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What is deductive research?

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Quick Answer

A deductive, or "top-down," approach to research methodology begins with hypotheses based on existing knowledge or literature. In other words, it seeks to test an established theory.

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What is deductive research?
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Inductive, or "bottom-up," research, by comparison, collects data and observations in order to discern a pattern within them, or to formulate a new theory.

The procedure followed by deductive research can be summarized as follows:

  1. Theory, starting with existing knowledge or assumptions.
  2. Hypothesis, formulating a research question or hypothesis based on existing knowledge, theories or assumptions.
  3. Observation, or data collection.
  4. Confirmation, conclusions drawn on the basis of the observations or data collected, ultimately leading to either confirmation or rejection of the initial theory.
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