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What's in a word?

Methodology, design and methods …

You will have noticed that the full title of this program mentions methodology, design and methods, and by now you might well be asking, what are the differences? Unfortunately they are not totally clear, and you will find the words used in different ways in different contexts, partly as result of different writers coming from different ways of thinking, and because, as we have seen, the paradigms behind quantitative and qualitative research are so opposite that they sometimes have no common language.

You will notice this during this short course in particular, as quantitative researchers, like Mike this week, naturally talk about ‘designs’, different ways of doing things, while qualitative researchers, like Annie, are much more likely to discuss ‘methodologies’ as a broad approach to a way of doing things. Both paradigms are likely to talk about ‘methods’ when discussing the nuts and bolts of how you go about research.

But sometimes you will find the terms used interchangeably, and even looking at the glossaries of research textbooks can be confusing, as terms are by no means standardised! What you will find, however, is that authors tend to be fairly consistent within their own writing – so they will always use the word they prefer rather than mixing and matching within a paragraph or section, so once you have worked out their favourite term you can be sure they will stick with it. This short course is a good example of that.

Your task

Have you come across any of these terms in your own area of practice? Has their use been consistent? Share your observations in the comments.

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This article is from the free online course:

Research Methodology 7005CPD

Coventry University

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