Coding and generating themes

The two resources may help you to understand how to generate themes in a grounded theory research study.

Ryan, G.W. & Bernard, H.R. [n.d.]. "Techniques to Identify Themes in Qualitative Data", Retrieved on 23 December 2011 from the Analytic Technologies website.

Fereday, J. & Muir-Cochrane, E. (2006). "Demonstrating Rigor Using Thematic Analysis: A Hybrid Approach of Inductive and Deductive Coding and Theme Development". International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 5(1), 1-11. 

Analysing qualitative data - Rigour and Reflexivity

It's interesting to see this blog entry "people don't always say what they mean, or mean what they say" on QualitativeMind.

It actually reminds us to be Rigour and Reflexivity in qualitative data analysis.

Barbour, R.S. (2001), "Checklists for improving rigour in qualitative research: a case of the tail wagging the dog?". BMJ. 233 (7294), 1115-1117.

BERA [n.d.]. "Critical approaches in qualitative educational research: Perspective, reflexivity and bias". Retrieved on from British Educational Research Association.

Goulding, C. & Saren, M. (2010) "Immersion, emergence and reflexivity: grounded theory and aesthetic consumption", International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research,  4 (1), 70 - 82.

Leonard, D. & McAdam, R. (2001). "Grounded theory methodology and practitioner reflexivity in TQM research". International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 18 (2), 180-194.

Sheridan, V. & Storch, K. (2009). "Linking the Intercultural and Grounded Theory: Methodological Issues in Migration Research". Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 10 (1), Art 36.

Grounded theory in conference papers - LIS (2011)

Alemu, G., et al. (2011). "Semantic Metadata Interoperability in Digital Libraries: A Constructivist Grounded Theory Approach". In: Proceedings of the ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries. Ottawa, Canada.13 June 2011. pp.7-16.

Leonard, A.C. (2011). "A Grounded Theory Research Investigation into the Importance of Social Relationships and Networks within Corporate Information Systems Projects" In: SAICSIT '11 Proceedings of the South African Institute of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists Conference on Knowledge, Innovation and Leadership in a Diverse, Multidisciplinary Environment. Cape Town, South Africa, 3–5 October, 2011.

A conference paper "Grounded Theory for Geeks"

Rashina Hoda has uploaded a conference paper "Grounded Theory for Geeks" on her blog. It's a kind of reflection paper based on the author's experience, which is very useful for people who are new to Grounded Theory. The problems in the GT Patterns is a good start for researchers to bear in mind if they decide to conduct a grounded theory research study.

videos about Grounded Theory

These are not good quality videos, picture weaving, no reference resource. I assume they are from a lecture or a workshop. However, the content is quite useful.

Types of Qualitative research

Nigel Bradley talked about the types of qualitative research: grounded theory, ethnography, action research, and symiotics. On the Qualitative Research website, you will find useful research methodology videos and materials.

Grounded theory in conference papers - Computer Science (2011)

Abadi, M.K. & Alsop, G. (2011). "Studying the learning of programming using grounded theory to support activity theory". In: Proceedings of ALT-C 2011 Thriving in a colder and more challenging climate. 5-8 September 2011, University of Leeds, UK.

Dorairaj, S., et al. (2011). "Bridging cultural differences: a grounded theory perspective". In: Proceeding of the 4th India Software Engineering Conference. ISEC ’11, February 23-27, 2011 Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India.

Foster, D., et al. (2011). "Using grounded theory to inform the design of energy interventions for the workplace". In: Digital Engagement 2011, November 15th-17th, Newcastle, UK.

Müller, B. & Olbrich, S. (2011). "The Artifact’s Theory – A Grounded Theory Perspective on Design Science Research". In: Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Wirtschaftsinformatik, 16-18 February 2011, Zurich, Switzerland. Paper 55. 

An oncoming Grounded Theory book

Oktay,  J.S. Grounded Theory. Oxford University Press.
Dec 2011,  Not Yet Published
ISBN13: 978-0-19-975369-7
ISBN10: 0-19-975369-5

It's one of the Pocket Guides to Social Work Research Methods.

Grounded theory in books - Business studies (2003)

Berson, Y., et al. (2003). "Level specification: using trianulation in a grounded theory approach to construct validation". In: Dansereau, F. & Yammarino, F.J. (eds). Multi-level Issues in Organizational Behavior and Strategy. pp: 82-112. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Science.

Gephart, R.P., Jr (2003). "Grounded theory and the integration of qualitative and quantitative research". In: Dansereau, F. & Yammarino, F.J. (eds). Multi-level Issues in Organizational Behavior and Strategy. pp: 113-125. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Science.

Parry, K.W. (2003). "How? And Why? Theory emergence and using the grounded theory method to determine levels of analysis". In: Dansereau, F. & Yammarino, F.J. (eds). Multi-level Issues in Organizational Behavior and Strategy. pp: 127-141. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Science.

Berson, Y., et al. (2003). "Going deeper into building a grounded theory approach: from verification to discovery". In: Dansereau, F. & Yammarino, F.J. (eds). Multi-level Issues in Organizational Behavior and Strategy. pp: 143-151. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Science.

Reflection on the terms of "triangulation" and "grounded-theory"

Rebecca Hogue wrote on her blog about her understanding of constructivism, particularly, she explained two important terms in research methodology: "triangulation" and "grounded-theory"

I didn't quite get it when she said "I think the image in my brain this week should be of my brain exploding into three pieces – the world-view piece, the learning theory piece, and the research piece." For me, with different views of the world (philosophic background), we defined methodologies broadly as quantitative or qualitative.

btw, her journey around the world without airplanes is pretty cool!

A very useful reference to the qualitative research methodology

Bloor, M. & Wood, F. (2006). Keywords in Qualitative Methods: A Vocabulary of Research Concepts. London: Sage.

This book is a very useful reference guide to qualitative researchers. Read Grounded Theory, pp.95-98.

Reflection on grounded theory use

Christoph Treude reflected his expereince of undertaking a grounded theory research study: "On using grounded theory in software engineering research". This is a very good post.

If Christoph is writing a journal article based on this post, writing more about two aspects will benefit readers:
  • He noted "One of the challenges is to abstract the core category to the right level." By my experience, core category will emerge and main categories get saturated at different levels in the coding process. As different research has its own design, showing code and category examples will help readers to understand what means "abstract the core category to the right level". How can we abstract a category to the righ level and how do we know it's the right level?
  • He also mentioned "After trying several tools (after all, as a Computer Science student I’d like to believe that computers can solve complex editing and annotation tasks), I gave up, printed all the data in font size 8, and went back to using pen and paper." It sounds interesting. I know some researchers didn't use qualitative data analysis software. I'm wondering what are the pros and cons between manual date analysis and software assisted data analysis. Is it only relevant to an individual's preference?
(The grounded theory ideas/discussions on Lennie Irvin’s blog are also useful for researchers. )

Grounded Theory in Qualitative Research book

Flick, U.,  von Kardorff, E., Steinke, I. (eds). (2000). A Comppanion to Qualitative Research, Rowohlt Ttaschenbuch Verlag GmbH, Reinbek bei Hamburg. Translated by Bryan Jenner, 2004, London: SAGE.

In this book, chapters related to Grounded Theory are:
Chapter 2.1 Anselm Strauss (by Bruno Hildenbrand)
Chapter 5.13 Theoretical Coding: Text Analysis in Grounded Theory (by Andreas Böhm)
Chapter 6.6 The Art of Procedure, Methodological Innovation and Theory-formation in Qualitative Research (by Alexandre Mètraux)

Grounded theory online seminars

Grounded Theory Onlin runs serminars "Planning a Grounded Theory study"; it helps researchers to avoid early and common errors.

Focus on discuss:
  • What is Grounded Theory?
  • Is this the right method for your study?
  • Is the substantive area ok?
  • Is the way that you will collect/are collecting your data consistent with Grounded Theory? Can it be improved?
Saturday 8 October 0500 GMT, Sydney 1600 EDT, Auckland 1800 NZDT
Saturday 8 October 1400 GMT New York 1000EDT, San Francisco 0700PDT

Friday 4 November 2000 GMT,

Saturday 5 November Sydney 0700 EDT, Auckland 0900 NZST
Saturday 5 November 1400 GMT New York 1000EDT, San Francisco 0700PDT

Saturday 3 December 0600 GMT, Sydney 1700 EST, Auckland 1900 NZDT
Saturday 3 December 1500 GMT New York 1000EST, San Francisco 0800PST

Theory in qualitative educational research

When I started to learn "grounded theory" methodology. I asked myself "What is a theory?" as "theory" for me was a big thing and I felt it's extremely tough to create a theory... I digged the answer... It's always good to make it clear what your understanding about a term or a concept.

Theory in qualitative educational research provided by the British Educational Research Association (bera) raises some issues relating to theory as a term, a concept and an agent in educational research.

Grounded theory in conference papers - Computer Science (2010)

Wolfswinkel, J., et al. (2010). "Reflecting on E-Recruiting Research Using Grounded Theory". Presented at: 18th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS 2010), University of Pretoria Pretoria, South Africa. 6-9 June 2010.

the 8th International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry

The Eighth International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry 2012 will offer scholars the opportunity to debate these issues, to foreground qualitative inquiry as a shared, global endeavor.

The morning workshop: Thinking with Theory in Qualitative Research will present a new analytics that refuses mechanistic coding and reducing data to themes in traditional qualitative data analysis. 

Date: May 16-19, 2012
Avenue: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Grounded theory in articles - Business Studies (2011)

O'Reilly, K. & Paper, D. (2011) "Can CRM survive integrating franchisees with a corporate giant?", Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, 13 (1), 47-73.
(Stated by the author, a qualitative approach employing an adaptation of the grounded theory method for data collection, coding, and analysis was used.)

Grounded theory in conference papers - Sociology (2009)

Musselwhite, C.B.A. & Haddad, H. (2009). "Using Grounded Theory to Elicit the Driving Needs of Older People". In: Proceedings of the International conference on Inclusive Design, Royal College of Art, London, UK. 5-8 April 2009.

Situational analysis and grounded theory

This website is about "Situational Analysis", where the author, Prof. Adele E. Clarke, has answered some critical questions about grounded theory. 

Statistics in grounded theory research

People asked questions like "how many interviews should I have?", "how do I know it's saturated?" There are some tips I got that may help you to check your research. They are not rigid rules, but for your references only.
  • The literature review demonstrated that saturation normally occurs between 10 and 30interviews. Although saturation might occur after the tenth interview, it is good practiceto test the level of saturation by conducting a few more interviews. ... Thus, it would be wise to anticipate 30 interviews in order to facilitate pattern, category, and dimension growth and saturation. It is only through the quality of the data that meaningful and valid results are developed, so it is essential that the researcher ensure that saturation has occurred (Thomson, 2011, p.50).
  • Saturation is achieved when one has conducted between 25 and 30 interviews (Suddaby, 2006).
  • 10-15 minutes to 40 minutes interview will reach theoretical saturation (Wuest, 2007).
  • Do not put red and green slices next to each other, because 5% of population cannot distinguish red from green. (Fink, 2003, p.9).
  • A 40 minutes interview may take you 2 days to transcribe. One hour interview will be transcribed into about 15 pages text.

Grounded Theory in German Teaching Resources

Phil. Anja Hartung (2009). Research seminar: media and Age - Grounded Theory. Otto von Guericke - Universität Magdeburg.

Wolfgang Ruge (2009). Grounded Theory. In the research seminar "Age and the Media" by Dr. Phil. Anja Hartung summer semester 2009. Otto von Guericke - Universität Magdeburg.

Grounded theory design - Self-Assessment

This website provides additional information for users of Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research, Second Edition, by John W. Creswell. The Chapter 14 is about Grounded Theory Design. It may be limited to access, but the Self-Assessment section is accessible and may be useful for researchers.

Grounded theory in conference papers - Computer Science (2011)

Halaweh, M. (2011). "Application of Grounded Theory Method in Information Systems Research: Methodological and Practical Issues". Presented at: European, Mediterranean & Middle Eastern Conference on Information Systems 2011 (EMCIS2011), May 30-31 2011, Athens, Greece.

Ortiz, J.A. (2011). "A Grounded Theory Approach to Understanding Mu-Fi Interventions on the Digital Divide". In: Proceedings of the 16th Americas Conference on Information Systems, August 13-16, 2011, Lima, Peru. 16 (5). pp.3727-3736.

A "good" code

A code may be changed later over the process of your research. However, it doesn't mean you can name it without pondering it. With same data, different people may identify different labels, but some are "good" and some are "bad". Please bear in mind what you need to consider when you are coding.

Glaser (1998) and Locke (2001: 69) suggested to ask these questions when you do coding:
  • What is happening?
  • What is basic problem faced by the actors here?
  • What category or what aspect of a category does this incident suggest?
  • What does this incident suggest this is a theory of?
Again, 5 elements of a "good" code suggested by Bryne (2001):
  • a label
  • a definition of what the theme concerns
  • a description of how to know when the theme occurs
  • a description of nay qualifications or exclusions to the identification of the theme
  • examples, both positive and negative

Bryne, M. (2001). "Data analysis strategies for qualitative research-Research Corner", AORN Journal. Dec, 2001.
Locke, K.D. (2001). Grounded theory in management research. London: Sage.

Doing Qualitative Research Using Your Computer: A Practical Guide - Chapter 9

The book uses straight-forward, everyday language to walk readers through the research process, drawing on a wide range of examples to demonstrate how easy it is to utilize software that you might already own. The author used a diagram to describe the qualitative research coding process. However, Chapter 9 - Level 3 and Level 4 (Theoretical Concept) Coding, which a grounded theory researcher more concerned, is unavailable on the website.

Grounded theory ideas in Richards' book

It is worthwhile of reading the book below. Richards (2005: 143) stated some key points of how you should conclude your research validity.
The log you built up since the beginning of the project recording at each step why it was taken, what ere the alternatives and why rejects, and what then you saw as the likely results for the final project.
Archived models from the early stages show what you think is going on.
Archived copies of catalogues of ideas created at different stages.
Meanwhile, the author (2005: 134-135) mentioned the "discovery" feeling, which is the "Aha" moment.
Don't wait for the 'aha', as it probably will not happen, and don't feel cheated if it doesn't."
Richards, L. (2005). "Handling Qualitative Data: A Practical Guide". London: Sage.

Seminar: Qualitative Inquiry Methods

Seminar: Qualitative Inquiry Methods organised by Graduate School "Human Behaviour in Social and Economic Change" (GSBC). On the second day, there will be a session about Grounded Theory Design.

Venue: 207, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Bachstraße 18k (east wing), 07743 Jena, Jena
Date: November 8-11, 2011
Speaker: Dr David Hiles

Characteristics of grounded theorist

Strauss and Corbin (1998: 7) offered a list of the "characteristics of a grounded theorist":

  1. The ability to step back and critically analyze situations
  2. The ability to recognize the tendency toward bias
  3. The ability to think abstractly
  4. Sensitivity to the words and actions of respondents
  5. A sense of absorption and devotion to the work process.

Questions about coding in GT (2)

In Grounded theory, I am confused of which coding process shall I follow.

I suggest you to have a clear idea of what different researchers advocated. You need to know what to code firstly and then know how to find the relationships between codes and develop your core category and build your theory. 

The following comparison may help as a start.

A coding process by Glaser and Strauss is different:
Glaser & Strauss (1967) Glaser (1978) Strauss & Corbin (1998)
Open coding Open coding Substantive coding Open coding
Selective coding
Theoretical coding Theoretical coding Axial coding

Selective coding

Selective criteria for core category:
Glaser (11 Criteria) (1978) Strauss & Corbin (6 Criteria) (1998)
  • central
  • reoccur frequently
  • more time to saturate
  • connections not be-forced
  • clear & grabbing implication for formal theory
  • carry through
  • completely variable
  • is also a dimension of the problem
  • prevent to other sources of establishing a core
  • see the core category in all relations
  • it can be a kind of theoretical code
  • central
  • appear frequently
  • no forcing of data
  • sufficiently abstract
  • grows in depth and explanatory power
  • is able to explain variation

Glaser (1978) indicated foundational 6Cs as coding family.
  • Cause 
  • Consequence
  • Condition
  • Context
  • Covariance
  • Contingency
If Glaser's approach is difficult to understand, have a look Spradley's (1979: 111) 9 semantic relationships. It may offer you a start to code your data, and combining with Grounded theory coding process, you will then build a map of your code relationships. Furthermore, will have categories and core category.
  • X is a kind of Y (strict inclusion)
  • X is a place in Y (spatial)
  • X is a result of Y (cause-effect)
  • X is a reason for doing Y (rationale)
  • X is a place for doing Y (location for action)
  • X is used for Y (function)
  • X is a way to do Y (means-end)
  • X is a step in Y (sequence)
  • X is a characteristic of Y (attribution)
(Spradley, J. A. (1979). The ethnographic interview. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.) 

    International Research Workshop on Gronded Theory Methodology

    The International Workshop on Grounded Theory Research at ICIS2011 seeks to contribute to the development and refinement of the members' knowledge on GTM, and to enhance the quality of GTM application in the IS discipline.

    Date: December 7, 2011
    Venue: Shanghai

    Grounded Theory in Chinese Teaching Resources

    林本炫 (1993). 紮根理論研究法. 南華大學, 教育社會學研究所.
    龍紀萱 (2007). 質的研究法(Qualitative Research) - 單元三:紮根理論(Ground theory). 中國醫藥大學醫務管理學系.

    Charles Chen (2009). Grounded Theory: Basics of Qualitative Research - Anselm Strauss & Juliet Corbin Ch1-7. 國立臺灣師範大學圖書資訊學研究所.

    David Yang (2009). Research Design. TCSL at MCU.

    吳芝儀 [n.d.]. 紮根理論研究法. 國立嘉義大學輔導與諮商系.

    洪銓修 [n.d.]. 互動論與據證理論在俗民誌研究的運用. 雲林科技大學, 應用外語系. 

    Question about grounded theory, Ethnography and Phenomenology

    I just started my research. I'm confused the use of grounded theory, Ethnography and Phenomenology...

    You may have a clue by reading my thesis, chapter 3.2.

    It may help if you read this book and think what your research stands on? 
    Creswell (2003). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, 2nd ed. London: Sage.

    For example, ask yourself what your research process probably is(read P.6 Alternative knowledge positions)
    ask yourself what strategy of inquiry you (read P.13 Alternative Strategies of inquiry).

    Other resources:

    case study and GT

    I read a course PPT Case Study and Grounded Theory by chance. I guess it was created for a research methods in Engineering course CEE320 by Martin Fischer in 2004.

    It mentioned David de Vaus and I found that David de Vaus in the book <<Research Design in Social Research>> (2001) outlines with great clarity a wide variety of issues of research methods and design, including testing theories, causation, data analysis, and the main considerations involved in using the different research designs covered. The "Teheory Building" and "Theory Testing" chapters will be very useful for Grounded Theory researchers.

    French versions of Strauss' books

    The books by Strauss have been translated into French.

    Symbolic Interaction, Vol 21. (1998). Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction, ISSS Press. [Not sure if it's the original book source.]

    Isabelle Baszanger, (conformé) (1992). La trame de la négociation: sociologie qualitative et interactionnisme. Paris: L'Harmattan.
    ISBN:  9782738414113

    Strauss, A.L. (1959). Mirrors & masks: the search for identity. Glencoe, III. Free Press.

    Paris: Métailié
    ISBN: 9782864241164

    Free e-book chapters about Grounded Theory in Computer Science

    Hart, D. & Gregor, S. (eds). (2005). Information System Foundations: Constructing and Criticising. Australia: ANU E Press.

    This book emphasises the development of "grand" theory in Information Systems discipline. It describes the grounded theory in the Chpater 4. Grounded theory (by M. Gordon Hunter); Chapter 5. Grounded theory and case study, Demands and risks of grounded theory (by Walter D. Fernández).

    Grounded theory in books - Education (2010)

    Riccio, G. & Darwin, M. (2010). "Grounded Theory for Values-Based Training & Education", In: Riccio, G., et al. (eds.). An Initiative in Outcomes-Based Training and Education: Implications for an Integrated Approach to Values-Based Requirements. Fort Meade, MD: U.S. Army Asymmetric Warfare Group. pp. 86-117.

    GT in wikis

    Question about symbolic interactionism and grounded theory

    What is symbolic interactionism in grounded theory? 

    Grounded Theory is informed by the pragmatism and has the ideas of the symbolic interactionist. I quote Parker & Roffey (1997, pp.216-217) and Denzin (1989, p.5) statements here to let you see the connections between Symbolic interactionism and Grounded theory.

    • Interacting individuals produce and define their own definitions of a situation;
    • People can engage in self-reflexive behaviour (i.e. assessing the contextual meaning of their own actions and reactions), and
    • humans interact with each other in negotiating a poisition in relation to each other.
    • Interactionists regard (observation of) human interaction as their basic source of date
    • Grounded thoery includes data sources such as interviews, written reports and documents that relate to the research phenomenon.

    Sixth Annual Grounded Theory Jamboree

    Sixth Annual Grounded Theory Jamboree: “Uncorking (classical) Grounded Theory
    Resolving the Confusion and Uncertainty learning and doing classical Grounded Theory

    To resolve your confusion around doing classical Grounded Theory. Participants will be able to direct their energy into doing their classical Grounded Theory research, and generate relevant and meaningful Grounded Theories.

    Venue: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    Date: August 3rd-5th, 2011

    Grounded theory seminar

    Venue: Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, UK 
    Date: 11 - 13 July, 2011

    open-minded, literature review and GT

    Christina Pikas wrote "Random observation: true grounded theory vs. foreshadowed problems" on her blog to talk about the "pre-knowledge" issue.

    Actually, I had a similar question before. Should a researcher be Tabula rasa? Applying Grounded Theory approach is not to say we go into the field what we research about without pre-knowledge or views. It's about, as a researcher, we need to recognise this issue and interpret data by exploring its meaning in that researched context. We can wrote down what we had known and what views we have, we also can compare some existent literatures or opinions, but it shouldn't affect the data analysis. 

    As May (1986: 149) noted:
    The literature review in a grounded theory project neither provides key concepts nor suggests hypotheses as it does in hypothetico-deductive research. A lengthy or uncritical literature review in a grounded theory  study can, in fact, reflect overdependence on existing knowledge. However, a review of existing literature can show gaps or systematic bias in existing knowledge, thus provide the rationale for launching a grounded theory study.
    May, K.A. (1986). "Writing and evaluating the grounded theory research report". In: Chenitz, W.C. & Swanson, J.M. (eds.), From practice to grounded theory: Qualitative research in nursingpp. 146-154. Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley.