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Writing a Method Section - UMass Lowell

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Method Section
Describing participants
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Steps in this tutorial
1) State the goals of this tutorial2) What is a method section3) What is in a method section4) What is the participants part of a method section5) What goes in the participants section6) The specific elements of a participants section7) Detailed example of a participants section
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Goals of this tutorial
Explain the purpose of a method sectionDemonstrate an example of the participants section of the method section
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Objectives
By the end of this tutorial you should be able toArticulate what the method section of a psychology paper isState what goes in that sectionState the components of a participants sectionDraft a participants section for your own work
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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What is a Method Section?
It is the part of the proposal or research paper that describes the methods used to collect the dataIt follows the introductionIt allows the reader to understand how data were collected, and to judge for herself if she thinks the methods were goodIt should be detailed enough for a good researcher to be able to replicateastudy from readingamethod section
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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What is the Method section?
The method section contains several sectionsParticipantsWho was in the studyProcedureWhat happened in the studyMeasures/MaterialsWhat measures were used—like surveysOr what materials—like special lab equipmentAnalysis section—not covered in these tutorialsDescribes statistical analysis
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Method Section-Participants
This tutorial demonstrates an example of aparticipantssectionOther tutorials cover theproceduresandmeasuressections
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Participants
Who was in the study?Or if it is a proposal, who will be in the study?How many participants?What type of sample?E.g. convenience, stratified random?Any important characteristics?Both men and women?Race/Ethnicity?Age group?
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Participants-HowMany
Aproposal should say exactly how many participants are intendedNot “about” how manyAcompleted studyshould say exactly how many were in the study when all data were collectedThis may actually end up including several different numbers if there are missing data
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Participants-Type of Sample
Whattypeof sample was it?Typical samples includeConvenience sampleSimple random sampleStratified random sampleBe sure you understand sampling definitionsConvenience samples are very commonSimple random and stratified samples are less common—and much harder to collect
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Participants-Important Characteristics
The demographics of your sampleThis includesAge—should include age rangeRace/ethnicity—should include numbers and/orpercentsGender—should include numbers and/orpercents
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Participants-Inclusion characteristics
Many studiesrequireparticipants to have certain qualities, for exampleMust have a diagnosisMust be a parent-child pairMust be marriedMust be of a certain income rangeMust be African AmericanStudies must clearly state if participantshadto have any particular characteristics or meet certain requirements
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Participants-Exclusion characteristics
Many studies exclude participants with certain qualities, for exampleMust have one diagnosis, but must not have another diagnosisMust be depressed but not schizophrenicMust not have a serious alcohol or drug problemMust not be taking psychiatric medicationStudies need to state clearly any exclusion characteristics or things that would mean that someone should not be in the study
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Participants Section-Example
Here is a participants section for a proposalNote that it is written in thefuturetenseParticipants will be a convenience sample of 30 couples who have been married or cohabiting at least 10 years, and are at least 30 years of age and under age 55. Both members of the couple must be employed full time outside the home. Couples may be of any sexual orientation, and any race or ethnicity. Couples with a reported or documented history of domestic violence will be excluded. There are no other exclusion criteria.
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Participants section-Example
Here is a participants description from a completed studyNote that because it is a completed study it is written in the past tenseParticipants were 42 adults who met criteria for a diagnosis of major depressive disorder. This convenience sample was 100% Hispanic American, and included 18 men and 26 women. Participants with current alcohol or drug problems or a history of psychosis were excluded.
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Notes on the Examples
Note that the examples are objectiveOnly the descriptions of the participantsNo opinions or explanations about why, for example, a certain type of person was chosenNote that the examples are both briefBecause participants sections only describe characteristics specific to or important for the study, they are often very shortNote they do not sayhowthe sample was collectedThey only statewhat sortof sample it wasHowit was collected goes in the procedure section
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Summary
This tutorial explained the purpose and parts of a method section of an empirical paper or proposalIt reviewedin detailthe specific components that may be in a participant sectionIt demonstrated two examples of participant sections
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Writing a Method Section - UMass Lowell