Submitted by bobmorgy on April 2, 2007


If Methodology means “they study of different methods” (in the same idea as Biology or Geology) then why do people always say “Let me explain our methodology” instead of just saying “Let me explain our methods”?

Am I wrong or do I have the right to be annoyed!


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Methodology is an entire, whole system of methods. If, say, a corporation studied itself, it would be correct to say "our methodology includes this that and the other," having devoted, say, 100 employees across three departments to churn out one prospectus.

But, as most everybody here suggests--and I agree--it's probably better to simply say "Our method is as such..." or "Our methods are as such...".

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By the way, Whiny, just like methodology, the words utilize, verbalize, etc. are real words with real definitions that are different from use, say, etc. I agree, they may often be pretentiously misused, but that doesn't mean that they can't be used correctly and appropriately.

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I came across this while looking for information about the exact definitions of method(s) and methodology. I thought it was an interesting answer to your question.

"In recent years, 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."

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I think methodology is used by badly educated sociology types who are trying to sound more educated than they are. It is of a piece with utilize, verbalize and many other pseudo latin forms - and it is pretentious!

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Anonymous' dictionary definitions and mr. rosewater's comment are both absolutely correct in my opinion. "Methods" and "methodology" are different words with different meanings. When they are substituted for one another, to me, that represents a misunderstanding of an important and valuable semantic distinction. There was a similar post a while back about the words "social" and "societal." I feel the same way about these two words: they are different. Substitution of one for the other ignores a useful semantic distinction.

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"Methodology" does sound more important, but I don't think that's the only reason people use it where they could use "methods". If a person or group has a specific set of "methods" they use repeatedly for a purpose, it is very well a methodology. "A system of methods" is distinct from the methods (or steps) individually. In common dialogue, I believe both to be correct, but the set of methods (ie methodology) is different from each method, so there is a slight difference, no?

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Right, totally. "Methodology" sounds more important, right? ;-)

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You're totally right

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A noun
1 methodology
the system of methods followed in a particular discipline

2 methodology, methodological analysis
the branch of philosophy that analyzes the principles and procedures of inquiry in a particular discipline

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