How does research methods differ from research methodology?
A methodology is more than a set of methods. Each method is a process to complete a particular goal. In research, it is usually a process to gather data, perform a test, or complete an analysis and come up with a conclusion. The easiest way to think of this is that each method is like one recipe. Starting with certain inputs (ingredients), it produces a specific result (a dish).
“Research methods” is a set of methods. It is not a complete methodology. A complete methodology includes the set of methods, and it also includes decision rules that tell the researcher which method to use under what conditions or circumstances.
For example, there are two common methods in statistic for choosing between an experimental hypothesis and the null hypothesis, the Fisher method and the Hypothesis Testing method. Both of these would be in a statistician’s research methods. But which method should be used to analyze the results of a specific experiment? That would be a decision rule. According to some guideline – it might be the field of study or sample size or something else – the decision rules says “In this situation, use this method; but in that situation, use that method.” Such a statement is a decision rule.
A research methodology contains both the set of research methods used and also the decision rules that guide the choice of which method to use in which situation.
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