Methodology is the systematic, theoretical analysis of the methods applied to a field of study. It comprises the theoretical analysis of the body of methods and principles associated with a branch of knowledge. Typically, it encompasses concepts such as
A methodology does not set out to provide solutions—it is therefore, not the same as a method. Instead, a methodology offers the theoretical underpinning for understanding which method, set of methods, or [best practice]s can be applied to a specific case, for example, to calculate a specific result.
It has been defined also as follows:
The methodology is the general research strategy that outlines the way in which research is to be undertaken and, among other things, identifies the methods to be used in it. These methods, described in the methodology, define the means or modes of data collection or, sometimes, how a specific result is to be calculated. Methodology does not define specific methods, even though much attention is given to the nature and kinds of processes to be followed in a particular procedure or to attain an objective.
When proper to a study of methodology, such processes constitute a constructive generic framework, and may therefore be broken down into sub-processes, combined, or their sequence changed.
Any description of a means of calculation of a specific result is always a description of a method and never a description of a methodology. It is thus important to avoid using methodology as a synonym for method or body of methods. Doing this shifts it away from its true
Methodology and method are not interchangeable. In recent years, however, there has been a tendency to use methodology as a "pretentious substitute for the word method". Using methodology as a synonym for method or set of methods leads to confusion and misinterpretation and undermines the proper analysis that should go into designing research.