How To Write A Research Paper Methodology Section: An Example

When you are writing a research paper, there are many components that make up the whole thing. If you are writing an APA style research paper, one of the sections you will need to include for your paper is the methodology section.

The methods section is where you include all information on the methods and the procedures that were used in your experiment or study. You need to provide enough detailed information on everything involved including the research design, materials, equipment, participants, and variables, that another person could recreate your experiment by reading that section.

The methods section should use different subheadings. The basic subheadings include:

  • Participants
  • Materials
  • Design
  • Procedure
  • Participants
  • Here is where you describe who your participants were, how many of them there were, and how you selected them.

    For example: “we randomly selected 50 college males near the University of Colorado”

  • Materials
  • Here is where you describe the materials you used. This can include books, testing instruments, images, a questionnaire, etc…

    For example: “two images were presented to the participants to assess their understanding of color retention”

  • Design
  • Here is where you describe which type of design you used. You should specify any variables too.

    For example: “the experiment used a 2x3 between-subjects design. The independent variable was age”

  • Procedure
  • Here is where you detail the steps that you took for the procedure. You should explain what the participants did, how you collected your data, and the order that the steps occurred.

    For example: “one examiner interviewed each male individually at the psychology lab 1 in a single session that lasted an average of ten minutes. The examiner explained to the men that he would be shown two images and asked questions about each image after each image was shown. All of the sessions were videotaped so that the data could be coded at a later date.


  • When writing your methodology section, always use the past tense.
  • Give enough information that the experiment could be replicated exactly. But avoid any unnecessary information.
  • Use proper APA format when you are writing your sections and subsections.
  • Proofread the first draft and remove any errors and grammatical issues. Do not rely merely on a spell checking program. Read through each section and make sure it agrees with the other sections. This information will appear in other areas of your paper so it needs to be accurate here.

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