Deductive and Inductive Research

Deductive and Inductive research are both types of reasoning. Reasoning is about using existing knowledge to conclude, predict, or explain something. The purpose of this short blog is to help students structure their dissertation correctly. Should the Literature Review come before or after the Research Methodology chapter?

Deductive Research

Also refereed to as ‘Top-Down’ research, this research starts with a theory, and works its way down to a conclusion by studying the evidence. This is reasoning based on facts. For it to work, those facts have to be true.

With this research type, you start with premise and lead to a certain conclusion. (Not a probable conclusion – a certain conclusion). The approach is good where the facts are clear, and when using quantitative methods.

Inductive Research

Known as ‘Bottom-Up’ research. This starts with collecting data, and then you form a theory. You are drawing conclusions from the data that you have collected/studied. Conclusions based on past experiences (that could be wrong, or could change).

Small (repeated) observations examine the related issues. More data is better as it should lead to a better conclusion. You will arrive at a probable conclusion, rather than a certain conclusion.

This is exploratory research. It is based on sample data rather than facts. That means that there is a probable outcome. You might use statistical methods to arrive at your conclusions.

Research Types

Often research can be a mix of both types of research.

Deductive v Inductive

Deductive v Inductive

The Deductive approach can examine facts to support a new theory that can then be tested by Induction.


Deductive research relies on facts. It would be useful to establish those facts via a literature review first. If your research is primarily deductive, put the Literature Review Chapter before the Research Methods Chapter.

If your research is primarily Inductive, then this needs to be made clear early on in the dissertation. Therefore, put the Research Methods Chapter before the Literature Review Chapter.

Your Research Methods Chapter should demonstrate that you understand each type of research approach, and justify your chosen approach.

Posted On: 27th October 2020

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