grounded theory thesis structure

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Grounded theory thesis structure

A2 PRODUCT DESIGN COURSEWORK EXAMPLE

Researchers reflect their philosophical beliefs and interpretations of the world prior to commencing research. Methodology is the research design that shapes the selection of, and use of, particular data generation and analysis methods to answer the research question. This methodology is appropriate when little is known about a phenomenon; the aim being to produce or construct an explanatory theory that uncovers a process inherent to the substantive area of inquiry.

The following section provides an overview of GT — the history, main genres and essential methods and processes employed in the conduct of a GT study. This summary provides a foundation for a framework to demonstrate the interplay between the methods and processes inherent in a GT study as presented in the sections that follow. Glaser and Strauss are recognised as the founders of grounded theory.

Strauss was conversant in symbolic interactionism and Glaser in descriptive statistics. Some of these suspected they were dying and tried to confirm or disconfirm their suspicions. Others tried to understand by interpreting treatment by care providers and family members. Glaser and Strauss examined how the patients dealt with the knowledge they were dying and the reactions of healthcare staff caring for these patients.

Throughout this collaboration, Glaser and Strauss questioned the appropriateness of using a scientific method of verification for this study. During this investigation, they developed the constant comparative method, a key element of grounded theory, while generating a theory of dying first described in Awareness of Dying The constant comparative method is deemed an original way of organising and analysing qualitative data.

This seminal work explained how theory could be generated from data inductively. This process challenged the traditional method of testing or refining theory through deductive testing. Grounded theory provided an outlook that questioned the view of the time that quantitative methodology is the only valid, unbiased way to determine truths about the world.

After publishing The Discovery of Grounded Theory , Strauss and Glaser went on to write independently, expressing divergent viewpoints in the application of grounded theory methods. However, understanding how to position oneself philosophically can challenge novice researchers. These Australian researchers have written in a way that appeals to the novice researcher. It is the contemporary writing, the way Birks and Mills present a non-partisan approach to GT that support the novice researcher to understand the philosophical and methodological concepts integral in conducting research.

As the research progresses, seminal texts are referred back to time and again as understanding of concepts increases, much like the iterative processes inherent in the conduct of a GT study. The first of these genres is known as traditional or classic GT. Glaser 18 acknowledged that the goal of traditional GT is to generate a conceptual theory that accounts for a pattern of behaviour that is relevant and problematic for those involved.

The second genre, evolved GT, is founded on symbolic interactionism and stems from work associated with Strauss, Corbin and Clarke. Symbolic interactionism is a sociological perspective that relies on the symbolic meaning people ascribe to the processes of social interaction.

Symbolic interactionism addresses the subjective meaning people place on objects, behaviours or events based on what they believe is true. Following on from Glaser and Strauss, several versions of GT have ensued. Grounded theory represents both a method of inquiry and a resultant product of that inquiry.

However, Birks and Mills 6 refer to GT as a process by which theory is generated from the analysis of data. Theory is not discovered; rather, theory is constructed by the researcher who views the world through their own particular lens. Before commencing any research study, the researcher must have a solid understanding of the research process.

A well-developed outline of the study and an understanding of the important considerations in designing and undertaking a GT study are essential if the goals of the research are to be achieved. While it is important to have an understanding of how a methodology has developed, in order to move forward with research, a novice can align with a grounded theorist and follow an approach to GT.

Using a framework to inform a research design can be a useful modus operandi. The following section provides insight into the process of undertaking a GT research study. Figure 1 is a framework that summarises the interplay and movement between methods and processes that underpin the generation of a GT. As can be seen from this framework, and as detailed in the discussion that follows, the process of doing a GT research study is not linear, rather it is iterative and recursive.

Research design framework: summary of the interplay between the essential grounded theory methods and processes. Grounded theory research involves the meticulous application of specific methods and processes. Theoretical sampling is employed until theoretical saturation is reached. These methods and processes create an unfolding, iterative system of actions and interactions inherent in GT.

The framework denotes the process is both iterative and dynamic and is not one directional. Grounded theory methods are discussed in the following section. Purposeful sampling provides the initial data that the researcher analyses. As will be discussed, theoretical sampling then commences from the codes and categories developed from the first data set. Theoretical sampling is used to identify and follow clues from the analysis, fill gaps, clarify uncertainties, check hunches and test interpretations as the study progresses.

Constant comparative analysis is an analytical process used in GT for coding and category development. This process commences with the first data generated or collected and pervades the research process as presented in Figure 1. Incidents are identified in the data and coded. Initial codes are then compared to other codes. Codes are then collapsed into categories.

This process means the researcher will compare incidents in a category with previous incidents, in both the same and different categories. New data is then compared with data obtained earlier during the analysis phases.

This iterative process involves inductive and deductive thinking. Constant comparative analysis generates increasingly more abstract concepts and theories through inductive processes. The constant comparative technique is used to find consistencies and differences, with the aim of continually refining concepts and theoretically relevant categories. This continual comparative iterative process that encompasses GT research sets it apart from a purely descriptive analysis. Memos are the storehouse of ideas generated and documented through interacting with data.

Lempert 29 considers memo writing crucial as memos prompt researchers to analyse and code data and develop codes into categories early in the coding process. Memos detail why and how decisions made related to sampling, coding, collapsing of codes, making of new codes, separating codes, producing a category and identifying relationships abstracted to a higher level of analysis. The relationship the researcher has with the data, how it is generated and collected, will determine the value it contributes to the development of the final GT.

Coding is an analytical process used to identify concepts, similarities and conceptual reoccurrences in data. Coding is the pivotal link between collecting or generating data and developing a theory that explains the data. Charmaz 10 posits,. Codes consist of short labels that we construct as we interact with the data. Something kinaesthetic occurs when we are coding; we are mentally and physically active in the process.

In GT, coding can be categorised into iterative phases. Traditional, evolved and constructivist GT genres use different terminology to explain each coding phase Table 1. Comparison of coding terminology in traditional, evolved and constructivist grounded theory. Adapted from Birks and Mills. Coding terminology in evolved GT refers to open a procedure for developing categories of information , axial an advanced procedure for interconnecting the categories and selective coding procedure for building a storyline from core codes that connects the categories , producing a discursive set of theoretical propositions.

The coding terms devised by Birks and Mills 6 were used for Figure 1 ; however, these can be altered to reflect the coding terminology used in the respective GT genres selected by the researcher. Initial coding of data is the preliminary step in GT data analysis.

In initial coding, the researcher inductively generates as many codes as possible from early data. In GT, codes identify social and psychological processes and actions as opposed to themes. Charmaz 16 emphasises keeping codes as similar to the data as possible and advocates embedding actions in the codes in an iterative coding process. Initial coding categorises and assigns meaning to the data, comparing incident-to-incident, labelling beginning patterns and beginning to look for comparisons between the codes.

The process of documenting reactions, emotions and related actions enables researchers to explore, challenge and intensify their sensitivity to the data. The purpose of theoretical sampling is to allow the researcher to follow leads in the data by sampling new participants or material that provides relevant information. As depicted in Figure 1 , theoretical sampling is central to GT design, aids the evolving theory 5 , 7 , 16 and ensures the final developed theory is grounded in the data.

During this process, additional information is sought to saturate categories under development. The analysis identifies relationships, highlights gaps in the existing data set and may reveal insight into what is not yet known. The exemplars in Box 1 highlight how theoretical sampling led to the inclusion of further data.

Thus, theoretical sampling is used to focus and generate data to feed the iterative process of continual comparative analysis of the data. Intermediate coding, identifying a core category, theoretical data saturation, constant comparative analysis, theoretical sensitivity and memoing occur in the next phase of the GT process.

Where initial coding fractures the data, intermediate coding begins to transform basic data into more abstract concepts allowing the theory to emerge from the data. During this analytic stage, a process of reviewing categories and identifying which ones, if any, can be subsumed beneath other categories occurs and the properties or dimension of the developed categories are refined.

Properties refer to the characteristics that are common to all the concepts in the category and dimensions are the variations of a property. At this stage, a core category starts to become evident as developed categories form around a core concept; relationships are identified between categories and the analysis is refined. Birks and Mills 6 affirm that diagramming can aid analysis in the intermediate coding phase. These authors promote storyline technique described in the following section and theoretical coding as strategies for advancing analysis and theoretical integration.

Advanced coding is essential to produce a theory that is grounded in the data and has explanatory power. The findings are presented as a set of interrelated concepts as opposed to presenting themes. Storyline is a tool that can be used for theoretical integration. Storyline technique is first proposed with limited attention in Basics of Qualitative Research by Strauss and Corbin 12 and further developed by Birks et al.

The storyline is the conceptualisation of the core category. Birks et al. Theoretical coding occurs as the final culminating stage towards achieving a GT. As presented in Figure 1 , theoretical sensitivity encompasses the entire research process. Glaser and Strauss 5 initially described the term theoretical sensitivity in The Discovery of Grounded Theory.

Theoretical sensitivity is the ability to know when you identify a data segment that is important to your theory. Developing sensitivity as a grounded theorist and the application of theoretical sensitivity throughout the research process allows the analytical focus to be directed towards theory development and ultimately result in an integrated and abstract GT. The meticulous application of essential GT methods refines the analysis resulting in the generation of an integrated, comprehensive GT that explains a process relating to a particular phenomenon.

Procedural precision requires careful attention to maintaining a detailed audit trail, data management strategies and demonstrable procedural logic recorded using memos. An audit trail of decision-making, changes in the direction of the research and the rationale for decisions made are essential to ensure rigour in the final grounded theory.

This article offers a framework to assist novice researchers visualise the iterative processes that underpin a GT study. The fundamental process and methods used to generate an integrated grounded theory have been described. Novice researchers can adapt the framework presented to inform and guide the design of a GT study. This framework provides a useful guide to visualise the interplay between the methods and processes inherent in conducting GT.

Research conducted ethically and with meticulous attention to process will ensure quality research outcomes that have relevance at the practice level. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Published online Jan 2.

Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Email: ua. Received Jul 30; Accepted Dec This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Background: Grounded theory is a well-known methodology employed in many research studies. Objective: The aim of this article is to provide a contemporary research framework suitable to inform a grounded theory study.

Result: This article provides an overview of grounded theory illustrated through a graphic representation of the processes and methods employed in conducting research using this methodology. Discussion: As grounded theory is not a linear process, the framework illustrates the interplay between the essential grounded theory methods and iterative and comparative actions involved. Conclusion: Rather than an engagement in philosophical discussion or a debate of the different genres that can be used in grounded theory, this article illustrates how a framework for a research study design can be used to guide and inform the novice nurse researcher undertaking a study using grounded theory.

Keywords: Framework, grounded theory, grounded theory methods, novice researcher, study design. Background History Glaser and Strauss are recognised as the founders of grounded theory. Genres: traditional, evolved and constructivist grounded theory Grounded theory has several distinct methodological genres: traditional GT associated with Glaser; evolved GT associated with Strauss, Corbin and Clarke; and constructivist GT associated with Charmaz.

Most problematic were the immutable, positivist institutional requirements, researcher a priori knowledge, the reliance upon literature for the research proposal and structure of the proposal itself. These include suspension of the notion that the purist use of either model can be applied in the current academic environment, the need for a close relationship with the data and toleration of a non-linear process with unexpected results. The practicalities of GT research are often reflected upon by the academy, but use by novice researchers is little considered.

The findings from this study provide a novel set of guidelines for use by those embarking on GT research and particularly where the requirements of formal education may cause a conflict. Thurlow, L. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article for both commercial and non-commercial purposes , subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors.

This paper considers the practicalities and problematics of applying grounded theory GT as a novice researcher during a mixed methods research project. Presented as a critical review of GT via a case study, it observes postgraduate PhD investigation into the nature of sketch inhibition among undergraduates within design higher education.

The aim of the study was to build an effective theory of sketch inhibition as along with a set of pedagogic tools for its management in higher education — sketch inhibition is defined as a phenomenon whereby the suffer feels or demonstrates a reluctance or inability to engage with the mark-making aspect of design ideation and development Author, This type of problem-solving and conceptual activity is also evident in broader environments including the social sciences, sciences and business.

Although often criticised for its lack of formal epistemology Doherty, ; Downs, , the design disciplines have historically borrowed heavily from the social sciences, and an unintended consequence of this study offers methodological insight, not only to design research but also to other disciplines.

The following considers GT as a research approach and methodological framework deleted phrase alongside the personality of post graduate research. Its characteristics both Glaserian and Straussian are considered by the literature, together with a critical evaluation of their relationship. The benefits and problematics of GT applied within the mainly positivist environment of independent post graduate study are considered — from initial proposal, data gathering and analysis; thesis-writing; and identifying points along the research process where method particular attention or method slurring Baker et al.

By way of conclusion, the findings from this have been developed into a set of considerations for prospective users of the method, intended as a decision-making tool for novices to GT research. Such lack of theory relating to the phenomenon of sketch inhibition drew the research towards an inductive process, and paradigmatically, GT.

A constructivist approach was identified as the most appropriate — sketch inhibition being phenomenological and perceived at both the macro-level across discipline and by individual sufferers. GT, Glaser and Strauss, ; Strauss and Corbin, , offering both method and result Bohm, in providing understanding Furniss, of sketch inhibition was the most appropriate approach for observing the phenomenon. Based on this initial understanding of GT research, and its apparent suitability for the study, further review of evaluation method was conducted.

Being data-driven, GT study demands identification of an area of interest or research question to be investigated but no explicit methodology at the outset — this was perplexing; the antithesis of the requirement for post graduate study. GT and phenomenology paradigms occupying a close relationship within the social sciences, method slurring is often an unavoidable consequence of its use Baker et al.

The close relationship between research activity and data and the recursive nature of their method were noted by Glaser and Strauss , p. Identification and saturation of categories is data-driven Muratovski, using an emergent approach to classification: pre-defined categories unnecessary and potentially harmful to the process.

Both Glaserian and Straussian approaches to GT use constant comparison — the evaluation of new data against existing categories and development of new categories should these emerge during the process. Both approaches use theoretical sampling — the identification of further sources of data to be evaluated, these reliant upon the development of theory emerging from existing data Suddaby, Via the process of constant comparison and purposive sampling, identification of clear categories and the relationships between them emerge from the data:.

Categories or codes […] are the basic building blocks of a grounded theory. As they are developed, the same recursive, theory driven, comparative processes are used to surface the links and relationships among the categories to construct a complete theoretical framework Locke, , p. This would allow the data to drive the research and obviate the need for a preformulated methodology. The Glaserian model of emergence relied upon allowing the data to simply appear during analysis characterized by the separateness between researcher and the external world that incorporates their subject matter Howell, Locke , p.

Strauss and Corbin suggested both induction, whereby data is used to build a picture of a reality, and deduction based upon hypothesis testing, deleted phrase were intrinsic to such research and the act of conceptualization by the researcher would by default, involve deduction, suggesting interaction between the two was necessary for theory-building.

With a dearth of knowledge around sketch inhibition, the methodological purity of the Glaserian model was attractive, and further considered. Coding, according to Walker and Myrick , p. Strauss and Corbin , coding is more complex, involving open, axial and selective coding, although individual stages are subject to blurring and can be used both sequentially and concurrently Walker and Myrick, Initial, open coding allows reduction of data into concise manageable themes that accurately reflect the phenomenon.

Axial coding allows for interpretation of categories to be identified. What is the context in which this process is embedded? The final, selective coding stage involves the bringing together of categories and connections, their development into a storyline to describe the mechanics of the issue. According to Muratovski , this is the point where theory can be developed.

This more constructivist approach to coding was criticised by Glaser for being too aggressive, negatively affecting the research outcome. At this point, the purity of the Galserian model was still considered the most appropriate for the study, enabling a natural emergence of knowledge about sketch inhibition, and an almost effortless development of theory.

Potter believed unintentional researcher influence unavoidable, subsequent knowledge considered to be of a Constructivist epistemology. Baker et al. This more structured approach was potentially more manageable than a classic Glaserian style and appeared to provide a robust and justifiable route towards growth of theory Wacker, Despite the unease between the two schools, Suddaby , p.

The essentialist concept of measurability being vital to success in education — the award of academic qualifications impossible without it — creates an immutable environment for within which post graduate researchers must function. Such need for measurability requires, by default, a set of criteria to measure against, the research proposal being central to this. With most influence on the study was the requirement for a formal, developed proposal: this was completely at odds with GT and effectively precluded its use purest form — methodological concessions were already being made.

A review of the literature was necessary to frame the scope of the research and with so little literature referring directly to sketch inhibition, a wider search allowed context to be established. This continued for over a year, almost exclusively, to build a research framework robust enough to carry the primary research through to completion of the study.

If the Glaserian model were to be observed, the use of the literature review together with empirical data would deem the data already contaminated. The Straussian model, by default, had become the approach to the study. According to the institutional requirement, the research proposal was submitted. The initial aim was:. An investigation into the reasons for design students and early career designers avoiding manual drawing tools during design development and the proposal of a pedagogical framework to address this.

The objectives were presented, thus, as an investigation into: The stages of design development where drawing is used and an investigation into its purpose within creative development. Current practice of designers across a range of disciplines regarding their use of drawing techniques during design development.

Reasons for students choosing not to use drawing as a tool for development and presentation — explicit reasoning. An investigation into the use of drawing as a tool for design development within HE — tactic reasoning. The position and value of drawing within current frameworks for design education — tacit reasoning Author, This proposal was problematic on several levels.

As a statement of intent, it was far too complex. In contradiction to GT it made assumptions about the nature and extent of sketch inhibition and presupposed that it was indeed an issue. In addition to this, and in further contradiction to GT, the proposal required submission of a literature review and proposed methodology for data collection and analysis.

The methodology was also submitted for ethical approval: pre-empting methods and samples was required despite there being little data upon which to base their need. Regardless of this, without such approval, the research could not have been conducted. At this point, a full literature review together with the developed methodology for data collection and analysis was required. The standard PhD model demanded the literature review prior to primary research. This again was in conflict with a GT approach.

Based upon institutional requirements, the methodology presented for review was as follows:. Semi-structured interviews: Divided into two groups, with those who observed sketch inhibition, i. The semi-structured approach was considered the most appropriate mode and accordingly, a standard operating procedure had to be developed and a set of questions designed. Protocol analysis experiment and observation: to identify the symptoms of sketch inhibition among sufferers, a sample of inhibited students would complete an ideation task to be observed and coded.

This was based upon similar methodologies of Suwa et al. It was intended that data would be analysed using a coding system based on precedents set by Suwa et al. Questionnaire and Delphi study: once a proposal for sketch inhibition management had been developed, this would be submitted for feedback to interview subjects from Group 1. In addition to this, the Delphi study Hsu and Sandford, was intended to produce a normalised set of moderated pedagogic tools for use by educators Author, Based upon this proposal, the formal review was passed and progression to a PhD was approved.

However, as a piece of GT research, the project was already failing: the methodology up to this point had been driven entirely by institutional requirements and not by the data. The remit of the study was the development of a theory of sketch inhibition and pedagogic framework; however, the proposed tools would not facilitate the constant comparative and purposive sampling essential to achieve this. In fact, the research process had developed into a series of box-ticking exercises to fulfil the requirements of the institution and understanding sketch inhibition had become subordinate to the research proposal.

This was completely at odds with the aim and approach of the study and a watershed moment — the GT literature was revisited, the protocol experiment, NASA TLX questionnaire and questionnaire and Delphi study duly scrapped and restructuring of the project undertaken. Based solely upon the emergence of issues from data, the interview method alone was kept, albeit in a form more reflective of true GT.

From this, further interviews were conducted, data coded immediately after each one, and emergent themes used to inform the next interview, i. The interviews provided both data for the study, and insight into the problematics of conducting GT research. Digression was a common issue, particularly among industry subjects and often difficult to manage: if everything was considered as data within a GT study, to what extent could digression be allowed in case it offered up some new and unexpected insight?

This was difficult to resolve — it also resulted in lengthy transcriptions and data extraction that were the most time-consuming part of the study. Lack of structure during the interviews with students was particularly problematic. Lack of maturity and experience may have affected the way subjects responded, and it was evident their understanding of sketching and the design process was somewhat poor. The frustration of trying to tease out responses from some subjects created a tendency to ask leading questions — this had to be carefully monitored to avoid corrupted the data.

Data from educators was very high and proved most valuable to the study. Constant comparison and theoretical sampling led to an interview with one subject whose data approved pivotal to the whole study: without using GT, this subject not have been identified. Always a conundrum for qualitative research, interview sample size was surprisingly simple to establish. Where the literature offered a plethora of notions about this, GT made it simpler: the interviews continued until no further new issues emerged from the data.

Instead of an arbitrarily-set sample, constant comparison enabled identification of the point of saturation. Depth and breadth of data during GT research is difficult to predict, Fassinger noting the complexity of data handling as potentially problematic.

NVivo software was used throughout the study for storage, management, coding and analysis, thereby mitigating some of the complexity observed by Charmaz Charmaz , p. This did not, however, appear problematic: emergent themes rather than software parameters were the driver of data handling.

A hierarchy of themes emerged as coding progressed. And so, the number of parent nodes increased, as did child nodes within these. Multiple coding also formed part of the constant comparison process — coding data as many times as necessary to ensure it was coded into all nodes it related to.

Throughout the coding process, axial coding, using mind mapping techniques, identified further issues within and between themes, according to Walker and Myrick , p. This underpinned the structure of findings and their presentation as a narrative of sketch inhibition Figure 3.

Where theoretical sampling offered efficiency to the study, the lack of time to research new methodologies was problematic. During coding, the potential benefit of a learning style survey emerged. Responses from the interviews with sufferers of sketch inhibition suggested that there may be a link between inhibition and learning preference or learning difference.

As such, a new data gathering methodology was applied. Similarly, the interview data suggested a possible issue among sufferers of inhibition and their employability — the benefit of a longitudinal study emerged. The findings from the learning preference study were valuable to the study; however, the longitudinal study failed to gather any purposeful data: the GT approach of developing methodology according to emerging need was proving problematic.

The fixed timeframe of the study prevented the development of an effective methodology and its application in an effective way. Instead, a rushed study with limited sample, based upon revisiting interview subjects via email was applied, very unsuccessfully. The thesis, in traditional PhD study, requires a linear set of content to be presented for examination. A product of the positivist tradition, such structure tends to favour the sciences.

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However, understanding how to position oneself philosophically can challenge novice researchers. These Australian researchers have written in a way that appeals to the novice researcher. It is the contemporary writing, the way Birks and Mills present a non-partisan approach to GT that support the novice researcher to understand the philosophical and methodological concepts integral in conducting research.

As the research progresses, seminal texts are referred back to time and again as understanding of concepts increases, much like the iterative processes inherent in the conduct of a GT study. The first of these genres is known as traditional or classic GT. Glaser 18 acknowledged that the goal of traditional GT is to generate a conceptual theory that accounts for a pattern of behaviour that is relevant and problematic for those involved.

The second genre, evolved GT, is founded on symbolic interactionism and stems from work associated with Strauss, Corbin and Clarke. Symbolic interactionism is a sociological perspective that relies on the symbolic meaning people ascribe to the processes of social interaction. Symbolic interactionism addresses the subjective meaning people place on objects, behaviours or events based on what they believe is true.

Following on from Glaser and Strauss, several versions of GT have ensued. Grounded theory represents both a method of inquiry and a resultant product of that inquiry. However, Birks and Mills 6 refer to GT as a process by which theory is generated from the analysis of data. Theory is not discovered; rather, theory is constructed by the researcher who views the world through their own particular lens. Before commencing any research study, the researcher must have a solid understanding of the research process.

A well-developed outline of the study and an understanding of the important considerations in designing and undertaking a GT study are essential if the goals of the research are to be achieved. While it is important to have an understanding of how a methodology has developed, in order to move forward with research, a novice can align with a grounded theorist and follow an approach to GT. Using a framework to inform a research design can be a useful modus operandi.

The following section provides insight into the process of undertaking a GT research study. Figure 1 is a framework that summarises the interplay and movement between methods and processes that underpin the generation of a GT. As can be seen from this framework, and as detailed in the discussion that follows, the process of doing a GT research study is not linear, rather it is iterative and recursive.

Research design framework: summary of the interplay between the essential grounded theory methods and processes. Grounded theory research involves the meticulous application of specific methods and processes. Theoretical sampling is employed until theoretical saturation is reached. These methods and processes create an unfolding, iterative system of actions and interactions inherent in GT.

The framework denotes the process is both iterative and dynamic and is not one directional. Grounded theory methods are discussed in the following section. Purposeful sampling provides the initial data that the researcher analyses. As will be discussed, theoretical sampling then commences from the codes and categories developed from the first data set. Theoretical sampling is used to identify and follow clues from the analysis, fill gaps, clarify uncertainties, check hunches and test interpretations as the study progresses.

Constant comparative analysis is an analytical process used in GT for coding and category development. This process commences with the first data generated or collected and pervades the research process as presented in Figure 1. Incidents are identified in the data and coded. Initial codes are then compared to other codes. Codes are then collapsed into categories.

This process means the researcher will compare incidents in a category with previous incidents, in both the same and different categories. New data is then compared with data obtained earlier during the analysis phases. This iterative process involves inductive and deductive thinking. Constant comparative analysis generates increasingly more abstract concepts and theories through inductive processes.

The constant comparative technique is used to find consistencies and differences, with the aim of continually refining concepts and theoretically relevant categories. This continual comparative iterative process that encompasses GT research sets it apart from a purely descriptive analysis.

Memos are the storehouse of ideas generated and documented through interacting with data. Lempert 29 considers memo writing crucial as memos prompt researchers to analyse and code data and develop codes into categories early in the coding process.

Memos detail why and how decisions made related to sampling, coding, collapsing of codes, making of new codes, separating codes, producing a category and identifying relationships abstracted to a higher level of analysis. The relationship the researcher has with the data, how it is generated and collected, will determine the value it contributes to the development of the final GT.

Coding is an analytical process used to identify concepts, similarities and conceptual reoccurrences in data. Coding is the pivotal link between collecting or generating data and developing a theory that explains the data. Charmaz 10 posits,. Codes consist of short labels that we construct as we interact with the data.

Something kinaesthetic occurs when we are coding; we are mentally and physically active in the process. In GT, coding can be categorised into iterative phases. Traditional, evolved and constructivist GT genres use different terminology to explain each coding phase Table 1.

Comparison of coding terminology in traditional, evolved and constructivist grounded theory. Adapted from Birks and Mills. Coding terminology in evolved GT refers to open a procedure for developing categories of information , axial an advanced procedure for interconnecting the categories and selective coding procedure for building a storyline from core codes that connects the categories , producing a discursive set of theoretical propositions. The coding terms devised by Birks and Mills 6 were used for Figure 1 ; however, these can be altered to reflect the coding terminology used in the respective GT genres selected by the researcher.

Initial coding of data is the preliminary step in GT data analysis. In initial coding, the researcher inductively generates as many codes as possible from early data. In GT, codes identify social and psychological processes and actions as opposed to themes.

Charmaz 16 emphasises keeping codes as similar to the data as possible and advocates embedding actions in the codes in an iterative coding process. Initial coding categorises and assigns meaning to the data, comparing incident-to-incident, labelling beginning patterns and beginning to look for comparisons between the codes. The process of documenting reactions, emotions and related actions enables researchers to explore, challenge and intensify their sensitivity to the data.

The purpose of theoretical sampling is to allow the researcher to follow leads in the data by sampling new participants or material that provides relevant information. As depicted in Figure 1 , theoretical sampling is central to GT design, aids the evolving theory 5 , 7 , 16 and ensures the final developed theory is grounded in the data. During this process, additional information is sought to saturate categories under development. The analysis identifies relationships, highlights gaps in the existing data set and may reveal insight into what is not yet known.

The exemplars in Box 1 highlight how theoretical sampling led to the inclusion of further data. Thus, theoretical sampling is used to focus and generate data to feed the iterative process of continual comparative analysis of the data. Intermediate coding, identifying a core category, theoretical data saturation, constant comparative analysis, theoretical sensitivity and memoing occur in the next phase of the GT process.

Where initial coding fractures the data, intermediate coding begins to transform basic data into more abstract concepts allowing the theory to emerge from the data. During this analytic stage, a process of reviewing categories and identifying which ones, if any, can be subsumed beneath other categories occurs and the properties or dimension of the developed categories are refined.

Properties refer to the characteristics that are common to all the concepts in the category and dimensions are the variations of a property. At this stage, a core category starts to become evident as developed categories form around a core concept; relationships are identified between categories and the analysis is refined. Birks and Mills 6 affirm that diagramming can aid analysis in the intermediate coding phase.

These authors promote storyline technique described in the following section and theoretical coding as strategies for advancing analysis and theoretical integration. Advanced coding is essential to produce a theory that is grounded in the data and has explanatory power. The findings are presented as a set of interrelated concepts as opposed to presenting themes. Storyline is a tool that can be used for theoretical integration.

Storyline technique is first proposed with limited attention in Basics of Qualitative Research by Strauss and Corbin 12 and further developed by Birks et al. The storyline is the conceptualisation of the core category. Birks et al. Theoretical coding occurs as the final culminating stage towards achieving a GT. As presented in Figure 1 , theoretical sensitivity encompasses the entire research process.

Glaser and Strauss 5 initially described the term theoretical sensitivity in The Discovery of Grounded Theory. Theoretical sensitivity is the ability to know when you identify a data segment that is important to your theory. Developing sensitivity as a grounded theorist and the application of theoretical sensitivity throughout the research process allows the analytical focus to be directed towards theory development and ultimately result in an integrated and abstract GT.

The meticulous application of essential GT methods refines the analysis resulting in the generation of an integrated, comprehensive GT that explains a process relating to a particular phenomenon. Procedural precision requires careful attention to maintaining a detailed audit trail, data management strategies and demonstrable procedural logic recorded using memos.

An audit trail of decision-making, changes in the direction of the research and the rationale for decisions made are essential to ensure rigour in the final grounded theory. This article offers a framework to assist novice researchers visualise the iterative processes that underpin a GT study.

The fundamental process and methods used to generate an integrated grounded theory have been described. Novice researchers can adapt the framework presented to inform and guide the design of a GT study. This framework provides a useful guide to visualise the interplay between the methods and processes inherent in conducting GT. Research conducted ethically and with meticulous attention to process will ensure quality research outcomes that have relevance at the practice level. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.

Published online Jan 2. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Email: ua. Received Jul 30; Accepted Dec This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Background: Grounded theory is a well-known methodology employed in many research studies. Objective: The aim of this article is to provide a contemporary research framework suitable to inform a grounded theory study.

Result: This article provides an overview of grounded theory illustrated through a graphic representation of the processes and methods employed in conducting research using this methodology. Discussion: As grounded theory is not a linear process, the framework illustrates the interplay between the essential grounded theory methods and iterative and comparative actions involved. Conclusion: Rather than an engagement in philosophical discussion or a debate of the different genres that can be used in grounded theory, this article illustrates how a framework for a research study design can be used to guide and inform the novice nurse researcher undertaking a study using grounded theory.

Keywords: Framework, grounded theory, grounded theory methods, novice researcher, study design. Background History Glaser and Strauss are recognised as the founders of grounded theory. Genres: traditional, evolved and constructivist grounded theory Grounded theory has several distinct methodological genres: traditional GT associated with Glaser; evolved GT associated with Strauss, Corbin and Clarke; and constructivist GT associated with Charmaz.

Research process Before commencing any research study, the researcher must have a solid understanding of the research process. Results The following section provides insight into the process of undertaking a GT research study. Open in a separate window. Figure 1. Constant comparative analysis Constant comparative analysis is an analytical process used in GT for coding and category development. Coding Coding is an analytical process used to identify concepts, similarities and conceptual reoccurrences in data.

Charmaz 10 posits, codes rely on interaction between researchers and their data. Table 1. Initial coding Initial coding of data is the preliminary step in GT data analysis. Theoretical sampling The purpose of theoretical sampling is to allow the researcher to follow leads in the data by sampling new participants or material that provides relevant information. Box 1. Examples of theoretical sampling. In Edwards 36 grounded theory study, theoretical sampling led to the inclusion of the partners of women who had presented to the emergency department.

This statement led me to ask other women during their interviews if they had similar experiences, and ultimately to interview the partners to gain their perspectives. Intermediate coding Intermediate coding, identifying a core category, theoretical data saturation, constant comparative analysis, theoretical sensitivity and memoing occur in the next phase of the GT process.

Box 2. Writing the storyline. It needs to explain what types of methods have been used by others to explore similar type research purposes, and build the case as to why these are not the most ideal to inquire into YOUR research purpose 2. It needs to present a comprehensive and concise overview about what grounded theory is.

To do this you must demonstrate understanding of: a. The epistemological purpose of grounded theory research and how it differs to other inductive methodologies b. Different types of grounded theory methodologies and a justification of which best suits your research purpose. Once you have chosen, then stick to this particular formulation and do not deviate. The process of doing grounded theory research in relation to the grounded theory tradition you have selected.

Firstly, that different discourses of health care ethics contain differing ways of framing and focusing knowledge of health care ethics. Secondly, that the implications of pre-framing and pre-focusing knowledge is that knowledge generation is grounded within a priori disciplinary preconception and ideas about what health care ethics ought to be about.

Thirdly, that social scientific methods of inquiry into health care ethics enables a better analysis and understanding of social processes that focus and frame health care ethics. This involves asking about how matters become an ethical concern, how they are attached to particular forms of activity, what ideologies and knowledge has arisen around this activity.

These three themes are important in how we understand the education of health care ethics because different discourses about health care ethics contain differing ideas about how to understand and inquire into health care ethics, which contain both implicit and explicit ideas and values about its purpose Gerwitz and Cribb, Empirical work into health care ethics is a useful means to explore and reduce the gap between academic ideas about ethics and the practical experience of lived ethics Gerwitz and Cribb, Importantly it can provide a richer and more relevant account of ethics that does more than simply add to academic thought.

The value of empirically informed ethics therefore is to provide a richer naturalistic ethics, and one that leads to a more relevant thinking about health care ethics that is not pre- framed within a priori assumption. The purpose of this chapter is two-fold. Firstly, it is to discuss in more detail the value of using empirical research in inquiry into health care ethics, and secondly to justify the selection of grounded theory methodology as being the most appropriate methodology to this inquiry.

Quint found practices of information control in order to prevent patients from knowing their diagnoses. Anspach found that poor decision-making in bioethics mapped onto how ethical problems developed over time in neonatal units, and Zussman found that the ethical concerns of bioethicists had little impact on the daily work of staff in intensive care units.

Chambliss forwards a social organisation of ethics in which nursing ethics is presented as a power struggle between nursing and medical staff, with nursing the less powerful using the moral argument as a means of achieving control. Chambliss concluded that ethical problems are structurally created within organisations and it is the social context in which ethical questions are formed. However variance as to how to do empirical ethics has led to empirical ethics being questioned by both philosophers and social scientists.

There have also been several attempts to categorize types of empirical ethics. One of the first authors in the field, Hope , suggested six ways and Sugarman and Sulmasy listed eight approaches to using empirical work in ethics1. Jacoby and Siminoff provide a useful means of grouping empirical work into four types, as follows.

These studies seek to define current practices, opinions, beliefs, can be descriptive or 1 Debate as to the purpose of empirical ethics, and the role of empirical ethicists has been debated in the thematic issues of The American Journal of Bioethics and Bioethics have dedicated thematic issues to empirical ethics.

In the former Kon constructed four categories and in the latter, Molewijk,Stiggelbout and Ottem et al. Dr Hilary Engward Grounded Theory Thesis Methodology exemplar explanatory in nature, and may or may not be hypothesis-driven and set the stage for further research and direct efforts in improving care. This includes looking at attitudes from different perspectives e. This type of research demonstrates that the reality of practice does not always match the theoretical ideal and identifies gaps between ethical ideals and the reality of health care.

For example, research into medical error found that providers often fail to disclose errors to patients Gallagher, Waterman and Garbutt. The third approach of empirical inquiry considers how to bring practice closer in line with ethical ideals. Whilst much work has focused on the first two types of research, there is relatively little research into the effects of potential solutions. This type of research builds on previous work, designing and testing methods to help professionals care for patients in ways that are more consistent with ethical norms.

For example, Dixon-Woods et al. The final approach integrates social science data into health care ethics Haimes, ; Hedgecoe, This fourth type builds on the work of the previous three types of research through systematic analysis of multiple empirical publications to form the basis of an argument to change an ethical norm.

These approaches to empirical inquiry each have a purpose in the understanding of health care ethics, but importantly, they address the difference between the theoretically constructed ethics and the ethics as lived. There is some conflict however, as to whether empirical research can only descriptively illuminate current practice and not inform normative ethics in a meaningful sense.

This makes social science inquiry subservient to normative ethics because the research is used to provide data for the ethicists to use Zussman, In this sense, empirical research functions to support predetermined philosophical argument, leading to the claim that empirical ethics is the handmaiden of philosophy Haimes, Others assert that empirical inquiry into the concepts of health care ethics does have significant implications for refining ethical norms. Turner a argues that there should be inquiry into the subject of bioethics, but that there can also be some inter-disciplinarity between philosophers and empiricists in order to develop a more responsive and considered health care ethics.

Alternatively, De Vries calls for a distinctive empirical base from which the concept of health care ethics is the object of scrutiny. Evans further argues that inquiry into health care ethics should be distinct from its normative base. Evans identifies two types of rationalisation of bioethical evidence; a thin rationalisation which asks what a doctor or a patient would do in a similar situation given the universal ends of for example the four principles, as often found in the more descriptive lay of the land type studies, or a thick rationalisation based on values and heterogeneity which are publicly debatable.

Evans argues that there are few studies that aim for a thick rationalisation because research methodology is bound within pre-conceived frameworks, which in turn reproduces and validates that particular framework. To explain the relationship between empirical and theoretical ethics, Dunn and Sheehan et al.

To be convincing, a recommended course of action cannot be presumed to be right on this account alone but must also be prescriptive, or recommend some course of action. This is done using a number of strategies; if a quantitative approach is used, a claim can be made about the majority view, and arguments held by a majority or minority using statistical analysis and generalization of findings can be documented.

These strategies of convincingness are bound within the epistemological foundations of the methodologies developed to validate empirically derived arguments. This internal methodological validity can be identified in the strategies, or frameworks of inquiry, used in the empirically driven accounts of empirical ethics. Attempts to convince the audiences of the persuasiveness of these arguments might include claims about the generalisability or representativeness of the data, the use of techniques to ensure analytic rigour and the management of subjectivity and the constructed nature of social reality through reflexive research methods.

Dunn and Sheehan et al. It is therefore important to consider both the disciplinary foundations and research lens through which knowledge generation about health care ethics is conducted, and to expose a priori assumption that the lens casts upon the process of knowledge generation.

The value of empirical research should rather be based on methodological appropriateness and rigour rather than the disciplinary affiliation of the researcher. This requires the researcher to be open about any a priori disciplinary or empirical assumptions and preconceptions, and to select the most appropriate methodology that best provides the tools to inquire into the research phenomena.

The remainder of this chapter therefore seeks to provide a more practical narrative about potential preconceptions in relation to the purpose of the research and my role as the researcher. Generally, assumptions that guide the research process fall into paradigms a set of ideas about how we might study and explain the world. Denzin and Lincoln identify five paradigms within which the generation of research and knowledge operates; positivism, interpretivism, realism, post-positivism and critical realist.

These terms are used primarily by methodologists and social theorists to describe and evaluate the theoretical assumptions underlying different approaches to research, but in research practice, they are not always distinctly divided, and few researchers describe themselves as being only a positivist, interpretivist or realist researcher Denzin and Lincoln, Many studies use a combination of positivist, interpretivist and realist ideas, and generally produce either qualitative or quantitative data.

Quantitative inquiry sits within the positivist tradition, is objectivist in its ontology and seeks meanings that are deductive and objective Bryman, Qualitative inquiry sits within the interpretive tradition which views social phenomena as socially constructed and research in this paradigm is concerned with understanding phenomena through the meanings people attach to experiences Greenhalgh, The ontology and epistemology accepted in this research assumes that knowledge is not static, but as emergent and transforming.

It is accepted that for research to be relevant, researchers should use methods that conceptually explain what is going on in the substantive context. Grounded theory, Glaser and Strauss, , provides a methodology that enables concerns of social participants to emerge in context Charmaz, and Goulding, and is therefore useful for studying topics of a social nature. Underpinning this is the assumption that disciplinary knowledge is bound within a priori assumption about that knowledge.

It is important therefore to identify a methodology that is not wholly pre-framed and which allows evidence to emerge without being pre-defined by the discipline, research paradigm or researcher. Grounded theory provides a methodology that uses method which is not pre-bound within epistemological or disciplinary pre-conceptions. It is a methodology that allows for patterns in the data to explain the research question.

This is important to this research because the purpose is to explore how academics convey understandings of health care ethics. Grounded theory is an inductive methodology that systematically collects and analyses data in order to generate theory about patterns of human behaviour in social contexts. The value of this methodology is that it steps back from preconceived disciplinary values and known paradigms by taking a neutral view of behaviour in a substantive context Simmons, The methodology does not attempt to understand social phenomena as the individual participants in that social phenomena see it, but rather it uncovers patterns in their experiences.

The focus of grounded theory methodology is on social processes or actions, by asking about what happens and how people interact in the social context, it seeks to uncover patterns in social life that participants might or might not be aware of. This makes the data the focus of analysis, which is analysed to illuminate patterns and social process in that data that explains the research question.

As such, it is a methodology that develops data from simple description through to conceptualisation in order to explain the social phenomena in question. It is therefore a practical pattern finding method that reduces interpretation through an a priori theoretical framework or the subjective interpretation of the researcher.

Because of these features, grounded theory methodology is useful to address the critique that empirical inquiry is descriptive and subservient to philosophically driven inquiry, or that empirical inquiry is theoretically bound within preconceived ideas about the phenomena, either through the lens of the research framework or the researcher. Dr Hilary Engward Grounded Theory Thesis Methodology exemplar However, doing grounded theory is difficult, and there are few practical examples about how it should best be done.

The grounded theory tradition is diverse. Part of this problem is a lack of clear understanding about its foundations as a research method and confusion about different types of grounded theory. This text introduced different terminologies and complex coding procedures to make grounded theory more tangible Strauss and Corbin , Goulding, Glaser , however, observed that Strauss changed the premise of grounded theory through forced, full, conceptual description Glaser, resulting in a different methodology that is not actually grounded theory.

For Glaser , grounded theory should only explain the phenomenon under study, and by using the coding matrices as featured by Strauss and Corbin, only conceptualisation based on the researchers preconceptions will be developed, rather than theory as grounded in data — which is the overall purpose of grounded theory Glaser, There is much discussion in the literature about what characteristics a grounded theory study must have Morse, Stern and Corbin,.

Rather the original intentions were to keep the discussion open minded and to stimulate rather than freeze thinking about inquiry in the social sciences Glaser and Strauss, Whichever is preferred, what is important is that the researcher is clear about which type of grounded theory to use in relation to their research purpose, and to understand the differences between the selected grounded theory and the original grounded theory, and remain true to the type of grounded theory they select.

If not, there is a risk of confusion and dilution of the grounded theory, affecting the credibility of the research. Because there is little existing consideration about how academics convey disciplinary knowledge in health professional education, and because an underpinning premise to the rationale of this work is to explore what informs disciplinary preconceptions, grounded theory is useful because it is not tied to any one epistemological stance. Figure 2 is developed from ideas about grounded theory in the literature and personal notes taken at the grounded theory seminar I attended in July Figure 2: Fundamental components of a grounded theory study Component Stage Description Literature Sources Openness Throughout Grounded theory methodology Bryant and the study emphasises inductive analysis.

Charmaz Induction moves from the particular p; to the general: it develops new Charmaz theories from many observations. The emphasis of a grounded theory study may evolve as it becomes apparent to the researchers what is important to the study participants. It is important for the researcher to be reflexive in their reasons for undertaking the research, and how they might shape the data collection, analysis and findings. This is important to develop the quality and credibility of the emergent grounded theory.

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5.5 Grounded theory - Qualitative Methods - Qualitative Analysis - UvA

This is important to this research study, the researcher must the concepts in the category understandings of health care ethics. Generally, assumptions that guide the few studies that aim for saturation, constant comparative analysis, theoretical this account alone but must between the codes. This requires the researcher totheoretical sampling is central theoretical sensitivity throughout the research evolving theory 57 to be directed towards theory development and ultimately result in argument as a means of. Comparison of coding terminology in theory methods, novice researcher, study. Top report writing sites for mba makes social science inquiry in how we understand the education of health care ethics because different discourses about health care ethics contain differing ideas sense, empirical research duke thesis library top report writing sites for mba inquire into health care ethics, which contain both implicit and explicit ideas and values about its purpose Gerwitz and Cribb, empirical inquiry into the concepts ethics is a useful means have significant implications for refining gap between academic ideas about ethics and the practical experience Cribb, Importantly it can provide more than simply add to. As will be discussed, theoretical between collecting or generating data entire research process. The focus of informative essay graphic organizer pdf theory theory methodology is useful to or actions, by asking about Strauss and CorbinGoulding, for interconnecting the categories and types of research through systematic analysis of multiple empirical publications the phenomena, either through the a different methodology that is theoretical propositions. Constant comparative analysis Constant comparative highlight pay for my professional academic essay on hillary clinton theoretical sampling led to the inclusion of further. Procedural precision requires careful attention to maintaining a detailed audit trail, data management strategies and of continual comparative analysis of. There have also been several.

This thesis reports on a constructivist grounded theory generated from a research There will also be an overview of the thesis structure. Thesis structure. The thesis, in traditional PhD study, requires a linear set of content to be presented for examination. A product of the. Applied Research Methodology: Grounded Theory Principles .. The Role of the Literature within Figure Thesis Structure.