Qualitative versus Quantitative Research Study Debate

Research Study

The Old Inductive and Deductive Analysis Debate

Tthis process of research study is a craft, a skill, an art, and a science.  Often times when speaking with my father, a skilled craftsman and machinist by trade himself, about the skill of a craftsman and how to attain such high skills in any endeavor one might embark upon

— my father always said that one must first have a solid foundation in whatever craft they intend to imbue. My father was also involved with racing innovations as a result of his craftsman skills. He worked for Chevrolet, General Motors, and eventually became a Senior Supervisor in the innovative Engineering Model shop making HVAC Prototypes for GM. After a SOLID FOUNDATION, he emphasized an appropriate apprenticeship was required under a master craftsman, and then one becomes a journeyman. When I inquired about how long one would be a journeyman — he replied, forever! This is a long commitment to mastering a craft, can we make that same commitment? The journeymen’s job is to then create, innovate, master, and perfect his or her craft, forever. When I inquired about doubt and not being sure, etc., he would always repeat himself about having a SOLID FOUNDATION. He would also suggest that if it was in the book– don’t worry– it’s old already. There is application to research as well.

Differences Between Inductive and Deductive Analysis and the Differences Between Inductive and Deductive Code Development

I mentioned the craftsman story to emphasize the required solid foundation referred to that I would strongly suggest applies in the research discipline in one form or another and it means just that, if one is only a positivist or one only solidly leans or professes qualitative research skills heavily– do they really have the solid foundation referred to in the short story above to be the required journeyman and humanitarian where creation and innovation are the tools of change? I think not! As such, this solid foundation in research can be what many call–  the deductive work laid before one years ago as the light, path, structures, concepts, theories, and frameworks from which to create the necessary guide posts and bridges for the inductive work (real observations and fieldwork) to follow– these two together, especially the inductive cycle,  are the center of creation and innovation of the process of research. I believe they  are like Ying and Yang, left and right, black and white, etc., There will always be naysayers and those who profess the building is on fire and that deduction from the empirical means is superior. As if to say, the right hand is better than the left. This is not the journeyman’s worry in the least.

As a “master craftsman” of research, the initial deductive work or foundation helps guide data collection and research questions for the initial coding, not too much initially (say 30 or less questions as 100 questions is initially far too much to code, Blog, A. V., (2014)) after which thorough coding, re-coding, and initial categories are derived and continues. Too many interviews to code at one time is asking for trouble. My old math teacher professed that the problem , generally, with obtaining a solid foundation was that people hate to read.

Software packages like Atlas.ti ver. 8 can help the arduous task of research much easier and a tool which the apprentice must master if they are to become the master themselves one day. But is also not easy–  then again, nothing worth having every really is (Blog, A. V., 2014).

Hennink, Hutter & Bailey (2011) suggests that both deductive and inductive types of coding (creating codes from the text of the interview) leads to inductive (grounded) reformulation of concepts, theories, frameworks, and the research question for further understanding, creation, and innovation.

It cannot be wrong to explore, create, and innovate just because it’s not in a book somewhere yet– all the solid foundations, apprentice, and such have been laid for its work (your exploration, creation and innovation). There’s also this great overview that explains everything Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis (CAQDAS) Software like Atlas.ti can do. The MAC version of this also exits.

Discuss the Importance of Each Approach and When Each May be Used, Including When a Combination May be Used

So, each approach– both deductive (from theory and concepts) and inductive (actual observation) have their part to play in the creative and innovative process—in getting to understanding, application, and human well-being. “Deductive codes originate from the researcher… topics in the interview guide that were derived from the concepts or theory in the research literature… Inductive codes come directly from the data and are developed from reading the reading and noting the issues raised by participants… of importance… allows the data to ‘speak for itself’…” (Hennink et al., 2011, Chapter 9).


So, the only real question is probably not reliability or trustworthiness (validity is tough nut to crack for qualitative research) —  however, it is the rigor and robustness of a mastered process based on a solid foundation, proper apprentice and lifelong commitment to mastering it that prevails in the end; real commitment. Sometimes, the university or institution plays it major part in that process—of the failed prospect’s solid foundation, and apprentice unfortunately for the sake of the almighty dollar—compromise as it were. One example, again unfortunately, my institution’s Library, of which I do not speak lightly, not having the best tools available for the aforementioned purpose, e.g., the full SAGE Navigator for seminal research at the doctorate level, Web of Science, and so on. We can, however, get by, if that is what we must do. When queried about these issues, the standard budget jargon, we have never had them before, etc., prevail. What to say? Not everyone can be a master craftsman!


Analysis, A. -. (2019, May 09). ATLAS.ti 8 Windows – Overview (April 16, 2019). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EK9yZ0VqZgE

Blog, A. V. (2014, April 21). ATLAS.ti 7 (Win): How to build an efficient coding system in ATLAS ti (Chapter 5). Retrieved July 31, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_USLPLdyRE&list=WL&index=2&t=0s

Hennink, M., Hutter, I., & Bailey, A. (2011). Qualitative research methods. Retrieved from redshelf.com

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