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Research Method vs. Research Methodology: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 7, 2023
Research method refers to the techniques for gathering data while research methodology involves the philosophy, approach, and principles behind conducting research.

Key Differences

The research method primarily deals with the “how” aspect of a research process. It encompasses various steps, tools, and techniques utilized in conducting research. Specifically, research methods could include interviews, surveys, or experiments, and are the techniques researchers utilize to collect data. On the other hand, research methodology, though it incorporates research methods, goes a step further by including philosophical perspectives and underlying theories that guide a research study.
The distinction between a research method and research methodology is not only pertinent but also foundational in research processes. Research method is the way in which the data is collected for the research, for example, a survey or a case study. Research methodology, conversely, extends beyond methods to include an understanding and explanation of the rationale behind the methods used. It addresses the research methods and rationalizes why a particular method might be chosen over another in the context of a study.
A research method, focused and straightforward, seeks to elucidate the ways data can be obtained. For example, a qualitative research method would specify data collection through means such as interviews or focus groups. Meanwhile, research methodology envelops a wider conceptualization of research and extends to the philosophy behind the method. It not only encompasses methods but also the rationale, the philosophical stance of the researcher, and the criteria for selecting a particular method.
In application, a research method can be visualized as the practical technique utilized to collect and analyze data. It's the hands-on component of research that is tangible and specific, such as conducting a questionnaire to gather statistical data. Contrastingly, research methodology transcends the tangible and ventures into the theoretical aspect of research, encapsulating the systematic strategy, and overarching design that underpins the research method, guiding how research should be undertaken.
When researchers engage in utilizing a research method, they're executing a specific task—like sending surveys to a targeted audience. Research methodology stands as the framework that houses various research methods, providing the philosophical and theoretical guideline and consistency that research projects require for reliable and valid results. This subtle yet vital distinction ensures that the research method is underpinned by a robust research methodology, providing a sound rationale for the chosen methods.

Comparison Chart


Techniques or procedures used to gather and analyze data.
Encompasses the philosophy and principles guiding the research.


On the practical process of data collection.
On the theoretical aspect, rationale, and philosophy of research.


Narrower, limited to the technique of data collection.
Broader, encompassing methods and the rationale behind them.


Surveys, experiments, interviews, etc.
The theoretical framework, approach, and principles of research.

Involvement in Research

Direct, as it is practically engaged in data collection.
Indirect, as it guides the choice and application of methods.

Research Method and Research Methodology Definitions

Research Method

A procedural step to acquire, analyze, and interpret data.
Utilizing case studies as a research method provided in-depth insights into the subject matter.

Research Methodology

Encompassing the principles, rationale, and strategies underpinning research actions.
An ethical research methodology was adopted to ensure the dignity and rights of participants were respected.

Research Method

A technique employed to gather empirical evidence.
She utilized interviews as her primary research method to obtain qualitative insights.

Research Methodology

A systematic approach to understanding, explaining, and validating the research process.
Her research methodology focused on ensuring consistency and reliability in data collection.

Research Method

The specific actions or steps taken to systematically collect data.
The researcher chose a survey as the research method to gather data on consumer preferences.

Research Methodology

The doctrine or guiding principles behind the selection and application of research methods.
The research methodology was criticized for not aligning with the study’s objectives.

Research Method

The practical technique used to obtain research data.
The psychologist employed observation as his research method to understand behavioral patterns.

Research Methodology

The overarching strategy and rationale guiding a research project.
His research methodology was rooted in a positivist approach, valuing statistical data.

Research Method

A structured way to conduct research activities and gather information.
Employing experiments as a research method allowed for controlled variables and quantitative data analysis.

Research Methodology

The theoretical framework and principles directing how research is conducted.
The study followed a qualitative research methodology to explore human experiences.


Can a research project employ multiple research methods?

Yes, a research project can utilize multiple methods, such as surveys and interviews, to enhance data richness and reliability.

What is a research method?

A research method refers to the specific techniques used to collect and analyze data in a research project.

What components are essential in defining research methodology?

It includes philosophical stance, theoretical framework, research design, rationale, and selected research methods.

How does one choose an appropriate research method?

The choice is often influenced by research questions, objectives, researcher’s expertise, budget, and ethical considerations.

Are some research methodologies superior to others?

No single methodology is superior; the appropriateness of a methodology depends on the research questions and context.

How does research methodology differ from research method?

Research methodology encompasses the philosophy and principles guiding the research, while research method pertains to the specific techniques for data collection.

Why is understanding research methodology important for researchers?

It helps researchers make informed choices about research design, methods, and ensure the coherence and validity of the study.

How should a researcher document their research methodology in reports?

The methodology should be detailed in research reports, explaining the rationale, chosen methods, data analysis, and ethical considerations.

Can research methods be categorized?

Yes, research methods are often categorized into quantitative and qualitative methods based on data type and analysis.

What role does ethics play in choosing a research method?

Ethics is crucial, ensuring that chosen methods protect participants' rights, privacy, and well-being during research.

How does a researcher justify their chosen research method?

Researchers typically justify method choices through research questions, objectives, existing literature, and feasibility.

Is research methodology vital for all kinds of research?

Yes, research methodology provides the guiding framework and rationale for choosing and employing specific research methods.

Can research methodology influence the outcome of research?

Absolutely, the chosen methodology guides the selection of methods and approach, impacting the type and quality of data obtained.

What are examples of research methods?

Surveys, interviews, observations, and experiments are typical examples of research methods.

Is it possible to change the research method during the study?

While it’s possible, changes to research methods mid-study should be cautiously implemented to avoid validity and reliability issues.

Can research methodology be mixed?

Yes, mixed-methods research utilizes and combines both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.

What are the limitations of choosing a single research method?

Utilizing a single method might limit data depth, breadth, and triangulation opportunities, potentially affecting outcome robustness.

How can biases be minimized in chosen research methods?

Employing strategies like random sampling, triangulation, and ensuring reflexivity can help minimize biases in research methods.

Can research findings be valid if unconventional methods are used?

Yes, if unconventional methods are appropriately justified, applied systematically, and validated, findings can be valid.

Is the choice of research methodology influenced by the research audience?

Yes, considering the research audience’s expectations, familiarity, and preferences can influence methodology and method choices.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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