Current Issues in Qualitative Research, 1(3)Page 1 of 1
Current Issues in Qualitative Research
An Occasional Publication for Field Researchers from a Variety of Disciplines
Volume 1, Number 3 August 2010 _____________________________________________________________________________________
A Primer on Deductive Qualitative Analysisas Theory Testing & Theory Development
Jane F. GilgunUniversity of Minnesota, Twin Cities, USA
eductive qualitative analysis is qualitative research that begins with theory. Researchersmay test theory for the purpose of modifying it or use theory as sources of sensitizingconcepts that are the basis of their interview questions, their preliminary codes, and their theoretical sensitivity. Theoretical sensitivity means that researchers already have knowledge of theory, research, and personal experience that contribute to implicit or explicit sets of ideas thathelps them to notice certain things about their data and not notice others. These sets of ideas areconceptual frameworks. (See Glaser, 1978 for an extended discussion of theoretical sensitivity.)In this brief paper, I discuss the theory testing and theory development strategies of deductive qualitative analysis (DQA). In this form of DQA, researchers begin with a preliminarytheory. The initial theory can be composed of loosely formulated hunches based on personal or professional experience, formal hypotheses, or a set of that is a model of how things work (Gilgun, 2010, 2007, 2005c). The theory is tested on a series of cases. When the theory does notfit cases, the theory is changed. DQA is an updating of analytic induction, a form of qualitativeinquiry that researchers at the University of Chicago, USA, developed in the early part of thetwentieth century.
DQA and the Scientific Method.
Researchers test preliminary theory on particular cases. Many do “natural experiments”in that they observe phenomena that they do not control, typically because they want to observe behaviors in natural settings or because it would be unethical to perform some socialexperiments. Post-hoc studies of trauma are examples. Sometimes researchers manipulate theactions observed, such as when researchers drop a wallet on the ground and watch what passers- by do when the see it lying there. Thus, DQA follows a scientific method, one that involves proposing a theory, testing it, and then revising it based on results of the test (Popper, 1969).
About the author
Jane F. Gilgun, Ph.D., LICSW, is a professor, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota, TwinCities, USA. Her articles, books, and children’s stories are available on Amazon Kindle, the Apple store,& scribd.com/professorjane for a variety of mobile devices. This article is revision of an appendix that appears in a book
called On Being a Shit: Unkind Deeds & Cover-Ups in Everyday Life (Gilgun, 2009)
.This book shows how to use deductive qualitative analysis for testing & modifying theories using qualitative case studies and is inspired by Professor Harry Frankfurt’s bestseller