• To build an understanding of research methods associated with grounded theory
• To develop critical awareness of how different approaches in grounded theory might tackle literature reviews
• To learn how to review the literature, depending on the stage of your grounded theory study
Background There is considerable debate about how to review the literature in grounded theory research. Notably, grounded theory typically discourages reviewing the literature before data are collected and analysed, so that researchers do not form preconceptions about the theory. However, it is likely researchers will need to review the literature to show they intend to address a gap in knowledge with their research. This might confuse novice researchers, especially given that different approaches to grounded theory can have contrasting positions concerning how and when literature should be reviewed.
Aim To provide an overview of grounded theory and how different approaches might tackle literature reviews.
Discussion A framework is presented to illustrate some of the commonalities between grounded theory approaches, to guide novice researchers in reviewing the literature. The framework acknowledges some of the tensions concerning researchers’ objectivity and sketches three phases for researchers to consider when reviewing the literature.
Conclusion Reviewing the literature has different meanings and implications when using grounded theory compared with other research methodologies.
Implications for practice Novice researchers must be attuned to the different ways of reviewing the literature when using grounded theory.
Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2020.e1752Peer review
This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated softwareCorrespondence
Deering K, Williams J (2020) Approaches to reviewing the literature in grounded theory: a framework. Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2020.e1752
Published online: 09 July 2020
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