QR:  Methodology and methods – what are they?

Methodology and methods – what are they?

When preparing a practice-based enquiry or research you will need to ask yourself how you will answer your research question or test your hypothesis. The methodology and methods section of a proposal or write-up lays out these ground rules and approaches you take.



The methodology is the overarching design of a research project. This is to do with how the researcher gathers and interprets knowledge. The methodology really is the researcher’s philosophical outlook on and beliefs about life, learning and knowledge, and as such it is the lens through which the researcher will look at answering the research questions. In a way this is a specific viewpoint and opinion that the researcher takes and a framework within which the researcher operates. As such this framework and philosophical outlook have to be declared openly and explained clearly. This section therefore is taking stock and describing how you view knowledge.



The methods are tools that allow researchers to gather data. Each and every method naturally has its advantages and limitations. Therefore, it is important to identify exactly what it is that you want to find out about in your research, as this will determine which methods are suitable and indeed best suited for your particular investigation. Also, to some extent the methods will be determined by your chosen methodology, in that certain frameworks lend themselves more to specific data collection methods than others.


Whichever methodological approach you take and whichever methods you choose, it is important to demonstrate that you have taken a conscious decision and are aware of potential drawbacks and critiques. To do  this effectively and successfully you need to refer to and apply to your own work research methodology literature; publications which discuss benefits and pitfalls in generic terms.


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