Difference between Inductive and Deductive approaches

difference between inductive and deductive approaches

By: Suyasha Koirala, Research Coordinator (KUSMS). MPH (SDU Denmark). BPH (IOM Nepal)

Difference between Inductive and Deductive approaches:

Inductive research approach

  • Reasoning or evaluation is done based on a particular case or observation rather than from a theory.
  • It is a bottom-up approach
  • It is used when there are few or limited theories. So, it is used to make tentative hypotheses.
  • It is normally used in qualitative research where researchers gather information to identify themes and develop theories.
  • Arguments based on experience or observations are best expressed inductively.
  • Grounded theory emerges from an Inductive approach
Read about Thematic analysis

Deduction research approach

  • Reasoning is done based on the hypothesis or theory.
  • It is a top-down approach.
  • It is used to prove the hypothesis.
  • It is normally used in quantitative research as it is usually used to test pre-existing theories, carefully identifying variables and expected outcomes in advance.
  • Arguments based on laws, rules, or other widely accepted principles are expressed deductively

However, qualitative research can use both approaches. It is not always confirmatory and deductive for quantitative research and exploratory and inductive for qualitative research.  If there is limited research finding, then an inductive approach is used keeping the research question and aim in mind. When the analysis is carried out new themes or categories will emerge making tentative hypotheses. This hypothesis is tested by the analyst which is a deduction approach. So, the analyst employs both modes of approaches.


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