Abductive inference the research process and mixed method studies
Lipscomb, M. (2011) Abductive inference the research process and mixed method studies. In: 7th International Mixed Method Conference, Leeds University, UK, 29th - 30th June 2011.
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Based upon a reading of the work of Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) this presentation introduces and examines the role of abductive inference in the research process. It is proposed that qualitative research employs or embodies abductive forms of inference when generating, during data analysis, the themes, codes and categories that thereafter become study findings and, if this is the case, then the underexplored but problematic nature of abductive inference in belief formation and belief justification must be acknowledged. The implications of this argument for mixed methods research are developed. It is suggested that Peirce’s developed theory of scientific method supports mixed method work but that the nature of abductive inference in such work requires further consideration. The presentation aims to provoke and stimulate discussion in what has hitherto been a neglected subject area.