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ESE504 : The Class : Elementary : Research


Research in Human Science

Web Assignment

I went to the web to see if I could find any information about research. Using Alta Vista, I asked for grounded theory. This is one of the pieces I found. It is an answer to a question from a chat page. Read this informative piece by Kerry Chamberlain from New Zealand, and then see if you can discover more about topics in research by surfing the web.

Grounded theory is a method that has been used extensively across a variety of social science disciplines. The basic tenet of this approach is that a theory must emerge from the data, or in other words, a theory must be grounded in the data. Hence the approach purports to be inductive rather than deductive. As defined by two of its major proponents (Strauss & Corbin, 1990), "the grounded theory approach is a qualitative research method that uses a systematic set of procedures to develop an inductively derived grounded theory about a phenomenon" (p. 24). The intent is to develop an account of a phenomenon that identifies the major constructs, or categories in grounded theory terms, their relationships, and the context and process, thus providing a theory of the phenomenon that is much more than a descriptive account (Becker, 1993).

Grounded theory requires that theory is emergent from the data, but does not see these as separate. Data collection, analysis and theory formulation are regarded as reciprocally related, and the approach incorporates explicit procedures to guide this. Research questions are open and general rather than formed as specific hypotheses, and the emergent theory should account for a phenomenon which is relevant and problematic for those involved (Becker, 1993). Analysis involves three processes, from which sampling procedures are derived, and which may overlap: open coding, where data is broken open to identify relevant categories; axial coding, where categories are refined, developed and related; and selective coding, where the "core category", or central category that ties all other categories in the theory together, is identified and related to other categories.

Data collection is guided by theoretical sampling, or sampling on the basis of theoretically relevant constructs. In the early stages of a project, open sampling of persons, sites or documents, involving purposive, systematic or fortuitous procedures, is used to discover and identify data which is relevant to the research question. In later phases, relational or variational sampling is used, either purposive or systematic, to locate data which confirms, elaborates and validates relations between categories or limits their applicability. The final phase of a project involves discriminate sampling, with deliberate and directed selection of persons, sites or documents to confirm and verify the core category and the theory as a whole, as well as to saturate poorly developed categories. Two key procedures, asking questions and making comparisons, are specifically detailed to inform and guide analysis and to aid theorizing. Other procedures, memo writing and the use of diagrams, are also incorporated as essential parts of the analysis, as are procedures for identifying and incorporating interaction and process. The need for a high level of theoretical sensitivity on the part of the researcher is explicitly promoted.

Grounded theory has some distinguishing features designed to maintain the "groundedness" of the approach. Data collection and analysis are deliberately fused, and initial data analysis is used to shape continuing data collection. This is intended to provide the researcher with opportunities for increasing the "density" and "saturation" of recurring categories, as well as for following up unexpected findings. Interweaving data collection and analysis in this way is held to increase insights and clarify the parameters of the emerging theory. The approach also argues for initial data collection and preliminary analyses to take place in advance of consulting and incorporating prior research literature. This is intended to ensure that the analysis is based in the data and that preexisting constructs do not shape the analysis and subsequent theory formation. If existing theoretical constructs are utilized, they must be justified in the data. Note that reading and integrating literature is delayed, not omitted, and is regarded as forming an important part of theory development.

Grounded theory aims to be a rigorous method by providing detailed and systematic procedures for data collection, analysis and theorizing, but it is also concerned with the quality of emergent theory. Strauss and Corbin (1990) provide four central criteria for a good grounded theory: it should fit the phenomenon, provided it has been carefully derived from diverse data and is faithful to the everyday reality of the area; it should provide understanding, and be comprehensible to both the persons studied and others involved in the area; it should provide generality, given that the data are comprehensive, the interpretation conceptual and broad, and the theory includes extensive variation and is abstract enough to be applicable to a wide variety of contexts in the area; and it should provide control, in the sense of stating the conditions under which the theory applies and providing a basis for action in the area.

In spite of the highly structured way in which grounded theory is presented, variations in epistemological stance toward the approach can be found. Charmaz (1990) argues that the original approach presented by Glaser and Strauss (1967) was inconsistent in promoting both positivistic and phenomenological emphases. More recent presentations (e.g., Strauss, 1987; Strauss & Corbin, 1990) retain positivistic premises but emphasize phenomenology more heavily. Glaser (1994) has taken issue with some of these presentations, and considers that this version of the method has eroded its essential focus on the data. Stern (1994) considers that the respective positions outlined by Strauss and by Glaser represent two fundamentally different approaches. Charmaz (1990), in contrast, takes a social constructionist approach to grounded theory, viewing it as a method involving dialectical and active process, and the outcome of any research using this method "as a social construction of the social constructions found and explicated in the data" (p. 1165). -Kerry Chamberlain

There are a number of terms you might wish to look for as you are surfing the web.

Applied research ethnography case study
ex post facto methods controlled setting correlational studies
naturalistic observation surveys statistical analysis
basic research practices qualitative data interview research


You can utilize this exercise to find out more about different types of human science research, i.e.,case studies, correlation, longitudinal,or even find the articles you need to complete Assignment Four

Remember to

  • Tally ten points for each site you investigate
  • Share great sites with peers in WebCT
  • Send a report sharing some of the best addresses with the professor.

Terms to look for:

Research Reports Ethnography
Applied research Survey research
Basic research practices Interview research
Quantitative data Qualitative data
Naturalistic Observation Case study
Controlled setting Ex Post Facto Methods
Correlation studies

When you complete your surfing, remember to send back a report using email and tally 10 points for every site you investigated.


Becker, P. H. (1993). Common pitfalls in published grounded theory research. Qualitative Health Research, 3, 254-260.

Charmaz, K. (1990). "Discovering" chronic illness: Using grounded theory. Social Science and Medicine, 30, 1161-1172.

Glaser, B. G. (1994). Basics of grounded theory analysis: Emergence versus forcing. Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press.

Glaser, B. G. & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory. Chicago: Aldine.

Stern, P. N. (1994). Eroding grounded theory. In J. M. Morse (Ed.), Critical issues in qualitative research methods (pp. 212-223). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Strauss, A. L. (1987). Qualitative analysis for social scientists. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Newbury Park: Sage.

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