Deductive and inductive theory in Research Methodology

The main difference between inductive and deductive reasoning is that inductive reasoning aims at developing a theory while deductive reasoning aims at testing an existing theory.

Inductive reasoning moves from specific observations to broad generalizations, and deductive reasoning the other way around.

Both approaches are used in various types of research, and it’s not uncommon to combine them in one large study.


Inductive research approach

When there is little to no existing literature on a topic, it is common to perform inductive research because there is no theory to test. The inductive approach consists of three stages:

  1. Observation
    • A low-cost airline flight is delayed
    • Dogs A and B have fleas
    • Elephants depend on water to exist
  2. Observe a pattern
    • Another 20 flights from low-cost airlines are delayed
    • All observed dogs have fleas
    • All observed animals depend on water to exist
  3. Develop a theory or general (preliminary) conclusion
    • Low cost airlines always have delays
    • All dogs have fleas
    • All biological life depends on water to exist

Limitations of an inductive approach

A conclusion drawn on the basis of an inductive method can never be proven, but it can be invalidated.

You observe 1000 flights from low-cost airlines. All of them experience a delay, which is in line with your theory. However, you can never prove that flight 1001 will also be delayed. Still, the larger your dataset, the more reliable the conclusion.

Deductive research approach

When conducting deductive research, you always start with a theory (the result of inductive research). Reasoning deductively means testing these theories. If there is no theory yet, you cannot conduct deductive research.

The deductive research approach consists of four stages:

  1. Start with an existing theory (and create a problem statement)
    • Low cost airlines always have delays
    • All dogs have fleas
    • All biological life depends on water to exist
  2. Formulate a falsifiable hypothesis based on existing theory
    • If passengers fly with a low cost airline, then they will always experience delays
    • All pet dogs in my apartment building have fleas
    • All land mammals depend on water to exist
  3. Collect data to test the hypothesis
    • Collect flight data of low-cost airlines
    • Test all dogs in the building for fleas
    • Study all land mammal species to see if they depend on water
  4. Analyze and test the data
    • 5 out of 100 flights of low-cost airlines are not delayed
    • 10 out of 20 dogs didn’t have fleas
    • All land mammal species depend on water
  5. Decide whether you can reject the null hypothesis
    • 5 out of 100 flights of low-cost airlines are not delayed = reject hypothesis
    • 10 out of 20 dogs didn’t have fleas = reject hypothesis
    • All land mammal species depend on water = support hypothesis

Limitations of a deductive approach

The conclusions of deductive reasoning can only be true if all the premises set in the inductive study are true and the terms are clear.


  • All dogs have fleas (premise)
  • Benno is a dog (premise)
  • Benno has fleas (conclusion)

Based on the premises we have, the conclusion must be true. However, if the first premise turns out to be false, the conclusion that Benno has fleas cannot be relied upon.

Combining inductive and deductive research

Many scientists conducting a larger research project begin with an inductive study (developing a theory). The inductive study is followed up with deductive research to confirm or invalidate the conclusion.

In the examples above, the conclusion (theory) of the inductive study is also used as a starting point for the deductive study.

 Source: www.scribbr.com

Empiricism Research Methodology

Empiricism is a philosophical theory applicable in many disciplines, including science and software development, that human knowledge comes predominantly from experiences gathered through the five senses.

In empiricism, knowledge is spoken of as a posteriori, or "from the latter," meaning gained from experience. Simply put, empiricism is the idea that all learning comes from only experience and observations.

The term empiricism comes from the Greek word for experience: empeiria. The theory of empiricism attempts to explain how human beings acquire knowledge and improve their conceptual understanding of the world.

In science, empiricism heavily emphasizes the use of experiments and observation to collect evidence and draw conclusions. The goal of such experimentation is to apply theories to real-world observations, record the findings in the form of empirical data and present them to the relevant audience.

Some other illustrative real-world examples of empiricism are the following:

  • measurement
  • sensors
  • hypothesis formed with rational thought
  • correlation causation
  • data dredging


Empirical research

Empirical research is driven by the idea that "I will believe it when I see it." In this type of research, conclusions are drawn from verifiable evidence that's obtained either by observation or by scientific data collection methods. Verifiable evidence is also known as empirical evidence.

Empirical evidence can be collected in two ways:

  1. Quantitative methods
    • experiments;
    • surveys;
    • polls;
    • causal-comparative research, which is aimed at finding a cause-effect relationship between two or more groups;
    • correlational research, which examines relationships between two or more variables, without the researcher manipulating them;
    • cross-sectional research, which looks at data from a population at a particular point in time; and
    • longitudinal study in which data is collected repeatedly for the same subjects over time.

  2. Qualitative methods
    • interviews;
    • observation;
    • textual analysis;
    • case studies; and
    • focus groups, e.g., in market research.

Qualitative empirical research methods are often unstructured or semistructured, and they are usually used to discover subjects' opinions or feedback. Quantitative methods are almost always structured and used when there is a need to quantify one or more defined variables.

The method chosen would depend on the data sample, that is, whether the data is numerical and quantifiable or non-numerical and, therefore, unquantifiable. In some cases, both methods are used to gather empirical evidence.


Need for and benefits of empirical research

Most empirical research projects incorporate these features or characteristics:

  • research questions;
  • definition of the research variables;
  • description of the research methodology (design, processes, tools);
  • research outline; and
  • findings.

A hypothesis is also an important element of empirical research. The researcher runs experiments or sets up a way to observe conditions to prove or disprove the hypothesis and thus add to the human knowledge base.

Empirical research is crucial to strengthen traditional or nonempirical research practices with experiments, observations and tangible results. Since it is based on verifiable facts and actual experiences, it adds authenticity and believability to a research project.

With empirical research, researchers can analyze the dynamic changes that happen and modify the research strategy accordingly. They also have greater control over research variables, giving them higher control over the experiment itself.

Empirical research process

Since empirical research is primarily based on observation and experimentation, it's important to conduct it in a systematic and step-by-step manner. By laying out clear steps, researchers can resolve challenges that may arise during research before they can cause further problems later in the process.

The key steps involved in empirical research include the following:

  • Define the purpose of the project, and create the problem statement.
  • Find supporting theories.
  • Do a literature review -- if available and relevant.
  • Create a hypothesis.
  • Set up variables.
  • Define the research methodology and strategy.
  • Identify the tools required for research.
  • Collect data.
  • Analyze data.
  • Report results/findings.
  • Conclude the experiment.

In general, the empirical research cycle consists of five phases:

  1. Observation. Gather empirical data.
  2. Induction. Frame a general conclusion from the gathered data.
  3. Deduction. Create a conclusion from the experiment.
  4. Testing. Analyze and validate collected data with appropriate statistical methods.
  5. Evaluation. Present the gathered data and the conclusions of the experiment to the relevant audience or stakeholders.

 Source: www.techtarget.com


IIT Guwahati Director Professor TG Sitharam becomes new AICTE Chairman

 IIT Guwahati Director Professor TG Sitharam has been appointed as the new chairman of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). He will take the charge from UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar and hold the post for a period of three years.

Kumar had taken the interim charge as AICTE Chairman after Anil Sahasrabuddhe had retired at the age of 65.

An education ministry statement said: “All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) Act, 1987, the Central Government hereby appoints, Prof. TG Sitharam, Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, as Chairman, AICTE in Level-l7 of the pay Matrix, on deputation basis, for a period of three years we.f. the date of assumption of charge, or till attaining the age of 65 years or until further orders, whichever is earliest."

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Professor TG Sitharam, who has had a luscious academic career, took over as the director of IIT Guwahati in July 2019.

He is also a member of the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), and a senior professor in the civil engineering department of IISc Bangalore. He has served IISc for more than 27 years.

He is also the former research council chairman of CSIR- CBRI (Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee). Moreover, since May 2021, he holds the position of Director (additional charge) of Central Institute of Technology, Kokrajhar, Assam.


TG Sitharam obtained his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Mysore University followed by his master's degree in civil engineering from IISc. He received his PhD in civil engineering from University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (1991).

Soon after his PhD, he worked as a lecturer in Waterloo University and then pursued his post doctoral studies from Texas University's Centre for Earth Sciences and Engineering.

He has also served as an honorary professor at several universities in the countries of Japan, Canada, Republic of China, USA, Hong Kong and Australia.

Source: India Today

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