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The question here is what is the meaning of the two:

  1. Scan Method
  2. Scanning Method

My assumption is that the interpretations are, respectively:

  1. A method which describes how the scanning procedure is performed.
  2. A method which has the inherent ability to scan.

While this sounds logical to me, it was pointed out by a colleague that counter-examples exist. For example:

  1. Swimming Pool
  2. Parking Place

What, then, is the correct usage pattern in all of these cases?

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Both forms of scan/scanning could have either interpretation. Just be consistent in what you use. – Andrew Leach Feb 5 '13 at 14:02
Another usage (for either phrase) could be as a qualifier, to distinguish from another method that does not involve scanning. – DavidR Feb 6 '13 at 12:48

The example is similar to the use of sort/sorting algorithm. The OED defines a sort program as a program written to perform a sort. Similarly a scan method may be defined as a method for performing a scan. Scanning is defined as the action of performing a scan. Therefore, there is no difference between scan method and scanning method.

Maybe there are some differences in meaning depending on the field of application, but this is not a general view.

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