Constructivist Grounded Theory Method

Posted on April 27, 2016 by


Our current featured article provides a useful and interesting explanation of grounded theory methods directed to the needs of novice investigators, but can also be a useful resource for further discussion and development of these methods!  The artilce is authored by Tracey M. Giles, PhD, MNg, MACN, GradCertHDN, RN; Sheryl de Lacey, PhD, MA, BAppSc, RN; and Eimear Muir-Cochrane, PhD, FACMHN, MNS, BSc (Hons) RN, Grad Dip Adult Ed, and is titled Coding, Constant Comparisons, and Core Categories: A Worked Example for Novice Constructivist Grounded Theorists.  I encourage ANS readers to download the article while it is available at no charge, and return here to add your comments and perspectives on this very important topic!  Here is a message from the authors about their work:

It is a pleasure to have our article featured as the editor’s featured article on the Advances in Nursing Science blog. This is the second of two methodological articles I have written under the guidance of my PhD supervisors.

Dr. Tracey Giles

Dr. Tracey Giles

The first article, also published in ANS, examined the timing of the literature review in grounded theory research (Giles, King & De Lacey 2013). This second article “Coding, Constant Comparisons, and Core Categories, A Worked Example for Novice Constructivist Grounded Theorists” further contributes to the literature around grounded theory methods.

Grounded Theory Method is one of the most widely used qualitative research methodologies across a variety of disciplines, particularly nursing. Yet many researchers who claim to be using Grounded Theory Method fail to apply the core tenets of this methodology/methods package, possibly due to an inadequate understanding of the approach.

When I began my PhD research, I had not used grounded theory previously and as such I was eager to find practical

Professor Sheryl de Lacey

Professor Sheryl de Lacey

examples of its key methods and processes to guide me. However, I soon noted that while Grounded Theory Method has been described extensively in the literature, there are very few worked examples that track the development of initial and focused codes, through to the construction of tentative and major categories, and emergence of the core category.

Many experts believe grounded theory methods are difficult to explain in writing because of the multitude of different methods used and because the analytical activity required is a primarily cerebral process. Much of the advice I gained from the multitude of texts and articles I accessed was that the best way to learn grounded theory is to do it. And from personal experience this is certainly true. However, learning can be enhanced through the use of practical, worked examples.

I wrote this paper to help elucidate analysis, category development and to offer novice grounded theory researchers a

Professor Eimear Muir-Cochrane

Professor Eimear Muir-Cochrane

step-by-step example of how a grounded theory develops and is systematically constructed. Novice grounded theorist who are interested in a more detailed example of grounded theory can access my PhD thesis from Flinders University here.

Thank you for the opportunity to share our ideas about GTM research. We look forward to your thoughts about this worked example.