For more than 50 years, psychology has been dominated by a top-down research strategy in which a simplistic account of the hypothetico-deductive method is paired with null hypothesis testing in order to test hypotheses and theories. As a consequence of this focus on testing, psychologists have failed to pay sufficient attention to a complementary, bottom-up research strategy in which data-to-theory research is properly pursued. This bottom-up strategy has 2 primary aspects: the detection of phenomena, mostly in the form of empirical generalizations, and the subsequent understanding of those phenomena through the abductive generation of explanatory theories. This article provides a methodologically informative account of phenomena detection with reference to psychology. It begins by presenting the important distinctions between data, phenomena, and theory. It then identifies a number of different methodological strategies that are used to identify empirical phenomena. Thereafter, it discusses aspects of the nature of science that are prompted by a consideration of the distinction between data, phenomena, and explanatory theory. Taken together, these considerations press for significant changes in the way we think about and practice psychological research. The adoption of these changes would help psychology correct a number of its major current research deficiencies.

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