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The approaches to reasoning for research – Inductive vs Deductive

What are the differences between the approaches?

There are two approaches in reasoning for research. Accordingly, the characteristics of the research process shall change. The two approaches are inductive reasoning & deductive reasoning. Inductive approach involves detailed observation of the world, which moves towards more abstract generalisation and ideas. The deductive reasoning on the other hand; explores a known theory or phenomenon and tests if that theory is valid in given circumstances. It may be noted that the theory which is tested in the deductive approach is generated by the inductive approach of research!

InductionDeduction
Generalisation of new theory emerging from dataAimed at testing theory (the theory which is formed as a result of inductive research; may be tested)
Begins with research question, and narrows to the scope of the studyBegins with a hypothesis (Hypothesis are assumption that are made based on the existing theory; which will be tested as a part of research)
Focuses on exploring new phenomenon, or looking at previously researched phenomena from a different perspectiveFocuses on causality (Causality is the principle that everything has a cause).
In this approach, the focus is on understanding cause & effect relationship.
Usually associated with qualitative research. However, can be associated with quantitative research even though rarely.Usually associated with quantitative research. However, can be associated with qualitative research even though rarely.
Thus, inductive reasoning aims at developing a theory Thus, deductive reasoning aims at testing an existing theory.

Both approaches are used in a research study. It is also possible to incorporate both approached in a large research study.

The stages of Inductive research

  1. Observation
    • People in Pala consume pita bread.
  2. Observe a pattern
    • Observation shows that various pita bread based products such as shawarma, khubus are popular in the Pala town.
  3. Develop a theory
    • All people native to Pala town prefer the pita bread in various forms as a part of their diet.
Limitation of inductive approach

A conclusion based on the basis of an inductive method can never be proven, but can be invalidated.

Example: You may observe 1000 people who are living in Pala. All of them prefer to have pita bread in one form or other. However, you can never prove that the all the people in pala prefer to have pita bread in one form or other. Still, if the data is large the reliability will also be more.

Stages of deductive research approaches

  1. Starts with an existing theory
    • All people native to Pala town prefer the pita bread in various forms as a part of their diet.
  2. Formulate a hypothesis based on existing theory
    • All people in the Bharananganam, Pala prefer pita bread in various forms as a part of their diet.
  3. Collect data to test the hypothesis
    • Study all the people who are residents of Bharananganam to see if they prefer pita bread as a part of their diet.
  4. Analyse the results:does the data reject or support the hypothesis?
    • Check and interpret, to find if the result of data collection supports the hypothesis
Limitation of deductive research

The conclusions of deductive reasoning can be true only if all premises set in the inductive study are true and the terms are clear.

  • All people in the Pala town prefer pita bread in their diet in various forms. (Premise)
  • Bharananganam is locality within Pala Town (Premise)
  • All people in Bharananganam prefer pita bread in their diet in various forms (Conclusion)

Here the conclusion is true. However if the first premise turns out to be false, the conclusion cannot be relied upon.

Another Example

  • All French bread contains gluten (Premise)
  • Baguette is a French bread (Premise)
  • Baguette contains gluten (conclusion)

Here in this example; the conclusion must be true. However if the first premise turns out to be false, the conclusion that Baguette contains gluten cannot be relied upon.

Dudovskiy, J. (n.d.-a). Deductive Approach (Deductive Reasoning). Research-Methodology. Retrieved 5 April 2020, from https://research-methodology.net/research-methodology/research-approach/deductive-approach-2/
Dudovskiy, J. (n.d.-b). Inductive Approach (Inductive Reasoning). Research-Methodology. Retrieved 5 April 2020, from https://research-methodology.net/research-methodology/research-approach/inductive-approach-2/
Gabriel, D. (n.d.). Inductive and deductive approaches to research | | Dr Deborah Gabriel. Retrieved 5 April 2020, from https://deborahgabriel.com/2013/03/17/inductive-and-deductive-approaches-to-research/
Streefkerk, R. (2019, April 18). Inductive vs. Deductive Research Approach (with Examples). Scribbr. https://www.scribbr.com/methodology/inductive-deductive-reasoning/

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