The aim of this paper is to help grounded theory research students deal with challenges arising from doing grounded theory research within an academic context and meeting the requirements of their degree programmes.The status of grounded theory research method in academia is contested (Bryant & Charmaz, 2007); insofar as it is considered that some aspects of grounded theory method do not conform to traditional conventions of academic research.In keeping with the traditional research perspective, Hart (1998) suggests that a prior literature review in the substantive area helps the researcher to think rigorously about the topic and develop a conceptual map of the subject area, thus ensuring that the subject area is researchable before the research commences.
Key discussion points are also identified that students may use when engaging with critical audiences when discussing grounded theory method with other researchers, writing up the thesis, defending at viva or doing conference presentations.
Since its introduction by Glaser and Strauss in 1967, grounded theory is increasingly being used as a research method in diverse areas.
”, and consider appropriate methodologies including grounded theory.
Similar to Urquhart’s (2007) view of the literature review as orientation, Elliott used the literature to identify the area of inquiry and research question, which was to explain how advanced practitioners make clinical decisions in community care contexts.
For many research students, including Elliott (2007) and Higgins (2007), they do not set out as “grounded theory” research students.
It was only after the required research proposal is completed and grounded theory methodology is selected as the most appropriate methodology that they become Ph D grounded theory research students.Many of the tensions between grounded theory and traditional research stem from differences that are rooted in the differences between inductive and deductive enquiry.A key feature of grounded theory is it provides for inductive enquiry, a means of generating new theory and new understandings, and requires researchers to identify the research problem from the research participants’ perspectives.This identified gaps in the body of knowledge and highlighted that little was known about advanced practitioner’s decision-making in community care settings, and that previous studies assumed clinical decision-making was explained by hypothetico-deductive information processing, intuition or heuristics.It was at this point that Elliott was able to identify the research question, “how do advanced practitioners make clinical decisions in community care contexts?A key challenge facing research students is how to develop a research proposal that meets academic requirements.The process of doing a research proposal involves critical analysis of the extant literature in order to map out what is already known about the topic and to identify the gaps in knowledge (Mc Ghee, Marland, & Atkinson,2007; Dunne, 2011).Although Elliott’s research proposal involved a critical analysis of the decision-making literature and theory, it was not used to inform data gathering or to formulate the interview questions.Instead, the interview questions followed Glaser’s (1998) approach, and asked ‘what were your main concerns when making clinical decisions [for the patient you have just treated]? ’ These relatively unstructured, neutral interview questions were critical to ensuring that it did not guide data collection, although an analysis of the decision making literature had been carried out.At doctoral level, this is critical, as generating new knowledge is a criterion for the award of a Ph D (e.g.National Framework of Qualifications, undated; Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, 2008).