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Methodology is the study of research methods, or, more formally, "'a contextual framework' for research, a coherent and logical scheme based on views, beliefs, and values, that guides the choices researchers
r other users R, or r, is the eighteenth letter of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet The ISO basic Latin alphabet is a Latin-script alphabet A Latin-script alphabet (Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet) is an alphabet that ...
make". It comprises the theoretical analysis of the body of methods and principles associated with a branch of knowledge such that the methodologies employed from differing disciplines vary depending on their historical development. This creates a continuum of methodologies that stretch across competing understandings of how
knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that is whether it can be demonstrated to correspond to e ...

knowledge
and
reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent within a system, as opposed to that which is only imaginary Imaginary may refer to: * Imaginary (sociology), a concept in sociology * The Imaginary (psychoanalysis), a concept by ...

reality
are best understood. This situates methodologies within overarching philosophies and approaches. Methodology may be visualized as a spectrum from a predominantly approach towards a predominantly qualitative approach. Although a methodology may conventionally sit specifically within one of these approaches, researchers may blend approaches in answering their research objectives and so have methodologies that are multimethod and/or
interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g., a research project). It draws knowledge from several other fields like sociology, anthropology, psychology, ...
. Overall, a methodology does not set out to provide solutions - it is therefore, not the same as a method. Instead, a methodology offers a
theoretical A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, G ...

theoretical
perspective for understanding which method, set of methods, or
best practiceA best practice is a method or technique that has been generally accepted as superior to any alternatives because it produces results that are superior to those achieved by other means or because it has become a standard way of doing things, e.g., a ...
s can be applied to the
research question A research question is 'a question that a research project sets out to answer'. Choosing a research question is an essential element of both Quantitative research, quantitative and qualitative research. Investigation will require data collection a ...
(s) at hand.


Definitions

Some definitions of methodology include: # "the
analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complexity, complex topic or Substance theory, substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better understanding of it. The technique has been applied in the study of mathematics and logic since before Ari ...

analysis
of the principles of methods, rules, and postulates employed by a discipline";''Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, Unabridged'', W. A. Neilson, T. A. Knott, P. W. Carhart (eds.), G. & C. Merriam Company, Springfield, MA, 1950
"Methodology Usage Notes"
entry at
Merriam–Webster Merriam-Webster, Inc. is an American company that publishes reference books A reference work is a work such as a book or periodical literature, periodical (or electronic publishing, its electronic equivalent) to which one can refer for infor ...

Merriam–Webster
# "the systematic study of methods that are, can be, or have been applied within a discipline"; # "the study or description of methods".


In natural sciences

The
natural science Natural science is a Branches of science, branch of science concerned with the description, understanding and prediction of Phenomenon, natural phenomena, based on empirical evidence from observation and experimentation. Mechanisms such as peer r ...

natural science
s (
astronomy Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and celestial event, phenomena. It uses mathematics, phys ...
,
biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, Development ...

biology
,
chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during a with other . ...

chemistry
,
geoscience Earth science or geoscience includes all fields of natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Ta ...
, and
physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular succession of eve ...

physics
) draw their study of methods through the
scientific method The scientific method is an empirical Empirical evidence for a proposition is evidence, i.e. what supports or counters this proposition, that is constituted by or accessible to sense experience or experimental procedure. Empirical evidence ...

scientific method
. This is a approach influenced through the philosophy of
empiricism In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all th ...
that posits knowledge (see
epistemology Epistemology (; ) is the concerned with . Epistemologists study the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge, epistemic , the of , and various related issues. Epistemology is considered a major subfield of philosophy, along with other major ...

epistemology
) can only be obtained through direct, verifiable observations. The scientific method offers a defined set of best practice to observe the world through established methods such as characterizations, hypotheses, predictions, and
experiment An experiment is a procedure carried out to support or refute a , or determine the or of something previously untried. Experiments provide insight into by demonstrating what outcome occurs when a particular factor is manipulated. Experime ...

experiment
ation. A key distinguishing feature of this methodology is that it sets out not to prove knowledge, or facts, "right", but rather it primarily sets out to prove something "wrong" or false (see
falsifiability Falsifiability is a standard of evaluation of scientific theories and hypotheses that was introduced by the philosopher of science Karl Popper in his book The Logic of Scientific Discovery, ''Logik der Forschung'' (1934). He proposed it as the ...
). A cornerstone of this is the
null hypothesis In inferential statistics, the null hypothesis (often denoted ''H''0) is that there is no difference between two possibilities. The null hypothesis is that the observed difference is due to chance alone. Using statistical tests it is possible to c ...
that states there is no connection (see
causality Causality (also referred to as causation, or cause and effect) is influence by which one Event (relativity), event, process, state or object (a ''cause'') contributes to the production of another event, process, state or object (an ''effect'') ...
) between whatever is being observed. That it is the researcher's position to do all they can to disprove their own hypothesis through relevant methods or techniques, documented in a clear and replicable process, to such an extent that they can disprove the null hypothesis and therefore accept the alternative hypothesis that there is a relationship between what they have observed.


In social sciences

The
social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist o ...

social science
s derive their study of methods from a broader continuum of methodologies (e.g.
qualitative research Qualitative research relies on data obtained by the researcher from first-hand observation, interviews, questionnaires (on which participants write descriptively), focus groups, participant-observation, recordings made in natural settings, docum ...
) than the
natural science Natural science is a Branches of science, branch of science concerned with the description, understanding and prediction of Phenomenon, natural phenomena, based on empirical evidence from observation and experimentation. Mechanisms such as peer r ...

natural science
s do.


Related concepts

Methodology has several related concepts: paradigm, algorithm, and method. The ''methodology'' is the general research strategy that outlines the way in which research is to be undertaken and, among other things, identifies the methods to be used in it. These ''methods'', described in the methodology, define the means or modes of data collection or, sometimes, how a specific result is to be calculated. ''Methodology'' does not define specific methods, even though much attention is given to the nature and kinds of processes to be followed in a particular procedure or to attain an objective. When proper to a study of methodology, such processes constitute a ''constructive generic framework'', and may therefore be broken down into sub-processes, combined, or their sequence changed.


Paradigm

A ''
paradigm In science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (procedural knowledge ...
'' is similar to a methodology in that it is also a ''constructive framework''. In theoretical work, the development of paradigms satisfies most or all of the criteria for methodology.See, for example,
Thomas Kuhn Thomas Samuel Kuhn (; July 18, 1922 – June 17, 1996) was an American whose 1962 book ' was influential in both academic and popular circles, introducing the term ', which has since become an English-language idiom. Kuhn made several cla ...
, ''The Structure of Scientific Revolutions'' (University of Chicago, 1970, 2nd ed.)


Algorithm

An ''
algorithm In and , an algorithm () is a finite sequence of , computer-implementable instructions, typically to solve a class of problems or to perform a computation. Algorithms are always and are used as specifications for performing s, , , and other ...

algorithm
'', like a paradigm, is also a type of ''constructive framework'', meaning that the construction is a logical, rather than a physical, array of connected elements. Any description of a means of calculation of a specific result is always a description of a method and never a description of a methodology. It is thus important to avoid using ''methodology'' as a synonym for ''method'' or ''body of methods''. Doing this shifts it away from its true
epistemological Epistemology (; ) is the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. The usual test for a statement of fact ...

epistemological
meaning and reduces it to being the procedure itself, or the set of tools, or the instruments that should have been its outcome. A methodology is the design process for carrying out research or the development of a procedure and is not in itself an instrument, or method, or procedure for doing things. The economist George M. Frankfurter has argued that the word ''method'' is not interchangeable for methodology, and in contemporary scientific discourse is a "pretentious substitute for the word method".George M. Frankfurter, ''Theory and Reality in Financial Economics: Essays Toward a New Political Finance''. He argues that using methodology as a synonym for ''method'' or ''set of methods'' leads to confusion and misinterpretation and undermines the proper analysis that should go into designing research.


See also

* *
Philosophical methodology Philosophical method (or philosophical methodology) is the study of how to do philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge ...
*
Scientific method The scientific method is an empirical Empirical evidence for a proposition is evidence, i.e. what supports or counters this proposition, that is constituted by or accessible to sense experience or experimental procedure. Empirical evidence ...

Scientific method


References


Further reading

* Berg, Bruce L., 2009, ''Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences''. Seventh Edition. Boston MA: Pearson Education Inc. * Creswell, J. (1998). ''Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions''. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications. * Creswell, J. (2003). ''Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches''. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications. * Franklin, M.I. (2012)
''Understanding Research: Coping with the Quantitative-Qualitative Divide''
London and New York: Routledge. * Guba, E. and Lincoln, Y. (1989). ''Fourth Generation Evaluation''. Newbury Park, California: Sage Publications. * Herrman, C. S. (2009). "Fundamentals of Methodology", a series of papers On the ''Social Science Research Network'' (SSRN)
online
* Howell, K. E. (2013) Introduction to the Philosophy of Methodology. London, UK: Sage Publications. * Ndira, E. Alana, Slater, T. and Bucknam, A. (2011).
Action Research for Business, Nonprofit, and Public Administration - A Tool for Complex Times .
' Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. * Joubish, Farooq Dr. (2009). ''Educational Research'' Department of Education, Federal Urdu University, Karachi, Pakistan * Patton, M. Q. (2002). ''Qualitative research & evaluation methods'' (3rd edition). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications. * Silverman, David (Ed). (2011). ''Qualitative Research: Issues of Theory, Method and Practice'', Third Edition. London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi, Singapore: Sage Publications * Soeters, Joseph; Shields, Patricia and Rietjens, Sebastiaan. 2014
Handbook of Research Methods in Military Studies
New York: Routledge.


External links


Freedictionary
usage note on the word Methodology
US National Library of Medicine
''Why Most Published Research Findings Are False'', John P. A. Ioannidis
Researcherbook
research methodology forum and resources {{Authority control Research