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Amy Cyr HeadshotHi, I’m Amy Cyr, a Senior Consultant at IG. For this month’s IG-Ology, I want to answer a question that comes up a lot with qualitative analysis: “Where do I start?” While several considerations go into planning an analysis approach, a place I like to start is with the evaluation or research questions. How specific are they? If you have specific questions you’d like to answer, a “deductive approach” to analysis would be beneficial. With this approach, you set out to find data to answer your specific questions. This is like going fishing for specific types of fish, say pike, bass, and walleye. In contrast, if the questions you are trying to answer are broader and you don’t really know what you may find, such as, “why are so few people using our computer lab?” you might take an “inductive approach.” With fishing, this would be like sitting in your canoe, exploring everything you can find in the lake, and making meaning of what you find.

As part of our Community-Responsive Approach, we encourage a blend of deductive and inductive—so that the qualitative analysis both answers the specific evaluation questions and illuminates any unexpected themes or findings. Click here for a quick explanation on the differences between deductive and inductive approaches.