Skip to main content

Abductive reasoning and qualitative research

Buy Article:

$43.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)

Abstract

Abduction, deduction and induction describe forms of reasoning. Deduction and induction are discussed in the nursing literature. However, abduction has been largely neglected by nurse scholars. In this paper it is proposed that abduction may play a part in qualitative data analysis – specifically, in the identification of themes, codes, and categories. Abduction is not, in research, restricted to or associated with any particular methodology. Nevertheless, situating abduction in qualitative research facilitates the identification of three interlinked issues. First, it is suggested that abductively derived claims require support from deductive and inductively sourced evidence if they are to ‘hold’ and, yet, in qualitative research this is clearly problematic. Second, difficulties in choosing between alternative plausible hypotheses (i.e. concerning theme, code, and category description) are explored through an examination of the ‘generality problem’. Third, the role of background and auxiliary theories in adjudicating between hypothesis options is discussed. It is argued that if qualitative researchers utilize abductive inference in the manner suggested, then the peculiarly fallible nature of abduction must be acknowledged and, in consequence, the action guiding potential of qualitative research findings is compromised.
No References
No Citations
No Supplementary Data
No Data/Media
No Metrics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of the West of England, Gloucester, UK

Publication date: 2012-10-01

  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
X
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more