An inductive essay allows a writer to examine a question without arguing for the validity of the essay's thesis as is common in a deductive essay. This inductive essay will unpack the evidence but not make a claim to the truth, allowing the reader to arrive at a conclusion at the end of the paper.
Induction and Science Writing
Sir Francis Bacon is the architect of the inductive method, which claims that induction collects evidence to prove a point, rather than the other way around -- making a point and proving it with evidence. This inductive method shaped the writing of Sir Isaac Newton. An inductive essay is sometimes a good choice for science writing because the writer can examine the topic and unfold information throughout the essay. The information in the essay leads the reader to the conclusion.
Learning While Writing
An inductive essay allows writers to learn the subject while conducting research. In many cases, experiments are not finished or are inconclusive, so an inductive essay allows the writer to review new research without taking a position. For example, an inductive thesis such as "The ethical implications of new cloning processes need to be considered" can include new ethical objections or observations throughout the paper. By contrast, a deductive essay requires a clear position such as "The ethical implications of cloning limit its usefulness to researchers." A definitive stance like this is a disadvantage for writers who are not familiar with the breadth and scope of the subject.
Complex and multifaceted research topics are hard to write about deductively. Instead of trying to comprehend all of the research on a subject and arguing for a particular perspective, an inductive essay allows the writer to focus on a few particular traits of the topic, explain each trait in a systematic way and arrive at a conclusion. This exploratory approach is particularly advantageous for students who are novices in the subject area and cannot generalize or universalize their discussion to a broader area of experience or expertise.
An inductive essay has many advantages, but putting the generalization in the conclusion is one of its greatest assets. The writer avoids controversy at the beginning of the paper and leads the reader to agree with the writer's point. As Professor Ian Johnston, a literature and liberal studies research associate at Vancouver Island University, states, "The basis of all induction is repeated observation, so that the facts about similar experiences accumulate to the point where one sees a repetitive pattern and can draw a conclusion about it." If your topic is a controversial one, such as cloning or gun control, it is particularly advantageous to present information without taking sides or drawing conclusions until the reader has had the opportunity to read the same research and reach the same interpretation as you.
- OWL at Purdue: Using Rhetorical Strategies for Persuasion
- Westminster Theological Seminary: Center for Theological Writing -- Two Approaches to Argument
- Essay Development: Deductive and Inductive Patterns for Developing an Essay -- Example of an Inductive Essay
- University of Tennessee at Martin: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy -- A Peer Reviewed Resource: Francis Bacon
- Ian Johnston: Vancouver Island University -- Essays and Arguments, Section 5
- Johnstonia: The website of Professor Ian Johnston
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