Reflecting on the challenges of choosing and using a grounded theory approach
Kathleen Markey Lecturer, Department of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Limerick, Ireland
Mary Tilki Former principal lecturer, Middlesex University, London, UK
Georgina Taylor Honorary researcher, School of Health and Education, Middlesex University, London, UK
Aim To explore three different approaches to grounded theory and consider some of the possible philosophical assumptions underpinning them.
Background Grounded theory is a comprehensive yet complex methodology that offers a procedural structure that guides the researcher. However, divergent approaches to grounded theory present dilemmas for novice researchers seeking to choose a suitable research method.
Review methods This is a methodology paper.
Data sources This is a reflexive paper that explores some of the challenges experienced by a PhD student when choosing and operationalising a grounded theory approach.
Discussion Before embarking on a study, novice grounded theory researchers should examine their research beliefs to assist them in selecting the most suitable approach. This requires an insight into the approaches’ philosophical assumptions, such as those pertaining to ontology and epistemology. Researchers need to be clear about the philosophical assumptions underpinning their studies and the effects that different approaches will have on the research results.
Conclusion This paper presents a personal account of the journey of a novice grounded theory researcher who chose a grounded theory approach and worked within its theoretical parameters.
Implications for research/practice Novice grounded theory researchers need to understand the different philosophical assumptions that influence the various grounded theory approaches, before choosing one particular approach.
22, 2, 16-22.
This article has been subject to double blind peer review
Conflict of interest
Received: 06 August 2013
Accepted: 05 December 2013
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