Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Method Acting

PhD students in my school have a sort of progress review every six months, resulting in a written record that goes on the student’s file. These reviews vary from program to program (and from supervisor to supervisor), a diversity that interferes with the normal process whereby students gossip with one another and share tips about how best to prepare for such things… ;-P Last night, I received the following email from a colleague puzzling through the requirements for their upcoming review:

In preparing for my “candidature confirmation” – I notice that “methodologies” is distinguished from “methods”. I have not found any meaningful distinction between the two, other than methodology should be the *study* of methods. But I’m confused about methodology in the plural – I thought this was synonymous with method itself (like multimedia is synomymous with media). Am I missing something?

As someone who teaches “methodology”, I suppose I should know the answer to this question, but I confess I’m at a bit of a loss… My stab at the question was that “methodologies” might be the “to do list” component of method – what you’re planning to do, in the order in which you’re planning to do it – while “methodology” might be the logic that explains why your “to do list” can actually provide an adequate answer to the research question you’ve asked. But this is just a passing speculation on my part… Anyone have a more grounded answer (or a more entertaining speculation) for the question?

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