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

Induction is the process of framing a generalisation from particular cases.

explanatory context

Induction involes moving from observations to empirical generalisations and on to theories. Induction can be contrasted with deductive procedures that proceed from the general to the particular.


Issac Newton argued that induction is the classic approach of science.


In social science, induction is supposedly characteristic of the ethnographic style of research.

analytical review

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

Inductive reasoning works the other way, moving from specific observations to broader generalizations and theories. Informally, we sometimes call this a "bottom up" approach (please note that it's "bottom up" and not "bottoms up" which is the kind of thing the bartender says to customers when he's trying to close for the night!). In inductive reasoning, we begin with specific observations and measures, begin to detect patterns and regularities, formulate some tentative hypotheses that we can explore, and finally end up developing some general conclusions or theories.

Colorado State University (1993–2013) defines the following:

Inductive: A form of reasoning in which a generalized conclusion is formulated from particular instances
Inductive analysis: A form of analysis based on inductive reasoning; a researcher using inductive analysis starts with answers, but forms questions throughout the research process.

associated issues


related areas

See also



Researching the Real World Section


Colorado State University, 1993–2013, Glossary of Key Terms available at, accessed 3 February 2013, still available 6 June 2019.

Trochim, W.M.K., 2011, 'Deduction & Induction' in the Research Methods Knowledge Base, available at, accessed 21 January 2013, still available 6 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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