Method section prompt
These prompts are complementary to the lecture material on the Method section; make
sure to review Week 10 slides and the sample papers in the Lab Manual.
The assignment you hand in will be in essay form and in APA Style! (No need for title
page; DO include References if you have any citations in your Method text. Feel free
to just update and include the References section from your Lit Review, even if it
includes references that are not cited in your Method section.)
You will write a complete Method section in enough detail that someone else could
exactly replicate your study knowing only what is in your Method section. Method
sections vary greatly in length depending on the complexity of the study design and the
kind of study being described. Often, even if a scholarly journal limits the length of
manuscripts they will consider for publication, the Method and Results sections will be
allowed unlimited length because they are the key record of the research.
Your Method section should include several sub-sections, as described elsewhere in this lab
manual: Participants, Design, Procedure, and Materials. Be sure to properly cite any
procedures you derived from previous studies or materials you report using (e.g., test
instruments). Also be sure to describe procedures for obtaining and documenting informed
consent for participation from your research participants, and state that your study
protocol was approved by the IRB.
If you approach requires any special analytic procedures (e.g., data preprocessing for a
neuroimaging or electrophysiological study), be sure to describe those procedures in detail.
If your study requires statistical approaches more complicated than correlations or t-tests,
you should describe the statistical approaches you (would have) used. For instance, if you
performed a study examining the effects of region and season of birth on fluid intelligence
as measured by the Raven’s Progressive Matrices (RPM) test, you might say:
RPM (Raven, 1981) scores were entered into a two-way ANOVA with the factors
birth region (levels: New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Southwest, Mid-west,
Plains, West, Pacific Northwest) and birth season (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall).
Main effects and interactions were assessed using the SPSS software package (IBM
Corp., Armonk, New York).
As you write your Method section, compare the Procedure and Materials against your
hypotheses. Do you have everything you need to answer your research question? Are you
collecting data that is not relevant to your research question? There should be a purpose to
everything you do in your study.
Most importantly, be specific at all times. You are writing a Method section as if you have
already conducted your study, so numbers of participants and other details should be
concrete, not approximate.
Method section checklist
The Method section describes in detail how the study was conducted. In this
section, you must provide enough detail that another researcher could replicate
your study. It has a number of sub-sections:
• If using non-humans, this sub-section is labeled Subjects, instead.
• Tell how many were in each condition of the study.
• Explain from what population(s) they were recruited and how.
• State the demographic composition of the sample as appropriate (e.g.,
the sex, ethnicity, education level, etc.).
• If applicable, explain your inclusion and/or exclusion criteria.
Inclusion criteria are characteristics that the potential participants
must have if they are to be included in the study. Exclusion criteria
are the characteristics that disqualify prospective participants from
inclusion in the study.
• At minimum, sex and age of the participants should be described.
• Explain if/how the participants were compensated for participation in
• Note that your participants all gave informed consent to participate in
the research (or explain assent or exemption from informed consent)
under a protocol approved by the IRB.
• Describe the overall design of the study, including any detail that
would be needed if someone wants to repeat your work.
• State clearly the independent and dependent variables and how they
were operationalized in this work.
• Specify the type of design—for instance, experimental, quasiexperimental, or correlational; cross-sectional or longitudinal; withinparticipants, between-participants, or mixed.
• For a design in which the appropriate analysis is not self-evident,
explain how the data you collect will be analyzed. In other words,
what conditions will you compare? Or, what variables will be used as
predictors vs. what materials will serve as outcome (criterion)
• Explain the experimental conditions of the study (for experimental or
quasi-experimental studies) and how they were organized.
• Be clear about which variables were studied between-participants
• State what happened in your study/to a participant in your study,
generally in chronological order.
• Walk the reader through the procedures you used to collect the data.
• State how the participants were selected.
• If relevant, describe how participants were assigned to groups.
o What, in appropriate detail, did the participants do at each
point during the study?
o What was the typical amount of time the participants were in
o If there was more than one session, how long did each session
last and how much time intervened between the sessions?
• This section is only complete when someone else could use it to
replicate your procedures.
• Describe any standard tests/instruments/measures/materials you
may have used, with appropriate citations.
• If you use standardized surveys or questionnaires, provide
information about reliability and validity.
• Describe in greater detail any special materials that you put together
for the study (though complete copies of these materials should be
deferred to an appendix unless they are extremely short).
• Describe any special apparatus used in the study or any special
measures you may have employed.
• Just as you did for the procedure, you should use the standard that the
reader needs to know enough about what happened such that they
could do it, too, based only on the information in your paper.
• The Method section continues immediately after the end of the Introduction;
that is, it does not start a new page (unless it just works out that way).
• The word “Method” is centered on the page, in bold print, and capitalized
(and without the quotation marks used here).
• Each of the sub-sections begins with the appropriate heading (e.g.,
• The sub-section headings are each flush left on the page and in bold print.
• Each sub-section immediately follows the end of the previous one (that is,
they do not start on a fresh page unless it happens to work out that way).
Method section prompt