Grounded Theory Part 1: What is Grounded Theory?

Qualitative Methodology

Of the many qualitative research designs available to researchers, grounded theory is arguably the most popular. However, grounded theorists are not limited to working exclusively with qualitative data. Grounded theory was formulated by Glaser and Strauss in the late 1960s as an alternative to the positivist and deductive research designs that researchers commonly used at the time. Grounded theory gets its name from its unique inductive approach wherein the theory is grounded in the data. This means that, instead of applying a theoretical framework to the research design, data collection, and analysis, the data drive the generation of theory. This also means that grounded theory research differs from other research designs in important ways related to sampling procedures, data collection, and data analysis.

Proper grounded theory studies require ample time and careful attention to detail. These studies are not appropriate for those lacking time or hoping to finish their dissertations quickly. In fact, many grounded theory researchers who have worked in the field for years have suggested that this design is inappropriate for doctoral research. However, for those who have the time and money to dedicate to grounded theory endeavors, grounded theory offers a robust research design that can lead to new insights and theoretical propositions. In this series of blog posts, we will tackle some of the core aspects of grounded theory that students should consider when deciding if this approach is the right choice for their dissertation.

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