Tuesday, February 28, 2012


       One of the most important and fundamental concepts is the application of inductive and deductive reasoning in research process. Research is not some thing which is always a formal activity associated with researcher. We throughout our life on every day engage in different thought processes where we interpolate or extrapolate the situation or phenomenon.

           Interpolation is like a dip into the data to fetch some hidden fact. And extrapolation is like building a castle in the air upon the given data. If my daughter ask about my hobbies that I used to have during my childhood so I would be interpolating for the result. But if my wife asks the same question then she must be extrapolating on that information. My students always worried about the types of questions for every upcoming quiz. I always refer them to the study material they were provided during the class. By doing so, I actually guiding them to infer about the nature of questions or to make a reasonable hypothesis about the nature of expected questions by looking into the lecture slides, handouts or any other material which was included during lectures and discussions.
          Induction and Deduction is similar to above context. Scientists use these terms to classify the reasoning process. Sometimes, I make decisions about myself , and sometimes, I make decisions about everybody based on my personal experience. When I am deciding to take the alternative route during traffic Jam I am applying deductive reasoning. And if that experience is not successful, I advise my colleagues and students not to do similar mistake as I have done. Then I am applying Inductive reasoning.
          In case of Inductive reasoning, we try to develop a general rule based on the experience learned during some typical situation (like my traffic jam experience on motorway). And I then infer a general rule that "during traffic Jam one should not panic and do not take the alternative route".
          On the other hand in deductive reasoning we apply some already existing general rule (in our mind or knowledge) and try to handle a particular situation, as I did while deciding to take alternative route. I had learned from my past experience or I learned from my colleagues or by listening to radio and I apply the general rule which said, "take the alternative route when ever you observe any traffic jam".
          Knowledge is updated every second by the human being based on Inductive and Deductive reasoning. We solve our problems based on past experience or general principles in our mind (inductive reasoning), and we make new rules or amend existing rules based on new experience(deductive reasoning). Research process is a combination of both Inductive and Deductive methods.
          Researcher initiates his research with some vague idea or observations. He then discusses his observation  with  relevant people in order to get clearer picture of the question in his mind. He then explore the existing resources online or in libraries and tries to draw possible answers to his question. Based on this preliminary investigation he develops one or few possible answers to his research question. These answers are called Research Hypothesis. Here researcher has applied Inductive reasoning to line up these hypothesis. These hypothesis are unproved general rules which are then tested through the process of deduction.
In the process of Deduction he formally collect relevant data or information to verify the truth in the  hypothesis.
          Thus in nutshell we may conclude that Inductive approach in research is the Induction of new knowledge in the existing body of knowledge by forming rules, principles, and theories based on some personal or particular experience of researcher. Whereas, in deduction, we deduct(apply) the existing knowledge from body of knowledge on certain situation which is personal to researcher or particular to any incidence.
(Author: Muhammad Azeem)