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January 15, 2012

What is the difference between research methods and research methodology?

by pashtoonkasi

By Rakhshanda Rehman, Talha Khawar

“Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.”
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi


As defined by Gina Wisker 1,

“Methods are the vehicles and processes used to gather data.”

“Methodology is the rationale and philosophical assumptions underlying a particular study rather than a collection of methods, though methodology leads to and informs the methods.”

Research methods, therefore, are the means, the instruments or the tools a particular investigator chooses to accumulate the information required to answer his research question. We all have used at least one or more of these tools for our research projects. These, for example, include questionnaires, interviews, medical records, or audiovisual materials. See the chapter on methods of data collection to learn more about these tools.

On the other hand, research methodology, in simpler terms is the manner or the approach the investigator adopts in answering his/her research question.

As simply stated by Grix 2,

“A project’s methodology on the other hand is concerned with the discussion of how a particular piece of research should be undertaken and so can be best understood as the critical study of research methods and their use.

The term refers to the choice of research strategy taken by a particular scholar as opposed to alternative research strategies.”

The section of methodology should therefore not only propose the strategy for answering the particular research question or hypothesis but also a detailed account of all the different methods that would be used to collect the required data and information. A comparison with other methods should be made and the choice of the particular method should be explicitly stated and backed by arguments.

Methodology, therefore, in simpler terms is the strategy or the approach adopted by the researcher or investigator.


Tasks for the Researcher:

ü  Try to differentiate between the terms ‘research methods’ and ‘research methodology’.

ü  Know the components of the section of research methodology.


References and Further Reading:

[1] Wisker, Gina. (2008). The Postgraduate Research Handbook: Second Edition (Chapter 6 Research Methodologies , page 65-75). Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: PALGRAVE MACMILLAN, PALGRAVE Study Guides.

[2] Grix, Jonathan. (2004). The Foundations of Research. (Chapter 2 : page 30-32) Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: PALGRAVE MACMILLAN, PALGRAVE Study Skills.

From the Book; Research: What, Why and How? A treatise from Researchers to Researchers. 

Read more from Research Methods

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