addressed straight out and you're coming very straightforward. Both to your reader and to your participants when you're introducing that if you were looking at police officer behavior and wanted to interview people had been pulled over for speeding tickets you still want to let them know that you had this connection to law-enforcement even if you personally hadn’t pulled them over but they might need to know, where is this person coming from? So, a lot of information is available out there and this is not by any means your only source of information or anytime it will be discussed but we do want to address it so keep that in mind when you're working.

Then the level of detail. This one may take a little - - too much too little - - it’s the Goldilocks idea of how to get the right amount. It takes a little work and as a writer I personally feel it can be easier to start with too much and then delete. But then I am naturally a writer who writes too much. So, it doesn't take me as much effort to put in way more information and then pull it out. You may be someone who tends to be a little more straightforward in your writing and therefore it can take extra effort to put more in. But are you giving enough information you can look at the examples in this webinar later on and ask where am I falling in between the example of way too much information and where it’s not enough? Where I didn't choose a qualitative study because it wasn't right for my study. That's not enough information. So, finding the perfect balance. That will take work but hopefully these examples we have will be beneficial.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: What do I do next?

  • Examine the template/rubric for your program
    • Follow the headings and begin writing
  • Start at the beginning, remembering that others need to follow this step-by-step
  • Be ultraclear about who did (or will do) what and when
  • Reread and revise; add more detail where necessary
  • Have a friend or family member read
  • Scholarly methods citations
  • Reexamine the examples; compare your writing and level of detail with the examples

Audio: Your next steps. You want to look at the template and rubric for your program and follow those headings when you're looking at writing this section. I know some of you are not at that stage yet but that doesn't mean you can't start looking ahead of the templates and rubrics to see what are those kinds of areas going to before.

It's really best to start the beginning rather than wanting to jump and talk about doing it - - other parts because you want to make sure it lays out and someone can follow it. Keep thoughts of active voice and the reason behind it, which is making sure it is clear who did what or will do and when and why and it's coming out very clearly.

I think this is the mantra of the writing center for these things of reread and revise. Everything we would do will involve that because it's true. Looking to see where you might need to add more detail and you might have points where you need - - you are realizing you are giving too much. Are you providing in-depth examples of a research method you're not using? That's probably not necessary. You want to list what the other ones that you didn't choose are, but you probably don't need to give us details - - detailed information or history on those.

This is actually a section that is really useful to have someone else read because you want to make sure that the steps of how you collect the data, how you found participants, those things are really clear. Understandable to someone who isn't familiar with your study. So, ask someone else to look at it. They won't need to have a detailed knowledge of your topic. Or even of a dissertation or capstone study process. Because really it’s looking, can you identify that there are steps to follow and does that make it clear of how this happened? Keep in mind citations are needed for scholarly methods. Especially those defining and explaining why, providing that evidence to why that particular method meets the items that were included in the research question or how your research question can be best answered by using that. And that’s going to require that evidentiary support that will come from outside sources.

Again, do definitely keep a link onto this one once we have the recording posted, download what we have in our file so you can compare what you're writing is to what the examples have.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: ORDS Research Resources

Office of Research and Doctoral Services Research Resources:

Audio: This is a section, you’re also working with the Center for research quality. And they have resources including office hours, appointments for questions especially things regarding - - setting up confidentiality and making sure things are correct with those levels and making sure your IRB application process, your questions on that - - these are links so feel free to hold onto those. And they are included in the resource’s handout as well.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing Center Dissertation Editor Resources

Form and Style Website

Audio: The writing center our side, our form and style website kind of a homepage hopefully you marked, already, if you haven’t do bookmark that. We have sort of different options. We have a proposal kit and that takes you to the different steps of your proposal. And you can be looking at how do I describe my study. We have a smart guide for formatting help for this section and for table and figure formatting. Generally, there's not so much of that of tables or figures within your methodology, there might be but it's a great one to look at anyway because will probably discuss that and then looking at the FAQs on confidentiality. Are a definite resource to hold on to.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions?

editor@mail.waldenu.eduEditor Office Hours

Additional Webinars:

Presenting Data and Describing Analysis and Introduce, Conclude, and Write the Abstract of Your Study

Audio: We've got about one minute for any questions we might have. And then just sort of a couple of different additional webinars that are out there. So, going back to Sam real quick to see if there are bigger questions that have come out in the last 15 minutes. To address before we sign off.

Sam: No, I think you have hit everything there weren’t any specific questions that you can answer in the amount of time we have left. I encourage people to contact

Meghan: Yes, and really questions are going to come up once this is digested on your brain so definitely reach out to us. I know I talk fast so please do look at the recording, hold onto it so you can pause it and go back and check exactly what I did say. So, Beth, any last notes to wrap up?

Beth: No thank you Meghan and thank you everyone as Meghan said reach out if you have any questions and take a look at those archive sessions and watch out for other live sessions about capstone. I will close this out but thank you Meghan and Sam, have a wonderful day everyone and we hope to see you again soon.