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.

Questions about coding in GT (1)

What is really code? I mean only events or objects or both. When I read it seem to code only codes. After coding, you generate a category and take some code as property of category. Can I say a sub category is a property of the main category?

Yes, a code is just a label. However, a good code defines of what the theme concerns, describes of the theme occures and examples both positive and negative. As codes are developed, it is useful to write memos known as code notes that discuss the codes. When you try to explain the code and why you named it, you will have the meaning of it rather than just a piece of code!

Which approach you follow: Glaser's or Strauss&Corbin's or others? With the coding method developed by different authors' approach, you may follow different coding process as each of them has its own ceriteria for coding and categerising. 
In some cases, a sub category may be developed to be a property of a core category. But it's not all the case. A code can belong to more than one concept. Similarly, at the next analysis level, a concept may contribute to and belong to several categories.  
I try to recall how I understood the codes, categories, properties, process, dimensions... Many notes in my handbooks in different dates. This may be an example of how I started (a memo on 09/May/2007). 

After read an article by Carlson and McCaslin (2003), I jotted down my understanding about their research and drew a diagram for myself.

Carlson, N.M. & McCaslin, M. (2003). "Meta-Inquiry: an approach to interview success". The Qualitative Report, 8 (4), 549-569.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Education (2010)

Goldberg, L.G. (2010). Moving on: A grounded theory of voluntary change. EdD, Fielding Graduate University.

Yim, K.H.K. (2010). Blueprinting: A grounded theory of conceiving, developing and implementing organizational change. EdD. Fielding Graduate University.  

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Communication and Media Studies (2010)

Irvin, L.L. (2010). A Grounded Theory of Rhetorical Reflection in Freshman Composition. PhD, Texas Tech University.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Health care and Nursing (2010)

Cox-Davenport, R.A. (2010). A Grounded theory approach to faculty’s perspective and patterns of online social presence. PhD. University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Cross, B. L. (2010). Developing a relationship with the computer in nursing practice: a grounded theory.  MSc Nursing. University of Victoria.

Trotta, R.L. (2010). Cultivating Knowing and Relationships: A Grounded Theory of Quality of Death in the Nursing Home. PhD. University of Pennsylvania.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Health care and Nursing (2008)

Nunn, G.M. (2008). The perceived leadership skills needed to improve the effectiveness of charge nurses: A grounded theory study. PhD, Capella University.

Winters, C.M. (2008). Pursuing a degree completion program in nursing: A grounded theory study. PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Education (2008)

McGee, S.L. (2008). Their voices emerged: A grounded theory of learning resilience among African American women in the formal education environment, PhD, Iowa State University.  

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Management (2008)

Puerta, M. (2008). A grounded theory of togethering: The transformation of the patterns of engagement of a top management group from political and strategic jousting to trust, openness and unity. PhD. Case Western Reserve University.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Psychology (2008)

Koruth, N. (2008). A grounded theory exploration of the experiences of the early stages of anorexia in adolescence. PhD, The University of Edinburgh. [search era - Edinburgh Research Archive].

McElhinney, R. (2008). Professional Identity Development: A Grounded Theory Study of Clinical Psychology Trainees. PhD, The University of Edinburgh. [search era - Edinburgh Research Archive].

Sanabria, J. (2008). Goal development and attainment in homeless youth: A grounded theory. PhD, University of Illinois Chicago.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Business Studies (2008)

Cross, R. E. (2008). Discovering how perception and experience influence executives when engaging employees: A grounded theory study. PhD, Capella University.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - LIS (2008)

Tan, J. (2008). Higher Education Students' Learning and Knowledge Sharing: A Grounded Theory Study of Blog Use. PhD, University of Sheffield.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Education (2007)

Edwards, K.E. (2007). 'Putting my man face on': A grounded theory of college men's gender identity development. PhD, Univeresity of Maryland.

Leonard, B.J.B. (2007). Integrative learning as a developmental process: A grounded theory of college students' experiences in Integrative Studies. PhD, Univeresity of Maryland.

Norman, W.G. (2007). A grounded theory of software process improvement model adoption. EdD, West Virginia University.

Reinhard, T. (2007). A grounded theory investigation of change leadership during turbulent times. EdD, Northern Illinois University.

Supple, B.L. (2007). 'Life as a gyroscope': Creating a grounded theory model for full-time working mothers in higher education administration developing and maintaining a fulfilling, balanced life. PhD, Univeresity of Maryland.

Weisman, J.L. (2007). The same and different: A grounded theory of the experiences of college students who have a sibling with a developmental disability. PhD, Univeresity of Maryland.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Psychology (2007)

Hazelbaker, A.K. (2007). Toward a unified theory of healing: A Grounded Theory study.  PhD, Union institute and University.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Sociology (2007)

Modry-Mandell, K.L. (2007). Changes in children's sibling relationships after pediatric bone marrow transplantation and children's adaptation: A grounded theory approach. PhD, University of Arizona.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Management (2007)

Gray, S.L. (2007). A grounded theory study of the phenomenon of collective competence in distributed, interdependent virtual teams. DM, University of Phoenix.

Kreeger, L.D. (2007). Inside outsourcing: A grounded theory of relationship formation within a nascent service system. PhD, Antioch University.

Tyler, D.A. (2007). How do we get 'beyond unloving care'? A grounded theory analysis of teamwork in long-term care facilities. PhD, Brandeis University, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Health care and Nursing (2006)

Balke, J.M. (2006). Nurse executives: A grounded theory study of dynamic competencies. Ph.D., Capella University. 

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Education (2006)

Warburton, W.I. (2006). Towards a grounded theory of computer-assisted assessment uptake in UK universities. PhD, University of Southampton.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Sociology (2006)

Jeong, H.-S. (2006). A Grounded Analysis of the Sensemaking Process of Korean Street-level Fire Service Officials. PhD, the Florida State University.

Nadeau, R.A. (2006). A grounded theory investigation of why some men refuse to participate in marital and family therapy. PhD. University of Connecticut.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Environmental Science (2006)

Gary, A. (2006). Orchestrating strategy implementation: A grounded theory approach to environmental management in strategies focused on the Chesapeake Bay by Bojes. PhD, The George Washington University.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Health care and Nursing (2005)

Kolybelnikov, A. (2005). The Art of Living Taijiquan: A Grounded Theory of the Experience of a Traditional Chinese Martial Art in the Netherlands. PhD. World Leisure International Center of Excellence (WICE) Wageningen University and Research Center (WUR).

Rosen-Webb, J. (2005). ADHD: a grounded theory of Bangladeshi family workers' perspectives. PhD. University of East London.  [search roar@UEL]

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Psychology (2005)

Murphy, A. B. (2005). A Grounded Theory Study of Archetypal Influences on Workplace Bullying: A Long-term Effect of Early Childhood Abuse. PhD, UMI 3174288.

Reetley, A. (2005). A literature review on grounded theory. MA, University of Johannesburg.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Education (2005)

Hadfield, C. (2005). Towards a grounded theory of critical viewing. EdD. University of Wollongong.

Sproston, R.L. (2005). What a difference a play makes: an examination of factors influncing personal development benefits through involovement in extracurricular theatre. EdD. Australian Catholic University. 
(Read Chapter 3 - Research Design and Grounded Theory Methodology)

Theis, J.G. (2005). Perceived Learning and Performance Needs of Organizations Seeking A Learning Management System. EdD, University of Minnesota. 
(It didn't say it's a grounded theory study, but indicated it's using Grounded Theory as a strategy of inquiry. I'm not very sure of the data analysis process. For me, it's more like Content analysis.)  

Questions about my thesis

On Appendix 15, you identify "online identity" as category and "traceability of identity", "anonymity" and "balance between online identity and real identity" as properties. 

When I go on page 287, you put "perception" as a property of "online identity" and the dimension - "true self". I was expecting the previous property to be repeated here.

For example for How - you mention "anonymity" as category.

On p.287, there are some examples of open coding at the Anchoring/Centring stages (which is a way of explaining how I conducted Grounded Theory as an approach). They are stage results. On pp.279-285, it gives the full list of codes that I had at the end and how I put them into categories/dimensions/properties that Grounded Theory requires (it also meams the categories were considered saturated). They are final codes.

If you read Chapter 3 carefully (particularly 3.3.3), you will see that a code related to a piece of data may be changed many times before it's saturated. With the process of data collection and analysis, I needed to add analysis into my interpretation of a code that I defined at the begining and I needed to add analysis explanation when I did each change (these are memos). For example, I found "Online identity" is emerged in my data and I defined it as a cateogry. If it is a category, it may have properties/dimensions/subcategories. Then I compared my data and codes and see which can be justified as properties/dimensions/subcategories or if they cannot, I categoried them as a single code for later data comparasion. "Anonymity" was categorised as a "How" subcategory of "Online identity". But later I realised that "How"/"What"/"When" suggested by Strauss and Corbin is used to help clarify the relationship between codes in detail. I then put "Anonymity" as a conceptual level code which became a property on p.279. Similarly, some other codes on p.287. I might either drop/rename, combine them into another code at a conceptual level, or left them as an open code at a textual level.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Management (2002)

Harwood, I. (2002). Developing scenarios for Post-Merger and Acquisition Integration: A Grounded Theory of Risk Bartering. PhD, University of Southampton. 

Questions about using GT in mixed methods research

What is your opinion about mix methods, such as following case study method procedure for research process and use GT for data analyis because to me data analysis in GT is more systematic compare to other methods?


If applying GT coding method (I suppose it's Strauss & Corbin's approach) helps you clarify or understand quantitative data, it's fine to use mixed methods in your research study and state that you use GT coding method to analysise data in your thesis. However, be careful that mixed methods research is much more than simply combining a qualitative method and a quantitative method. To some extent, it is not a real GT study because a GT study aims to generate a theory and mostly it's qualitative. Meanwhile, you need to reckon if it's good to title your research study as a GT study.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Sociology (2001)

Commuri, S. (2001). A grounded theory of joint consumption decision making. PhD, The University of Nebraska - Lincoln.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Computer Science (2001)

Lehmann, H. (2001). A Grounded Theory of International Information Systems. PhD, University of Aucklan.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Health care and Nursing (2001)

Agger-Gupta, N. (2001). From "making do" to established service, the development of health care interpreter services in Canada and the United States of America: A grounded theory study of health organization change and the growth of a new profession. PhD, Fielding Graduate Institute.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Business Studies (2000)

Clarke, M.E. (2000). A grounded theory approach to Standards of Leadership competency framework development. MA, Royal Roads University (Canada).

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Health care and Nursing (2000)

Ashley, V. (2000). A grounded theory research project. PhD. Surrey University.

Bishop, S.B. (2000). Grounded theory approach to the discovery of nurse executive competencies. DNS, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - LIS (2000)

Caregnato, S. (2000). Modelling the information skills development domain: a grounded theory approach to knowledge elicitation. PhD, University of Sheffield.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Management (2000)

Davis, P.B., Jr. (2000). Military culture at a crossroads: A grounded theory of strategic planning within the Department of Defense. PhD, Walden University.

Mac Iver, T.D. (2000). A grounded theory approach to building a practical model for developing leadership within American information technology companies. DM, Colorado Technical University.

Schmidt, S.M. (2000). Experiences of managers leading strategic change in organizations: A grounded theory study. PhD, The Fielding Institute.

Questions that relates to my article

In your article, you stated that GT is applicable mainly in the following cases:
  • The researcher seeks to create a theory about issues of importance in people's lives and specifically focuses on human interaction or aims to explore new territory (Denscombe, 2003).
  • The study of new socio-technical phenomena (Ferna'ndez, 2004).
  • The area of interest is a new developing one and does not have a long, firm and empirically based literature yet (Goulding, 1999).

With all points you have mentioned above, I doubted that how can we make sure that the area that we are going to study is new.

It's not surprising. For me, this kind of questions went along with me till I submitted thesis. It is a part of the research. You will know it when you've done thoroughly literature review, discussed with your supervisors, colleagues, read literature widely about your area. Someone who has been told to undertake a research project by their supervisors/funders may know what is new based on their supervisors'/funders'/research groups knowledge; someone who wants to do a further research study about their interested topic may know what's new because they keep their knowledge updated.

In my case, I happen to see a lot of research in this topic. Could you please give more explanation about the points that given above with some example. I have read those articles but still could not understand.

In my article, the above points are examples. It does not mean that a GT research study needs to have all the requirements listed there. Also, I didn't suggest more new researcher to apply the GT. It has to fit your research purpose. If there are already many studies in your area, you need to think about why you want to use the GT; ask yourself: Are there alternative methodology and why other approaches are not suitable for your study?

For example, Denscombe's idea: it emphasises the purpose of a research study. The research about dying by Glaser and Strauss (1967) is a typical example on this point. The researcher want to explore some phenomenon (often in social science) that has not been fully explained by existent theories in that area. They intend to interpret the phenomenon by an emerged theory based on what they found in their research. It's definitely a qualitative research study as data is difficult to be measured and quantificat.

Fernandez's idea is clear, for instance, recently there was a piece of news said that women are more likely to date with a man who has an iphone (iphone was released on June 2007). Researchers who explore the iphone related phenomenon is doing a study of new socio-techical phenomena. However, it does not mean they need to use the GT approach.

Goulding's idea can been seen in my research as I was doing research about blogging by higher education students. The phenomenon of using blogging in education was new in 2005 and there was a gap in the literature that my research can contribute to.

The memo of your understanding of GT is a part of your GT study

Silence and Voice is Jeffrey Keefer's blog. The entry "Musing on Grounded Theory" and the discussions about grounded theory show how a new researcher starts to learn grounded theory approach, new researchers' confusion between different GT works, and what a researcher's grounded philosophical thinking is.

A necessary way is to write down your ideas/understanding about grounded theory approach and its use over the process of your grounded theory research study. It is a part of your research memo and it notes your views/ideas developing.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Computer Science (1998)

Hawat, P. (1998). The variations in the use of I-CASE toolsets: A grounded theory approach. PhD, University of Calgary (Canada). 

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Business Studies (1998)

Brooks, I.J. (1998). Weighing Up Changes: A Grounded Theory Explaining the Response of Middle Managers to Organisational Change. PhD, University of Canterbury.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Health care and Nursing (1997)

Ricci, T. (1997). The patient's hospital experience: A grounded theory analysis of personal accounts. PhD, York University (Canada).

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - Education (1997)

Babchuk, W.A. (1997). The rediscovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research in adult education. PhD, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Grounded theory in dissertations & theses - LIS (1987-1991)

Brown, A.D. (1990). Information, Communication and Organizational Culture: A Grounded Theory Approach. PhD, University of Sheffield.

Segovis, J.C. (1990). An investigation into the structure of work-related coping: A grounded theory approach. PhD, The University of Texas at Dallas.

Grounded theory in Dissertations & Theses - Communication and Media Studies (1977-1986)

Lariviere, E.A. (1984). Written Communication Tasks and Competencies in Insurance: A Grounded Theory Analysis. Ph.D., Arizona State University.

Online GT document by Charles Mamolo

book reviews

Morse, J.M., et al. (2009). Developing grounded theory: The second generation. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Hallberg, U., et al. (2010). "Book review: Developing grounded theory: The second generation". International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being. 5(2), 1-4.