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Background A fundamental decision when planning a study is the selection of the most appropriate approach to the research. Researchers choosing grounded theory must consider which approach is best suited to for collecting and analysing data. Aim To enable nurse researchers to choose and apply a grounded theory methodology, using a worked example to illustrate the main elements and considerations. Discussion Grounded theory provides a helpful framework to guide data collection and analysis, and to generate theory from the data. It can also be used to modify or advance existing theories. Conclusion Neophyte researchers need to understand the jargon, technical language and specific requirements of grounded theory to use it to its capacity. This supports the correct application of their preferred approach to grounded theory, and continuity between the study’s question, aims and methods. Implications for practice It takes time and effort to understand the different approaches of grounded theory, and to learn its rigorous standards. This paper offers guidance to nurse researchers by explaining fundamental decisions to be made when choosing and adopting a grounded theory methodology.
Background Grounded theory is one of the most widely used qualitative research methodologies. However, it is complex and frequently misinterpreted and misapplied. Aim To provide a critical overview of grounded theory, to support neophyte researchers’ understanding of a methodology for systematically generating theory from data. Discussion The uniqueness of grounded theory is evident in the way researchers explicate concepts from the data during research, rather than entering the field with a list of predefined concepts. Adherence to its rigorous standards enables researchers to contribute to knowledge and practice. Conclusion Grounded theory is particularly useful in nursing and midwifery research, where it can be applied to a broad range of topics. Neophyte researchers should not be deterred by its rigorous standards, although time and effort are required to appreciate the similarities and differences between grounded theory approaches. Implications for practice A clear understanding of its philosophical foundations and attention to its main features should underpin researchers’ efforts to conduct a high-quality grounded theory study.