Grounded theory proposes that careful observation of the social world can lead to the construction of theory (Rice & Ezzy, 1999). It is iterative and evolving, aiming to construct new theory from collected data that accounts for those data. It is also known as the “grounded theory method”, although the terms have become interchangeable (Bryant & Charmaz, 2007).
Grounded theory characteristics include:
Notably, data collection is cyclical and reflective. This is different from the more linear processes occurring in other methodologies.
Theoretical sampling is a key aspect of the sampling stage of grounded theory. Recruitment continues until the sample finally represents all aspects that make up the theory the data represent (Starks & Brown Trinidad, 2007). Participants are recruited based on their different experiences of a phenomenon.
Researchers collect participant data using these methods:
Focus groups and interviews are typically being more practical in health research than observation (Starks & Brown Trinidad, 2007).
After the initial phase of data collection, researchers repeat the following cycle of steps:
Researchers’ developing understanding of the concepts, categories and relationships informs their actions at each step. These elements result in a theoretical framework explaining the data.
This cycle reflects two crucial components of grounded theory:
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