I'm going to apply for a Master's program. Although I'm not going to change my general field of study, I'm going to change my 'track' (from Information Technology to Geoinformatics).

In the application form of the aforementioned Master's program, I've been asked to specify my area of interest and state a research topic for my Master's thesis and describe my methodological approach. I honestly have no idea how to fill this part, how can I choose an area of interest and more importantly a topic for my thesis when I haven't even started the studies? Besides, can someone please kindly tell me what the part about the "methodological approach" means? (Is it talking about choosing one approach between Qualitative, Quantitave, etc. approaches? If so, is it enough to just write down the name and add no details?)

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    How you plan to tackle the topic: Topic: "Home-made delicious mashed potatoes." Methodology: "Purchase ingredients, study available recipes, and then repeatedly make and taste test until I can consider it delicious."
    – Compass
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 20:50

3 Answers 3


I’m not super familiar with the specific field you’re researching, but I would say that there are three general approaches to methodology in the IT space: quantitative/scientific, qualitative, and artefact-oriented. Each of these general approaches, in turn, would have specific methodologies encompassed within them (for instance the Design Science Research Methodology within artefact-oriented research).

With quantitative/scientific, you’re starting off with one or more hypotheses, gathering numerical data, and then using that data to perform statistical analyses to try to disprove your hypotheses.

With a qualitative approach, you’re taking an exploratory approach to gather categorical data, usually from humans, and then examining it to see if you can spot any patterns within it, without performing any statistical analysis. This might take the form of examining user behaviour interacting with a computer program, or analysis of the contents of social media posts.

With an artefact-oriented approach, you’re looking at a problem and existing methods of solving it, designing a new method that you think might be better (or applying a method from a different area to the problem), building an implementation of this new method, and then evaluating its performance.


You can't really choose your topic definitively until you have "mastered" the related material, but you can give a strong, well-informed description of what your topic might be.

A methodological approach is the approach you will take to exploring your topic. For example: "I will perform neural network simulations of the PFC and BG of a decision making agent while recording neuronal activity and behavior. I will supplement this computational approach with validation of behavioral results in humans." The approach should be carefully thought out (as the above example was not) and worded to make it sound nontrivial yet feasible within the scope of your program.


A methodological approach may refer to way in which a researcher intends to carry out his/her research from the specified or known methods in a discipline

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