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Practical Guide To Grounded Theory Research Methods For Your Dissertation

By Laura Brown on 14th February 2024

Developed in the 1960s by sociologists Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss, grounded theory research became a widely used qualitative research approach in a very short period of time. It offers researchers a qualitative research approach in various disciplines.

If you have chosen a qualitative approach for your dissertation methodology, GT research should be your first choice to analyse your data. It allows theories to emerge organically from the data which makes it exceptionally relevant for in-depth study.

Before we move forward on how to conduct a grounded theory approach in qualitative research, we need to dig a bit more into the theory itself.

Understanding Grounded Theory Research

In simple terms, Grounded Theory is like an adventure where you explore and understand things based on what you discover in your study. There are basically three key parts of this approach.

  1. Inductive Approach
  2. Instead of starting with a set idea or plan, you should begin with an open mind. You are required to collect information and let patterns and ideas emerge naturally.

  3. Constant Comparison
  4. This means you are always looking at new information and comparing it with what others have collected already. It is like putting puzzle pieces together to see the bigger picture.

  5. Theoretical Sampling
  6. Imagine you are choosing what to study next based on what you have already learned. This will help you dig deeper and gather the right pieces of information to build a strong understanding.

As we dive into each of these aspects, you will see how they work together to create a method that allows you to uncover new insights without preconceived notions. This understanding is the foundation for successfully using grounded theory in your dissertation journey.

Steps Involved In Grounded Theory Research Design

GT research is not just a set of procedural steps but it is a dynamic journey where you play the lead role in unwinding the complexity of a phenomenon. Let’s walk through each stage together to grasp the true essence of this research.

Grounded Theory Research Design - Five Easy Steps

1. Formulating Research Questions

Your journey begins with crafting thoughtful and incisive research questions that serve as the compass for the study. These questions are not arbitrary, they are the seeds from which your entire research landscape will sprout.

You should meticulously sculpt these inquiries to capture the core of the phenomenon under investigation. It is like setting the stage for a captivating play, where each question is a protagonist, ready to reveal its part in the unfolding narrative.

2. Data Collection Methods

Once you have placed the questions, you should focus your shift to gathering the raw materials which are obviously data. This is not a haphazard gathering, it is a strategic pursuit. Researchers employ an arsenal of research methods, ranging from interviews to observations, to gather a mosaic of perspectives.

It is like going on a treasure hunt, seeking the gems that will later be meticulously examined and pieced together. The richness of the data you have collected lays the foundation for the depth of insights that will emerge.

3. Coding and Analysis

With data in hand, the next step involves the art of coding and analysis. You should think of it as deciphering a cryptic message. Researchers meticulously sift through the data, assigning codes to chunks of information.

These codes act as the building blocks, paving the way for patterns and connections to emerge. The analysis is not a mechanical task, it is a dance with the data, an intricate waltz where researchers and information move in tandem, revealing the nuanced story hidden within the numbers and words.

4. Theoretical Sampling

As the narrative unfolds, the need for depth and complexity intensifies. Theoretical sampling, the next step, is akin to selecting characters for a drama sequel. Researchers purposefully choose additional participants or data sources to delve deeper into emerging patterns.

It is not a random selection but a strategic move to enrich the storyline. Each new addition contributes a layer of meaning, where you can turn the research into a symphony of voices and experiences.

5. Category Development

The final act of this research journey you must follow is the development of categories. These are not arbitrary classifications, they are the threads that weave the entire narrative into a coherent tapestry. Researchers organise the codes into meaningful categories, providing structure and clarity.

Picture it as arranging puzzle pieces, where each category is a distinct section of the complete picture. The categories not only summarise findings but also lay the groundwork for future studies, contributing to the broader scholarly conversation.

Grounded theory is not linear research but a dance of intellect and exploration. From formulating questions to developing categories, each step is an integral part of the choreography.

Some Practical Tips For Grounded Theory

Alright, now that we have got the basics of qualitative grounded theory research, let’s talk about some down-to-earth tips that will surely help you navigate the twists and turns of grounded theory like a pro.

i. Maintaining Theoretical Sensitivity

Think of this like tuning into the subtle vibes of your data. Stay open, be receptive to what it is telling you. It is not about sticking rigidly to a plan but sensing the nuances. Imagine you are picking up on the unsaid, the whispers amidst the data noise. Trust your instincts; they are your best guide in this expedition.

ii. Flexibility in Research Design

Here is a golden nugget: be as flexible as a yoga instructor doing a backbend. Your research design is not carved in stone. If your data takes you on a detour, go with it. Embrace the unexpected. It is the detours that sometimes lead to the most fascinating discoveries. Think of it like a road trip where the unplanned stops end up being the highlight.

iii. Managing Data Overload

Data can feel like standing in front of a buffet with too many options. The key here is not to devour everything at once. Take it one bite at a time. Organise your data, and categorise it neatly. Think of it like sorting a messy room where you would not tackle the whole mess at once, right? Break it down, and suddenly it becomes manageable.

Alright, remember to pay attention to the little details, be prepared to take unexpected turns, and do not let too much data stress you out. Grounded theory is kind of like a dance, and these tips along with our dissertation writing service will help you move smoothly through each part of it.

Look At Grounded Theory Qualitative Research Example

Let’s quickly peek into some groundbreaking studies that used grounded theory.

  • In one, researchers delved into family dynamics during illness, unveiling the hidden struggles.
  • Another explored workplace interactions, revealing patterns crucial for organisational harmony.

These studies showcase the power of grounded theory research examples to uncover stories within social phenomena. These studies were not just academic exercises, they brought real-world insights which allowed us to learn about the importance of communication in families facing illness, and how acknowledging informal hierarchies can boost workplace collaboration. These examples prove that grounded theory is not just theory, it is a practical tool for understanding and improving real-life situations.

While Summing Up On Grounded Theory Research Methods

Now that you have gone through the complete journey of grounded theory, let’s recap it quickly. We began with questions, collected data like treasures, and pieced it together through coding and analysis. Theoretical sampling filled in the gaps, and category development transformed findings into a coherent narrative.

If you are looking forward to using GT research, remember, it is a unique adventure. Focus on the uncertainties, play with the data, and let the process unfold. Grounded theory is not just a methodology, it is a dynamic journey that can lead to profound discoveries. Trust the process, and you will find yourself at the helm of groundbreaking research.

Author Bio:
Laura Brown

Laura Brown, a senior content writer who writes actionable blogs at Crowd Writer.