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Guideline 11

Methods and standards

To answer research questions, researchers use scientifically sound and appropriate methods. When developing and applying new methods, they attach particular importance to quality assurance and the establishment of standards.


The application of a method normally requires specific expertise that is ensured, where necessary, by suitable cooperative arrangements. The establishment of standards for methods, the use of software, the collection of research data and the description of research results is essential for the comparability and transferability of research outcomes.

Knowledge-oriented and method-oriented research

On the one hand, research methods are the tools which are used to drive research forward, on the other hand they can also be the subject of research.

Applying the method to a specific question using new data or boundary conditions results in a gain in scientific knowledge. The methods themselves are established and in many cases standardised in the form of generally accepted rules, descriptions or application software.

Another aspect is that of creative research into novel methods, or research into the further development of existing methods. Here, method development is driven by a research question or a concrete problem. Such methods are not yet standardised and are part of the research process. In this case, the methods used can and must deviate from what is known and established. Verification or validation and documentation are essential to the research process, as is an objective comparison with results gained using existing methods.

The comment belongs to the following categories:

GL11 (General)