States that there are two general approaches to reasoning which may result in the acquisition of new knowledge: inductive reasoning commences with observation of specific instances, and seeks to establish generalisations; deductive reasoning commences with generalisations, and seeks to see if these generalisations apply to specific instances. Most often, qualitative research follows an inductive process. In most instances, however, theory developed from qualitative investigation is untested theory. Both quantitative and qualitative researchers demonstrate deductive and inductive processes in their research, but fail to recognise these processes. The research paradigm followed in this article is a post‐positivist (“realist”) one. This is not incompatible with the use of qualitative research methods. Argues that the adoption of formal deductive procedures can represent an important step for assuring conviction in qualitative research findings. Discusses how, and under what circumstances, qualitative researchers might adopt formal deductive procedures in their research. One approach, theory testing by “pattern matching”, is illustrated with a sample application.
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