What Is an Inductive Research Approach?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 25, 2020 7:52:49 AM ET

An inductive research approach is one that begins with the final stages of scientific research, typically observation, and works backward to form a hypothesis. It is the opposite of deductive research.


Inductive reasoning is common among the social sciences whereas deductive research is more common in the natural sciences. An example of inductive research is a behavioral study during which sociologists collect information based on behavior and then study the data they collect to determine if there are any correlations that could indicate a pattern or support a universal theory.

The scientific method usually involves a hypothesis and then the observation of controlled as well as variable subjects on which a conclusion about the accuracy of the original hypothesis is reached. Inductive research begins with observation which leads to a larger universal hypothesis. The primary difference between the two types of research is that inductive research is more flexible in nature. It allows researchers to explore multiple ideas before determining which one correlates to a hypothesis. The crux of inductive reasoning is also data and discerning patterns. The more data that scientists who use an inductive research method collect, the more likely they are to be able to draw valuable conclusions from it.