My field of research is finance. The methodology I apply, however, is much closer to economics.

Research papers tend to be very brief when introducing the methodology. That is, they often assume a high level of prior knowledge of their readership.

In my thesis, I'd like to stay concise (or "crisp", for that matter) yet, I have much higher page number requirements to fulfill.

So my question: how would you say introducing the methodology in a masters section should differ from a PhD thesis respective a journal article?

Is it okey for me to introduce the methodology more extensive but so that most people could more intuitively grasp the concept? (such as introducing a simplistic example -> I've actually even seen that in research papers).

Note: I'm not seeking a "cookie-cutter" kind of tutorial to write the section. I'm much more interested how more experienced people in academia would think about that issue.

In general I'm still quite unsure what differentiates a journal article from a masters thesis.

I am nearly doing the same as has been laid out in a prior article (with a few extensions) yet I am required to write 3x more pages.

1 Answer 1


The reason that the methodology section is short in the papers of many fields is that the methodology is standard. The innovation and interest is in the question asked and the implications that follow from the answers. In pure math for example, there is no methodology section at all in the vast majority of papers.

If you try to "pad" methodology to reach a certain page count it is very likely to be recognized as padding, to your almost certain detriment. Write a longer section only if your methodology is innovative in some way and the question at hand is otherwise difficult to approach.

Spend your words/pages on things that are more interesting. If you don't have that, you may not be ready to write as yet.

However, to answer the headline question, assuming you really want to know that, it, again, depends on the field.

In a field in which methodology is standardized, I'd expect that the difference between a masters and doctoral thesis would be minimal in the methodology section.

But in a field in which it is difficult to know how to approach difficult questions, I'd expect a masters thesis to be less sophisticated and more standardized than a doctoral thesis where the deeper questions are addressed, leading to, perhaps, the need for a more sophisticated methodology. It wouldn't be expected that a masters thesis, more time limited, would be able to address such questions and the students in doctoral programs have more insight, one hopes.

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