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Methodology is the systematic, theoretical analysis of the methods applied to a field of study, or the theoretical analysis of the body of methods and principles associated with a branch of knowledge. It, typically, encompasses concepts such as paradigm, theoretical model, phases and quantitative or qualitative techniques.
A Methodology does not set out to provide solutions but offers the theoretical underpinning for understanding how a method, a set of methods or so called “best practices” can be applied to best effect.
It has been defined also as follows:
- "the analysis of the principles of methods, rules, and postulates employed by a discipline";
- "the systematic study of methods that are, can be, or have been applied within a discipline";
- "the study or description of methods".
Methodology as a buzzword
Many recent uses of the word methodology mistakenly treat it a synonym for method or body of methods. Doing this shifts it away from its true epistemological meaning and reduces it to being the procedure itself, 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 for doing those things. Using it as a synonym for method or set of methods, leads to misinterpretation and undermines the proper analysis that should go into designing research. The use of pre-packaged, 'ready-to-go' methods do not constitute a methodology and are no substitute for the necessary scientific search for the most appropriate method to approach a problem. .
Relation to paradigm and algorithm
In theoretical work, the development of paradigms satisfies most or all of the criteria for methodology. A paradigm, like an algorithm, is a constructive framework, meaning that the so-called construction is a logical, rather than a physical, array of connected elements.
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- Methodology Usage Notes, entry at Merriam–Webster
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- misuse of the word Methodology in technical contexts
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- 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
- 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.
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