Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


A fast-paced novel of conjecture and surprises



core definition

Deduction refers to the procedure of moving from premises to conclusions based on the truth value of the premises and the rules of logic.

explanatory context

A deductive argument requires no empirical content as such, merely that statements have a truth value attached to them.


In practice, a deductive argument about empirical phenomena proceeds from theories to specific hypotheses, and then to the testing of hypotheses by observations; this is known as the hypothetico-deductive model.


Observation, then, is used to confirm or deny the truth value of observations and thus of the logically deduced argument.


Deduction is to be distinguished from induction which moves from particular observations to empirical generalisations and on to theories.

analytical review

Trochim (2006) in the Research Methods Knowledge Base, wrote:

Deductive reasoning works from the more general to the more specific. Sometimes this is informally called a "top-down" approach. We might begin with thinking up a theory about our topic of interest. We then narrow that down into more specific hypotheses that we can test. We narrow down even further when we collect observations to address the hypotheses. This ultimately leads us to be able to test the hypotheses with specific data -- a confirmation (or not) of our original theories.

associated issues


related areas

See also



Researching the Real World Section


Trochim, W.M.K., 2006, 'Deduction & Induction' in the Research Methods Knowledge Base, last updated 20 October 2006, available at , accessed 21 January 2013, still available 3 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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