The use of the expert-novice technique in science education is examined critically. Four techniques that have been associated with expert-novice investigations are discussed with respect to their methodological limitations: intact groups comparisons, think-aloud procedure, retrospective studies, and naturalistic inquiries. All four, it is suggested, have serious limitations in their capability to inform instructional research. It is argued that experimental design is still the most appropriate method of use in assigning cause in instructional research involving novices and change in novices. Another question is raised regarding the appropriate target populations for expert-novice research, and it is suggested that the concept of competence should be substituted for expertise. Appropriate populations under this construct are students who have moved from novice to competence.