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What is Research: Modes of Reasoning

Research is a thoroughly individualized process; however, it is important to understand standard approaches in order to begin mastering this skill.  Similar to studying an artistic medium like painting, you must learn basic techniques (line, form, composition, perspective) before expressing yourself creatively through painting on canvas.

In general, at a most basic level, there are two alternate approaches to research using DEDUCTIVE or INDUCTIVE reasoning



  • moves from a general THEORY (hypothesis) down to SPECIFIC case-studies
  • uses other DEDUCTIVE research to establish THEORIES
  • is concerned with what can be certain about a SPECIFIC case-study, as it:
    • uses other pre-existing works of DEDUCTIVE research to compare SPECIFIC case-studies with others of the same nature



  • moves from SPECIFIC case-study examples up to GENERAL THEORIES (hypothesis)
  • uses empirical observation of a SPECIFIC case-study to establish a THEORY
  • is concerned with what is probable about a topic because:
    • research is solely based on one SPECIFIC case-study and only uses other works of DEDUCTIVE research in relation to the SPECIFIC case-study

For more information see:

"Deductive/inductive Reasoning." The Social Science Jargon-Buster. London: Sage UK, 2007. Credo Reference. Web.

Sutherland, Edward J. "Inductive Reasoning." Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Psychology. London: Routledge, 2006. Credo Reference. Web.