Say I developed something called "Methodology for Establishing Remaining Life of Components". Basically, at work, we have components (or equipment). I wanted to develop a way to identify how much longer the components / equipment can last before they ware out and cannot be used.

It takes into account "the degree of damage currently in the component, the rate of future damage accumulation based on realistic operating scenarios, and the degree of damage required to cause failure." Taking these three into account, the remaining life of a component can be assessed. This is what I call "Methodology for Establishing Remaining Life of Components".

My question is, would this be considered a 'methodology for establishing remaining life of components' or just a 'method for establishing remaining life of components'? Or do you need more information to figure out if it is a method or methodology?

I cannot provide all the information for business purposes, but if additional information is required to figure out if it is a method or methodology, I will provide it.

  • @Ooker I don't think such an edit is encouraged on Stack Exchange.
    – user140086
    Jan 12, 2017 at 8:03
  • but isn't that essentially the whole question? Other information does not contribute any better knowing on it, just fluff. The answer does not need anything about the thing OP works on.
    – Ooker
    Jan 12, 2017 at 9:49
  • One characteristic of methodologies is that they tend to provide their own unique way of categorizing things. Since a methodology basically gets converted into a set of methods, you need instructions on how to assign each method to each thing. If what you developed contains such a classification system, then you probably should call it a methodology. If if just piggybacks of the way everyone already classifies things, then probably not.
    – Phil Sweet
    Jan 12, 2017 at 15:56

1 Answer 1


Looking at this reference here, methodology is defined to be

  1. a. A body of practices, procedures, and rules used by those who work in a discipline or engage in an inquiry; a set of working methods: the methodology of genetic studies; a poll marred by faulty methodology. b. The study or theoretical analysis of such working methods.
  2. The branch of logic that deals with the general principles of the formation of knowledge.

By this definition, what you are describing is not a methodology but a method.

A usage note from the book Theory and Reality in Financial Economics: Essays Toward a New Political Finance:

Methodology can properly refer to the theoretical analysis of the methods appropriate to a field of study or to the body of methods and principles particular to a branch of knowledge. In this sense, one may speak of objections to the methodology of a geographic survey (that is, objections dealing with the appropriateness of the methods used) or of the methodology of modern cognitive psychology (that is, the principles and practices that underlie research in the field).

In recent years, however, methodology has been increasingly used as a pretentious substitute for method in scientific and technical contexts, as in The oil company has not yet decided on a methodology for restoring the beaches.

People may have taken to this practice by influence of the adjective methodological to mean "pertaining to methods." Methodological may have acquired this meaning because people had already been using the more ordinary adjective methodical to mean "orderly, systematic."

But the misuse of methodology obscures an important conceptual distinction between the tools of scientific investigation (properly methods) and the principles that determine how such tools are deployed and interpreted.

which explains the difference between a method and a methodology.

Having said that, if your company in its documents and correspondence consistently refers to and uses methodology where perhaps method would be better, it is probably best to stick to the local custom. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

  • 1
    I've been learning about the Agile Methodology (agilemethodology.org). This methodology is an approach toward a problem, but does not mainly the methods for solving problem. A methodology is like a method of methods, a meta-method if you will. I agree with Brian that the OP is describing a method, not a methodology.
    – rajah9
    Dec 6, 2013 at 16:38
  • When in Rome, do as the Romans do. I agree, but just don't do their wrongs
    – Ooker
    Jan 12, 2017 at 7:40

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