2.2 From question to method

2.2.3 Methodology

Once you have a clear picture of what you know (Page 2.2.1) and what you want to know (Page 2.2.2), it's time to think about how you will conduct your research. Methodology is the term used to describe the ways in which you gather data and acquire knowledge. Before you finalise your research question, you will need to know which methods are most appropriate for exploring it. Here is an overview, by group, of common data-gathering methods. 

Group Data-gathering methods Points to consider
1 Studies in Language and Literature
  • study (and comparison of) primary sources
  • reading of primary source(s) in light of secondary source(s)
  • analysis of stylistic devices / literary features in primary source(s)
  • study of translation
  • Appropriateness of source texts
  • IB requirements
    • Cat 1 - Studies of works in target language
    • Cat 2 - Compare a target-language work to a work in translation
    • Cat 3 - Studies in language (non-literary texts)
2 Language acquisition
  • study of a primary source (literary or non-literary)
  • reading of primary source(s) in light of secondary source(s) 
  • reading, viewing and listening of secondary sources
  • Appropriateness of source texts
  • IB requirements
    • Cat 1 - Language (linguistics)
    • Cat 2 - Culture and society: a) impact of culture on language or b) cultural artifact (non-literary text)
    • Cat 3 - literature
3 Individuals and societies
  • study of primary and secondary sources
  • questionnaires / surveys
  • interviews
  • fieldwork / observation
  • experiment 
  • comparison
  • statistical analysis
  • access to (scientific) articles and sources
  • time to collect surveys
  • time and nature of experiment 
  • ethical constraints
  • confidentiality and permission
  • health and safety

4 Experimental sciences

  • reading of primary and secondary sources
  • lab work / experimentation
  • observation
  • comparison
  • analysis
  • time and nature of experiment 
  • ethical constraints
  • animal rights
  • health and safety
5 Mathematics
  • reading of primary and secondary sources
  • gathering of data from other fields and disciplines
  • mathematical focus
  • application of formulas
6 The arts
  • reading / viewing of primary and secondary sources
  • comparison of primary sources
  • focus on medium: film, drama, oil on canvas, architecture, etc. 

  

Tips

  • Think about how much time your methods will require. How long will it take to run an experiment, organise a survey or read a novel?
  • Create a step-by-step plan or proposal (see next page) for your extended essay, which takes methodology into account. Submit this to your supervisor and discuss this during your initial or interim RPPF meeting.