Dr. Tamara Fudge, Kaplan University professor in the School of Business and IT
There are several ways to present information when writing, including those that employ inductive and deductivereasoning. The difference can be stated simply:
- Inductive reasoning presents facts and then wraps them up with a conclusion.
- Deductive reasoning presents a thesis statement and then provides supportive facts or examples.
Which should the writer use? It depends on content, the intended audience, and your overall purpose.
If you want your audience to discover new thingswith you, then inductive writing might make sense. Here is n example:
My dog Max wants to chase every non-human living creature he sees, whether it is the cats in the house or rabbits and squirrels in the backyard. Sources indicate that this is a behavior typical of Jack Russell terriers. While Max is a mixed breed dog, he is approximately the same size and has many of the typical markings of a Jack Russell. From these facts along with his behaviors, we surmise that Max is indeed at least part Jack Russell terrier.
Within that short paragraph, you learned about Max’s manners and a little about what he might look like, and then the concluding sentence connected these ideas together. This kind of writing often keeps the reader’s attention, as he or she must read all the pieces of the puzzle before they are connected.
Purposes for this kind of writing include creative writing and perhaps some persuasive essays, although much academic work is done in deductive form.
If your audience is not likely going to read the entire written piece, then deductive reasoning might make more sense, as the reader can look for what he or she wants by quickly scanning first sentences of each paragraph. Here is an example:
My backyard is in dire need of cleaning and new landscaping. The Kentucky bluegrass that was planted there five years ago has been all but replaced by Creeping Charlie, a particularly invasive weed. The stone steps leading to the house are in some disrepair, and there are some slats missing from the fence. Perennials were planted three years ago, but the moles and rabbits destroyed many of the bulbs, so we no longer have flowers in the spring.
The reader knows from the very first sentence that the backyard is a mess! This paragraph could have ended with a clarifying conclusion sentence; while it might be considered redundant to do so, the scientific community tends to work through deductive reasoning by providing (1) a premise or argument – which could also be called a thesis statement, (2) then evidence to support the premise, and (3) finally the conclusion.
Purposes for this kind of writing include business letters and project documents, where the client is more likely to skim the work for generalities or to hunt for only the parts that are important to him or her. Again, scientific writing tends to follow this format as well, and research papers greatly benefit from deductive writing.
Whether one method or another is chosen, there are some other important considerations. First, it is important that the facts/evidence be true. Perform research carefully and from appropriate sources; make sure ideas are cited properly. You might need to avoid absolute words such as “always,” “never,” and “only,” because they exclude any anomalies. Try not to write questions: the writer’s job is to provide answers instead. Lastly, avoid quotes in thesis statements or conclusions, because they are not your own words – and thus undermine your authority as the paper writer.
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Your guide to writing a Deductive Essay
The purpose of the deductive essay is to guide students in the process of using deductive reasoning. In Western countries, deductive reasoning is the most commonly used method to arrive at a valid conclusion. Deductive reasoning uses facts to draw a conclusion. For example, a simple deductive argument might be
"Only depressive students exhibit the following set of behaviors. Twenty-five percent of college freshman exhibit these behaviors. Therefore, 25% of college students must be depressed."
Of course, a deductive essay draws on a lot more than one fact to arrive at a conclusion, but this simple example illustrates the principle.
The tone of the deductive essay must be factual and objective. Personal opinions and conjecture are not welcome in a deductive essay, so take care to avoid introducing these elements in the essay.
Selecting a Topic
Topics for a deductive essay must be chosen carefully. Avoid topics that evoke a strong emotional response because it is very difficult to write an objective paper about a topic that you feel strongly about. Instead, choose a topic that you find interesting, but that you do not have a firm opinion about.
The introduction should explain the problem that is being investigated, as well as provide the background of the problem. Because the deductive essay is based on facts, the introduction and background of the problem should be carefully researched. Then, the thesis should explain the major facts and present the conclusion. For example, in a deductive essay about the lack of diversity at a particular university, the thesis could be, "Plain State University lacks diversity because the majority of its students are Caucasian, Protestant, and from upper middle-class backgrounds."
The supporting paragraphs should explain the major facts mentioned in the thesis. Each of these paragraphs should have a clear topic sentence to guide the reader, and then move on to provide evidence that supports the claim. This evidence must stem from credible research and never include elements of the author's opinion or personal experiences.
The conclusion of the deductive essay should restate the conclusion that you have drawn, based on your research. The conclusion can also look to the future. For example, the author in the Plain State University example might advocate that the university conduct further research to solve the diversity problem. Alternatively, they might discuss the implications of failing to address this problem, such as losing federal funding.
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