According to Sam Ladner inductive research seeks to develop a new theory or hypothesis based on the observation of limited data. The purpose of inductive research isn't to articulate a hard truth, but to develop a position that is cogent. That is, it's a hypothesis that is likely true based on the available data. Inductive research adds to human knowledge, and creates frameworks whereby future events or otherwise unobserved phenomena may be predicted (accurately or not).
Cedric Chin associates inductive reasoning with creativity. In contrast to deduction, which looks to apply an existing mental model to data, inductive reasoning requires the observation and processing of raw observation into a new mental model—of linking together disparate threads into a new perspective. However, he points out as well that we always be prepared to destroy those mental models if we find internal incoherence, or if the mental model does not align with reality.
- ¶ Deductive reasoning
- ¶ Abductive reasoning
- Qualitative research creates mental models about the problem space.
"...there are really only two modes of thought when you are sensemaking. You either take a framework and apply it to a situation, organising the facts to fit your desired narrative (analysis/deduction), or you take the facts as they are and build up an cohesive explanation for why they are the way they are (synthesis/induction).""
"... an inductive study will start with very open-ended questions like, 'What is going in on our organization? How are our employees feeling? What are their concerns, if any?' Such a study seeks to understand, 'What is important?''"
"...inductive studies seek to understand what counts."
"An inductive-dominant research design will have a constructivist perspective, so it will assume that participants are making sense of something. The overall goal of the study is to interpret that process."
"Inductive analysis involves unriddling, sensemaking, looking at the big picture, or explaining."
"Inductive interpretation involves providing models, diagrams and concepts to describe how and in what way a system works. Provide typologies to give people an understanding of the various ways things work. In other words, participant focus and coherence are your goals."