noun pl. meth·od·ol·o·gies
a. A body of practices, procedures, and rules used by those who work in a discipline or engage in an inquiry; a set of working methods: the methodology of genetic studies; a poll marred by faulty methodology.
b. The study or theoretical analysis of such working methods.
- The branch of logic that deals with the general principles of the formation of knowledge.
- Usage Problem Means, technique, or procedure; method.
- methˌod·o·logˈi·cal (mĕthˌə-də-lŏjˈĭ-kəl) adjective
Usage Note: Methodology
- methˌod·o·logˈi·cal·ly adverb
can properly refer to the theoretical analysis of the methods appropriate to a field of study or to the body of methods and principles particular to a branch of knowledge. In this sense, one may speak of objections to the methodology of a geographic survey
(that is, objections dealing with the appropriateness of the methods used) or of the methodology of modern cognitive psychology
(that is, the principles and practices that underlie research in the field). In recent years, however, 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.