[Air-L] method / methodology

Annette Markham amarkham at gmail.com
Mon Feb 8 14:38:42 PST 2010

Hi Marj,

In my experience reading across a broad range of qualitative inquiry, the
terms get conflated.  But drawing the distinction as you do can actually be
very useful in teaching research methods courses.

I take a slightly different tack than you do, but I think more for the sake
of getting more precision at the method end and more reflexivity at the
methodology end.

For example, I would say that ethnography is more a methodology (or even an
epistemology) than a method.  It is useful to conceptualize as a broad
sensemaking tool, lens or approach.  An ethnographic project would involve
multiple methods of collection (such as participant observation,
interviewing) and methods of analysis (such as content analysis, discourse
analysis, narrative, metaphor, etc., etc.).  It would also include methods
and methodologies for interpretation, which can then loop back to the the
epistemological levels (say for instance, critical, feminist, postmodern,
structuralist, and so forth)

Separating the concepts helps one see that there are always multiple methods
operating at different levels of sensemaking, from the broad conceptual to
the specific.

FWIW, I don't think 'method' has disappeared ...and if it has for some
reason, I'll be soon getting on a soapbox to bring it back,


Annette N. Markham, Ph.D.
Senior Research Fellow, Internet Research Ethics
 Center for Information Policy Research
 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
amarkham at gmail.com

Co-Editor, International Journal of Internet Research Ethics

On Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 2:52 PM, Marj Kibby <Marj.Kibby at newcastle.edu.au>wrote:

> Has the distinction between method and methodology disappeared?
> I tell my media students that:
> A research method is the tool or tools that we use to make sense of a
> text/audience/institution - broadly ethnography. or observation and
> interview eg.
> A research methodology is the rationale for the project design; a
> combination of the philosophical approach, the supporting theory and the
> research method.
> Is use different in different places, or has 'method' disappeared? If so
> what do we now call 'methodology'?
> Regards,
> Marj
> Associate Professor Marjorie Kibby
> Discipline Convenor: Film, Media and Cultural Studies
> School of Humanities and Social Science
> The University of Newcastle  Callaghan NSW 2308 Australia
> Marj.Kibby at newcastle.edu.au
> +61 2 49216604
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