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I'm writing some internal documentation, which I cannot share, in which I outline several ways to accomplish a task. For example, updating software may be accomplished by:

  • Send a list of what the client has to the server and let the server decide what updates are needed
  • Get a list of everything that's available from the server and let the client decide what updates are needed

Is this section accurately called "methodology" because it's analyzing methods? Are these most appropriately "methods," "procedures," "paradigms", etc.? Note that they're not specific descriptions of what is to be done, only general overviews. I'm not really discussing the specific procedure that would be used, but the way in which the problem is approached.

I suppose what I'm looking for are guidelines and examples of when these terms are are appropriate.

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So the section contains a list of topics, each explaining a method of performing {x|y|z} ? –  mfg May 3 '11 at 19:34
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@mfg Each explaining a different method of achieving the same result, and the advantages and disadvantages of that approach. –  Tim Sylvester May 3 '11 at 21:17

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Methodology, n.:

1) the branch of philosophy that analyzes the principles and procedures of inquiry in a particular discipline

2) the system of methods followed in a particular discipline

While "discipline" seems to be used to refer to a field of expertise, rather than a particular task, I think you could stretch it to fit. But since you're not really analyzing the methods, and just mentioning them ("general overviews"), I would call the section Methods and not Methodology.

I think either methods or procedures would be appropriate terms, but not paradigms. A paradigm is best described as "a system of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices". Several methods could follow a particular paradigm, for example, but a paradigm is not a method itself.

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From your description, I would say that "Methodological discussion" would probably be a correct description. However, I think that a lot of readers may not appreciate the distinction between method and methodology. Something like "Discussion of methods" might be the most helpful.

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It depends on how much you are being paid.

An assistant will have a "method", an expert will have a "methodology" and an external consultant will have an entire “paradigm”

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+1 for the laugh :-) –  Pete Wilson May 4 '11 at 3:12

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