Inductive analysis - Some simple explanations

If you proceed inductively in your research, you derive a theory from your own observations. An inductive analysis can be followed up by a quantitative study to substantiate an observation to make your hypothesis generally valid.
Joerg Hecker
Jörg Hecker
  1. Deductive and inductive approaches
  2. Inductive means ascending from the particular to the general
  3. Examples of inductive research
  4. What is the induction problem?

Deductive and inductive approaches

Deductive and inductive research, respectively, are different but complementary approaches used in scientific work. To make the difference clear, it can be said that deductive approaches test existing bodies of thought, while inductive methods aim to generate new knowledge and theories. In other words, the deductive approach is based on current facts, while inductive research seeks to create a new set of facts.

Both approaches are not mutually exclusive and can be combined in one and the same scientific study. You can, for instance, build a code system starting with some deductively derived concepts, which you enrich throughout the analysis process by codes that you develop from the data inductively.

Inductive means ascending from the particular to the general

Inductive analysis is especially useful when you are exploring a new topic, do not have many sources or previous theories to draw on, and hope to contribute to the knowledge yourself. Inductive reasoning is therefore future-oriented. The inductive approach to data analysis is common in qualitative research.

Figure 1: Generate codes (tags) based on what emerges from the data to build your inductive analysis

There are 6 main ways for QDA:

Examples of inductive research

Inductive research often uses empirical methods to collect its own data, which later becomes the basis for gaining knowledge. This can include

  • questionnaires
  • interviews
  • group discussions
  • observations
  • experiments

What is the induction problem?

Inductive research provides us with valuable results. However, it cannot be excluded that an individual case will occur that disproves the theory at some point. A famous example is that of the black swan. You can inductively conclude that all swans are white, as you have only observed white swans so far. This theory must be thrown overboard the minute you come across a black swan. Then you need to revise your theory, including the new observation.

Figure 2: A black swan