From Sustainability Methods

Type Team Size
Collaborative Tools Software Personal Skills Productivity Tools 1 2-10 11-30 30+


After you have found a topic, the next step is to plan and design your research process. Many different factors need to be taken into account. In this section insights and ressources are provided that are helpful while designing the methodology of the thesis. A methodological design is one of the three central stages of any scientific endeavour that builds on a methodological approach. While analysis and interpretation are conducted after the empirical data has been gathered, designing a study is what hardwires the type of knowledge that is being gathered, and thus creates a path dependency on the overall scientific output, for better or worse. It is next to impossible to reduce the essence of all the diversity of different approaches to methodological designs into a text, yet there are some common challenges scientists face, and also mistakes that are to this day frequently made. The following resources and tips can help to make the research design more robust. Plan the research design properly and already consider how to analyse the data; it is helpful to address questions such as

  • How will the chosen methodology address the research question effectively?
  • What statistical analyses or qualitative methods will be used to analyse the collected data?
  • What knowledge do I want to generate and is my chosen method suitable for this?
  • Is the scope of the research design suitable for a Bachelor's or Master's thesis?

Peer-to-Peer: Collaborative Method Crafting

The exchange with peers can be useful in this phase to further develop the methodological design. For example, a person can present their design and peers ask questions about it and share their observations. Potential pitfalls or steps that have not been fully thought through can thus be recognised and improved. It is also very helpful to realise whether your research design is too extensive or too narrow. If you are stuck, you can brainstorm with peers to come up with new ideas. If you already know which method you are going to choose, look for peers who use similar methods. A rough idea is sufficient for the exchange and a rough visualisation of the study design is useful for the exchange. This makes it easier to explain your idea to other people.

Supervisor: Getting Approval

After you have already refined the research design with peers, you should present your methodological design to your supervisor, implement their feedback and get approval. Structuring the meetings is also useful so that you get the most out of the exchange with the supervisor. Use your visualised design and make notes of the issues you have questions about beforehand in order to obtain specific information. When you got the design approved, you can get started with your research and the data collection.

Technological Challenges: Software Preparation for Data Collection

Depending on your research design, install the software(s) you need and familiarize yourself with it before collecting data. Check out which programmes your university provides free of charge for students. Many universities also offer consultation sessions, workshops or information on their website about various softwares. These tipps can save you a lot of time later on if you have already started learning the basics before starting the analysis of the data.

Motivation and Organisation: Visualise and Energise

Visualise your methodological design, this will help you better understand the process as a whole, get an overview and explain it to peers. It can be a great break from other thesis related work, as you can be creative with the visualisation process. We recommend that you print out your design and your research question or simply draw it on paper. That way you can display it at your desk. Sometimes it happens that one wanders away from the actual topic while working on the thesis. Therefore, such visualisations at the workplace are helpful to focus on the core of your work and to continue working towards your objectives.

Helpful Resources

In the Wiki you also will find information that revolves around the basics of a methodological design when planing empirical research. There you can find useful tips that will help you to create a research design and avoid possible pitfalls. In addition, you should also have a look at the Design Criteria of Methods before planning the design. You can also find an overview of many methods in the section Methods.