Method vs Methodology.

Note: This post is over 4 years old. It was first published in July 2009

The word “methodology” has a bit more gravitas than “method” doesn’t it. Sounds more sciency. Packs more punch in a research document.

Well, that’s sort of true, if you don’t mind completely misusing the term. “Method” and “Methodology” mean completely different things. This is what dictionary.com has to say about the matter:

“[…] In recent years, however, methodology has been increasingly used as a pretentious substitute for method in scientific and technical contexts, as in ‘The oil company has not yet decided on a methodology for restoring the beaches’. People may have taken to this practice by influence of the adjective methodological to mean ‘pertaining to methods.’ Methodological may have acquired this meaning because people had already been using the more ordinary adjective methodical to mean ‘orderly, systematic.’ But the misuse of methodology obscures an important conceptual distinction between the tools of scientific investigation (properly methods) and the principles that determine how such tools are deployed and interpreted.”

Something to bear in mind when you’re writing your next research proposal… :-)

6 comments