by Mariam Bedraoui
Moroccan American Studies
Hassan II University
Induction: A Research Reasoning Method
Inductive Research provides an
alternative approach to theory.
Theory does not guide and
influence the collection of data,
but rather it is derived from the
analysis of the collected data.
Inductive reasoning generates
broad generalizations from
Inductive Research: A Theoretical Framework
Focus on natural settings
In-depth understandings of variations and
relationships among social phenomena
presented in the form of soft data.
Interpret phenomena “in terms of the
meaning people bring to them.” (Denzin
No prior knowledge about a phenomenon.
A need for an initial exploration of recurrent
patterns and concepts in a research area.
Study design is iterative.
Data collection and research questions are
adjusted to what is learned.
Generating theory from
specific observations is
a studious process of
data collection, analysis
The frameworks supply
the researchers with
different terms for the
approximately the same
Coding Memoing sorting
Describing Classifying connecting
Tasks Tools and
In- depth interviews
Highlight points in the
Write comments on
Write reflections on
and annotate data
Tasks: the researcher has to
• organise data in an invented but systemic
• identify major categories in the data.
These categories have to be both
inclusive and exclusive
Strategies: the researcher needs to
• summarise the data
• experiment with a number of formulations
• tabulate categories on a chart
• construct figures
• sketch diagrams
The ultimate goal of the researcher is to identify regularities, singularities and
variations in the analysed data.
Inductive studies yield three major research accomplishments:
1- The construction of typologies and modals
2- The production of through and intensive analytic studies, what Denzin (1989)
calls ‘thick descriptions’.
3- The generation of valid theories, of what Graser and Srauss (1967) term as
grounded theory. Valid theories are the outcome of:
1- Rigorous analytical procedures: triangulation
2-Combination of inductive and deductive methods.
Inductive Research: Limitations
Inductive studies may generate
interesting and illuminating
findings. Single inductive
studies can not provide
grounded theories. Theories are
built through substantial
successions of studies.
Inductive research is highly
demanding. It entails working
out a mass of confusing and
When the researcher is
immersed in working out
generalizations out of data, he
runs the risks of ‘going native’,
Inductive Research: Strengths
Theory is generated from the
empirical data, which helps
reaching a ‘closeness of fit’
between data and theory.
Inductive research is an
alternative approach to
investigate the complexity and
richness of the verbal and non-
Though it is criticised for not
being able to produce theories
in the positivist sense,
inductive research produces
illuminating hypotheses which
need further research work to
test and apply.
Inductive reasoning in science is sometimes
contrasted with deduction or, more properly, the
hypothetic- deductive method. However, induction
and deduction may be better considered as
complementary components of scientific reasoning.
Philosophers of science have argued that the
problem of induction can be overcome partly by
incorporating inductive and deductive reasoning
within the practice of science.
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Dey, I. (1993). Qualitative data analysis: A user-friendly guide for social scientists. London: New
Denzin, N. K. (1989). Interpretive biography. Qualitative research methods, v. 17. Newbury Park:
Fitzpatrick, J. J., & Wallace, M. (2006). Encyclopaedia of nursing research. New York: Springer
Given, L. M. (Ed.). (2008). The Sage Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research. Los Angeles: Sage
Gratton, C., & Jones, I. (2004). Research methods for sport studies. London: Routledge.
Kothari, C. R. (1990). Research methodology: Methods and techniques. New Delhi: Wiley Eastern.
Polit, F. Denise & Cheryl Tatano Beck. (2003). Nursing Research: Principles and Methods (7th ed.).
Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Top of Form
Strauss, A. L., & Corbin, J. M. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures
and techniques. Newbury Park, Calif: Sage Publications.
Deductive Research Case Study: http://eca.state.gov/forum/vols/vol38/no4/p26.htm
Inductive Research Case Study: http://rel.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/37/3/308