Research Approach

Research Approach

When conducting a research it is necessary to determine which approach is being implemented, because “scientific inquiry in practice typically involves alternating between deduction and induction. Both methods involve interplay of logic and observation. And both are routes to the construction of social theories” (Babbie, 2010, p.53).

Research approach can be divided into two categories: deductive approach and inductive approach.

Main distinction between inductive and deductive research approach relates to the existence and placement of hypotheses and theories. Specifically, if the researcher adopts a range of hypotheses the research is aimed to explore, then it will be deductive research. On the other hand, if hypotheses are absent at the start of the research then it will be the case of inductive research.

In other words, the relation of hypotheses to the study can serve as the main point of difference between these two approaches. Specifically, it has been noted that “two important functions that hypotheses serve in scientific inquiry are the development of theory and the statement of parts of an existing theory in testable form” (Singh and Bajpai, 2008, p.11)

Samples (2007) distinguishes the main differences between deductive and inductive approaches in the following manner:

Deductive approach  Inductive approach
Certainty of conclusions (primary distinction) Probability of conclusions (primary distinction)
No new information in the conclusion Possible new information in the conclusion
From general to particular (usually) From particular to general (usually)
From cause to effect (usually) From effect to cause (usually)
A priori (typically)  A posteriori reasoning (from experience)
Philosophical reasoning (typically) Scientific reasoning (typically)
Argument forms are valid or invalid Argument forms are strong or weak
Arguments are sound or unsound Arguments are cogent or uncogent

Alternatively, Saunders et al (2007) distinguish the major differences between deductive and inductive research approaches in the following manner:

Deductive methods Inductive methods
  • Principles based on science
  • Movement is done from theory to data
  • Casual relationships between variables need to be explained
  • Quantitative type of data is mainly collected
  • Measures of control are applied in order to ensure the validity of data
  • Concepts are operationalised in order to ensure the clarity of definitions
  • The approach is highly structured
  • Researcher is independent from the research process
  • Samples need to be selected of a sufficient size in order to be able to generalise research conclusions
  • The meaning of human attachment to events are aimed to be explored
  • Research context is understood in a deeper manner
  • Qualitative type of data is collected
  • More flexible approach to research structure to ensure provisions for changes during the research
  • Researcher is perceived to be a part of the research process
  • Research findings do not have to be generalised



Babbie, E.R. (2010) “The Practice of Social Research” Cengage Learning

Bernard, H.R. (2011) “Research Methods in Anthropology” 5th edition,  AltaMira Press

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2007) “Research Methods for Business Students”, 4th edition, Prentice Hall

Singh, Y.K. & Bajpai, A.B. (2008) “Research Methodology: Techniques and Trends” APH Publishing Corporation Students” 4th edition, Prentice Hall

Walliman, N. (2009) “Your Research Project”, 2nd edition, Sage