[Air-L] Most of use Methods; few study Methodology

Murray Turoff murray.turoff at gmail.com
Tue Feb 9 20:51:48 PST 2010

A methodology is a collection of methods having some application or
philosophical basis.

qualitative methods of evaluation express a methodological approach that is
contrasted often and sometimes fought over with respect to quantitative
evaluation methods
There are very different methodological approaches to learning for example
and a lot of methods for learning under each learning methodology.
there is along history of fights in Information Systems over what are the
more appropriate methodologies.

I think the best work on methodologies for learning in IS is C. W.
Churchman's book on the "design of inquiry systems" where he classifies
inquiry processes (or the design of information systems) according to the
degree to which the user accepts a given philosophy of what is truth or
evidence for a truth:  Leibnitz, Locke, hegel, Kant, and Singer.   Under
each of these "methodologies" you have very different methods for designing
and inquiry system using methods from various scientific areas like the
physical sciences, the social sciences, the humanities, and engineering.

Dealing with methogologies is a much more challanging problem than dealing
with methods.  It is like having to have a blueprint for building something
using different tools and materials.  Some of us find it easier to use the
same tool for everything, my tool/method bias has always been Delphi!   Some
build models, do cost benefit studies, use surveys, do experiments, others
do interviews, etc.  the field you came from often indoctrinates you in the
current acceptable set (methodology) of methods and does not always explore
outside the boundary of the current paradigm.   There is a picture on my
website of a painting from 1572 that expresses this paradox of
interdisciplinary research and studies.   The Vienna fine art museum gave me
permission to use it in a paper and on my website.  If you click on it you
can get a large view of the painting.

Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Information Systems, NJIT
homepage: http://is.njit.edu/turoff

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