Method and Methodology: The Difference

This article explains the difference between method and methodology. These two terms are often interchanged although they mean different things. Read on to distinguish one from the other. Examples are provided to clarify the issue.

In writing the third chapter of the thesis or the methodology section, beginning researchers often confuse method with the methodology. Ironically, some of those students who have finished their undergraduate thesis still could not discern the difference between the two words. Some just say that they mean the same thing. Is this pronouncement correct?

Difference Between Method and Methodology

Looking carefully at the two words, notice that the method is a root word of methodology. Common sense prescribes that the method is just a part of the methodology. Logic dictates that the method gets defined first. What then is a method?

The “method” described in this discussion refers particularly to “research methods.” Research methods are the tools, processes, or ways by which researchers obtain data.

How are data obtained then?

method of projection
Time series analysis?

In social science research, the data gathered for analysis by researchers are obtained using interview, focus group discussion, participant observation, survey, among others. In the natural sciences, data may be obtained using various techniques. For example, an ecologist might want to mark and recapture animals for population studies. A taxonomist might wish to count the scales of fish to distinguish one species from another (morphometrics). A geologist might want to measure the size of soil particles. Or a botanist might want to identify and count all trees in a quadrat. All of these activities refer to methods.

On the other hand, methodology still refers to method but with an extra “ology” at the end of the word. Ology means a discipline of study or branch of knowledge. Therefore, methodology as a combination of ology and method is essentially a study of methods.

Now, methodology suggests that there is a need to study research methods. In writing a thesis or research, it is important to consider what methods are appropriate.

How then shall you know which method to use in your particular study? The answer is simple. You just have to get back to the very reason you embarked on the study.

Where should you look for it?

Of course, the ultimate guide in your research journey is the very reason you are conducting that study. What for is the study? What are its objectives?

These questions are easily answered by simply going back to your first chapter or introduction and reading what you have written in your problem statements or objectives. The first question will be replied to by the first method you will use to satisfy its information requirements. The first method may also answer the next question, or there may be a need for you to devise or find another method.

For example, here are problem statements and the corresponding methods to be used:

Statement of the Problem
Method
1. What is the profile of the respondents in terms of age, gender, and educational attainment?1. Questionnaire
2. What is the level of awareness of the community on coastal ordinances?2. Focus group discussion
3. What infrastructures are indicators of the community’s adaptation to soil erosion?3. Photo-documentation, video footages
4. What is the distribution range of the monkey population?4. Remote sensing
5. Is there a significant difference between blood pressure before and after exercise?5. Blood pressure readings using a sphygmomanometer

Having listed the methods in the above table, you should justify why you used such methods and the guiding principles for using those methods. Describe in detail how the methods will be used to answer the questions you have posed in your study. A suitable method can be replicated or repeated in a similar way. This means that you will have to:

1. define your assumptions,
2. state where you will conduct your study and why you chose that site,
3. determine the specific members of the population and decide how many of them will be involved,
4. specify what statistical tests will have to be applied,
5. describe what procedure or procedures you will take to gather the data, and
6. identify the materials to be used, among others.

The whole thing pertains to your methodology.

If you have written the methodology in such a manner that the reader understands the why and how of your chosen methods, then you have succeeded in writing the third chapter. The rest of the paper should reflect the application of the research methodology.

References

Cram, F. (2013). Method or methodology, what’s the difference? Retrieved 11 February 2015 from http://whanauoraresearch.co.nz/news/method-or-methodology-whats-the-difference/

Gabriel, D. (2011). Methods and methodology. Retrieved 11 February 2015 from http://deborahgabriel.com/2011/05/13/methods-and-methodology/

©2015 February 15 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (February 15, 2015). Method and Methodology: The Difference. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2015/02/15/method-methodology-difference/

15 thoughts on “Method and Methodology: The Difference”

  1. It had really helped but I would have wished to get about 10 differences between them. If possible send them through my email, I will appreciate.

  2. Dear Dennis, thank you for visiting Simplyeducate.me. I am sharing my knowledge through this website. If ever I write about your suggestion, this will be published in this website for everyone to read.

  3. it was a good explanation about method and methodology. And one more thing that I want to know is that if a person used only one method in his study and he titled methods… is this a wrong usage in a thesis or a journal?… and if the same person used two or three methods and put the title method instead of methods or methodology…is it wrong?

  4. Dear Jacob,
    Thanks for reading this article. I believe that the point you raised is just a matter of semantics. If we take the grammatical approach, we could say that if a person only used a method and that he titled that section methods, then that would be incorrect. But there are scientific journals that do not mind such grammatical correctness because under the method section, there may be several methods that were actually used by the researcher, or vice-versa. In general, I would say these are not really things we should worry about. What is important is we put across whatever new findings we want to share.

  5. Thanks for the published response which shows the difference between Method and Methodology. I really appreciate it.

  6. Thanks a lot on differntiating research method from methodoloy! Do the same on research design and methodology

  7. Thank you very much for your explanation on such confused words.I got really good understanding from it. But try to put again on difference of research design and proposal also.I apreciate it.thanks!

  8. really appreciate on the difference btwn method and methodolgy….but publish the format of research proposal.

  9. Thanks a lot. Amongst very many others, this article has distinguished method from methodology… and simply so!

  10. Thank you very. I’ve got a good grabs of the difference between methods and methodology. With this knowledge would i be right to say in my own words that ”methods” are the contents of chapter 3 of our thesis while ”methodology” explains what and how appropriate means and methods will be to a certain or given subject?

  11. Dear Dora, the contents of Chapter 3 varies across universities, but usually, it describes the methods or methodology section. In a away, your definition of methodology would be acceptable, but you need to expound on it for clarity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *