Grounded Theory and the Literature Review

Posted on July 9, 2013 by

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The current Editor’s Pick article addresses a methodological issue that remains controversial – the timing of the literature review in the grounded theory method.  This article, titled  “The Timing of the Literature Review in Grounded Theory Research: An Open

Tracey Giles

Tracey Giles

Mind Versus an Empty Head” is authored by Tracey Giles, MNg, MACN, RN; Lindy King PhD, BN, DippAppSc, RN; and Sheryl de Lacey, PhD, MA, BAppSc, RN.  Ms. Giles describes their work, and invites you to respond with your perspectives on this issue:

What an absolute pleasure it is to have our article published in Advances in Nursing Science and featured as the editor’s article of the week on the ANS blog. I am a nursing lecturer and PhD candidate at Flinders University School

of Nursing and Midwifery. The aim of my PhD research is to explore decision making by health care professional and family members around family presence during cardiopulmonary resuscitation in an acute care setting using a constructivist grounded theory method (GTM).

I wrote this article with the support and guidance of my PhD supervisors in response to the often confusing advice I

Lindy King

Lindy King

encountered around the timing of the literature review in GTM research. My initial reading of methodological texts and articles revealed inconsistent and conflicting recommendations, many of which were to delay the literature review until analysis begins, or even until codes begin to emerge. However this advice was not compatible with my constructivist approach to GTM research. A constructivist approach actively repositions the researcher as a co-constructor of experience and meaning and takes into account their past and present perspectives, experiences and knowledge. This often includes an extensive knowledge of the existing literature.

A critical examination of the methodological literature was therefore undertaken in order to clarify and justify my use of the literature, and to offer recommendations to other researchers who are considering GTM as a potential research approach. We found that previous recommendations to delay the literature review are out-dated and that preconceptions are not only unavoidable but can enhance creativity,

Sheryl deLacey

Sheryl deLacey

theoretical sensitivity and rigour. We concluded that any bias that could potentially distort data analysis can be addressed by using correct, GTM transparent techniques and by ensuring the researcher openly acknowledge the influence of previous work in their perspective of what is emerging from their own data. We believe that if used reflexively, a preliminary literature review can enhance GTM research.

Thank you for the opportunity to share our ideas about GTM research. We look forward to your feedback about our recommendations.

Visit the ANS web site now to download your copy  of the article, and contribute your comments and feedback here!

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