Design science research (DSR) aims to generate knowledge about innovative solutions to real-world problems. DSR studies usually involve inductive, deductive or abductive inference strategies to generate design knowledge. However, applying these strategies has often remained implicit, which means that the transparency of the research processes could be questioned (e.g. openness, honesty). This study focuses on abductive DSR, which is often regarded as a combination of inductive and deductive strategies. Based on our literature review, we can conclude that there is a lack of prescriptive support for how to conduct abductive DSR. We have also identified that the concept of abduction is omitted in well-known DSR frameworks/methods. To address this research gap, our study applies a qualitative content analysis to analyse two abductive DSR PhD theses. The analysis outcome is a conceptual model describing central relationships and an abductive DSR process model illustrating movements between the theoretical and empirical domains.