Difference Between Inductive and Deductive Research

Inductive vs Deductive Research

The difference between inductive and deductive research stems from their approach and focus. In all disciplines, research plays a vital role, as it allows various academics to expand their theoretical knowledge of the discipline and also to verify the existing theories. Inductive and deductive approaches to research or else inductive and deductive research can be understood as a type of categorization. These two types are different from one another. Inductive research mainly focuses on building new theories, whereas deductive research focuses on verifying theories. This is the main difference between the two types of research. Through this article let us examine the differences between the two types of research, inductive and deductive research.

What is Inductive Research?

The inductive research aims at creating new knowledge. This usually begins with an area of interest for the researcher. The researcher creates a research problem from this selected field and develops research questions. He then attempts to find data through his observations. A researcher can rely on various research methods in order to gather data for his research questions. This can be interview method or observation method, or any other. In the analytical stage, the researcher attempts to search for patterns from the data. In the final stage of the inductive research, the researcher builds the theory using his data and the identified patterns. This highlights that in inductive research a bottom-up approach is being used.

Grounded theory by Glaser and Strauss can be considered as a fine example of the inductive approach in research. This is mainly because, in Grounded theory, the focus is on creating new knowledge through a cyclic process. A researcher who steps into the field has an open mind, unbiased, and without preconceived ideas. He derives the research problem mostly from the setting itself, and the data guides him towards the creation of a new theory.

Difference Between Inductive and Deductive Research

Inductive research question example: What causes air pollution the most?

What is Deductive Research?

Deductive research is quite different from inductive research as it uses a top-down approach in opposition to the inductive research. Deductive research can be understood as a research category that includes a process of testing hypothesis in order to verify a theory. Unlike inductive research that generates new knowledge through the creation of theories, the deductive research aims at testing a theory.

It does not attempt to find patterns in data but uses observation with the intention of validating the pattern. This is used by researchers mainly to falsify theories. Deductive approach mostly comes in quantitative research where the researcher attempts to bring out causality and present a statistical analysis. This highlights that inductive and deductive research are vastly different and can be used depending on the objectives of the researcher.

 Inductive vs Deductive Research

Deductive research question example: Factories cause the most air pollution.

What is the difference between Inductive and Deductive Research?

• Approach:

• Inductive and deductive research processes have to be viewed as reversals.

• Inductive research uses a bottom-up approach.

• Deductive research uses a top-down approach.

• Aim:

• The inductive research aims at producing new knowledge or creating new theories.

• The deductive research aims at verifying theories.

Research Questions vs Hypothesis:

• In inductive research, researcher mainly focuses on finding answers to the research questions.

• In deductive research, hypothesis are tested.

• Usage:

• The inductive approach is mostly used in qualitative research that aims at finding rich descriptive data.

• The deductive approach is mostly used in quantitative research that mostly deals with numbers.

• Use of Observation:

• In inductive research, the researcher attempts to find patterns through observation.

• In deductive research, the researcher uses observation with the intention of validating the pattern.


Images Courtesy: Air pollution from a fossil-fuel power station and air pollution factory via Wikicommons (Public Domain)