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How to Write a Methods Section for a Psychology Paper

Tips and Examples of an APA Methods Section

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

what is the method section of a research paper

Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.

what is the method section of a research paper

Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin 

The methods section of an APA format psychology paper provides the methods and procedures used in a research study or experiment . This part of an APA paper is critical because it allows other researchers to see exactly how you conducted your research.

Method refers to the procedure that was used in a research study. It included a precise description of how the experiments were performed and why particular procedures were selected. While the APA technically refers to this section as the 'method section,' it is also often known as a 'methods section.'

The methods section ensures the experiment's reproducibility and the assessment of alternative methods that might produce different results. It also allows researchers to replicate the experiment and judge the study's validity.

This article discusses how to write a methods section for a psychology paper, including important elements to include and tips that can help.

What to Include in a Method Section

So what exactly do you need to include when writing your method section? You should provide detailed information on the following:

  • Research design
  • Participants
  • Participant behavior

The method section should provide enough information to allow other researchers to replicate your experiment or study.

Components of a Method Section

The method section should utilize subheadings to divide up different subsections. These subsections typically include participants, materials, design, and procedure.

Participants 

In this part of the method section, you should describe the participants in your experiment, including who they were (and any unique features that set them apart from the general population), how many there were, and how they were selected. If you utilized random selection to choose your participants, it should be noted here.

For example: "We randomly selected 100 children from elementary schools near the University of Arizona."

At the very minimum, this part of your method section must convey:

  • Basic demographic characteristics of your participants (such as sex, age, ethnicity, or religion)
  • The population from which your participants were drawn
  • Any restrictions on your pool of participants
  • How many participants were assigned to each condition and how they were assigned to each group (i.e., randomly assignment , another selection method, etc.)
  • Why participants took part in your research (i.e., the study was advertised at a college or hospital, they received some type of incentive, etc.)

Information about participants helps other researchers understand how your study was performed, how generalizable the result might be, and allows other researchers to replicate the experiment with other populations to see if they might obtain the same results.

In this part of the method section, you should describe the materials, measures, equipment, or stimuli used in the experiment. This may include:

  • Testing instruments
  • Technical equipment
  • Any psychological assessments that were used
  • Any special equipment that was used

For example: "Two stories from Sullivan et al.'s (1994) second-order false belief attribution tasks were used to assess children's understanding of second-order beliefs."

For standard equipment such as computers, televisions, and videos, you can simply name the device and not provide further explanation.

Specialized equipment should be given greater detail, especially if it is complex or created for a niche purpose. In some instances, such as if you created a special material or apparatus for your study, you might need to include an illustration of the item in the appendix of your paper.

In this part of your method section, describe the type of design used in the experiment. Specify the variables as well as the levels of these variables. Identify:

  • The independent variables
  • Dependent variables
  • Control variables
  • Any extraneous variables that might influence your results.

Also, explain whether your experiment uses a  within-groups  or between-groups design.

For example: "The experiment used a 3x2 between-subjects design. The independent variables were age and understanding of second-order beliefs."

The next part of your method section should detail the procedures used in your experiment. Your procedures should explain:

  • What the participants did
  • How data was collected
  • The order in which steps occurred

For example: "An examiner interviewed children individually at their school in one session that lasted 20 minutes on average. The examiner explained to each child that he or she would be told two short stories and that some questions would be asked after each story. All sessions were videotaped so the data could later be coded."

Keep this subsection concise yet detailed. Explain what you did and how you did it, but do not overwhelm your readers with too much information.

Tips for How to Write a Methods Section

In addition to following the basic structure of an APA method section, there are also certain things you should remember when writing this section of your paper. Consider the following tips when writing this section:

  • Use the past tense : Always write the method section in the past tense.
  • Be descriptive : Provide enough detail that another researcher could replicate your experiment, but focus on brevity. Avoid unnecessary detail that is not relevant to the outcome of the experiment.
  • Use an academic tone : Use formal language and avoid slang or colloquial expressions. Word choice is also important. Refer to the people in your experiment or study as "participants" rather than "subjects."
  • Use APA format : Keep a style guide on hand as you write your method section. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is the official source for APA style.
  • Make connections : Read through each section of your paper for agreement with other sections. If you mention procedures in the method section, these elements should be discussed in the results and discussion sections.
  • Proofread : Check your paper for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.. typos, grammar problems, and spelling errors. Although a spell checker is a handy tool, there are some errors only you can catch.

After writing a draft of your method section, be sure to get a second opinion. You can often become too close to your work to see errors or lack of clarity. Take a rough draft of your method section to your university's writing lab for additional assistance.

A Word From Verywell

The method section is one of the most important components of your APA format paper. The goal of your paper should be to clearly detail what you did in your experiment. Provide enough detail that another researcher could replicate your study if they wanted.

Finally, if you are writing your paper for a class or for a specific publication, be sure to keep in mind any specific instructions provided by your instructor or by the journal editor. Your instructor may have certain requirements that you need to follow while writing your method section.

Frequently Asked Questions

While the subsections can vary, the three components that should be included are sections on the participants, the materials, and the procedures.

  • Describe who the participants were in the study and how they were selected.
  • Define and describe the materials that were used including any equipment, tests, or assessments
  • Describe how the data was collected

To write your methods section in APA format, describe your participants, materials, study design, and procedures. Keep this section succinct, and always write in the past tense. The main heading of this section should be labeled "Method" and it should be centered, bolded, and capitalized. Each subheading within this section should be bolded, left-aligned and in title case.

The purpose of the methods section is to describe what you did in your experiment. It should be brief, but include enough detail that someone could replicate your experiment based on this information. Your methods section should detail what you did to answer your research question. Describe how the study was conducted, the study design that was used and why it was chosen, and how you collected the data and analyzed the results.

Erdemir F. How to write a materials and methods section of a scientific article ? Turk J Urol . 2013;39(Suppl 1):10-5. doi:10.5152/tud.2013.047

Kallet RH. How to write the methods section of a research paper . Respir Care . 2004;49(10):1229-32. PMID: 15447808.

American Psychological Association.  Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association  (7th ed.). Washington DC: The American Psychological Association; 2019.

American Psychological Association. APA Style Journal Article Reporting Standards . Published 2020.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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  • How to Write Your Methods

what is the method section of a research paper

Ensure understanding, reproducibility and replicability

What should you include in your methods section, and how much detail is appropriate?

Why Methods Matter

The methods section was once the most likely part of a paper to be unfairly abbreviated, overly summarized, or even relegated to hard-to-find sections of a publisher’s website. While some journals may responsibly include more detailed elements of methods in supplementary sections, the movement for increased reproducibility and rigor in science has reinstated the importance of the methods section. Methods are now viewed as a key element in establishing the credibility of the research being reported, alongside the open availability of data and results.

A clear methods section impacts editorial evaluation and readers’ understanding, and is also the backbone of transparency and replicability.

For example, the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology project set out in 2013 to replicate experiments from 50 high profile cancer papers, but revised their target to 18 papers once they understood how much methodological detail was not contained in the original papers.

what is the method section of a research paper

What to include in your methods section

What you include in your methods sections depends on what field you are in and what experiments you are performing. However, the general principle in place at the majority of journals is summarized well by the guidelines at PLOS ONE : “The Materials and Methods section should provide enough detail to allow suitably skilled investigators to fully replicate your study. ” The emphases here are deliberate: the methods should enable readers to understand your paper, and replicate your study. However, there is no need to go into the level of detail that a lay-person would require—the focus is on the reader who is also trained in your field, with the suitable skills and knowledge to attempt a replication.

A constant principle of rigorous science

A methods section that enables other researchers to understand and replicate your results is a constant principle of rigorous, transparent, and Open Science. Aim to be thorough, even if a particular journal doesn’t require the same level of detail . Reproducibility is all of our responsibility. You cannot create any problems by exceeding a minimum standard of information. If a journal still has word-limits—either for the overall article or specific sections—and requires some methodological details to be in a supplemental section, that is OK as long as the extra details are searchable and findable .

Imagine replicating your own work, years in the future

As part of PLOS’ presentation on Reproducibility and Open Publishing (part of UCSF’s Reproducibility Series ) we recommend planning the level of detail in your methods section by imagining you are writing for your future self, replicating your own work. When you consider that you might be at a different institution, with different account logins, applications, resources, and access levels—you can help yourself imagine the level of specificity that you yourself would require to redo the exact experiment. Consider:

  • Which details would you need to be reminded of? 
  • Which cell line, or antibody, or software, or reagent did you use, and does it have a Research Resource ID (RRID) that you can cite?
  • Which version of a questionnaire did you use in your survey? 
  • Exactly which visual stimulus did you show participants, and is it publicly available? 
  • What participants did you decide to exclude? 
  • What process did you adjust, during your work? 

Tip: Be sure to capture any changes to your protocols

You yourself would want to know about any adjustments, if you ever replicate the work, so you can surmise that anyone else would want to as well. Even if a necessary adjustment you made was not ideal, transparency is the key to ensuring this is not regarded as an issue in the future. It is far better to transparently convey any non-optimal methods, or methodological constraints, than to conceal them, which could result in reproducibility or ethical issues downstream.

Visual aids for methods help when reading the whole paper

Consider whether a visual representation of your methods could be appropriate or aid understanding your process. A visual reference readers can easily return to, like a flow-diagram, decision-tree, or checklist, can help readers to better understand the complete article, not just the methods section.

Ethical Considerations

In addition to describing what you did, it is just as important to assure readers that you also followed all relevant ethical guidelines when conducting your research. While ethical standards and reporting guidelines are often presented in a separate section of a paper, ensure that your methods and protocols actually follow these guidelines. Read more about ethics .

Existing standards, checklists, guidelines, partners

While the level of detail contained in a methods section should be guided by the universal principles of rigorous science outlined above, various disciplines, fields, and projects have worked hard to design and develop consistent standards, guidelines, and tools to help with reporting all types of experiment. Below, you’ll find some of the key initiatives. Ensure you read the submission guidelines for the specific journal you are submitting to, in order to discover any further journal- or field-specific policies to follow, or initiatives/tools to utilize.

Tip: Keep your paper moving forward by providing the proper paperwork up front

Be sure to check the journal guidelines and provide the necessary documents with your manuscript submission. Collecting the necessary documentation can greatly slow the first round of peer review, or cause delays when you submit your revision.

Randomized Controlled Trials – CONSORT The Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) project covers various initiatives intended to prevent the problems of  inadequate reporting of randomized controlled trials. The primary initiative is an evidence-based minimum set of recommendations for reporting randomized trials known as the CONSORT Statement . 

Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses – PRISMA The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses ( PRISMA ) is an evidence-based minimum set of items focusing  on the reporting of  reviews evaluating randomized trials and other types of research.

Research using Animals – ARRIVE The Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments ( ARRIVE ) guidelines encourage maximizing the information reported in research using animals thereby minimizing unnecessary studies. (Original study and proposal , and updated guidelines , in PLOS Biology .) 

Laboratory Protocols Protocols.io has developed a platform specifically for the sharing and updating of laboratory protocols , which are assigned their own DOI and can be linked from methods sections of papers to enhance reproducibility. Contextualize your protocol and improve discovery with an accompanying Lab Protocol article in PLOS ONE .

Consistent reporting of Materials, Design, and Analysis – the MDAR checklist A cross-publisher group of editors and experts have developed, tested, and rolled out a checklist to help establish and harmonize reporting standards in the Life Sciences . The checklist , which is available for use by authors to compile their methods, and editors/reviewers to check methods, establishes a minimum set of requirements in transparent reporting and is adaptable to any discipline within the Life Sciences, by covering a breadth of potentially relevant methodological items and considerations. If you are in the Life Sciences and writing up your methods section, try working through the MDAR checklist and see whether it helps you include all relevant details into your methods, and whether it reminded you of anything you might have missed otherwise.

Summary Writing tips

The main challenge you may find when writing your methods is keeping it readable AND covering all the details needed for reproducibility and replicability. While this is difficult, do not compromise on rigorous standards for credibility!

what is the method section of a research paper

  • Keep in mind future replicability, alongside understanding and readability.
  • Follow checklists, and field- and journal-specific guidelines.
  • Consider a commitment to rigorous and transparent science a personal responsibility, and not just adhering to journal guidelines.
  • Establish whether there are persistent identifiers for any research resources you use that can be specifically cited in your methods section.
  • Deposit your laboratory protocols in Protocols.io, establishing a permanent link to them. You can update your protocols later if you improve on them, as can future scientists who follow your protocols.
  • Consider visual aids like flow-diagrams, lists, to help with reading other sections of the paper.
  • Be specific about all decisions made during the experiments that someone reproducing your work would need to know.

what is the method section of a research paper

Don’t

  • Summarize or abbreviate methods without giving full details in a discoverable supplemental section.
  • Presume you will always be able to remember how you performed the experiments, or have access to private or institutional notebooks and resources.
  • Attempt to hide constraints or non-optimal decisions you had to make–transparency is the key to ensuring the credibility of your research.
  • How to Write a Great Title
  • How to Write an Abstract
  • How to Report Statistics
  • How to Write Discussions and Conclusions
  • How to Edit Your Work

The contents of the Peer Review Center are also available as a live, interactive training session, complete with slides, talking points, and activities. …

The contents of the Writing Center are also available as a live, interactive training session, complete with slides, talking points, and activities. …

There’s a lot to consider when deciding where to submit your work. Learn how to choose a journal that will help your study reach its audience, while reflecting your values as a researcher…

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what is the method section of a research paper

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APA Methods Section – How To Write It With Examples

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APA-Methods-Section-01

The APA methods section is a very important part of your academic paper, displaying how you conducted your research by providing a precise description of the methods and procedures you used for the study. This section ensures transparency, allowing other researchers to see exactly how you conducted your experiments. In APA style , the methods section usually includes subsections on participants, materials or measures, and procedures. This article discusses the APA methods section in detail.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

  • 1 APA Methods Section – In a Nutshell
  • 2 Definition: APA Methods Section
  • 3 APA Methods Section: Structure
  • 4 APA Methods Section: Participants
  • 5 APA Methods Section: Materials
  • 6 APA Methods Section: Procedure

APA Methods Section – In a Nutshell

  • The APA methods section covers the participants, materials, and procedures.
  • Under the ‘Participants’ heading of the APA methods section, you should state the relevant demographic characteristics of your participants.
  • Accurately reporting the facts of the study can help other researchers determine how much the results can be generalized.

Definition: APA Methods Section

The APA methods section describes the procedures you used to carry out your research and explains why particular processes were selected. It allows other researchers to replicate the study and make their own conclusions on the validity of the experiment.

APA Methods Section: Structure

  • The main heading of the APA methods section should be written in bold and should be capitalized. It also has to be centered.
  • All subheadings should be aligned to the left and must be boldfaced. You should select subheadings that are suitable for your essay, and the most commonly used include ‘Participants’, ‘Materials’, and ‘Procedure’.

Heading formats:

APA format has certain requirements for reporting different research designs. You should go through these guidelines to determine what you should mention for research using longitudinal designs , replication studies, and experimental designs .

APA Methods Section: Participants

Under this subheading, you will have to report on the sample characteristics, the procedures used to collect samples, and the sample size selected.

Subject or Participant Characteristics

In academic studies, ‘participants’ refers to the people who take part in a study. If animals are used instead of human beings, the researcher can use the term ‘subjects’. In this subheading of the APA methods section, you have to describe the demographic characteristics of the participants, including their age, sex, race, ethnic group, education level, and gender identity. Depending on the nature of the study, other characteristics may be important. Some of these include:

  • Education levels
  • Language preference
  • Immigration status

By describing the characteristics of the participants, readers will be able to determine how much the results can be generalized. Make sure you use bias-free language when writing this part of the APA methods section.

The study included 100 homosexual men and 100 homosexual women aged between 30 and 50 years from the city of London, UK.

Sampling Procedures

When selecting participants for your study, you will have to use certain sampling procedures. If the study could access all members of the population, you can say that you used random sampling methods. This section of the APA methods section should cover the percentage of respondents who participated in the research, and how they were chosen. You also need to state how participants were compensated and the ethical standard followed.

  • Transgender male students from London were invited to participate in a study.
  • Invites were sent to the students via email, social media posts, and posters in the schools.
  • Each participant received $10 for the time spent in the study.
  • The research obtained ethical approval before the participants were recruited.

Sample Size and Statistical Power

In this part of the APA methods section, you should give details on the sample size and statistical power you aimed at achieving. You should mention whether the final sample was the same as the intended sample. This section should show whether your research had enough statistical power to find any effects.

  • The study aimed at a statistical power of 75% to detect an effect of 10% with an alpha of .05.
  • 200 participants were required, and the study fulfilled these conditions.

APA Methods Section: Materials

Readers also need to know the materials you used for the study. This part of the APA methods section will give other researchers a good picture of the methods used to conduct the study.

Primary and secondary measures

Here, you should indicate the instruments used in the study, as well as the constructs they were meant to measure. Some of these are inventories, scales, tests, software, and hardware. Make sure you cover the following aspects:

  • Reliability
  • The Traumatic Stress Schedule (TSS) was used to measure the exposure to traumatic events.
  • This 10-item chart requires participants to report lifelong exposure to traumatic stress.
  • For example, they could indicate whether they suffered the traumatic death of a loved one.
  • The Davidson Trauma Scale was also used to assess the symptoms of trauma.

Under this subheading of the APA methods section, you should also mention covariates or additional variables that can explain the outcomes.

Quality of measurements

You can mention the strategies you applied to ensure data integrity and reliability. These may include:

  • Training the interviewers
  • Establishing clear data nominalization procedures
  • Rigorous data handling and analysis processes
  • Having multiple people assess the data

If the data was subjectively coded, you should indicate the interrater reliability scores in the APA methods section.

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APA Methods Section: Procedure

This part of the APA methods section indicates the methods you used to carry out the research, process the data, and analyze the results.

Research Design and Data Collection Methods

Data collection is the systematic gathering of observations and measurements, and you have to describe all procedures used in this process. You can use supplementary materials to describe long and complicated data collection methods.

When reporting the research design, you should mention the framework of the study. This could be experimental, longitudinal, correlational, or descriptive. Additionally, you should mention whether you used a between-subjects design or within-subjects design .

In this part of the APA methods section, you should also mention whether any masking methods were used to hide condition assignments from the participants.

  • Participants are told the research takes an hour covers their personal experiences in school.
  • They were assured that the reports would be confidential and were asked to give consent.
  • The participants were asked to fill in questionnaires .
  • The control group was given an unrelated filler task, after which they filled a questionnaire.
  • It was determined the experiences of homosexual and CIS-gendered students varied.

Data diagnostics

This part of the APA method section outlines the steps taken to process the data. It includes:

  • Methods of identifying and controlling outliers
  • Data transformation procedures
  • Methods of compensating for missing values

Analytic strategies

This subheading of the APA methods section describes the analytic strategies used, but you shouldn’t mention the outcomes. The primary and secondary hypotheses use past studies or theoretical frameworks , while exploratory hypotheses focus on the data in the study.

We started by assessing the demographic differences between the two groups. We also performed an independent samples t-test on the test scores .

What are the parts of an APA methods section?

In this section, you should include the study participants, the methods used, and the procedures.

What is included in the APA methods section?

The methods section covers the participants or subject characteristics, the sampling procedures, the sample size, the measures used, the data collection methods, the research design, the data analysis strategy, and the data processing method.

Should I use the Oxford comma when writing the APA methods section?

Yes, the serial comma is required when writing the APA methods section.

Should I use the first person to write the APA methods section?

Yes, the APA language guidelines encourage researchers to use first-person pronouns when writing the methods section.

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How to Write a Methods Section for a Research Paper

what is the method section of a research paper

A common piece of advice for authors preparing their first journal article for publication is to start with the methods section: just list everything that was done and go from there. While that might seem like a very practical approach to a first draft, if you do this without a clear outline and a story in mind, you can easily end up with journal manuscript sections that are not logically related to each other. 

Since the methods section constitutes the core of your paper, no matter when you write it, you need to use it to guide the reader carefully through your story from beginning to end without leaving questions unanswered. Missing or confusing details in this section will likely lead to early rejection of your manuscript or unnecessary back-and-forth with the reviewers until eventual publication. Here, you will find some useful tips on how to make your methods section the logical foundation of your research paper.

Not just a list of experiments and methods

While your introduction section provides the reader with the necessary background to understand your rationale and research question (and, depending on journal format and your personal preference, might already summarize the results), the methods section explains what exactly you did and how you did it. The point of this section is not to list all the boring details just for the sake of completeness. The purpose of the methods sections is to enable the reader to replicate exactly what you did, verify or corroborate your results, or maybe find that there are factors you did not consider or that are more relevant than expected. 

To make this section as easy to read as possible, you must clearly connect it to the information you provide in the introduction section before and the results section after, it needs to have a clear structure (chronologically or according to topics), and you need to present your results according to the same structure or topics later in the manuscript. There are also official guidelines and journal instructions to follow and ethical issues to avoid to ensure that your manuscript can quickly reach the publication stage.

Table of Contents:

  • General Methods Structure: What is Your Story? 
  • What Methods Should You Report (and Leave Out)? 
  • Details Frequently Missing from the Methods Section

More Journal Guidelines to Consider 

  • Accurate and Appropriate Language in the Methods

General Methods Section Structure: What Is Your Story? 

You might have conducted a number of experiments, maybe also a pilot before the main study to determine some specific factors or a follow-up experiment to clarify unclear details later in the process. Throwing all of these into your methods section, however, might not help the reader understand how everything is connected and how useful and appropriate your methodological approach is to investigate your specific research question. You therefore need to first come up with a clear outline and decide what to report and how to present that to the reader.

The first (and very important) decision to make is whether you present your experiments chronologically (e.g., Experiment 1, Experiment 2, Experiment 3… ), and guide the reader through every step of the process, or if you organize everything according to subtopics (e.g., Behavioral measures, Structural imaging markers, Functional imaging markers… ). In both cases, you need to use clear subheaders for the different subsections of your methods, and, very importantly, follow the same structure or focus on the same topics/measures in the results section so that the reader can easily follow along (see the two examples below).

If you are in doubt which way of organizing your experiments is better for your study, just ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the reader need to know the timeline of your study? 
  • Is it relevant that one experiment was conducted first, because the outcome of this experiment determined the stimuli or factors that went into the next?
  • Did the results of your first experiment leave important questions open that you addressed in an additional experiment (that was maybe not planned initially)?
  • Is the answer to all of these questions “no”? Then organizing your methods section according to topics of interest might be the more logical choice.

If you think your timeline, protocol, or setup might be confusing or difficult for the reader to grasp, consider adding a graphic, flow diagram, decision tree, or table as a visual aid.

What Methods Should You Report (and Leave Out)?

The answer to this question is quite simple–you need to report everything that another researcher needs to know to be able to replicate your study. Just imagine yourself reading your methods section in the future and trying to set up the same experiments again without prior knowledge. You would probably need to ask questions such as:

  • Where did you conduct your experiments (e.g., in what kind of room, under what lighting or temperature conditions, if those are relevant)? 
  • What devices did you use? Are there specific settings to report?
  • What specific software (and version of that software) did you use?
  • How did you find and select your participants?
  • How did you assign participants into groups?  
  • Did you exclude participants from the analysis? Why and how?
  • Where did your reagents or antibodies come from? Can you provide a Research Resource Identifier (RRID) ?
  • Did you make your stimuli yourself or did you get them from somewhere?
  • Are the stimuli you used available for other researchers?
  • What kind of questionnaires did you use? Have they been validated?
  • How did you analyze your data? What level of significance did you use?
  • Were there any technical issues and did you have to adjust protocols?

Note that for every experimental detail you provide, you need to tell the reader (briefly) why you used this type of stimulus/this group of participants/these specific amounts of reagents. If there is earlier published research reporting the same methods, cite those studies. If you did pilot experiments to determine those details, describe the procedures and the outcomes of these experiments. If you made assumptions about the suitability of something based on the literature and common practice at your institution, then explain that to the reader.

In a nutshell, established methods need to be cited, and new methods need to be clearly described and briefly justified. However, if the fact that you use a new approach or a method that is not traditionally used for the data or phenomenon you study is one of the main points of your study (and maybe already reflected in the title of your article), then you need to explain your rationale for doing so in the introduction already and discuss it in more detail in the discussion section .

Note that you also need to explain your statistical analyses at the end of your methods section. You present the results of these analyses later, in the results section of your paper, but you need to show the reader in the methods section already that your approach is either well-established or valid, even if it is new or unusual. 

When it comes to the question of what details you should leave out, the answer is equally simple ‒ everything that you would not need to replicate your study in the future. If the educational background of your participants is listed in your institutional database but is not relevant to your study outcome, then don’t include that. Other things you should not include in the methods section:

  • Background information that you already presented in the introduction section.
  • In-depth comparisons of different methods ‒ these belong in the discussion section.
  • Results, unless you summarize outcomes of pilot experiments that helped you determine factors for your main experiment.

Also, make sure your subheadings are as clear as possible, suit the structure you chose for your methods section, and are in line with the target journal guidelines. If you studied a disease intervention in human participants, then your methods section could look similar to this:

materials an methods breakdown

Since the main point of interest here are your patient-centered outcome variables, you would center your results section on these as well and choose your headers accordingly (e.g., Patient characteristics, Baseline evaluation, Outcome variable 1, Outcome variable 2, Drop-out rate ). 

If, instead, you did a series of visual experiments investigating the perception of faces including a pilot experiment to create the stimuli for your actual study, you would need to structure your methods section in a very different way, maybe like this:

materials and methods breakdown

Since here the analysis and outcome of the pilot experiment are already described in the methods section (as the basis for the main experimental setup and procedure), you do not have to mention it again in the results section. Instead, you could choose the two main experiments to structure your results section ( Discrimination and classification, Familiarization and adaptation ), or divide the results into all your test measures and/or potential interactions you described in the methods section (e.g., Discrimination performance, Classification performance, Adaptation aftereffects, Correlation analysis ).

Details Commonly Missing from the Methods Section

Manufacturer information.

For laboratory or technical equipment, you need to provide the model, name of the manufacturer, and company’s location. The usual format for these details is the product name (company name, city, state) for US-based manufacturers and the product name (company name, city/town, country) for companies outside the US.

Sample size and power estimation

Power and sample size estimations are measures for how many patients or participants are needed in a study in order to detect statistical significance and draw meaningful conclusions from the results. Outside of the medical field, studies are sometimes still conducted with a “the more the better” approach in mind, but since many journals now ask for those details, it is better to not skip this important step.

Ethical guidelines and approval

In addition to describing what you did, you also need to assure the editor and reviewers that your methods and protocols followed all relevant ethical standards and guidelines. This includes applying for approval at your local or national ethics committee, providing the name or location of that committee as well as the approval reference number you received, and, if you studied human participants, a statement that participants were informed about all relevant experimental details in advance and signed consent forms before the start of the study. For animal studies, you usually need to provide a statement that all procedures included in your research were in line with the Declaration of Helsinki. Make sure you check the target journal guidelines carefully, as these statements sometimes need to be placed at the end of the main article text rather than in the method section.

Structure & word limitations

While many journals simply follow the usual style guidelines (e.g., APA for the social sciences and psychology, AMA for medical research) and let you choose the headers of your method section according to your preferred structure and focus, some have precise guidelines and strict limitations, for example, on manuscript length and the maximum number of subsections or header levels. Make sure you read the instructions of your target journal carefully and restructure your method section if necessary before submission. If the journal does not give you enough space to include all the details that you deem necessary, then you can usually submit additional details as “supplemental” files and refer to those in the main text where necessary.

Standardized checklists

In addition to ethical guidelines and approval, journals also often ask you to submit one of the official standardized checklists for different study types to ensure all essential details are included in your manuscript. For example, there are checklists for randomized clinical trials, CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) , cohort, case-control, cross‐sectional studies, STROBE (STrengthening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology ), diagnostic accuracy, STARD (STAndards for the Reporting of Diagnostic accuracy studies) , systematic reviews and meta‐analyses PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta‐Analyses) , and Case reports, CARE (CAse REport) .

Make sure you check if the manuscript uses a single- or double-blind review procedure , and delete all information that might allow a reviewer to guess where the authors are located from the manuscript text if necessary. This means that your method section cannot list the name and location of your institution, the names of researchers who conducted specific tests, or the name of your institutional ethics committee.  

methods section checklist

Accurate and Appropriate Language in the Methods Section

Like all sections of your research paper, your method section needs to be written in an academic tone . That means it should be formal, vague expressions and colloquial language need to be avoided, and you need to correctly cite all your sources. If you describe human participants in your method section then you should be especially careful about your choice of words. For example, “participants” sounds more respectful than “subjects,” and patient-first language, that is, “patients with cancer,” is considered more appropriate than “cancer patients” by many journals.

Passive voice is often considered the standard for research papers, but it is completely fine to mix passive and active voice, even in the method section, to make your text as clear and concise as possible. Use the simple past tense to describe what you did, and the present tense when you refer to diagrams or tables. Have a look at this article if you need more general input on which verb tenses to use in a research paper . 

Lastly, make sure you label all the standard tests and questionnaires you use correctly (look up the original publication when in doubt) and spell genes and proteins according to the common databases for the species you studied, such as the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee database for human studies .  

Visit Wordvice AI’s AI Text Editor to receive a free grammar check and English editing services (including manuscript editing , paper editing , and dissertation editing ) before submitting your manuscript to journal editors.

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How to Write the Methods Section of an APA Paper

How to Write the Methods Section of an APA Paper

3-minute read

  • 23rd December 2021

If you’re a researcher writing an APA paper , you’ll need to include a Methods section. This part explains the methods you used to conduct your experiment or research study and is always written in the past tense.

It’s crucial that you include all the relevant information here because other researchers will use this section to recreate your study, as well as judge how valid and accurate your results are.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to write a clear and comprehensive Methods section for your research paper.

Structuring the Methods Section

This section of an APA paper is typically split into three subsections under the following subheadings:

  • Participants —who took part in the experiment and why?
  • Materials —what tools did you use to conduct the experiment?
  • Procedure —what steps were involved in the experiment?

If necessary, you may add further subsections. Different institutions have specific rules on what subsections should be included (for example, some universities require a “Design” subsection), so make sure to check your institution’s requirements before you start writing your Methods section.

Writing the Participants Subsection

In this first subsection, you will need to identify the participants of your experiment or study. You should include:

●  How many people took part, and how many were assigned to the experimental condition

●  How they were selected for participation

●  Any relevant demographic information (e.g., age, sex, ethnicity)

You’ll also need to address whether any restrictions were placed on who was selected and if any incentives were offered to encourage participants to take part.

Writing the Materials Subsection

In this subsection, you should address the materials, equipment, measures, and stimuli used in the study. These might include technology and computer software, tools such as questionnaires and psychological assessments, and, if relevant, the physical setting where the study took place.

You’ll need to describe specialist equipment in detail, especially if it has a niche purpose. However, you don’t need to provide specific information about common or standard equipment (e.g., the type of computer on which participants completed a survey) unless it’s relevant to the experiment.

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In addition, you don’t need to explain a material in depth if it’s well known within your field, such as a famous psychological assessment. Instead, you can provide a citation referring to that material.

If any materials were designed specifically for the experiment, such as a questionnaire, you’ll need to provide such materials in the appendix .

Writing the Procedure Subsection

The procedure subsection should describe what you had participants do in a step-by-step format. It should be detailed but concise and will typically include:

●  A summary of the instructions given to participants (as well as any information that was intentionally withheld)

●  A description of how participants in different conditions were treated

●  How long each step of the process took

●  How participants were debriefed or dismissed at the end of the experiment

After detailing the steps of the experiment, you should then address the methods you used to collect and analyze data.

Proofreading Your Methods Section

Because the Methods section of your paper will help other researchers understand and recreate your experiment, you’ll want your writing to be at its best.

Our expert research paper proofreaders can help your research get the recognition it deserves by making sure your work is clear, concise, and error-free. Why not try our services for free by submitting a trial document ?

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How to write the methods section of a research paper

Affiliation.

  • 1 Respiratory Care Services, San Francisco General Hospital, NH:GA-2, 1001 Potrero Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA. [email protected]
  • PMID: 15447808

The methods section of a research paper provides the information by which a study's validity is judged. Therefore, it requires a clear and precise description of how an experiment was done, and the rationale for why specific experimental procedures were chosen. The methods section should describe what was done to answer the research question, describe how it was done, justify the experimental design, and explain how the results were analyzed. Scientific writing is direct and orderly. Therefore, the methods section structure should: describe the materials used in the study, explain how the materials were prepared for the study, describe the research protocol, explain how measurements were made and what calculations were performed, and state which statistical tests were done to analyze the data. Once all elements of the methods section are written, subsequent drafts should focus on how to present those elements as clearly and logically as possibly. The description of preparations, measurements, and the protocol should be organized chronologically. For clarity, when a large amount of detail must be presented, information should be presented in sub-sections according to topic. Material in each section should be organized by topic from most to least important.

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How to Write the Methods Section of a Scientific Article

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What Is the Methods Section of a Research Paper?

The Methods section of a research article includes an explanation of the procedures used to conduct the experiment. For authors of scientific research papers, the objective is to present their findings clearly and concisely and to provide enough information so that the experiment can be duplicated.

Research articles contain very specific sections, usually dictated by either the target journal or specific style guides. For example, in the social and behavioral sciences, the American Psychological Association (APA) style guide is used to gather information on how the manuscript should be arranged . As with most styles, APA’s objectives are to ensure that manuscripts are written with minimum distractions to the reader. Every research article should include a detailed Methods section after the Introduction.

Why is the Methods Section Important?

The Methods section (also referred to as “Materials and Methods”) is important because it provides the reader enough information to judge whether the study is valid and reproducible.

Structure of the Methods Section in a Research Paper

While designing a research study, authors typically decide on the key points that they’re trying to prove or the “ cause-and-effect relationship ” between objects of the study. Very simply, the study is designed to meet the objective. According to APA, a Methods section comprises of the following three subsections: participants, apparatus, and procedure.

How do You Write a Method Section in Biology?

In biological sciences, the Methods section might be more detailed, but the objectives are the same—to present the study clearly and concisely so that it is understandable and can be duplicated.

If animals (including human subjects) were used in the study, authors should ensure to include statements that they were treated according to the protocols outlined to ensure that treatment is as humane as possible.

  • The Declaration of Helsinki is a set of ethical principles developed by The World Medical Association to provide guidance to scientists and physicians in medical research involving human subjects.

Research conducted at an institution using human participants is overseen by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) with which it is affiliated. IRB is an administrative body whose purpose is to protect the rights and welfare of human subjects during their participation in the study.

Literature Search

Literature searches are performed to gather as much information as relevant from previous studies. They are important for providing evidence on the topic and help validate the research. Most are accomplished using keywords or phrases to search relevant databases. For example, both MEDLINE and PubMed provide information on biomedical literature. Google Scholar, according to APA, is “one of the best sources available to an individual beginning a literature search.” APA also suggests using PsycINFO and refers to it as “the premier database for locating articles in psychological science and related literature.”

Authors must make sure to have a set of keywords (usually taken from the objective statement) to stay focused and to avoid having the search move far from the original objective. Authors will benefit by setting limiting parameters, such as date ranges, and avoiding getting pulled into the trap of using non-valid resources, such as social media, conversations with people in the same discipline, or similar non-valid sources, as references.

Related: Ready with your methods section and looking forward to manuscript submission ? Check these journal selection guidelines now!

What Should be Included in the Methods Section of a Research Paper?

One commonly misused term in research papers is “methodology.” Methodology refers to a branch of the Philosophy of Science which deals with scientific methods, not to the methods themselves, so authors should avoid using it. Here is the list of main subsections that should be included in the Methods section of a research paper ; authors might use subheadings more clearly to describe their research.

  • Literature search : Authors should cite any sources that helped with their choice of methods. Authors should indicate timeframes of past studies and their particular parameters.
  • Study participants : Authors should cite the source from where they received any non-human subjects. The number of animals used, the ages, sex, their initial conditions, and how they were housed and cared for, should be listed. In case of human subjects, authors should provide the characteristics, such as geographical location; their age ranges, sex, and medical history (if relevant); and the number of subjects. In case hospital records were used, authors should include the subjects’ basic health information and vital statistics at the beginning of the study. Authors should also state that written informed consent was provided by each subject.
  • Inclusion/exclusion criteria : Authors should describe their inclusion and exclusion criteria, how they were determined, and how many subjects were eliminated.
  • Group characteristics (could be combined with “Study participants”) : Authors should describe how the chosen group was divided into subgroups and their characteristics, including the control. Authors should also describe any specific equipment used, such as housing needs and feed (usually for animal studies). If patient records are reviewed and assessed, authors should mention whether the reviewers were blinded to them.
  • Procedures : Authors should describe their study design. Any necessary preparations (e.g., tissue samples, drugs) and instruments must be explained. Authors should describe how the subjects were “ manipulated to answer the experimental question .” Timeframes should be included to ensure that the procedures are clear (e.g., “Rats were given XX drug for 14 d”). For animals sacrificed, the methods used and the protocols followed should be outlined.
  • Statistical analyses: The type of data, how they were measured, and which statistical tests were performed, should be described. (Note: This is not the “results” section; any relevant tables and figures should be referenced later.) Specific software used must be cited.

What Should not be Included in Your Methods Section?

Common pitfalls can make the manuscript cumbersome to read or might make the readers question the validity of the research. The University of Southern California provides some guidelines .

  • Background information that is not helpful must be avoided.
  • Authors must avoid providing a lot of detail.
  • Authors should focus more on how their method was used to meet their objective and less on mechanics .
  • Any obstacles faced and how they were overcome should be described (often in your “Study Limitations”). This will help validate the results.

According to the University of Richmond , authors must avoid including extensive details or an exhaustive list of equipment that have been used as readers could quickly lose attention. These unnecessary details add nothing to validate the research and do not help the reader understand how the objective was satisfied. A well-thought-out Methods section is one of the most important parts of the manuscript. Authors must make a note to always prepare a draft that lists all parts, allow others to review it, and revise it to remove any superfluous information.

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The methods section of a research paper provides the information by which a study's validity is judged. Therefore, it requires a clear and precise description of how an experiment was done, and the rationale for why specific experimental procedures were chosen. The methods section should describe what was done to answer the research question, describe how it was done, justify the experimental design, and explain how the results were analyzed. Scientific writing is direct and orderly. Therefore, the methods section structure should: describe the materials used in the study, explain how the materials were prepared for the study, describe the research protocol, explain how measurements were made and what calculations were performed, and state which statistical tests were done to analyze the data. Once all elements of the methods section are written, subsequent drafts should focus on how to present those elements as clearly and logically as possibly. The description of preparations, measurements, and the protocol should be organized chronologically. For clarity, when a large amount of detail must be presented, information should be presented in sub-sections according to topic. Material in each section should be organized by topic from most to least important.

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A Scholar’s Guide to Writing the Methods Section of a Research Paper

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Table of contents

  • 1 What Is the Methods Section of a Research Paper
  • 2 Methodology vs. Methods
  • 3.1 Participants
  • 3.2 Apparatus
  • 3.3 Procedure
  • 4.1 Methods and Results Should Match
  • 4.2 Preparing the Statistical Methods Subsection
  • 4.3 The Style of the Methodology
  • 5 Key Information to Include in Methodology
  • 6 Helping Hand in Writing Methodology Chapter
  • 7.1 Which information is not included in the methodology section of a research article?
  • 7.2 Where does the research methodology section go in a research paper?
  • 7.3 What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative methods?

In the vast realm of academic writing, the research paper stands as a testament to a scholar’s systematic exploration of a particular subject. Each section of the paper plays a pivotal role, knitting together the fabric of the study. While the introduction sets the stage and the results showcase the findings, it is the Methods section that forms the backbone, providing a clear roadmap for any reader or researcher wishing to replicate or understand the study’s inner workings. As pivotal as it is, crafting an impeccable Methods section often poses challenges for researchers. This article aims to elucidate the intricacies of constructing a robust Methodology section in a research paper.

After reading our guide, you will:

  • Get a clear understanding of the importance and purpose of the Methods in a research paper.
  • Discover in details what should contain a comprehensive Methods section.
  • Learn essentials on writing a Methodology in a research paper.

Now, let’s take a detailed look at these points!

What Is the Methods Section of a Research Paper

Do you have any questions about how to write the Methodology? Firstly, let’s define this section for research. The Methods or Methodology section of the research paper gives the road map for how the research was conducted. A well-crafted Methods section not only guides the researcher but also helps other scholars understand, replicate your study.

In other words, it’s like a recipe in a cookbook. If you want others to recreate your experiment or study, this section tells them exactly how you did it. It includes details about the steps you took, the tools or ingredients you used, and how you measured your results. This way, others can see if they get the same outcome when they follow your “recipe” or if they can trust your findings.

This means that the Methodology should be thoughtfully planned, executed, and reported. The reader should understand the basic research structure and the steps taken to conduct the study, including the research design, methods, gathered data, and data analysis techniques used.

The Methodology of a research study is essential for several reasons:

Validity and Reliability: A well-defined Methodology provides the foundation for the criteria and reliability of the study, particularly in addressing the research question for research. It helps to ensure that the research is conducted in a systematic and controlled manner and that the results are accurate and trustworthy.

Replicability: It allows other researchers to understand and replicate the study, which is important for building on existing knowledge and advancing the field.

Clarity and Transparency: A clear and concise Methods part makes it easier for readers to understand the research process and evaluate the results. This helps to increase transparency and build trust in the findings.

Justification of Approach: The research methodology provides a rationale for the approach taken, including why certain methods and techniques were chosen and how they relate to the question for research.

Evidence of Rigor: A well-executed research methodology demonstrates the rigor and thoroughness of the study, which is important for establishing the credibility of the results.

Methodology vs. Methods

In rigorous academic and research contexts, there is a distinction between “methods” and “methodology.” However, outside of strict scholarly circles or in more informal discussions, there might be some overlapping use. The “methods” generally refer to the specific techniques or procedures, while “methodology” dives into the theoretical framework and rationale behind those techniques. It’s essential to use the terms correctly in formal academic and research writings to maintain clarity and precision.

Nevertheless, in many research papers, the specifics of the methods (the “how”) are the primary focus, and the theoretical rationale (the “why”) might be briefly touched upon within the same section.

Structure of the Methodology In A Research Paper

The Methods section typically begins with a brief overview of its contents and a reiteration of the research question. This is followed by a description of the participants, detailing their demographics, and how they were recruited. The materials or apparatus used are then specified, from tools to equipment, with any unique specifications highlighted.

The core of the Methods section is the procedure, a step-by-step account of the study, from experimental tasks to the sequence of operations. This is complemented by an explanation of the experimental design, where the type of research design is described, along with the variables involved. Detailed accounts of how data was gathered, whether through surveys, interviews, or other methods, are provided, ensuring the reader understands the data collection nuances.

Critical to the credibility of the study is the section on statistical analysis, which reveals how data was processed, what statistical tests were used, and the software or tools employed. If the research involved humans or animals, the ethical considerations section becomes pivotal. Here, measures taken to ensure participants’ rights, confidentiality, and informed consent are documented. Towards the end, the limitations of the study are discussed, providing insights into potential biases or constraints faced during the research process. The section wraps up with a brief recap, emphasizing the methods’ role in ensuring the study’s integrity and reproducibility.

According to APA style , there are three major subsections to report here: participants, apparatus, and procedure.

Participants

This segment reports the characteristics of the participants involved in the experiment, the method of sampling, and the sample size.

  • Characteristics

This details the demography of the respondents that may be relevant to the experiment. This includes but is not limited to age, gender, ethnicity or race, religion, level of education, socioeconomic status, origin of the population, and any restrictions.

✏️Example:

Fifty female undergraduate students between the ages of 19 and 23 participated in the experiment. All were sophomores in the Faculty of Engineering and native English speakers who lived on the university campus. The participants were separated into two groups of 25 students, each without any determining criteria. This study was conducted at the University of Alabama, USA .

  • Sampling Strategy

Identify the selection criteria and whether the sample was random or not. Include it if you have access to data informing the percentage of people invited to participate and how many agreed. You should also report the selection mode; was it voluntary, or were the participants assigned to the study? Additionally, identify any compensation that was provided to participants.

The ethics board was petitioned, and approval was granted before the recruitment of participants commenced. All the female sophomores from the faculty of Engineering at the University of Alabama, USA, were invited to participate, and those who did were self-selected. In liaison with department heads, the students were offered additional credits in a faculty-wide course as compensation for their time.

  • Sample Size

Identify the sample size per group, the statistical power you aimed to attain, whether you could attain it, and the analyses you used to determine the figures you arrived at. You should also include whether the final sample you got was what you initially required.

The required power for this experiment to detect a 15% effect at a significance level of .08 was 75%. To achieve this, we needed 25 participants in each group. The final sample met these conditions.

This subsection describes the materials and apparatus used in the experiment. It calls for detailed information on all devices and techniques used to collate data, measure suitable variables, and reach analysis, including tests and surveys. You must include a proper count of the number of apparatus used, their names, model number, manufacturer, reliability, and validity. For surveys, including the meaning of the formats used and the number of questions asked.

A survey that consisted of 15 multiple-choice questions was carried out to determine the safety of female students on the school campus. The participants were asked to answer the questions using a 5-point grading system (1 = Extremely True and 5 = Extremely False).

This includes the conditions in which data was collated, instructions given to the participants, and data analysis methods.

The two groups of participants were placed in two different classrooms at individual desks and given 10 minutes to answer the questions. They were instructed to give the first answers they thought of without thinking too deeply. Each group had a supervisor attached to it.

Writing a research paper requires a great deal of skill and knowledge, so if you need help compiling the Methods section of your paper, consider using a professional coursework writing service to help you.

Advice On How to Write the Methods Section

You already know the relevance of the Methods part to your research paper. Additionally, you must adhere to formatting guidelines specific for your field.

If you cannot write according to standards, you can use a research paper writing service to get good results. Go for one with good reviews and a super online reputation.

Here are some more tips for a concise and meticulously written Methodology:

  • Method Introduction: Begin the section on methodology by introducing the methods used in the research. Provide a brief overview of the research design and the data collection and analysis techniques used.
  • Methodological Connection: Establish the connection between the methodology and the research query.
  • Instrument Introduction: Introduce the instruments used to assemble data, such as surveys, interviews, or observation. Provide a brief description of each instrument and how it will be used in the study.
  • Analysis Discussion: Discuss the analysis techniques used to analyze the data collected. Explain how the data will be organized, coded, and analyzed to address the research query.
  • Background Information: Provide background information about the methodology and the relevant literature. Explain how the methodology fits into the broader context of the research area and what it contributes to the current understanding of the topic.
  • Sampling Process: Discuss the sampling process used in the study. Explain how the sample was selected, what criteria were used, and how the samples taken were determined.
  • Limitations: It was required to discuss any research constraints in the past tense, such as limited sample sizes, issues with the data collection process, or issues with the analysis methods employed. Researchers had to explain how these constraints might have affected the study’s findings and conclusions.

Methods and Results Should Match

In the Methods section, the results obtained should be discussed based on the experimental procedures used. Explain the methodology behind the techniques used to acquire all the observations and results of the experiment in the right order. You can create a detailed flowchart or block flow diagram (BFD) to easily describe the complexities of the study and its procedures to the reader.

Preparing the Statistical Methods Subsection

The statistical analysis subsection comes at the end of the Methods section. It includes a thorough description of the analyzed data to arrive at the results and conclusion. Due to its technicality, it might be a little difficult and daunting to write. If this is the case, you can get the statistician who participated in the study to write it.

Here, you must indicate all the data variables, including the control variables, dependent and independent variables, and any potentially irrelevant variables that could affect your results and conclusion. Specify the exact tests carried out on the different types of data you have, the requirements you tested, like distribution normality, and all assumptions you initially applied.

You should also include all data alterations, possible mix-ups, confidence intervals or significance levels used, techniques for data analysis, and ensuing statistical tests that were employed. Furthermore, specify any criteria particular to the experiment, like set baselines and any specific software used to conduct the statistical analysis.

The Style of the Methodology

As mentioned earlier, it aims to explain how and why the experiment was carried out so that readers can understand it and possibly repeat the procedure.

Therefore, it is essential to be aware of your audience so you can modify your writing based on what they know and explain technical terms where necessary. If you are finding it difficult to write in the appropriate style, you can buy a research paper written by writers. You can find these writers on several platforms for college essays.

The methodology should read as though you describe the experiment to your reader. For this reason, it should be worded in third-person constructs and a passive voice. For example, you should use “We carried out a survey” and not “I carried out a survey.” Since the experiment has already been carried out, you must write the entire section in the past tense.

Key Information to Include in Methodology

Now you know what the Methods section is, what information must be included in this segment of your paper? Here’s a summary of the things you need to include:

  • Literature review . The sources that helped in the methods are cited under this heading.
  • Research participants. This includes all information about the study participants, including compensations, mode of selection, and demographics.
  • Criteria for inclusion or exclusion include the factors determining what participants were eliminated and why.
  • Grouping conditions are the factors determining the subgrouping of the chosen participants.
  • Procedures. These are the conditions under which the experiment was carried out.
  • Materials and apparatus. These include all devices, equipment, reliability, and validity.
  • Statistical analysis. This is detailed information about the data, measured and analyzed, and the tests carried out.

Helping Hand in Writing Methodology Chapter

It can be challenging for researchers to adequately describe their study methodologies and strategies when writing the methodology chapter of a research report. Organizing and presenting complex material, retaining clarity and conciseness, and describing technical processes or approaches are among the usual difficulties.

To overcome these challenges, researchers can consider seeking feedback from peers, utilizing a https://papersowl.com/ or editor, and thoroughly reviewing and revising their methodology chapter multiple times. With the help of an essay writing service, you can ensure that your research paper is accurate and successful.

Which information is not included in the methodology section of a research article?

Where does the research methodology section go in a research paper, what is the difference between qualitative and quantitative methods, readers also enjoyed.

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  • v.39(Suppl 1); 2013 Sep

How to write a materials and methods section of a scientific article?

In contrast to past centuries, scientific researchers have been currently conducted systematically in all countries as part of an education strategy. As a consequence, scientists have published thousands of reports. Writing an effective article is generally a significant problem for researchers. All parts of an article, specifically the abstract, material and methods, results, discussion and references sections should contain certain features that should always be considered before sending a manuscript to a journal for publication. It is generally known that the material and methods section is a relatively easy section of an article to write. Therefore, it is often a good idea to begin by writing the materials and methods section, which is also a crucial part of an article. Because “reproducible results” are very important in science, a detailed account of the study should be given in this section. If the authors provide sufficient detail, other scientists can repeat their experiments to verify their findings. It is generally recommended that the materials and methods should be written in the past tense, either in active or passive voice. In this section, ethical approval, study dates, number of subjects, groups, evaluation criteria, exclusion criteria and statistical methods should be described sequentially. It should be noted that a well-written materials and methods section markedly enhances the chances of an article being published.

How to Write a Materials and Methods Section of a Scientific Article?

Up to the 18 th Century scientific researches were performed on a voluntary basis by certain scientists. However from the second half of the 19 th century, scientific development has gained momentum with the contributions of numerous scientists including Edison, Fleming, and Koch. In parallel with these developments, apparently each scientific field, and even their branches made, and still making magnificent progressions from the end of the 18 th century. Secondary to these developments, scientific researches have been implemented systematically by universities, and various institutions in every part of the world as an integral component of national strategies. Naturally, the number of researchers who performed scientific investigations or sponsored by various institutions increased considerably. Also, as is known very well, all over the world scientists, and researchers move from one place to another to disseminate scientific knowledge. All of these scientific efforts, and activities reflect on clinical practice, and hundreds of thousands, and millions scientific articles which we can currently gain access into all of them online. As indicated by the investigator Gerard Piel, “Without publication, science is dead” which explains the importance of publication. In other words, if you don’t share your investigation and knowledge, they don’t mean anything by themselves. Although sharing the knowledge is essential for writing a scientific paper, nowadays writing a scientific article is mostly learnt as a master-apprentice relationship, and therefore certain standards have not been established. This phenomenon creates serious stress especially for young investigators in their early stage of writing scientific papers. Indeed investigators receiving their residency training confront this reality finally during writing of their dissertations. Though sharing knowledge is known as a fundamental principle in writing a scientific paper, it creates difficulties in the whole world. Relevant to this issue, in the whole world investigations have been performed, and books have been written on the subject of how to write a scientific paper. Accordingly, in our country mostly local meetings, and courses have been organized. These organizations, and investigations should be performed. Indeed, nowadays, in the first assessments, the rejection rate of the journals by internationally acknowledged scientific indexes as “Science Citation İndex (SCI)” and “Science Citation İndex Expanded (SCI-extended” which have certain scientific standards, increases to 62 percent. As a matter of fact only 25% of Class A journals have been included in the lists of SCI, and SCI-extended.

As we all know very well, scientific articles consist of sections of summary, introduction, material, and methods, discussion, and references. Among them, conventionally Materials and Methods section has been reported as the most easily written or will be written section. Although it is known as the most easily written section, nearly 30% of the reasons for rejection are related to this section per se. Therefore due care, and attention should be given to the writing of this section. In the writing process of the ‘Material and Methods’ section, all achievements performed throughout the study period should be dealt with in consideration of certain criteria in a specific sequence. Since as a globally anticipated viewpoint, ‘Materials and Methods’ section can be written quite easily, it has been indicated that if difficulties are encountered in writing a manuscript, then one should start writing from this section. In writing this section, study design describing the type of the article, study subjects to be investigated, methods, and procedures of measurements should be provided under four main headings. [ 1 , 2 ] Accordingly, in brief, we can emphasize the importance of providing clear-cut, adequate, and detailed information in the ‘Materials and Methods’ section to the scientists who will read this scientific article. Meeting these criteria carries great importance with respect to the evaluation of reliability of the investigation by the readers, and reviewers, and also informing them about procedural method, design, data collection, and assessment methods of the investigation, Priorly, as is the case in all scientific investigations, one should be reminded about the importance, and indispensability of compliance with certain standard writing rules. Accordingly, rules of grammar should be obeyed, and if possible passive voice of simple past tense should be used. Related to these rules, use of verbs ‘investigated’, ‘evaluated’ or ‘performed’ will be appropriate. Recently, expressions showing the ownership of the investigation as ‘we performed’, ‘we evaluated’, ‘we implemented’ have taken priority. Since the important point is communication of the message contained in the scientific study, the message should be clearly comprehensible. While ensuring clarity of the message, use of flourishing, and irrelevant sentences should be avoided. [ 1 , 3 ] According to another approach, since our article will be read by professionals of other disciplines, it is important to comply with certain rules of writing. To that end, standard units of measurements, and international abbreviations should be used. Abbreviations should be explained within parentheses at their first mention in the manuscript. For instance let’s analyze the following sentence” The patients were evaluated with detailed medical history, physical examination, complete urinalysis, PSA, and urinary system ultrasound” The abbreviation PSA is very well known by the urologist. However we shouldn’t forget that this article will be read by the professionals in other medical disciplines. Similarly this sentence should not be written as: “The patients were evaluated with detailed medical history, physical examination, complete urinalysis PSA (prostate-specific antigen), and urinary system ultrasound.” Indeed the abbreviation should follow the explanation of this abbreviation. Then the appropriate expression of the sentence should be. “The patients were evaluated with detailed medical history, physical examination, complete urinalysis, prostate-specific antigen (PSA), and urinary system ultrasound.”

In addition to the abovementioned information, in the beginning paragraphs of ‘Materials and Methods’ section of a clinical study the answers to the following questions should be absolutely provided:

  • The beginning, and termination dates of the study period.
  • Number of subjects/patients/experimental animals etc. enrolled in the study,
  • Has the approval of the ethics committee been obtained?
  • Study design (prospective, retrospective or other). [ 1 , 2 , 4 – 7 ]

Still additional features of the study design (cross-sectional) should be indicated. Apart from this, other types of study designs (randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled or double-blind, parallel control etc.) should be revealed.

The heading of the section “Materials and Methods” can be changed to “Patients and the Method” in accordance with writing rules of the journal in question. Indication of starting, and termination dates of a clinical study will facilitate scientific interpretation of the article. Accordingly, outcomes obtained during development phase of a newly implemented method might be considered differently from those acquired during conventional use of this method. Besides, incidence of the diseases, and number of affected people might vary under the impact of social fluctuations, and environmental factors. Therefore with this justification study period should be specified. Number of cases included in the study should be absolutely indicated in the ‘Materials and Methods’ section. It will be appropriate to determine study population after consultation to a statistician-and if required-following “power analysis” Accordingly, the need for a control group will be indicated based on the study design. Nowadays, as a requirement of patient rights, obtainment of approval from ethics committee should be indicated with its registration number. In addition, acquirement of informed consent forms from patients should be indicated. Ethics Committee approval should be obtained in prospective studies performed with study drugs. Otherwise in case of occurrence of adverse effects, it should be acknowledged that in compliance with Article #90 of the Turkish Criminal Law, a 3-year prison sentence is given to the guilty parties. [ 8 ] Since issues related to the Ethics Committee are the subject of another manuscript, they won’t be handled herein.

The following paragraph exemplifies clearly the aforementioned arguments: “After approval of the local ethics committee (BADK-22), informed consent forms from the patients were obtained, and a total of 176 cases with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) were retrospectively evaluated between January 2011, and December 2012.” In a prospectively designed study, methods used to communicate with the cases including face-to-face interviews, phone calls and/or e-mail should be indicated. [ 1 , 2 ] Each paragraph or subheading in the ‘Materials and Methods’ section should be in accordance with the related ones in the ‘Results’ section. In other words, the sequence of paragraphs, and subheadings in the ‘Results’ section should be the same in the ‘Materials and Methods’ section.

As a next step, names of the groups, and distribution of the cases in these groups should be indicated. For instance: the statement “Cases were divided into 3 groups based on their LUTS scores as. Groups 1 (0–9; n=91), 2 (10–18; n=66), and 3 (≥19; n=20)” clearly delineates the scope of the study at baseline.. In the ‘Materials and Methods’ section the number of study subjects should be absolutely documented. Herein, after assignment of names to groups, in the rest of the manuscript, these names should be used. For example instead of saying: “Mean ages of the cases with LUTS scores between 0–9, 10–18, and ≥19 were determined to be 63.2±2.1, 62.8±4.5, and 65.7±3.9 years, respectively” it will be more comprehensible to use the expression: “Mean ages of the Groups 1, 2, and 3 were specified as 63.2±2.1, 62.8±4.5, and 65.7±3.9 years.” (p=0.478). Expressions indicated in the ‘Materials and Methods’ section should not be repeated in the “Results” section. Thus, errors of repetition will be precluded. Following the abovementioned information, the evaluation method of the cases enrolled in the study should be indicated. Hence, results of medical history, physical examination, and if performed laboratory or radiological evaluations-in that order-should be indicated. The application of survey study-if any-should be investigated, and documented. Therefore, the following sentences encompass all the information stated above: “The cases were evaluated with detailed medical history, physical examination, measurements of serum follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), testosterone (T) levels, complete urinalysis, urinary flow rate, direct urinary system roentgenograms, urinary system ultrasound, and if required cyctoscopy. Lower urinary system complaints, and erectile dysfunction were evaluated using International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS), and International Erectile Function Scale (IIEF), respectively.” Apparently, questionnaire forms were used in the above-cited study. However, methods used for the evaluation of questionnaire forms, and significance of the results obtained, and if possible, the first performer of this survey should be written with accompanying references. In relation to the abovementioned questionnaires the following statements constitute standard expressions for the ‘Materials and Methods’ section: “International Prostate Symptom Score (IPPS) was used in the determination of the severity of prostatic symptoms. IPSS used to determine the severity of the disease, evaluate treatment response, and ascertain the symptomatic progression, is the most optimal scoring system recommended by European Association of Urology (EAU) which classifies the severity of the disease based on IPSS scores as mild (0–7), moderate (8–19), and severe symptomatic (20–35) disease. In the evaluation of sexual function International Erectile Function Scale (IIEF) was used. IIEF is one of the most prevalently used form for the patients who consulted for the complaints of sexual dysfunction Based on IIEF scores, the severity of the disease was classified as severe (1–10), moderate (11–16), mild to moderate (17–21), mild (22–25), and no ED (26–30).”

Whether the institutions of the authors working for should be written in the ‘Materials and Methods’ section can be a subject of debate, generally viewpoints favour provision of this information. However, in compliance with their writing rules, some journals do not favour open-label studies where name of the study site is indicated, and this principle is communicated to the author during editorial evaluation Besides, in the ‘Materials and Methods’ section, the brand of the study object, and its country of origin should be indicated. (ie. if radiological methods are used, then the brand of radiological equipment, and its manufacturing country should be specified. In a study entitled ‘The Impact of Computed Tomography in the Prediction of Post-Radical Nephrectomy Stage in Renal Tumours’ since the main topic of the study is computed tomography, the specifications of the equipment used should be explicitely indicated. On the other hand, the details of the medical method which can effect the outcomes of the study should be also recorded. Accordingly, the methods applied for percutaneous nephrolithotomy, ureterorenoscopy, varicocelectomy, transurethral prostatectomy, radical prostatectomy (perineal, open, laparoscopic or robotic should be absolutely indicated. Then inclusion, and exclusion criteria, and if used control group, and its characteristics should be documented. Thus the following paragraph about exclusion criteria will be appropriate: Patients with a history of neurogenic bladder, prostatic or abdominal operation, and transrectal ultrasound guided prostate biopsy (within the previous 6 months), those aged <40 or >70 years, individuals with a peak urine flow rate below 10 ml/sec, and residual urine more than 150 cc were not included in the study.” [ 1 – 3 , 9 ]

Some diseases mentioned in the “Materials and Methods” section require special monitorization procedures. In these cases the procedure of monitorization should be documented for the sake of the validity of the study in question. Accordingly, in conditions such as “nephrectomy, prostatectomy, orchidectomy, pyeloplasty, varicocelectomy, drug therapies, penile prosthesis, and urethral stricture” clinical follow-up protocols should be provided.

The abovementioned rules, and recommendations are most frequently valid for a clinical study, and some points indicated in experimental studies should be also considered. Types, weights, gender, and number of the animals used in animal studies should be absolutely specified. Besides condition of evaluation of experimental animals should be noted. Then as is the case with clinical studies, approval of the ethics committee should be obtained, and documented. Accordingly, the beginning paragraphs of the ‘Materials and Methods’ can be expressed as follows:

“In the study, 40 Wistar-Albino 6-month-old rats each weighing 350–400 g were used. After approval of the ethics committee (HADYEK-41) the study was performed within the frame of rules specified by the National Institute for animal experiments. The rats were divided into 3 groups. Hence, Group 1 (n=7) was accepted as the control group. The rats subjected to partial ureteral obstruction with or without oral carvedilol therapy at daily doses of 2 mg/kg maintained for 7 days constituted Groups 3 (n=8), and 2 (n=8), respectively. Each group of 4 rats was housed in standard cages with an area of 40×60 cm. The animals were fed with standard 8 mm food pellets, and fresh daily tap water. The rats were kept in the cages under 12 hours of light, and 12 hours of dark. Ambient temperature, and humidity were set at 22±2°C, and 50±10%, respectively.”

Herein, the method, and agent of anesthesia used (local or general anesthesia) in surgical procedures, and then the experimental method applied should be clearly indicated. For example the following sentences explain our abovementioned arguments; “All surgical procedures were performed under xylazine-ketamine anesthesia. In all groups, ureters were approached through midline abdominal incision. In Group 1, ureters were manipulated without causing obstruction. Results of biochemical, and pathological evaluations performed in Group 1 were considered as baseline values.”

“Through a midline abdominal incision partial ureteral obstruction was achieved by embedding two-thirds of the distal part of the left ureter into psoas muscle using 4/0 silk sutures as described formerly by Wen et al. [ 10 ] ( Figure 1 ). [ 11 ] All rats were subjected to left nephrectomies at the end of the experimental study.” As formulated by the above paragraph, if the method used is not widely utilized, then the first researcher who describes the method should be indicated with relevant references. One or more than one figures with a good resolution, and easily comprehensible legends should be also included in the explanation of the experimental model. For very prevalently used experimental models as torsion models cited in the “Materials and Methods” section, there is no need to include figures in the manuscript.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is TJU-39-Supp-10-g01.jpg

Partial ureteral obstruction model [ 11 ]

Appropriate signs, and marks placed on the figure will facilitate comprehension of the legends ( Figure 2 ).

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is TJU-39-Supp-10-g02.jpg

Ureteral segments (black arrows) seen in a rat partial ureteral obstruction model [ 11 ]

The signs used will also improve intelligibility of the target. The figures should be indicated within parentheses in their first mention in the “Materials and Methods” section. Headings and as a prevalent convention legends of the figures should be indicated at the end of the manuscript.

If a different method is used in the study, this should be explained in detail. For instance, in a study where the effect of smoking on testes was investigated, the method, and the applicator used to expose rats to cigarette smoke should be indicated in the ‘Methods’ section following classical description. Relevant to the study in question, the following paragraph explaining the study method should be written: “A glass chamber with dimensions of 75 × 50 × 50 cm was prepared, and divided into 4 compartments with wire fences. The rats in the 2., and 4. cages were placed in these compartments. Each compartment contained 4 rats. Cigarette smoke was produced using one cigarette per hour, and smoke coming from the tip, and the filter of the lighted cigarette was pumped into the gas chamber with a pneumatic motor. The rats were exposed to smoke of 6 cigarettes for 6 hours. The compartments of the rats were changed every day so as to achieve balanced exposure of the rats to cigarette smoke.” [ 12 ]

Meanwhile, chemical names, doses, and routes of administration of the substances used in experimental studies should be indicated. If the substance used is a solution or an antibody, then manufacturing firm, and its country should be indicated in parenthesis. This approach can be exemplified as “Animals used in experiments were randomized into 4 groups of 8 animals. Each group was housed in 2 cages each containing 4 animals. The first group did not undergo any additional procedure (Group 1). The second group was exposed to cigarette smoke (Group 2). The third (Group 3), and the fourth (Group 4) groups received daily intraperitoneal injectable doses of 10 mg/kg resveratrol (Sigma-Aldrich, St. Louis, MO, USA). The Group 4 was also exposed to cigarette smoke. [ 12 ]

After all of these procedures, method, and analytical procedure of histopathological examination used should be described-if possible-by a pathologist Similarly, biochemical method used should be referenced, and written by the department of clinical chemistry. It can be inferred that each division should describe its own method. In other words, histopathological, microbiological, and pharmacological method should be described in detail by respective divisions.

If we summarize all the information stated above, understandably sharing of the scientific knowledge is essential.. Since reproducibility of a study demonstrates the robustness of a study, with the detailed approaches indicated above, reproducibility of our study is provided, and the relevant questions of “How?”, and “How much?” are answered. Besides, since ‘Materials, and Methods’, and ‘Results’ sections will constitute a meaningful whole, explanations of all information related to the data mentioned in the ‘Results’ section should be provided. As an important point not to be forgotten, evaluation or measurement method used for each parameter indicated in the ‘Results’ section should be expounded in the “Materials and Methods” section. For example if you used an expression in the” Results” section like “median body mass index (BMI) of the patients was 27.42 kg/m 2 ”, then you should beforehand indicate that comparative evaluation of BMIs will be done in the “Materials and Methods” section. In addition, the description, and significance of the values expressed in the “Results” section should be indicated in the “Materials and Methods” section. In other words, it should be stated that the patients were evaluated based on their BMIs as normal (18–24.9 kg/m 2 ), overweight (25 kg/m 2 –40 kg/m 2 ), and morbid obesity (>40 kg/m 2 ). If you encounter difficulties in writing “Materials and Methods” section, also a valid approach for other sections, firstly simple headings can be written, then you can go into details. In brief, for every parameter, the reader should get clear-cut answers to the questions such as “How did they evaluate this parameter, and which criteria were used?”. [ 1 , 3 , 13 – 15 ]

The last paragraph of the ‘Materials, and Methods’ section should naturally involve statistical evaluations. This section should be written by statisticians. Accordingly, the preferred statistical method, and the justifications for this preference should be indicated. In conventional statistical evaluations, provision of details is not required. In information indicated above, the statement “For statistical analysis, ANOVA test, chi-square test, T test, Kruskal-Wallis test have been used.” is not required very much. Instead, more appropriate expression will be a statement indicating that recommendations of a knowledgeable, and an experienced statistician were taken into consideration or advanced statistical information was reflected on the statistical evaluations as follows: “Chi-square tests were used in intergroup comparisons of categorical variables, and categorical variables were expressed as numbers, and percentages. In comparisons between LUTS, and ED as for age, independent two samples t-test was used. In the evaluation of the factors effective on erectile dysfunction multivariate logistic regresssion test was used. P values lower than 0.05 were considered as statistically significant The calculations were performed using a statistical package program (PASW v18, SPSS Inc, Chicago, IL).” Herein, the type of statistical package used for statistical methods should be emphasized.

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Home » Research Methodology – Types, Examples and writing Guide

Research Methodology – Types, Examples and writing Guide

Table of Contents

Research Methodology

Research Methodology

Definition:

Research Methodology refers to the systematic and scientific approach used to conduct research, investigate problems, and gather data and information for a specific purpose. It involves the techniques and procedures used to identify, collect , analyze , and interpret data to answer research questions or solve research problems . Moreover, They are philosophical and theoretical frameworks that guide the research process.

Structure of Research Methodology

Research methodology formats can vary depending on the specific requirements of the research project, but the following is a basic example of a structure for a research methodology section:

I. Introduction

  • Provide an overview of the research problem and the need for a research methodology section
  • Outline the main research questions and objectives

II. Research Design

  • Explain the research design chosen and why it is appropriate for the research question(s) and objectives
  • Discuss any alternative research designs considered and why they were not chosen
  • Describe the research setting and participants (if applicable)

III. Data Collection Methods

  • Describe the methods used to collect data (e.g., surveys, interviews, observations)
  • Explain how the data collection methods were chosen and why they are appropriate for the research question(s) and objectives
  • Detail any procedures or instruments used for data collection

IV. Data Analysis Methods

  • Describe the methods used to analyze the data (e.g., statistical analysis, content analysis )
  • Explain how the data analysis methods were chosen and why they are appropriate for the research question(s) and objectives
  • Detail any procedures or software used for data analysis

V. Ethical Considerations

  • Discuss any ethical issues that may arise from the research and how they were addressed
  • Explain how informed consent was obtained (if applicable)
  • Detail any measures taken to ensure confidentiality and anonymity

VI. Limitations

  • Identify any potential limitations of the research methodology and how they may impact the results and conclusions

VII. Conclusion

  • Summarize the key aspects of the research methodology section
  • Explain how the research methodology addresses the research question(s) and objectives

Research Methodology Types

Types of Research Methodology are as follows:

Quantitative Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the collection and analysis of numerical data using statistical methods. This type of research is often used to study cause-and-effect relationships and to make predictions.

Qualitative Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the collection and analysis of non-numerical data such as words, images, and observations. This type of research is often used to explore complex phenomena, to gain an in-depth understanding of a particular topic, and to generate hypotheses.

Mixed-Methods Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that combines elements of both quantitative and qualitative research. This approach can be particularly useful for studies that aim to explore complex phenomena and to provide a more comprehensive understanding of a particular topic.

Case Study Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves in-depth examination of a single case or a small number of cases. Case studies are often used in psychology, sociology, and anthropology to gain a detailed understanding of a particular individual or group.

Action Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves a collaborative process between researchers and practitioners to identify and solve real-world problems. Action research is often used in education, healthcare, and social work.

Experimental Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the manipulation of one or more independent variables to observe their effects on a dependent variable. Experimental research is often used to study cause-and-effect relationships and to make predictions.

Survey Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the collection of data from a sample of individuals using questionnaires or interviews. Survey research is often used to study attitudes, opinions, and behaviors.

Grounded Theory Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the development of theories based on the data collected during the research process. Grounded theory is often used in sociology and anthropology to generate theories about social phenomena.

Research Methodology Example

An Example of Research Methodology could be the following:

Research Methodology for Investigating the Effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Reducing Symptoms of Depression in Adults

Introduction:

The aim of this research is to investigate the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in reducing symptoms of depression in adults. To achieve this objective, a randomized controlled trial (RCT) will be conducted using a mixed-methods approach.

Research Design:

The study will follow a pre-test and post-test design with two groups: an experimental group receiving CBT and a control group receiving no intervention. The study will also include a qualitative component, in which semi-structured interviews will be conducted with a subset of participants to explore their experiences of receiving CBT.

Participants:

Participants will be recruited from community mental health clinics in the local area. The sample will consist of 100 adults aged 18-65 years old who meet the diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder. Participants will be randomly assigned to either the experimental group or the control group.

Intervention :

The experimental group will receive 12 weekly sessions of CBT, each lasting 60 minutes. The intervention will be delivered by licensed mental health professionals who have been trained in CBT. The control group will receive no intervention during the study period.

Data Collection:

Quantitative data will be collected through the use of standardized measures such as the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7). Data will be collected at baseline, immediately after the intervention, and at a 3-month follow-up. Qualitative data will be collected through semi-structured interviews with a subset of participants from the experimental group. The interviews will be conducted at the end of the intervention period, and will explore participants’ experiences of receiving CBT.

Data Analysis:

Quantitative data will be analyzed using descriptive statistics, t-tests, and mixed-model analyses of variance (ANOVA) to assess the effectiveness of the intervention. Qualitative data will be analyzed using thematic analysis to identify common themes and patterns in participants’ experiences of receiving CBT.

Ethical Considerations:

This study will comply with ethical guidelines for research involving human subjects. Participants will provide informed consent before participating in the study, and their privacy and confidentiality will be protected throughout the study. Any adverse events or reactions will be reported and managed appropriately.

Data Management:

All data collected will be kept confidential and stored securely using password-protected databases. Identifying information will be removed from qualitative data transcripts to ensure participants’ anonymity.

Limitations:

One potential limitation of this study is that it only focuses on one type of psychotherapy, CBT, and may not generalize to other types of therapy or interventions. Another limitation is that the study will only include participants from community mental health clinics, which may not be representative of the general population.

Conclusion:

This research aims to investigate the effectiveness of CBT in reducing symptoms of depression in adults. By using a randomized controlled trial and a mixed-methods approach, the study will provide valuable insights into the mechanisms underlying the relationship between CBT and depression. The results of this study will have important implications for the development of effective treatments for depression in clinical settings.

How to Write Research Methodology

Writing a research methodology involves explaining the methods and techniques you used to conduct research, collect data, and analyze results. It’s an essential section of any research paper or thesis, as it helps readers understand the validity and reliability of your findings. Here are the steps to write a research methodology:

  • Start by explaining your research question: Begin the methodology section by restating your research question and explaining why it’s important. This helps readers understand the purpose of your research and the rationale behind your methods.
  • Describe your research design: Explain the overall approach you used to conduct research. This could be a qualitative or quantitative research design, experimental or non-experimental, case study or survey, etc. Discuss the advantages and limitations of the chosen design.
  • Discuss your sample: Describe the participants or subjects you included in your study. Include details such as their demographics, sampling method, sample size, and any exclusion criteria used.
  • Describe your data collection methods : Explain how you collected data from your participants. This could include surveys, interviews, observations, questionnaires, or experiments. Include details on how you obtained informed consent, how you administered the tools, and how you minimized the risk of bias.
  • Explain your data analysis techniques: Describe the methods you used to analyze the data you collected. This could include statistical analysis, content analysis, thematic analysis, or discourse analysis. Explain how you dealt with missing data, outliers, and any other issues that arose during the analysis.
  • Discuss the validity and reliability of your research : Explain how you ensured the validity and reliability of your study. This could include measures such as triangulation, member checking, peer review, or inter-coder reliability.
  • Acknowledge any limitations of your research: Discuss any limitations of your study, including any potential threats to validity or generalizability. This helps readers understand the scope of your findings and how they might apply to other contexts.
  • Provide a summary: End the methodology section by summarizing the methods and techniques you used to conduct your research. This provides a clear overview of your research methodology and helps readers understand the process you followed to arrive at your findings.

When to Write Research Methodology

Research methodology is typically written after the research proposal has been approved and before the actual research is conducted. It should be written prior to data collection and analysis, as it provides a clear roadmap for the research project.

The research methodology is an important section of any research paper or thesis, as it describes the methods and procedures that will be used to conduct the research. It should include details about the research design, data collection methods, data analysis techniques, and any ethical considerations.

The methodology should be written in a clear and concise manner, and it should be based on established research practices and standards. It is important to provide enough detail so that the reader can understand how the research was conducted and evaluate the validity of the results.

Applications of Research Methodology

Here are some of the applications of research methodology:

  • To identify the research problem: Research methodology is used to identify the research problem, which is the first step in conducting any research.
  • To design the research: Research methodology helps in designing the research by selecting the appropriate research method, research design, and sampling technique.
  • To collect data: Research methodology provides a systematic approach to collect data from primary and secondary sources.
  • To analyze data: Research methodology helps in analyzing the collected data using various statistical and non-statistical techniques.
  • To test hypotheses: Research methodology provides a framework for testing hypotheses and drawing conclusions based on the analysis of data.
  • To generalize findings: Research methodology helps in generalizing the findings of the research to the target population.
  • To develop theories : Research methodology is used to develop new theories and modify existing theories based on the findings of the research.
  • To evaluate programs and policies : Research methodology is used to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and policies by collecting data and analyzing it.
  • To improve decision-making: Research methodology helps in making informed decisions by providing reliable and valid data.

Purpose of Research Methodology

Research methodology serves several important purposes, including:

  • To guide the research process: Research methodology provides a systematic framework for conducting research. It helps researchers to plan their research, define their research questions, and select appropriate methods and techniques for collecting and analyzing data.
  • To ensure research quality: Research methodology helps researchers to ensure that their research is rigorous, reliable, and valid. It provides guidelines for minimizing bias and error in data collection and analysis, and for ensuring that research findings are accurate and trustworthy.
  • To replicate research: Research methodology provides a clear and detailed account of the research process, making it possible for other researchers to replicate the study and verify its findings.
  • To advance knowledge: Research methodology enables researchers to generate new knowledge and to contribute to the body of knowledge in their field. It provides a means for testing hypotheses, exploring new ideas, and discovering new insights.
  • To inform decision-making: Research methodology provides evidence-based information that can inform policy and decision-making in a variety of fields, including medicine, public health, education, and business.

Advantages of Research Methodology

Research methodology has several advantages that make it a valuable tool for conducting research in various fields. Here are some of the key advantages of research methodology:

  • Systematic and structured approach : Research methodology provides a systematic and structured approach to conducting research, which ensures that the research is conducted in a rigorous and comprehensive manner.
  • Objectivity : Research methodology aims to ensure objectivity in the research process, which means that the research findings are based on evidence and not influenced by personal bias or subjective opinions.
  • Replicability : Research methodology ensures that research can be replicated by other researchers, which is essential for validating research findings and ensuring their accuracy.
  • Reliability : Research methodology aims to ensure that the research findings are reliable, which means that they are consistent and can be depended upon.
  • Validity : Research methodology ensures that the research findings are valid, which means that they accurately reflect the research question or hypothesis being tested.
  • Efficiency : Research methodology provides a structured and efficient way of conducting research, which helps to save time and resources.
  • Flexibility : Research methodology allows researchers to choose the most appropriate research methods and techniques based on the research question, data availability, and other relevant factors.
  • Scope for innovation: Research methodology provides scope for innovation and creativity in designing research studies and developing new research techniques.

Research Methodology Vs Research Methods

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what is the method section of a research paper

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What is Research Methodology? Definition, Types, and Examples

what is the method section of a research paper

Research methodology 1,2 is a structured and scientific approach used to collect, analyze, and interpret quantitative or qualitative data to answer research questions or test hypotheses. A research methodology is like a plan for carrying out research and helps keep researchers on track by limiting the scope of the research. Several aspects must be considered before selecting an appropriate research methodology, such as research limitations and ethical concerns that may affect your research.

The research methodology section in a scientific paper describes the different methodological choices made, such as the data collection and analysis methods, and why these choices were selected. The reasons should explain why the methods chosen are the most appropriate to answer the research question. A good research methodology also helps ensure the reliability and validity of the research findings. There are three types of research methodology—quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method, which can be chosen based on the research objectives.

What is research methodology ?

A research methodology describes the techniques and procedures used to identify and analyze information regarding a specific research topic. It is a process by which researchers design their study so that they can achieve their objectives using the selected research instruments. It includes all the important aspects of research, including research design, data collection methods, data analysis methods, and the overall framework within which the research is conducted. While these points can help you understand what is research methodology, you also need to know why it is important to pick the right methodology.

Why is research methodology important?

Having a good research methodology in place has the following advantages: 3

  • Helps other researchers who may want to replicate your research; the explanations will be of benefit to them.
  • You can easily answer any questions about your research if they arise at a later stage.
  • A research methodology provides a framework and guidelines for researchers to clearly define research questions, hypotheses, and objectives.
  • It helps researchers identify the most appropriate research design, sampling technique, and data collection and analysis methods.
  • A sound research methodology helps researchers ensure that their findings are valid and reliable and free from biases and errors.
  • It also helps ensure that ethical guidelines are followed while conducting research.
  • A good research methodology helps researchers in planning their research efficiently, by ensuring optimum usage of their time and resources.

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Types of research methodology.

There are three types of research methodology based on the type of research and the data required. 1

  • Quantitative research methodology focuses on measuring and testing numerical data. This approach is good for reaching a large number of people in a short amount of time. This type of research helps in testing the causal relationships between variables, making predictions, and generalizing results to wider populations.
  • Qualitative research methodology examines the opinions, behaviors, and experiences of people. It collects and analyzes words and textual data. This research methodology requires fewer participants but is still more time consuming because the time spent per participant is quite large. This method is used in exploratory research where the research problem being investigated is not clearly defined.
  • Mixed-method research methodology uses the characteristics of both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies in the same study. This method allows researchers to validate their findings, verify if the results observed using both methods are complementary, and explain any unexpected results obtained from one method by using the other method.

What are the types of sampling designs in research methodology?

Sampling 4 is an important part of a research methodology and involves selecting a representative sample of the population to conduct the study, making statistical inferences about them, and estimating the characteristics of the whole population based on these inferences. There are two types of sampling designs in research methodology—probability and nonprobability.

  • Probability sampling

In this type of sampling design, a sample is chosen from a larger population using some form of random selection, that is, every member of the population has an equal chance of being selected. The different types of probability sampling are:

  • Systematic —sample members are chosen at regular intervals. It requires selecting a starting point for the sample and sample size determination that can be repeated at regular intervals. This type of sampling method has a predefined range; hence, it is the least time consuming.
  • Stratified —researchers divide the population into smaller groups that don’t overlap but represent the entire population. While sampling, these groups can be organized, and then a sample can be drawn from each group separately.
  • Cluster —the population is divided into clusters based on demographic parameters like age, sex, location, etc.
  • Convenience —selects participants who are most easily accessible to researchers due to geographical proximity, availability at a particular time, etc.
  • Purposive —participants are selected at the researcher’s discretion. Researchers consider the purpose of the study and the understanding of the target audience.
  • Snowball —already selected participants use their social networks to refer the researcher to other potential participants.
  • Quota —while designing the study, the researchers decide how many people with which characteristics to include as participants. The characteristics help in choosing people most likely to provide insights into the subject.

What are data collection methods?

During research, data are collected using various methods depending on the research methodology being followed and the research methods being undertaken. Both qualitative and quantitative research have different data collection methods, as listed below.

Qualitative research 5

  • One-on-one interviews: Helps the interviewers understand a respondent’s subjective opinion and experience pertaining to a specific topic or event
  • Document study/literature review/record keeping: Researchers’ review of already existing written materials such as archives, annual reports, research articles, guidelines, policy documents, etc.
  • Focus groups: Constructive discussions that usually include a small sample of about 6-10 people and a moderator, to understand the participants’ opinion on a given topic.
  • Qualitative observation : Researchers collect data using their five senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing).

Quantitative research 6

  • Sampling: The most common type is probability sampling.
  • Interviews: Commonly telephonic or done in-person.
  • Observations: Structured observations are most commonly used in quantitative research. In this method, researchers make observations about specific behaviors of individuals in a structured setting.
  • Document review: Reviewing existing research or documents to collect evidence for supporting the research.
  • Surveys and questionnaires. Surveys can be administered both online and offline depending on the requirement and sample size.

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What are data analysis methods.

The data collected using the various methods for qualitative and quantitative research need to be analyzed to generate meaningful conclusions. These data analysis methods 7 also differ between quantitative and qualitative research.

Quantitative research involves a deductive method for data analysis where hypotheses are developed at the beginning of the research and precise measurement is required. The methods include statistical analysis applications to analyze numerical data and are grouped into two categories—descriptive and inferential.

Descriptive analysis is used to describe the basic features of different types of data to present it in a way that ensures the patterns become meaningful. The different types of descriptive analysis methods are:

  • Measures of frequency (count, percent, frequency)
  • Measures of central tendency (mean, median, mode)
  • Measures of dispersion or variation (range, variance, standard deviation)
  • Measure of position (percentile ranks, quartile ranks)

Inferential analysis is used to make predictions about a larger population based on the analysis of the data collected from a smaller population. This analysis is used to study the relationships between different variables. Some commonly used inferential data analysis methods are:

  • Correlation: To understand the relationship between two or more variables.
  • Cross-tabulation: Analyze the relationship between multiple variables.
  • Regression analysis: Study the impact of independent variables on the dependent variable.
  • Frequency tables: To understand the frequency of data.
  • Analysis of variance: To test the degree to which two or more variables differ in an experiment.

Qualitative research involves an inductive method for data analysis where hypotheses are developed after data collection. The methods include:

  • Content analysis: For analyzing documented information from text and images by determining the presence of certain words or concepts in texts.
  • Narrative analysis: For analyzing content obtained from sources such as interviews, field observations, and surveys. The stories and opinions shared by people are used to answer research questions.
  • Discourse analysis: For analyzing interactions with people considering the social context, that is, the lifestyle and environment, under which the interaction occurs.
  • Grounded theory: Involves hypothesis creation by data collection and analysis to explain why a phenomenon occurred.
  • Thematic analysis: To identify important themes or patterns in data and use these to address an issue.

How to choose a research methodology?

Here are some important factors to consider when choosing a research methodology: 8

  • Research objectives, aims, and questions —these would help structure the research design.
  • Review existing literature to identify any gaps in knowledge.
  • Check the statistical requirements —if data-driven or statistical results are needed then quantitative research is the best. If the research questions can be answered based on people’s opinions and perceptions, then qualitative research is most suitable.
  • Sample size —sample size can often determine the feasibility of a research methodology. For a large sample, less effort- and time-intensive methods are appropriate.
  • Constraints —constraints of time, geography, and resources can help define the appropriate methodology.

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How to write a research methodology .

A research methodology should include the following components: 3,9

  • Research design —should be selected based on the research question and the data required. Common research designs include experimental, quasi-experimental, correlational, descriptive, and exploratory.
  • Research method —this can be quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method.
  • Reason for selecting a specific methodology —explain why this methodology is the most suitable to answer your research problem.
  • Research instruments —explain the research instruments you plan to use, mainly referring to the data collection methods such as interviews, surveys, etc. Here as well, a reason should be mentioned for selecting the particular instrument.
  • Sampling —this involves selecting a representative subset of the population being studied.
  • Data collection —involves gathering data using several data collection methods, such as surveys, interviews, etc.
  • Data analysis —describe the data analysis methods you will use once you’ve collected the data.
  • Research limitations —mention any limitations you foresee while conducting your research.
  • Validity and reliability —validity helps identify the accuracy and truthfulness of the findings; reliability refers to the consistency and stability of the results over time and across different conditions.
  • Ethical considerations —research should be conducted ethically. The considerations include obtaining consent from participants, maintaining confidentiality, and addressing conflicts of interest.

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The methods section is a critical part of the research papers, allowing researchers to use this to understand your findings and replicate your work when pursuing their own research. However, it is usually also the most difficult section to write. This is where Paperpal can help you overcome the writer’s block and create the first draft in minutes with Paperpal Copilot, its secure generative AI feature suite.  

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  • Choose the right words: Enhance text by choosing contextual synonyms based on how the words have been used in previously published work.  
  • Check and verify text : Make sure the generated text showcases your methods correctly, has all the right citations, and is original and authentic. .   

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What are the key components of research methodology?

A1. A good research methodology has the following key components:

  • Research design
  • Data collection procedures
  • Data analysis methods
  • Ethical considerations

Q2. Why is ethical consideration important in research methodology?

A2. Ethical consideration is important in research methodology to ensure the readers of the reliability and validity of the study. Researchers must clearly mention the ethical norms and standards followed during the conduct of the research and also mention if the research has been cleared by any institutional board. The following 10 points are the important principles related to ethical considerations: 10

  • Participants should not be subjected to harm.
  • Respect for the dignity of participants should be prioritized.
  • Full consent should be obtained from participants before the study.
  • Participants’ privacy should be ensured.
  • Confidentiality of the research data should be ensured.
  • Anonymity of individuals and organizations participating in the research should be maintained.
  • The aims and objectives of the research should not be exaggerated.
  • Affiliations, sources of funding, and any possible conflicts of interest should be declared.
  • Communication in relation to the research should be honest and transparent.
  • Misleading information and biased representation of primary data findings should be avoided.

Q3. What is the difference between methodology and method?

A3. Research methodology is different from a research method, although both terms are often confused. Research methods are the tools used to gather data, while the research methodology provides a framework for how research is planned, conducted, and analyzed. The latter guides researchers in making decisions about the most appropriate methods for their research. Research methods refer to the specific techniques, procedures, and tools used by researchers to collect, analyze, and interpret data, for instance surveys, questionnaires, interviews, etc.

Research methodology is, thus, an integral part of a research study. It helps ensure that you stay on track to meet your research objectives and answer your research questions using the most appropriate data collection and analysis tools based on your research design.

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  • Research methodologies. Pfeiffer Library website. Accessed August 15, 2023. https://library.tiffin.edu/researchmethodologies/whatareresearchmethodologies
  • Types of research methodology. Eduvoice website. Accessed August 16, 2023. https://eduvoice.in/types-research-methodology/
  • The basics of research methodology: A key to quality research. Voxco. Accessed August 16, 2023. https://www.voxco.com/blog/what-is-research-methodology/
  • Sampling methods: Types with examples. QuestionPro website. Accessed August 16, 2023. https://www.questionpro.com/blog/types-of-sampling-for-social-research/
  • What is qualitative research? Methods, types, approaches, examples. Researcher.Life blog. Accessed August 15, 2023. https://researcher.life/blog/article/what-is-qualitative-research-methods-types-examples/
  • What is quantitative research? Definition, methods, types, and examples. Researcher.Life blog. Accessed August 15, 2023. https://researcher.life/blog/article/what-is-quantitative-research-types-and-examples/
  • Data analysis in research: Types & methods. QuestionPro website. Accessed August 16, 2023. https://www.questionpro.com/blog/data-analysis-in-research/#Data_analysis_in_qualitative_research
  • Factors to consider while choosing the right research methodology. PhD Monster website. Accessed August 17, 2023. https://www.phdmonster.com/factors-to-consider-while-choosing-the-right-research-methodology/
  • What is research methodology? Research and writing guides. Accessed August 14, 2023. https://paperpile.com/g/what-is-research-methodology/
  • Ethical considerations. Business research methodology website. Accessed August 17, 2023. https://research-methodology.net/research-methodology/ethical-considerations/

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Advanced Research Methods

Writing the research paper.

  • What Is Research?
  • Library Research
  • Writing a Research Proposal

Before Writing the Paper

Methods, thesis and hypothesis, clarity, precision and academic expression, format your paper, typical problems, a few suggestions, avoid plagiarism.

  • Presenting the Research Paper

Find a topic.

  • Try to find a subject that really interests you.
  • While you explore the topic, narrow or broaden your target and focus on something that gives the most promising results.
  • Don't choose a huge subject if you have to write a 3 page long paper, and broaden your topic sufficiently if you have to submit at least 25 pages.
  • Consult your class instructor (and your classmates) about the topic.

Explore the topic.

  • Find primary and secondary sources in the library.
  • Read and critically analyse them.
  • Take notes.
  • Compile surveys, collect data, gather materials for quantitative analysis (if these are good methods to investigate the topic more deeply).
  • Come up with new ideas about the topic. Try to formulate your ideas in a few sentences.
  • Review your notes and other materials and enrich the outline.
  • Try to estimate how long the individual parts will be.
  • Do others understand what you want to say?
  • Do they accept it as new knowledge or relevant and important for a paper?
  • Do they agree that your thoughts will result in a successful paper?
  • Qualitative: gives answers on questions (how, why, when, who, what, etc.) by investigating an issue
  • Quantitative:requires data and the analysis of data as well
  • the essence, the point of the research paper in one or two sentences.
  • a statement that can be proved or disproved.
  • Be specific.
  • Avoid ambiguity.
  • Use predominantly the active voice, not the passive.
  • Deal with one issue in one paragraph.
  • Be accurate.
  • Double-check your data, references, citations and statements.

Academic Expression

  • Don't use familiar style or colloquial/slang expressions.
  • Write in full sentences.
  • Check the meaning of the words if you don't know exactly what they mean.
  • Avoid metaphors.
  • Almost the rough content of every paragraph.
  • The order of the various topics in your paper.
  • On the basis of the outline, start writing a part by planning the content, and then write it down.
  • Put a visible mark (which you will later delete) where you need to quote a source, and write in the citation when you finish writing that part or a bigger part.
  • Does the text make sense?
  • Could you explain what you wanted?
  • Did you write good sentences?
  • Is there something missing?
  • Check the spelling.
  • Complete the citations, bring them in standard format.

Use the guidelines that your instructor requires (MLA, Chicago, APA, Turabian, etc.).

  • Adjust margins, spacing, paragraph indentation, place of page numbers, etc.
  • Standardize the bibliography or footnotes according to the guidelines.

what is the method section of a research paper

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(Based on English Composition 2 from Illinois Valley Community College):

  • Weak organization
  • Poor support and development of ideas
  • Weak use of secondary sources
  • Excessive errors
  • Stylistic weakness

When collecting materials, selecting research topic, and writing the paper:

  • Be systematic and organized (e.g. keep your bibliography neat and organized; write your notes in a neat way, so that you can find them later on.
  • Use your critical thinking ability when you read.
  • Write down your thoughts (so that you can reconstruct them later).
  • Stop when you have a really good idea and think about whether you could enlarge it to a whole research paper. If yes, take much longer notes.
  • When you write down a quotation or summarize somebody else's thoughts in your notes or in the paper, cite the source (i.e. write down the author, title, publication place, year, page number).
  • If you quote or summarize a thought from the internet, cite the internet source.
  • Write an outline that is detailed enough to remind you about the content.
  • Read your paper for yourself or, preferably, somebody else. 
  • When you finish writing, check the spelling;
  • Use the citation form (MLA, Chicago, or other) that your instructor requires and use it everywhere.

Plagiarism : somebody else's words or ideas presented without citation by an author

  • Cite your source every time when you quote a part of somebody's work.
  • Cite your source  every time when you summarize a thought from somebody's work.
  • Cite your source  every time when you use a source (quote or summarize) from the Internet.

Consult the Citing Sources research guide for further details.

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

Glossary of research terms.

  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Applying Critical Thinking
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Research Process Video Series
  • Executive Summary
  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tiertiary Sources
  • Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Insiderness
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • USC Libraries Tutorials and Other Guides
  • Bibliography

This glossary is intended to assist you in understanding commonly used terms and concepts when reading, interpreting, and evaluating scholarly research. Also included are common words and phrases defined within the context of how they apply to research in the social and behavioral sciences.

  • Acculturation -- refers to the process of adapting to another culture, particularly in reference to blending in with the majority population [e.g., an immigrant adopting American customs]. However, acculturation also implies that both cultures add something to one another, but still remain distinct groups unto themselves.
  • Accuracy -- a term used in survey research to refer to the match between the target population and the sample.
  • Affective Measures -- procedures or devices used to obtain quantified descriptions of an individual's feelings, emotional states, or dispositions.
  • Aggregate -- a total created from smaller units. For instance, the population of a county is an aggregate of the populations of the cities, rural areas, etc. that comprise the county. As a verb, it refers to total data from smaller units into a large unit.
  • Anonymity -- a research condition in which no one, including the researcher, knows the identities of research participants.
  • Baseline -- a control measurement carried out before an experimental treatment.
  • Behaviorism -- school of psychological thought concerned with the observable, tangible, objective facts of behavior, rather than with subjective phenomena such as thoughts, emotions, or impulses. Contemporary behaviorism also emphasizes the study of mental states such as feelings and fantasies to the extent that they can be directly observed and measured.
  • Beliefs -- ideas, doctrines, tenets, etc. that are accepted as true on grounds which are not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof.
  • Benchmarking -- systematically measuring and comparing the operations and outcomes of organizations, systems, processes, etc., against agreed upon "best-in-class" frames of reference.
  • Bias -- a loss of balance and accuracy in the use of research methods. It can appear in research via the sampling frame, random sampling, or non-response. It can also occur at other stages in research, such as while interviewing, in the design of questions, or in the way data are analyzed and presented. Bias means that the research findings will not be representative of, or generalizable to, a wider population.
  • Case Study -- the collection and presentation of detailed information about a particular participant or small group, frequently including data derived from the subjects themselves.
  • Causal Hypothesis -- a statement hypothesizing that the independent variable affects the dependent variable in some way.
  • Causal Relationship -- the relationship established that shows that an independent variable, and nothing else, causes a change in a dependent variable. It also establishes how much of a change is shown in the dependent variable.
  • Causality -- the relation between cause and effect.
  • Central Tendency -- any way of describing or characterizing typical, average, or common values in some distribution.
  • Chi-square Analysis -- a common non-parametric statistical test which compares an expected proportion or ratio to an actual proportion or ratio.
  • Claim -- a statement, similar to a hypothesis, which is made in response to the research question and that is affirmed with evidence based on research.
  • Classification -- ordering of related phenomena into categories, groups, or systems according to characteristics or attributes.
  • Cluster Analysis -- a method of statistical analysis where data that share a common trait are grouped together. The data is collected in a way that allows the data collector to group data according to certain characteristics.
  • Cohort Analysis -- group by group analytic treatment of individuals having a statistical factor in common to each group. Group members share a particular characteristic [e.g., born in a given year] or a common experience [e.g., entering a college at a given time].
  • Confidentiality -- a research condition in which no one except the researcher(s) knows the identities of the participants in a study. It refers to the treatment of information that a participant has disclosed to the researcher in a relationship of trust and with the expectation that it will not be revealed to others in ways that violate the original consent agreement, unless permission is granted by the participant.
  • Confirmability Objectivity -- the findings of the study could be confirmed by another person conducting the same study.
  • Construct -- refers to any of the following: something that exists theoretically but is not directly observable; a concept developed [constructed] for describing relations among phenomena or for other research purposes; or, a theoretical definition in which concepts are defined in terms of other concepts. For example, intelligence cannot be directly observed or measured; it is a construct.
  • Construct Validity -- seeks an agreement between a theoretical concept and a specific measuring device, such as observation.
  • Constructivism -- the idea that reality is socially constructed. It is the view that reality cannot be understood outside of the way humans interact and that the idea that knowledge is constructed, not discovered. Constructivists believe that learning is more active and self-directed than either behaviorism or cognitive theory would postulate.
  • Content Analysis -- the systematic, objective, and quantitative description of the manifest or latent content of print or nonprint communications.
  • Context Sensitivity -- awareness by a qualitative researcher of factors such as values and beliefs that influence cultural behaviors.
  • Control Group -- the group in an experimental design that receives either no treatment or a different treatment from the experimental group. This group can thus be compared to the experimental group.
  • Controlled Experiment -- an experimental design with two or more randomly selected groups [an experimental group and control group] in which the researcher controls or introduces the independent variable and measures the dependent variable at least two times [pre- and post-test measurements].
  • Correlation -- a common statistical analysis, usually abbreviated as r, that measures the degree of relationship between pairs of interval variables in a sample. The range of correlation is from -1.00 to zero to +1.00. Also, a non-cause and effect relationship between two variables.
  • Covariate -- a product of the correlation of two related variables times their standard deviations. Used in true experiments to measure the difference of treatment between them.
  • Credibility -- a researcher's ability to demonstrate that the object of a study is accurately identified and described based on the way in which the study was conducted.
  • Critical Theory -- an evaluative approach to social science research, associated with Germany's neo-Marxist “Frankfurt School,” that aims to criticize as well as analyze society, opposing the political orthodoxy of modern communism. Its goal is to promote human emancipatory forces and to expose ideas and systems that impede them.
  • Data -- factual information [as measurements or statistics] used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation.
  • Data Mining -- the process of analyzing data from different perspectives and summarizing it into useful information, often to discover patterns and/or systematic relationships among variables.
  • Data Quality -- this is the degree to which the collected data [results of measurement or observation] meet the standards of quality to be considered valid [trustworthy] and  reliable [dependable].
  • Deductive -- a form of reasoning in which conclusions are formulated about particulars from general or universal premises.
  • Dependability -- being able to account for changes in the design of the study and the changing conditions surrounding what was studied.
  • Dependent Variable -- a variable that varies due, at least in part, to the impact of the independent variable. In other words, its value “depends” on the value of the independent variable. For example, in the variables “gender” and “academic major,” academic major is the dependent variable, meaning that your major cannot determine whether you are male or female, but your gender might indirectly lead you to favor one major over another.
  • Deviation -- the distance between the mean and a particular data point in a given distribution.
  • Discourse Community -- a community of scholars and researchers in a given field who respond to and communicate to each other through published articles in the community's journals and presentations at conventions. All members of the discourse community adhere to certain conventions for the presentation of their theories and research.
  • Discrete Variable -- a variable that is measured solely in whole units, such as, gender and number of siblings.
  • Distribution -- the range of values of a particular variable.
  • Effect Size -- the amount of change in a dependent variable that can be attributed to manipulations of the independent variable. A large effect size exists when the value of the dependent variable is strongly influenced by the independent variable. It is the mean difference on a variable between experimental and control groups divided by the standard deviation on that variable of the pooled groups or of the control group alone.
  • Emancipatory Research -- research is conducted on and with people from marginalized groups or communities. It is led by a researcher or research team who is either an indigenous or external insider; is interpreted within intellectual frameworks of that group; and, is conducted largely for the purpose of empowering members of that community and improving services for them. It also engages members of the community as co-constructors or validators of knowledge.
  • Empirical Research -- the process of developing systematized knowledge gained from observations that are formulated to support insights and generalizations about the phenomena being researched.
  • Epistemology -- concerns knowledge construction; asks what constitutes knowledge and how knowledge is validated.
  • Ethnography -- method to study groups and/or cultures over a period of time. The goal of this type of research is to comprehend the particular group/culture through immersion into the culture or group. Research is completed through various methods but, since the researcher is immersed within the group for an extended period of time, more detailed information is usually collected during the research.
  • Expectancy Effect -- any unconscious or conscious cues that convey to the participant in a study how the researcher wants them to respond. Expecting someone to behave in a particular way has been shown to promote the expected behavior. Expectancy effects can be minimized by using standardized interactions with subjects, automated data-gathering methods, and double blind protocols.
  • External Validity -- the extent to which the results of a study are generalizable or transferable.
  • Factor Analysis -- a statistical test that explores relationships among data. The test explores which variables in a data set are most related to each other. In a carefully constructed survey, for example, factor analysis can yield information on patterns of responses, not simply data on a single response. Larger tendencies may then be interpreted, indicating behavior trends rather than simply responses to specific questions.
  • Field Studies -- academic or other investigative studies undertaken in a natural setting, rather than in laboratories, classrooms, or other structured environments.
  • Focus Groups -- small, roundtable discussion groups charged with examining specific topics or problems, including possible options or solutions. Focus groups usually consist of 4-12 participants, guided by moderators to keep the discussion flowing and to collect and report the results.
  • Framework -- the structure and support that may be used as both the launching point and the on-going guidelines for investigating a research problem.
  • Generalizability -- the extent to which research findings and conclusions conducted on a specific study to groups or situations can be applied to the population at large.
  • Grey Literature -- research produced by organizations outside of commercial and academic publishing that publish materials, such as, working papers, research reports, and briefing papers.
  • Grounded Theory -- practice of developing other theories that emerge from observing a group. Theories are grounded in the group's observable experiences, but researchers add their own insight into why those experiences exist.
  • Group Behavior -- behaviors of a group as a whole, as well as the behavior of an individual as influenced by his or her membership in a group.
  • Hypothesis -- a tentative explanation based on theory to predict a causal relationship between variables.
  • Independent Variable -- the conditions of an experiment that are systematically manipulated by the researcher. A variable that is not impacted by the dependent variable, and that itself impacts the dependent variable. In the earlier example of "gender" and "academic major," (see Dependent Variable) gender is the independent variable.
  • Individualism -- a theory or policy having primary regard for the liberty, rights, or independent actions of individuals.
  • Inductive -- a form of reasoning in which a generalized conclusion is formulated from particular instances.
  • Inductive Analysis -- a form of analysis based on inductive reasoning; a researcher using inductive analysis starts with answers, but formulates questions throughout the research process.
  • Insiderness -- a concept in qualitative research that refers to the degree to which a researcher has access to and an understanding of persons, places, or things within a group or community based on being a member of that group or community.
  • Internal Consistency -- the extent to which all questions or items assess the same characteristic, skill, or quality.
  • Internal Validity -- the rigor with which the study was conducted [e.g., the study's design, the care taken to conduct measurements, and decisions concerning what was and was not measured]. It is also the extent to which the designers of a study have taken into account alternative explanations for any causal relationships they explore. In studies that do not explore causal relationships, only the first of these definitions should be considered when assessing internal validity.
  • Life History -- a record of an event/events in a respondent's life told [written down, but increasingly audio or video recorded] by the respondent from his/her own perspective in his/her own words. A life history is different from a "research story" in that it covers a longer time span, perhaps a complete life, or a significant period in a life.
  • Margin of Error -- the permittable or acceptable deviation from the target or a specific value. The allowance for slight error or miscalculation or changing circumstances in a study.
  • Measurement -- process of obtaining a numerical description of the extent to which persons, organizations, or things possess specified characteristics.
  • Meta-Analysis -- an analysis combining the results of several studies that address a set of related hypotheses.
  • Methodology -- a theory or analysis of how research does and should proceed.
  • Methods -- systematic approaches to the conduct of an operation or process. It includes steps of procedure, application of techniques, systems of reasoning or analysis, and the modes of inquiry employed by a discipline.
  • Mixed-Methods -- a research approach that uses two or more methods from both the quantitative and qualitative research categories. It is also referred to as blended methods, combined methods, or methodological triangulation.
  • Modeling -- the creation of a physical or computer analogy to understand a particular phenomenon. Modeling helps in estimating the relative magnitude of various factors involved in a phenomenon. A successful model can be shown to account for unexpected behavior that has been observed, to predict certain behaviors, which can then be tested experimentally, and to demonstrate that a given theory cannot account for certain phenomenon.
  • Models -- representations of objects, principles, processes, or ideas often used for imitation or emulation.
  • Naturalistic Observation -- observation of behaviors and events in natural settings without experimental manipulation or other forms of interference.
  • Norm -- the norm in statistics is the average or usual performance. For example, students usually complete their high school graduation requirements when they are 18 years old. Even though some students graduate when they are younger or older, the norm is that any given student will graduate when he or she is 18 years old.
  • Null Hypothesis -- the proposition, to be tested statistically, that the experimental intervention has "no effect," meaning that the treatment and control groups will not differ as a result of the intervention. Investigators usually hope that the data will demonstrate some effect from the intervention, thus allowing the investigator to reject the null hypothesis.
  • Ontology -- a discipline of philosophy that explores the science of what is, the kinds and structures of objects, properties, events, processes, and relations in every area of reality.
  • Panel Study -- a longitudinal study in which a group of individuals is interviewed at intervals over a period of time.
  • Participant -- individuals whose physiological and/or behavioral characteristics and responses are the object of study in a research project.
  • Peer-Review -- the process in which the author of a book, article, or other type of publication submits his or her work to experts in the field for critical evaluation, usually prior to publication. This is standard procedure in publishing scholarly research.
  • Phenomenology -- a qualitative research approach concerned with understanding certain group behaviors from that group's point of view.
  • Philosophy -- critical examination of the grounds for fundamental beliefs and analysis of the basic concepts, doctrines, or practices that express such beliefs.
  • Phonology -- the study of the ways in which speech sounds form systems and patterns in language.
  • Policy -- governing principles that serve as guidelines or rules for decision making and action in a given area.
  • Policy Analysis -- systematic study of the nature, rationale, cost, impact, effectiveness, implications, etc., of existing or alternative policies, using the theories and methodologies of relevant social science disciplines.
  • Population -- the target group under investigation. The population is the entire set under consideration. Samples are drawn from populations.
  • Position Papers -- statements of official or organizational viewpoints, often recommending a particular course of action or response to a situation.
  • Positivism -- a doctrine in the philosophy of science, positivism argues that science can only deal with observable entities known directly to experience. The positivist aims to construct general laws, or theories, which express relationships between phenomena. Observation and experiment is used to show whether the phenomena fit the theory.
  • Predictive Measurement -- use of tests, inventories, or other measures to determine or estimate future events, conditions, outcomes, or trends.
  • Principal Investigator -- the scientist or scholar with primary responsibility for the design and conduct of a research project.
  • Probability -- the chance that a phenomenon will occur randomly. As a statistical measure, it is shown as p [the "p" factor].
  • Questionnaire -- structured sets of questions on specified subjects that are used to gather information, attitudes, or opinions.
  • Random Sampling -- a process used in research to draw a sample of a population strictly by chance, yielding no discernible pattern beyond chance. Random sampling can be accomplished by first numbering the population, then selecting the sample according to a table of random numbers or using a random-number computer generator. The sample is said to be random because there is no regular or discernible pattern or order. Random sample selection is used under the assumption that sufficiently large samples assigned randomly will exhibit a distribution comparable to that of the population from which the sample is drawn. The random assignment of participants increases the probability that differences observed between participant groups are the result of the experimental intervention.
  • Reliability -- the degree to which a measure yields consistent results. If the measuring instrument [e.g., survey] is reliable, then administering it to similar groups would yield similar results. Reliability is a prerequisite for validity. An unreliable indicator cannot produce trustworthy results.
  • Representative Sample -- sample in which the participants closely match the characteristics of the population, and thus, all segments of the population are represented in the sample. A representative sample allows results to be generalized from the sample to the population.
  • Rigor -- degree to which research methods are scrupulously and meticulously carried out in order to recognize important influences occurring in an experimental study.
  • Sample -- the population researched in a particular study. Usually, attempts are made to select a "sample population" that is considered representative of groups of people to whom results will be generalized or transferred. In studies that use inferential statistics to analyze results or which are designed to be generalizable, sample size is critical, generally the larger the number in the sample, the higher the likelihood of a representative distribution of the population.
  • Sampling Error -- the degree to which the results from the sample deviate from those that would be obtained from the entire population, because of random error in the selection of respondent and the corresponding reduction in reliability.
  • Saturation -- a situation in which data analysis begins to reveal repetition and redundancy and when new data tend to confirm existing findings rather than expand upon them.
  • Semantics -- the relationship between symbols and meaning in a linguistic system. Also, the cuing system that connects what is written in the text to what is stored in the reader's prior knowledge.
  • Social Theories -- theories about the structure, organization, and functioning of human societies.
  • Sociolinguistics -- the study of language in society and, more specifically, the study of language varieties, their functions, and their speakers.
  • Standard Deviation -- a measure of variation that indicates the typical distance between the scores of a distribution and the mean; it is determined by taking the square root of the average of the squared deviations in a given distribution. It can be used to indicate the proportion of data within certain ranges of scale values when the distribution conforms closely to the normal curve.
  • Statistical Analysis -- application of statistical processes and theory to the compilation, presentation, discussion, and interpretation of numerical data.
  • Statistical Bias -- characteristics of an experimental or sampling design, or the mathematical treatment of data, that systematically affects the results of a study so as to produce incorrect, unjustified, or inappropriate inferences or conclusions.
  • Statistical Significance -- the probability that the difference between the outcomes of the control and experimental group are great enough that it is unlikely due solely to chance. The probability that the null hypothesis can be rejected at a predetermined significance level [0.05 or 0.01].
  • Statistical Tests -- researchers use statistical tests to make quantitative decisions about whether a study's data indicate a significant effect from the intervention and allow the researcher to reject the null hypothesis. That is, statistical tests show whether the differences between the outcomes of the control and experimental groups are great enough to be statistically significant. If differences are found to be statistically significant, it means that the probability [likelihood] that these differences occurred solely due to chance is relatively low. Most researchers agree that a significance value of .05 or less [i.e., there is a 95% probability that the differences are real] sufficiently determines significance.
  • Subcultures -- ethnic, regional, economic, or social groups exhibiting characteristic patterns of behavior sufficient to distinguish them from the larger society to which they belong.
  • Testing -- the act of gathering and processing information about individuals' ability, skill, understanding, or knowledge under controlled conditions.
  • Theory -- a general explanation about a specific behavior or set of events that is based on known principles and serves to organize related events in a meaningful way. A theory is not as specific as a hypothesis.
  • Treatment -- the stimulus given to a dependent variable.
  • Trend Samples -- method of sampling different groups of people at different points in time from the same population.
  • Triangulation -- a multi-method or pluralistic approach, using different methods in order to focus on the research topic from different viewpoints and to produce a multi-faceted set of data. Also used to check the validity of findings from any one method.
  • Unit of Analysis -- the basic observable entity or phenomenon being analyzed by a study and for which data are collected in the form of variables.
  • Validity -- the degree to which a study accurately reflects or assesses the specific concept that the researcher is attempting to measure. A method can be reliable, consistently measuring the same thing, but not valid.
  • Variable -- any characteristic or trait that can vary from one person to another [race, gender, academic major] or for one person over time [age, political beliefs].
  • Weighted Scores -- scores in which the components are modified by different multipliers to reflect their relative importance.
  • White Paper -- an authoritative report that often states the position or philosophy about a social, political, or other subject, or a general explanation of an architecture, framework, or product technology written by a group of researchers. A white paper seeks to contain unbiased information and analysis regarding a business or policy problem that the researchers may be facing.

Elliot, Mark, Fairweather, Ian, Olsen, Wendy Kay, and Pampaka, Maria. A Dictionary of Social Research Methods. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2016; Free Social Science Dictionary. Socialsciencedictionary.com [2008]. Glossary. Institutional Review Board. Colorado College; Glossary of Key Terms. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Glossary A-Z. Education.com; Glossary of Research Terms. Research Mindedness Virtual Learning Resource. Centre for Human Servive Technology. University of Southampton; Miller, Robert L. and Brewer, John D. The A-Z of Social Research: A Dictionary of Key Social Science Research Concepts London: SAGE, 2003; Jupp, Victor. The SAGE Dictionary of Social and Cultural Research Methods . London: Sage, 2006.

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Research on the theory and method of reduced-hole blasting for large cross-section tunnel based on explosive energy dissipation

  • Open access
  • Published: 28 May 2024
  • Volume 10 , article number  96 , ( 2024 )

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what is the method section of a research paper

  • Xingchao Tian 1 ,
  • Tiejun Tao 2 &
  • Caijin Xie 1  

The traditional tunnel drilling and blasting method places cut holes at the lower center of the excavation face, resulting in an excessive number of blasting holes. With the continuous increase in cross-section area, this design concept can no longer meet the requirements of safe and efficient tunnel boring for large cross-section tunnels. This paper puts forward the theory and method of reduced-hole blasting for large cross-section tunnels, as an alternative to the traditional drilling and blasting method of the “more holes, less charge” design concept. Based on the explosion energy dissipation law and rock’s critical crushing energy dissipation characteristics, the calculation method of the extrapolation distance of the wedge-cut holes is given. The optimum extrapolation distance of the wedge-cut holes was verified using numerical simulation and field tests. The results show that the number of drilling holes can be reduced by about 15.8% using the theory and method proposed in this paper, and at the same time, the damage of retained rock can be effectively controlled. The results of this study can provide a reference for the design of blast network parameters for similar large cross-section tunnels.

Article Highlights

This paper put forward the theory and method of reduced hole blasting (RHB) for large cross section tunnels, the number of blasting holes was reduced by an average of 15.8%.

This paper gave the wedge-cut hole extrapolation distance calculation method based on the explosion energy dissipation law and rock’s critical crushing energy dissipation characteristics.

This paper proposed a computational expression for energy dissipation under coupled in-situ stress and blast loading, determined the critical crushing energy dissipation density of gray sandstone under different combined dynamic and static loading conditions.

Avoid common mistakes on your manuscript.

1 Introduction

The drilling and blasting method has the advantages of being economic and efficient, and is currently the most commonly used construction method for highway and railroad tunnels, mine shafts, and underground space hard rock excavation. With China’s socio-economic development, as well as the continuous promotion of the Belt and Road initiative and the construction of new infrastructure, large cross-section tunnels have appeared frequently. However, the design of blasting parameters still follows the traditional design concept of small cross-section tunnels, resulting in too many blasting holes, which restricts the quality and duration of tunnel construction. Therefore, there is an urgent need to put forward an innovative theory and method of hole-reduction blasting for large cross-section tunnels, to maximize the outward push of the wedge-cut holes, and to reduce the number of holes while ensuring the quality of blasting, so as to realize the safe and efficient blasting of large cross-section tunnels.

The parameter design of wedge-cut holes is the soul of whether large cross-section tunnels can be successfully blasted to break rocks. Many scholars have conducted research on the hollowing parameters of large cross-section tunnel blasting. Yang et al. ( 2024 ) showed that in large cross-section hard-rock tunnel blasting, using the frames on both sides of the drilling and blasting cart as a reference for the main wedge-cut holes can reduce the number of drilled holes, but the theoretical basis of this design method was not reflected in their study. Ji et al. ( 2020 ) proposed an inverted T-shaped hollowing and blasting method for very large cross-section tunnels, which improved the blasting effect. Mei et al. ( 2021 ) carried out studies on hollowing methods, blast hole placement, charge volume, and charge structure to achieve safe and efficient blasting excavation. Zhang et al. ( 2022 ) proposed an innovative hollowing and blasting technique based on cavity hollowing and debris throwing. Li et al. ( 2023 ) proposed a hollowing out and blasting technique with decentralized charging and staged blasting. Qin and Zhang ( 2020 ) proposed a “three-step + inverted” tunnel blasting excavation method, which effectively controlled the blasting vibration. Cheng et al. ( 2023 ) proposed a medium-deep hole-hollowing and blasting method based on directional pre-cracking with slit charging to improve the tunneling progress. Gao et al. ( 2022 ) improved the hollowing and blasting initiation method and proposed a hybrid initiation method based on the reverse transmission of neighboring holes. Zhang et al. ( 2020a ; b ) analyzed the hollow-hole effect of hollowing and blasting and gave a method for determining the parameters of hollow-hole straight-eye hollowing and blasting. Zhang et al. ( 2020a ; b ) proposed a second-order two-stage hollowing and blasting technique, which effectively improved the efficiency of blasting excavation. Wu et al. ( 2023 ) proposed a zonal blasting excavation scheme for small-spaced large-section tunnels to effectively control blasting vibration and perimeter rock damage. The above research has effectively improved the blasting quality and construction efficiency through the optimization of segmental hollowing blasting technology and hollowing parameters, which is of great significance for the safe and efficient blasting of large cross-section tunnels. However, its parameter design methods are not free from the traditional design concept of small cross-section roadway blasting, the number of blasting holes laid is still high. With the increasing cross-section area of the tunnel excavation, it is possible to extrapolate the placement position of the wedge-cut holes, and utilize the bidirectional critical surface formed after blasting the wedge-cut holes to break the rock effectively. The transformation of design concepts is crucial.

Currently, the wedge-cut holes spacing, angle, and other parameters are determined by the radius of the crushed zone, the radius of the fractured zone, and the geometric relationship, which leads to smaller spacing of the wedge-cut holes and limited hollowing effect. The accumulation, propagation, and dissipation of energy are the driving factors for the destabilization of the medium, and it is more scientific to determine the optimal spacing of the wedge-cut holes based on the explosive energy dissipation. Li et al. ( 2018a ; b ) analyzed the energy evolution law of deep buried tunnels under explosive loading. Leng et al. ( 2016 ) discussed the process of explosive energy transfer during side detonation and end detonation. Sanchidrián et al. ( 2007 ) analyzed the energy distribution pattern within the rock mass after explosive blasting based on single-hole blasting tests. Xia et al. ( 2020 ) analyzed the effect of charge structure on blast energy transfer. Leng et al. ( 2019 ) analyzed the explosion energy transfer law under the condition of double-point detonation in the hole. The above research has conducted a detailed exploration of the transmission and distribution of explosion energy, which is of great significance for exploring the mechanism of rock damage and failure. However, there are few research results on the design of hole network parameters for large cross-section tunnel blasting from the perspective of explosive energy dissipation.

This paper is based on the significant demand for safe and efficient tunnel boring in large cross-section tunnels, and offers the method of wedge-cut hole extrapolation, featuring additional center holes, and adjusts the detonation sequence of large cross-section tunnels according to reduced-hole blasting (RHB) theory and method, completely changing the traditional tunnel blasting "more holes, less charge" design concept. Based on the explosion energy dissipation law and the rock’s critical crushing energy dissipation characteristics, the calculation method of the extrapolation distance of the wedge-cut hole is given. A three-dimensional numerical simulation model was established to compare and analyze the hollowing effect and the damage law of the retained rock body after being subjected to different wedge-cut holes with different extrapolation distances, and the optimal extrapolation distance of the wedge-cut holes was determined. Based on the Gonghe Village Tunnel of the Ludian-Qiaojia Expressway, five on-site blasting tests were carried out to verify the scientific validity of the theory and method proposed in this paper. The results of this study can provide a reference for the design of blast network parameters for similar large cross-section tunnels.

2 Theory and method

2.1 engineering background.

The Gonghe Village Tunnel of the Ludian-Qiaojia Expressway is located in Chongxi Township, Qiaojia County, Yunnan Province. The total length of the right tunnel is 10,698 m, with a maximum depth of about 1320 m, which is a two-way four-lane detached extra-long tunnel. The buried depth of the section used in this study is about 400 m, the surrounding rock level is class III, the surrounding rock lithology is dominated by gray sandstone, and the excavated section area is 99.28 m 2 , which belongs to the large cross-section tunnel. The section used in this study was excavated by blasting using the upper and lower step method, as shown in Fig.  1 .

figure 1

The Gonghe village tunnel

The originally proposed Gonghe Village Tunnel was constructed by using the traditional drilling and blasting method, which led to the problems of a large number of blasting holes, high drilling intensity, excessive crushing of stones, and serious over excavation, as shown in Fig.  2 . The number of boreholes for conventional tunnel drilling and blasting is estimated on the basis of the tunnel cross-section area S and the rock solidity coefficient f of \(N = 3.3 \cdot \sqrt[3]{{fS^{2} }}\) . The rock solidity coefficient f of the study section of the Gonghe Village Tunnel is 10, the tunnel section area S is 99.28 m 2 , and the number of blasting holes to be drilled in the whole section is 152, which is a huge drilling workload. The current tunnel rock drilling cart is expensive, has a high failure rate, and is limited by the tunnel space, which leads to the automated drilling technology not being mature and still mainly relying on manual drilling. Taking a 4 m depth of the blast hole as an example, the drilling efficiency of the workers is generally about 3 holes/h, and a drilling shift is calculated with 13 people, which takes about 3.9 h of drilling time per cycle, making drilling intense and long, and seriously affecting the construction progress. At the same time, the excessive number of blasting holes laid resulted in high usage of explosives, excessive damage to retained rock, and severe over excavation. The number of blasting holes, drilling time, explosives used, and average over-digging value per cycle of blasting in the upper bench of the study section of the Gonghe Village Tunnel were counted, as shown in Table  1 . Therefore, the traditional drilling and blasting method could not meet the requirements of safe and efficient construction of large cross-section tunnels, and there is an urgent need to put forward innovative theories and methods that can reduce the number of drilled holes, reduce the unit consumption of explosives, and ensure the quality of blasting.

figure 2

Technical difficulties caused by the traditional drilling and blasting method

2.2 Theory and method of RHB

A typical compound wedge hollowing blast is used as an example to discuss the design method of traditional tunnel blasting parameters, as shown in Fig.  3 . In Fig.  3 , the orifice spacing, bottom spacing, row spacing, hollowing angle, and vertical depth of the first-order wedge-cut holes are S 1 , c , a , β 2 , and h , respectively. The orifice spacing, bottom spacing, row spacing, hollowing angle, and vertical depth of the second-order wedge-cut holes are S 2 , d , b , β 1 , and H , respectively. To determine the above blasting parameters, the following three steps are usually performed: (1) determine the bottom of hole spacing and row spacing based on the radius of the crushed zone and fractured zone, and further determine the orifice spacing based on the geometric relationship. (2) Determine the hollowing angle based on the force relationship of the slot cavity. (3) Determine the rest of the blasting parameters based on the geometry of the slot cavity volume by associating (1)(2).

figure 3

Duplicate wedge hollowing blast analysis model

The destruction of rock in the slot cavity is based on the principle that the fractured zones of adjacent wedge-cut holes are interconnected, therefore, the row spacing of the wedge-cut holes a should be satisfied:

where R C and R T are the radius of the crushed zone and fractured zone, respectively.

When determining the spacing between the bottoms of the holes in the wedge-cut holes, the principle of overlapping fractured zones is used to ensure that the rock at the bottom of the slot cavity is sufficiently fractured. Therefore, the bottom spacing c and d of the wedge-cut holes should be satisfied:

Combined with the geometric relationship in Fig.  3 , it can be seen that the orifice spacing S 1 and S 2 of the wedge-cut holes should be satisfied:

The force state of the slot cavity lumen is further analyzed. When the wedge-cut hole charging section explosives explosion, the rock around the blasting hole in the strong compression of the explosive shock wave to form a crushed zone. Since the row spacing a of the wedge-cut holes is small, a through surface is formed in the charging section. Subsequently, the rock forms a fractured zone outside of the crushed zone under the combined effect of the blast stress wave and the blast-generated gas. Due to the presence of the hollowing angle, the explosion of the explosive generates a force perpendicular to the free surface outward, forcing the slot cavity to move in the direction normal to the free surface. As a result, the rock in the slot cavity will be damaged by shear with the surrounding rock, forming shear surfaces B 1 C 1 I 1 H 1 , A 1 D 1 J 1 G 1 , A 1 B 1 H 1 G 1 , and D 1 C 1 I 1 J 1 . The bottom of the slot cavity is subjected to large tensile stresses, forming damage surface H 1 I 1 J 1 G 1 .

The total resistance to blasting in the direction of the line of least resistance for the wedge-cut holes is:

where c and ε are rock cohesion and angle of internal friction, respectively. l c is the length of the charge.

The combined force acting on the explosive gas in the direction of the line of least resistance is:

where P is the average burst pressure in the blast hole, P  =  ρ 0 D 2 /8.

When the following conditions are met, the wedge-cut holes blasting is able to throw out the slot cavity smoothly and form a critical surface:

The value of the hollowing angle β 1 can be determined by associating Eqs. ( 6 )–( 8 ).

Ideally, the following relationship exists between the rock volumes V 1 and V 2 for first-order hollowing and second-order hollowing blasts:

From the geometrical relations in Fig.  3 , the values of the remaining parameters can be further determined:

After determining the parameters of the wedge-cut holes according to the above blasting parameter calculation method, the peripheral holes are laid out according to the requirements of contour molding, and finally the auxiliary holes are evenly arranged according to the size of the remaining section area and its location. The above blasting parameters determination method is more applicable to small cross-section tunnels, but with the increase of the tunnel excavation cross-section area, the above blasting parameters will lead to too many blasting holes.

Based on the demand for safe and efficient construction of large cross-section tunnel blasting, this paper proposes the theory and method of RHB for the blasting construction of the tunnel using a step method with more than three levels of surrounding rock, as shown in Figs.  4 and 5 . Central to this method are the extrapolation of wedge-cut holes, the addition of center holes, and the adjustment of the detonation sequence. The methodology is as follows:

The wedge-cut hole is pushed outward. The conventional drilling and blasting method places the wedge-cut holes in the lower middle of the tunnel excavation face, as shown in Fig.  4 a. The spacing of the wedge-cut holes is small, and a large number of auxiliary holes need to be laid to ensure the uniform distribution of the explosive energy, and the number of blasting holes is large. The RHB method pushes the placement of the wedge-cut holes outward to the maximum extent possible and to the minimum distance from the tunnel design contour line. This distance should ensure that blasting of the wedge-cut holes will not cause damage to the retained rock outside the tunnel design contour line, as shown in Fig.  4 b. At this time, the wedge-cut holes blasting forms a two-way critical surface (Lou et al. 2022 ): one provides a critical surface for auxiliary hole blasting; the other provides a critical surface for center holes blasting. From Fig.  4 , it can be seen that the wedge-cut holes are pushed out, which reduces the deployment of auxiliary holes in large quantities and reduces the drilling workload of the up-stage blasting excavation. To ensure the effectiveness of surface blasting, the two methods are consistent in terms of the placement of peripheral holes.

Addition of center holes. In this paper, the blasting holes laid in the center of the tunnel excavation face are defined as the center holes, which need to be loaded with explosives, and are able to break the larger volume of rock in the center of the excavation face by blasting through 2–3 center holes. As a result of the extrapolation of the wedge-cut holes, a large area of rock will be left in the center of the tunnel excavation face waiting to be blasted. After blasting the main wedge-cut holes, the rock in the center of the tunnel excavation face is "isolated" and forms three free surfaces simultaneously, so 2–3 center holes can be used to break this part of the rock. At this point, even if the charge of the center holes is increased, there will be no damage to the retained rock outside the design contour line of the tunnel, as shown in Fig.  4 b. In addition, the deployment of center holes can effectively solve the phenomenon of the "bulging belly" of the tunnel excavation face and improve the digging footage.

Adjustment of the detonation sequence. The traditional tunnel drilling and blasting method in terms of the detonation sequence is as follows: cut hole detonation, auxiliary hole detonation, peripheral hole detonation, bottom hole detonation. This paper optimizes the order of detonation adjustment. The adjusted detonation sequence is as follows: the main wedge-cut holes are detonated first, forming a large volume critical surface in the center of the working face, and providing a free surface for the secondary and tertiary wedge-cut holes, center holes, and collapse holes to be blasted. Then, the secondary wedge-cut holes and center holes are detonated at the same time, the secondary wedge-cut holes blasting for the tertiary level of wedge-cut holes and the collapse holes blasting to provide airspace. After a center hole is detonated, it is possible to fully break up the rock that has not been fully exploded at the bottom of the main wedge-cut holes, providing a larger critical surface. The tertiary wedge-cut holes and collapse holes are then detonated simultaneously to provide a critical surface for auxiliary hole blasting. Finally, the auxiliary holes, peripheral holes, and the bottom holes are detonated in turn, as shown in Fig.  5 .

figure 4

Wedge-cut hole extrapolation theory and method

figure 5

Adjustment of the detonation sequence

Compared with the traditional tunnel blasting construction process, the technical advantages of the theory and method proposed in this paper are mainly as follows: (1) the number of blasting holes and the drilling intensity have been reduced, and the construction efficiency has been improved; (2) reduction in the number of blasting holes, improvement in the phenomenon of wrong drilling and leakage, and improvement in the quality of blasting; (3) to curb the phenomenon of bulging belly, this method improves the digging footage to ensure the smoothness of the working face; (4) the order of detonation has been adjusted to change the sequence of energy release from the explosives, and the energy is utilized more efficiently; (5) reduced damage to retained rock outside the tunnel design contour.

2.3 Calculation of extrapolation distance for wedge-cut hole

Energy is an essential feature of the deformation response of rock and is the driving factor for the occurrence of destabilizing damage in rock (Xie et al. 2004 ), explosive blast rock is the result of the joint action of shock wave energy and explosive gas expansion energy (Zhao et al. 2019 ). After the explosion of the explosives, the energy consumed mainly consists of shock waves that expand the explosive cavity of the energy consumption W 1 , stress waves that produce radial fissures of the energy consumption W 2 , stress waves caused by elastic deformation of the energy consumption W 3 , bursting gas that expands the cavity of the energy consumption W 4 , and bursting gas that provides the energy consumption of the thrown rock debris W 5 . Several studies (Zhou and Zhong 2022 ; Leng 2020 ; Raina and Trivedi 2019 ) show that the energy utilization rate of explosive blast crushing rock is only 20–30% of the total release of chemical energy W 0 , and the vast majority of the remaining energy is consumed in other forms. Thus, this paper took 30% W 0 as the total energy of explosive blast crushing rock. The total energy consumed after the explosion of the explosive is W d , and when the residual energy W r (0.3 W 0 - W d ) is greater than the critical crushing energy dissipation density W a0 when the rock is damaged by impact loading, the rock will continue to be damaged.

Therefore, only W d and W a0 need to be determined to calculate the minimum distance of the wedge-cut holes from the tunnel design contour line. In Sect.  3.1 , the explosive energy dissipation law under the coupled action of in-situ stress and explosive loading is discussed, and the computational expression for the energy dissipation of each part under the action of the coupled stress field is proposed. As discussed in Sect.  3.2 , rock impact compression tests under different dynamic static combination loading conditions were designed to determine the critical crushing energy dissipation density W a0 of gray sandstone.

3 Parameter calculation

3.1 explosive energy dissipation law analysis, 3.1.1 calculation of the extent of the crushed and fractured zone under coupled stress field.

Before the tunnel is excavated, the surrounding rock is already in a three-dimensional stress state due to the self-gravitational stresses of the overlying rock. The in-situ stress has an inhibitory effect on the explosive load (Yan et al. 2015 ; Bastante et al. 2012 ; Hamdi et al. 2011 ; Mandal and Singh 2009 ), and the in-situ stress field of the original rock and the dynamic stress field formed after the detonation of explosives are superimposed onto each other to form a secondary coupled stress field. The expression for the stress distribution based on the coupled effect of blast load and in-situ stress is given by:

where r , r 0 are the distance from the calculation point to the center of the packet and the radius of the blast hole, respectively. θ is the angle between the line between any point in the rock and the center of the blast hole in the horizontal direction. P d is the homogeneous force acting on the borehole wall, MPa. α is the pressure attenuation coefficient, for the shock wave region α  ≈ 3 or α  = 2 +  μ /(1— μ ) and for the stress wave region β  = 2 −  μ /(1 −  μ ).

The expression for calculating the radius of the crushed zone R C when considering the effect of in-situ stress is:

where σ cd is the dynamic compressive strength of the rock mass, MPa. Let \(\frac{{r_{0} }}{{R_{C} }} = x\) , then Eq. ( 12 ) becomes:

Equation ( 13 ) can be solved using the MATLAB program, and excluding the limited understanding, the calculation expression of the crushed zone radius R C is obtained:

The expression for calculating the radius R T of the fracture zone when considering the effect of in-situ stress is (Ge 2020 ):

where σ td is the dynamic tensile strength of the rock mass, MPa. m is the coefficient of rock tensile strength enhancement caused by in-situ stress.

Further discussion on the enhancement factor m . The force state of the microelementary point under the action of coupled stress field is analyzed with reference to the research results of Ge ( 2020 ), as shown in Figs.  6 and 7 . According to Dai and Qian ( 2007 ), the initial static load on the rock mass actually increases the dynamic compressive or tensile strength of the rock mass indirectly. It is assumed that when the microelement point is compressed by a concentrated load ( σ V a ) in the vertical direction, the dynamic tensile strength of the rock in that direction is enhanced by 100%, i.e., the dynamic tensile strength in that direction becomes 2 σ td .

figure 6

Force analysis of rock microelementary points under in-situ stress action ( λ is the lateral pressure coefficient)

figure 7

Force analysis of rock microelementary points under explosive load

From the force analysis of the microelement points in Figs.  6 and 7 , it can be seen that the tensile stress on each microelement point is ( σa/λ ·sin θ 1  −  σa ·cos θ 1 ). Cracks are most likely to expand when the dynamic tensile strength of the rock is not enhanced, i.e., the crack length is longest when θ 1  = arctan λ . Taking the burial depth of 600 m as an example for analysis, when the lateral pressure coefficients λ are 0.2, 0.4, 0.6, 0.8, and 1.0, the longest cracks are in the directions of 79°, 68°, 59°, 51°, and 45° of the blasting hole, respectively. The values of the enhancement coefficient m in each direction of the borehole are shown in Table  2 , the variation rule of the enhancement coefficient m with θ under different lateral pressure coefficients λ is shown in Fig.  8 , and the variation rule of the enhancement coefficient m with the lateral pressure coefficient λ in the same direction of the blasting hole is shown in Fig.  9 .

figure 8

Law of change of m with θ for different λ

figure 9

Law of change of m with λ in the same direction of the blasting hole

3.1.2 Calculation of explosion energy under coupled stress field

After the explosive explodes, the rock around the blast hole in the shock wave produced by the violent compression decays, the hole wall continues to expand outward, and the blast cavity expands. The cavity expansion process ends when the shock wave propagates to the edge of the crushed zone. In the crushed zone, the energy dissipation of the shock wave is equal to the work W 1 performed by the shock wave in the process of cavity expansion:

where the explosion cavity radius \(R_{1} = \left[ {R_{C}^{2} - (R_{C}^{2} - r_{0}^{2} )\frac{{\rho_{m} }}{{\rho_{r} }}} \right]^{\frac{1}{2}}\) . r 1 is the blast cavity radius corresponding to r . ρ m is the original rock density, kg/m 3 . ρ r is the rock density behind the shock wave front at the blast hole wall, \(\rho_{r} = \frac{{(a + bV_{0} )\rho_{m} }}{{a + (b - 1)V_{0} }}\) , kg/m 3 . a and b are the rock test constants, and V 0 is the initial velocity of the rock particle at the blast hole wall. Let \(\frac{{r_{0} }}{{R_{1} }} = x_{1}\) , the calculation expression of shock wave expansion cavity energy dissipation W 1 can be obtained:

The shock wave expanding cavity consumes a large amount of energy and then decays into a stress wave, which has a stretching effect on the rock around the blast hole and forms a large number of radial fractures. The energy dissipation W 2 for the generation of radial cleavage by the stress wave can be expressed as (Zhang 2007 ):

where n is the number of radial fractures, generally taken as 10. K 1 is the stress intensity factor, \(K_{1}^{2} = \pi r\sigma_{\theta }^{2}\) . E m is the dynamic modulus of elasticity, GPa. Let \(\frac{{r_{0} }}{{R_{T} }} = x_{2}\) , the calculation expression of W 2 of the radial crack generated by stress wave can be obtained:

Outside the fractured zone, with the attenuation of the stress wave, the stress wave can only cause elastic deformation of the rock mass. At this time, the elastic deformation energy of the rock in unit volume is:

Let \(\frac{{r_{0} }}{{R_{E} }} = x_{3}\) , the calculation expression of elastic deformation energy dissipation W 3 caused by stress wave can be obtained as:

After the end of the shock wave effect, the explosion gas continues to act in the form of quasi-static pressure on the cavity wall, so that the explosion cavity continues to expand. The energy dissipation W 4 of the expression gas can be expressed as (Zhang 2007 ):

where R 2 is the final radius of the blast chamber, \(R_{2} = \left\{ {\begin{array}{*{20}l} {r_{0} \left( {\frac{{P_{0} }}{{\sigma_{cd} }}} \right)^{\frac{1}{6}} \begin{array}{*{20}c} {} \\ \end{array} \begin{array}{*{20}c} {} \\ \end{array} (\sigma_{cd} \ge P_{k} )} \hfill \\ {r_{0} \left( {\frac{{P_{0} }}{{P_{k} }}} \right)^{\frac{1}{6}} \left( {\frac{{P_{k} }}{{\sigma_{cd} }}} \right)^{\frac{3}{8}} \begin{array}{*{20}c} {} \\ \end{array} \begin{array}{*{20}c} {} \\ \end{array} (\sigma_{cd} < P_{k} )} \hfill \\ \end{array} } \right.\) . P 0 is the explosive gas pressure at the beginning of the expansion, P 0  =  ρ 0 D 2 /4, where ρ 0 is the density of the explosive, kg/m 3 , and D is the bursting speed of the explosive, m/s. P k is the critical pressure, MPa.

In addition to blast cavity expansion, the expression gas also throws the broken rock fragments due to the action of the blast stress wave. The energy dissipation W 5 of the expression gas throwing rock fragments can be expressed as (Zhang 2007 ):

where n 1 is the throwing action index of the blasting funnel, \(n_{1} = \frac{{r_{a} }}{W}\) , r a is the blasting funnel radius, and W is the minimum resistance line. For a standard blasting funnel, n 1 takes 1. \(V_{1} = \frac{{\sigma_{cd} }}{{0.38\rho_{m} C_{p} }}\) , C p is the longitudinal wave velocity. k is a constant related to explosives.

The total chemical energy released per unit length of explosive when it explodes is:

where Q is the explosion heat of the explosive, MJ/kg.

3.2 Critical crushing energy dissipation density of rock

The lithology of the surrounding rock in the study section of the Gonghe Village Tunnel is gray sandstone, and static and kinetic tests were carried out after on-site core drilling and sampling to determine the critical crushing energy dissipation values of the gray sandstone under different stress states. According to the specimen sizes recommended by the International Commission on Rock Dynamics (Zhou et al. 2012 ), the uniaxial compression test and triaxial compression test rock samples were machined as 50 mm × 100 mm cylinders, the Brazilian split test rock samples were machined as 50 mm × 50 mm cylinders, and the impact dynamics test rock samples were machined as 50 mm × 25 mm cylinders. The unevenness and non-perpendicularity of the rock samples were less than 0.02 mm, and the deviation of the end face normal was less than 0.25°. The rock samples are shown in Fig.  10 .

figure 10

Rock samples

The static tests were carried out using a TAJW-2000 microcomputer-controlled electro-hydraulic servo triaxial rock test system as shown in Fig.  11 a, and the static parameters of the gray sandstone are shown in Table  3 . The impact dynamics tests were carried out on a detached Hopkinson lever test system, ALT100, as shown in Fig.  11 b.

figure 11

The test systems used in this study

Based on the results of the static tests of the gray sandstone, the axial pressure ( σ V ) was set to 0, 10 MPa, 20 MPa, 30 MPa, and 40 MPa, which are 0%, 9.1%, 18.3%, 27.4%, and 36.6% of the static compressive strength, respectively, and the confining pressure ( σ H ) was set to 0, 4 MPa, 8 MPa, and 12 MPa.

The main purpose of this test is to determine the critical crushing energy density of gray sandstone under different dynamic and static combination loading conditions. Li et al. ( 2010 ) identified the state when the rock is broken into exactly 2–4 pieces as the critical damage state. At the beginning of the test, we set a certain air pressure to impact the rock sample, and if the rock sample is intact or only produces a small amount of cracks, we need to increase the impact air pressure. If a certain impact air pressure, the rock sample is broken into 2–4 pieces, this is the critical damage state. Continue to increase the impact air pressure, if the rock sample crushed, the previous impact air pressure is the critical impact air pressure. So we take the impact air pressure when the rock is exactly broken into 2–4 pieces as the critical impact air pressure, and we take the crushing energy density at this time as the critical crushing energy dissipation density.

During the test, to ensure the reliability of the test results, it is necessary to ensure that the stress on both ends of the rock samples reaches a state of dynamic equilibrium. The stresses, σ 1 and σ 2 , which are applied to the two ends of the rock sample can be calculated from the incident strain signal, \(\varepsilon_{I} \left( t \right)\) , the reflected strain signal, \(\varepsilon_{R} \left( t \right)\) , and the transmitted strain signal, \(\varepsilon_{T} \left( t \right)\) , according to the following equation:

Figure  12 shows the dynamic stress equilibrium curve of gray sandstone (with an axial pressure of 10 MPa, a confining pressure of 4 MPa, and an impact air pressure of 0.4 MPa). The combined stress curves of the incident and reflected waves are fundamentally consistent with the stress curves of the transmitted waves, indicating that the stresses at both ends of the rock samples are virtually in equilibrium during the test, which verifies the validity of the test process and the test results.

figure 12

The dynamic stress balance curve

The critical crushing energy dissipation density of gray sandstone under the different dynamic and static combinations of loading conditions is shown in Table  4 . The curves of the critical crushing energy dissipation density of gray sandstone according to confining pressure and axial pressure are shown in Figs.  13 and 14 , respectively.

figure 13

The variation curve of the critical crushing energy dissipation density according to confining pressure

figure 14

The variation curve of the critical crushing energy dissipation density according to axial pressure

The maximum burial depth of the Gonghe Village Tunnel is about 1320 m. The rock density of the study section is 2.56 g cm −3 and the static Poisson's ratio is 0.37. Assuming that the lithology of the study section is homogeneous, the burial depths corresponding to axial pressures of 0 MPa, 10 MPa, 20 MPa, 30 MPa, and 40 MPa are 0 m, 391 m, 781 m, 1172 m, and 1563 m, respectively, when considering only the effect of gravitational stress. The dynamic Poisson's ratio of the lithology of the study section is 0.296, and the lateral pressure coefficient is 0.42, from which the corresponding confining pressures are 0 MPa, 4 MPa, 8 MPa, 12 MPa, and 16 MPa, respectively. Due to the equipment, the confining pressure of 16 MPa could not be loaded. Setting up the study conditions according to Table  4 can provide a basis for the design of blasting parameters for large cross-section tunnels under different stress states.

From Fig.  13 , it can be seen that the critical crushing energy dissipation density of gray sandstone increases with an increase in the confining pressure. The logarithmic function was used to fit the relationship between the changes; the fitting model and the fitting results are listed in Table  5 . It is evident that the confining pressure exerts a reinforcing effect on the gray sandstone samples; the greater the confining pressure, the more significant the reinforcing effect. The destruction of rock samples is a process of transition from a stable state to an unstable state under energy-driven action. Therefore, to destroy the gray sandstone samples, they must store more energy to reach their energy storage limit. Macroscopically speaking, this is manifested as the critical crushing energy dissipation density of the gray sandstone, which increases along with the increase in the confining pressure. As can be seen from Table  5 , the model’s fits at the axial pressures of 0 MPa and 20 MPa are relatively poor, which may be due to the discrete nature of the gray sandstone samples.

From Fig.  14 , it can be seen that the critical crushing energy dissipation density of the gray sandstone samples increases and then decreases with the increase in axial pressure. A quadratic function is used to fit the relationship between its changes, and the fitting model and fitting results are listed in Table  6 . From the previous analytical results, it is evident that axial pressure exerts a reinforcing effect on the gray sandstone samples when the axial pressure is small, while when the axial pressure continues to increase, the effect of the axial pressure on the gray sandstone samples is converted from a reinforcing to a deteriorating effect. Therefore, when the axial pressure is small, more energy needs to be absorbed to force the gray sandstone to destabilize. When the axial pressure continues to increase, the axial pressure has already caused internal damage within the gray sandstone; therefore, less energy needs to be absorbed in order to force the gray sandstone to destabilize.

From Table  6 , it can be calculated that the critical crushing energy dissipation density of gray sandstone reaches a maximum value of 7.01 J cm −3 when the axial pressure is 25.00 MPa, along with a peripheral pressure of 4 MPa. The critical crushing energy dissipation density of gray sandstone reaches a maximum value of 7.38 J cm −3 when the axial pressure is 28.33 MPa, along with a peripheral pressure of 8 MPa. The critical crushing energy dissipation density of gray sandstone reaches a maximum value of 8.40 J cm −3 when the axial pressure is 20.00 MPa, along with a peripheral pressure of 12 MPa.

3.3 Determination of extrapolation distance for wedge-cut hole

The main wedge-cut holes in the study section of the Gonghe Village Tunnel were loaded with a single charge of 3.0 kg in each hole and a charge length of 3.0 m. From Eq. ( 28 ), W 0 is calculated as 32.85 MJ, and the total chemical energy density is 32.85 J cm −3 , in which the heat of detonation Q of No. 2 rock emulsion explosives is taken as 4.5 MJ/kg. In this section, 30% W 0 is used as the total chemical energy released by the explosives when the main wedge-cut hole explodes, which is 9.86 J cm −3 .

The burial depth of the study section is 400 m, σ V  = 10.24 MPa, and σ H  = 4.3 MPa. The wedge-cut hole has a radius of 25 mm, a depth of 3.5 m, and a charge length of 3.0 m. The site uses No. 2 rock emulsion explosives, explosive density of 1.24 g cm −3 , and bursting speed of 4200 m s −1 . From the results of the study in Sect.  3.1 , it can be seen that the radius of the crushing zone R C is 58.28 mm, the radius of the fissure zone R T is 261.73 mm, the radius of the bursting cavity R 1 is 43.68 mm, and the final radius of the bursting cavity R 2 is 48.05 mm. W 1 , W 2 , W 4 , and W 5 were 1.98 MJ m −3 , 0.59 MJ m −3 , 0.14 MJ m −3 , and 2.08 MJ m −3 , respectively. At this point, the residual energy is 5.07 MJ m −3 . From the test results in Sect.  3.2 , the critical energy dissipation density of gray sandstone under this condition is 4.10 MJ m −3 . The residual energy is greater than the critical energy dissipation density and the rock mass will continue to be destroyed. Therefore, further consumption of explosive energy is required. Backcalculating the joint Eqs. ( 19 ), ( 21 ), ( 24 ), ( 26 ), and ( 27 ), the R E should be a minimum of 2.8 m when the residual energy is 4.10 MJ m −3 . It can be seen that for the upper bench blasting in the study section of the Gonghe Village Tunnel, the minimum distance of the main wedge-cut holes from the tunnel design contour line is 2.8 m. Compared with the conventional tunnel blasting method, the main wedge-cut holes of the RHB method were laid 1.4 m outward, as shown in Fig.  15 .

figure 15

Schematic diagram of the extrapolation distance of the main wedge-cut holes of the RHB method

4 Parameter validation

4.1 model building.

ANSYS/LS-DYNA numerical simulation software was used to establish a three-dimensional numerical analysis model to compare and analyze the effect of hollowing out and the damage law of the retained rock body after blasting, so as to verify the reasonableness of the theoretical calculation results in Sect.  3.3 . For the main wedge-cut holes 2.4 m, 2.6 m, 2.8 m, 3.0 m, and 3.2 m from the tunnel design contour line, the overall dimensions of the model are 22 m × 18 m × 3.7 m (X × Y × Z), and the radius of the blasting holes and the radius of the pill rolls are 25 mm and 16 mm, respectively. The following simplifications are made to reduce the computational effort of the model: (1) only half of the overall model size is created when modeling, and after the model is calculated, the keyword *CONSTRAINED_GLOBAL is used to analyze the model after symmetry; (2) only primary wedge-cut holes, secondary wedge-cut holes, and center holes are modeled. The mesh size directly affects the accuracy of the simulation results. In this paper, we first refer to the research results of the literature to determine the preliminary grid size (Wang et al. 2016 ), and then comprehensively consider the calculation effect and calculation time, and finally select the rock grid size of 5 mm within the design contour line of the tunnel. The total number of modeled units is approximately 1.93 million. A simplified model is shown in Fig.  16 a, the grid division diagram is shown in Fig.  16 b.

figure 16

Schematic of the simplified model and the grid division diagram

The in-situ stress σ V  = 10.24 MPa was applied to the upper and lower faces of the model, and the in-situ stress σ H  = 4.3 MPa was applied to the left and right faces (burial depth 400 m). The method of applying the in-situ stress is as follows: Define the load curve CURVE with the keyword *DEFINE, load from 0 to σ V (or σ H ), and use the keyword *INTERFACE to output the DYINA file with the ground stresses, replacing the original k file, to achieve the effect of applying the in-situ stress indicated in the model. The rock material is defined as a solid, the explosive and air material is defined as a fluid, the fluid is meshed in a co-nodal way, and the solid and the fluid are connected by fluid solid coupling. All faces except the free surface are set as non-reflective boundary conditions. The RHT model was used for the rock constitutive model, and the parameters of the RHT constitutive model are shown in Table  7 (Li et al. 2018a ; b ). The explosives, air, and gun clay material models were modeled using *MAT_HIGH_EXPLOSIVE_BURN, *MAT_NULL, and *MAT_SOIL_AND_FOAM material models, respectively, and the material models were taken with reference to the results of several studies in the literature (Liu et al. 2020 ; Wang 2020 ; Li et al. 2018a , b ). The blast parameters of the simplified model are shown in Table  8 .

4.2 Analysis of results

After the wedge-cut hole is extrapolated, whether the slot cavity can be successfully hollowed out is key to the success of blasting. The hollowing effect with different wedge shaped hollowing hole extrapolation distances is shown in Fig.  17 . Due to the clamping function of the rock, the rock in the slot cavity needs to overcome shear resistance and tensile resistance when being hollowed out. As can be seen from Fig.  17 , the hollowing effect gradually deteriorates as the wedge-shaped hollowing hole is extrapolated by an increasing distance. When the distance between the main wedge-cut hole and the design contour line of the tunnel is greater than or equal to 2.8 m, the explosive load can overcome the shear resistance and tensile resistance, and the rock in the slot cavity can be thrown out smoothly. At the same time, due to the role of center holes, the bottom of the hole will not show signs of the bulging belly phenomenon. When the distance between the main wedge-cut holes and the tunnel design contour line is less than 2.8 m, the spacing between the bottom of the wedge-cut holes is large, and the wedge-cut holes are able to form pre-cracking cracks after blasting, but are unable to overcome the tensile resistance of the rock at the bottom of the holes. Even if the center holes blasting can break part of the rock, it cannot also successfully hollow out the slot cavity, resulting in a serious bulging belly phenomenon, or even lead to blasting failure.

figure 17

Effect of hollowing out

Damage to the retained rock outside the tunnel design contour after the wedge-cut holes have been extrapolated is another area of concern. The damage to the retained rock at different wedge-cut hole extrapolation distances is shown in Fig.  18 . As can be seen from Fig.  18 , when the distance of the main wedge-cut hole from the tunnel design contour line is greater than or equal to 2.8 m, blasting basically will not cause damage to the retained rock outside the tunnel design contour line. However, when the distance of the main wedge-cut hole from the tunnel design contour line is less than 2.8 m, blasting can cause extensive damage to the retained rock in the arch waist area. Peripheral hole blasting and post-blast drainage will result in more severe over excavation and affect the quality of blasting. Therefore, the optimum distance from the main wedge-cut hole to the tunnel design contour line in the study section of the Gonghe Village Tunnel is 2.8 m. The numerical simulation results are in agreement with the theoretical calculations.

figure 18

Damage to retained rock

5 Field tests

Adopting the theory and method of RHB for large cross-section tunnel blasting proposed in this paper, five on-site blasting tests were carried out in the research section of the Gonghe Village Tunnel, and the plan view of the hole network design, the actual blast hole layout plan, the hole network design section plan, and the schematic diagram of the over-undercutting measurement point layout are shown in Fig.  19 a–d. In order to ensure the hollowing effect, the collapse holes were drilled at a downward inclination of 5°–10°, and the blasting parameters are shown in Table  9 . After the completion of blasting, the quality of blasting was comprehensively evaluated in terms of the excavation effect of the working face, the number of blasting holes, the drilling time, the utilization rate of the blasting holes, the unit consumption of explosives, and the over and under excavation.

figure 19

Schematic diagram of aperture network design and monitoring point placement

Using the theory and method proposed in this paper for on-site blasting tests, the slot cavity can be successfully hollowed out, and the work surface is relatively flat, with basically no bulging belly phenomenon. After blasting was completed, the value of over undercut was measured at each measurement point, as shown in Fig.  20 . Data on the number of blasting holes, drilling time, utilization rate of blasting holes, unit consumption of explosives, and over and under excavation were collected, as shown in Table  10 .

figure 20

Measurement of values for over and under excavation

As can be seen from Table  10 , by adopting the theory and method of RHB for large cross-section tunnel blasting proposed in this paper, the number of blasting holes per cycle of step blasting in the study section is reduced by an average of 21 holes, the drilling time is saved by an average of 0.5 h, the explosive unit consumption is reduced by an average of 0.16 kg cm −3 , and the value of over excavation is reduced by an average of 6.6 cm. The main reasons for the better contouring results of the RHB method compared to the conventional blasting method are as follows: (1) the wedge-cut hole pushed out to form a two-way critical surface after blasting, which can effectively block the stress wave during the center holes blasting and reduce the damage of the retained rock mass. (2) The number of auxiliary holes deployed was reduced, effectively minimizing the cumulative damage to the retained rock mass. (3) When the RHB method is applied in the field, the peripheral holes are loaded with axial spacing, and the explosive energy is distributed more evenly.

The cost of explosives on site is RMB 8.4 per kg, and the cost of the digital electronic detonator is RMB 16 each, whereas the research section of the upper step blasting can reduce the digital electronic detonator cost by RMB 320 per cycle while reducing explosives cost by RMB 302.4 per cycle. The total length of the right width of the Gonghe Village Tunnel is 10,698 m; by adopting the theory and method proposed in this paper, it is expected to save 1783 h of drilling time and about RMB 2.22 million on the cost of explosives. After the optimization of the program, the unit consumption of explosives is still high, which is due to the higher compressive strength (109.33 MPa) and better integrity of the rock in the study section, which requires more energy to be consumed to form crushed and fractured zones.

6 Conclusions

This paper put forward an RHB theory and method for large cross-section tunnels. The calculation method of explosion energy dissipation under the action of coupled stress field is given, the critical energy dissipation density of rock under different stress states is determined, and the calculation method of the extrapolation distance of wedge-cut holes is constructed.

The critical crushing energy dissipation density of gray sandstone increases with the increase in peripheral pressure, and the change rule conforms to the logarithmic function relationship. The critical crushing energy dissipation density of the gray sandstone samples increases and then decreases with the increase in axial pressure, and the change rule conforms to the quadratic function relationship. The critical crushing energy dissipation density of the gray sandstone samples under the conditions of confining pressure of 4 MPa axial pressure of 25.00 MPa, confining pressure of 8 MPa axial pressure of 28.33 MPa, and confining pressure of 12 MPa axial pressure of 20.00 MPa reached maximum values of 7.01 J cm −3 , 7.38 J cm −3 , and 8.40 J cm −3 , respectively.

The optimum distance of the main wedge-cut holes in the study section of the Gonghe Village Tunnel from the tunnel design contour is 2.8 m. The number of drill holes per cycle of step blasting in the section used in this study was reduced by about 15.8%, the drilling time was reduced by an average of 0.5 h, the unit consumption of explosives was reduced by an average of 0.16 kg cm −3 , the value of over excavation was reduced by an average of 6.6 cm, and the cost of explosives was reduced by an average of RMB 622.4.

Availability of data and materials

Data will be made available on request.

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This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (52064008) and Guizhou Province High-level Innovative Talent Project (Qianke He Platform Talent-GCC [2022] 004-1).

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Xingchao Tian: proposing of the theory and methodology, designing of experimental plan, analysising of experimental data, writing original draft. Tiejun Tao: Editing and checking of manuscript. Caijin Xie: uniaxial compression test, triaxial compression test, brazilian splitting test, and dynamic shock compression test.

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Tian, X., Tao, T. & Xie, C. Research on the theory and method of reduced-hole blasting for large cross-section tunnel based on explosive energy dissipation. Geomech. Geophys. Geo-energ. Geo-resour. 10 , 96 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40948-024-00816-3

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To what extent are the views and experiences around disordered eating pathology or behaviours considered in the current qualitative research around obesity prevention in the United Kingdom?

  • Rachel Reed

Background: Eating disorders affect a large portion of the population of globally and within the United Kingdom, and so must be considered as a public health problem. While the topic of obesity is well explored from a public health perspective, eating disorders historically have not been. Literature suggests there may be a link between models of obesity and disordered eating behaviour, particularly Binge Eating Disorder. There has also been recent media attention around the introduction of obesity prevention legislation to make calorie labelling on food menu’s mandatory, particularly how this will affect the eating disorder community. The purpose of this systematic review was to examine the extent to which eating disorders are considered within obesity prevention research. The study aimed to synthesize the current research on obesity prevention, under the lens of whether any considerations toward the eating disorder community have been made in study designs and discussion, to identifying gaps in the literature and the absence of nuance in obesity prevention considering the complex relationship between obesity and eating disorders.

Methods: A PICO (Population, Intervention, Control, Outcomes) framework was used to refine key search terms by population, phenomenon of interest and context. Following this, searches were conducted across five databases to produce a list of articles which were then screened by title/abstract for relevance to search terms. The subsequent list was screened by full text for relevancy to the review question. A critical appraisal skills programme qualitative checklist was used to assess the quality of papers included in the final review. The final papers were then coded inductively to produce categories. Categories were then reviewed to create overarching themes, the relationship between categories and themes was then examined to produce the key findings of the results.

Results: Only one direct reference to eating disorders was identified from the data analysed. Four overarching themes were identified: holistic approaches to weight management, obesity stigma, responsibility and rationale for interventions.

Conclusion: There are significant gaps in the literature examining the relationship between eating disorders and obesity. Further research is required to examine the role of obesity-stigma as a barrier to accessing weight management services and the extent to which it exists amongst healthcare professionals.

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