The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd


  • Lawrence A. Boland
Reference work entry


The term ‘methodology’ refers to the study of methods, usually, the study of scientific method. For most of this century, the concept of a scientific method was that of a multi-stage recipe. In particular, it was the one alleged to be used by successful scientists for more than 300 years. The typical high-school science textbook started with a description of this allegedly successful, and thus proper, method of scientific investigation. It said, for example, that all science begins, as the first step, with the collection of data. The second step was the formation of an ‘hypothesis’ concerning the collected data and the third step was the formation of an experiment to test this hypothesis. If the hypothesis passed the test it was given the title of a ‘theory’. If the theory survived the tests of other scientists, perhaps after years, then the theory was called a ‘Law’. The key lesson that aspiring scientists were thereby taught was that if they were methodologically careful collecting their data and forming and testing their hypotheses, they were assured of success – and perhaps even rewarded with fame.

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence A. Boland
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