I was reading an ELL question, Is there any good methodology to help remember sound-alike words?, and I wondered about the use of 'methodology'. Would someone please affirm or refute it? Would that question have been more accurate if it used the word "method" instead? In other words:

Is there any good method to help remember sound-alike words?

I did some research on this, and found:

Speaking of pet peeves, here’s another of mine: the regular misuse of the word “methodology” in academic papers. Methodology is the study of scientific methods, a branch of epistemology. Econometric techniques, strategies for gathering data, means of testing hypotheses, etc. are methods, not methodologies.

So, after all that, what do I mean by methodology?

Well I understand methodology to be theory; it’s theory about the research methods that will be used. It’s theory which underpins the decisions made about the researcher’s range of choices of – for example – what to study; who to study; where to study; which research tradition to work within; what knowledges to draw on; what to include and exclude, foreground and background and the consequences of this decision; what counts as data and why; relational and ethical concerns; and how to represent the findings/how to write the research.

And I see methods as the ‘tools’ that are used to do the research.

I understand methodology to be theory (it’s theory about the research methods that will be used), and I see methods as the ‘tools’ that are used to do the research.

Is my understanding accurate? Which would have been the better word to use in the title of the aforementioned question?

  • 1
    Regardless of how this question gets answered, I think the ELL question you cite should be left as originally written; here's why. – J.R. Aug 10 '14 at 8:56

Methodology and methods may have distinct meanings when discussing research, but for more general conversations, methodology can mean a set of procedures.

I think that the question would be better phrased as "Are there any good techniques to remember sound-alike words?" Methodology connotates a related set of procedures as part of a scientific inquiry, while techniques could be different ways of accomplishing a goal and have the connotation of using specialized knowledge or skill.

For example, "The chef taught me a technique for making perfect soufflés." or "The teacher explained several techniques for remembering homophones."

  • alt. "Is there a good method to remember sound-alike words?" – Pockets Aug 14 '14 at 1:35
  • Method is fine, but it is more of an organized system or plan. "The company developed a new method of packaging rice." Technique or tip is a better choice in my opinion for the intent of the question, because the advice is usually different for different pairs of homophones. – ColleenV Aug 14 '14 at 11:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.