Writing Grounded Theory Thesis

For students, these are key issues, not only at the start of their research project, but at the end stage when defending their grounded theory thesis at final examination.Drawing from personal experiences of two Ph D graduates who used classic grounded theory in two universities, one UK (Queen’s University, Belfast) and one Irish (Trinity College Dublin), this paper highlights key lessons learned that may help students who are setting out to use grounded theory method.At doctoral level, this is critical, as generating new knowledge is a criterion for the award of a Ph D (e.g.

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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).

It identifies key discussion points that students may find useful when engaging with critical audiences, and defending their grounded theory thesis at final examination.

Key discussion points included are: the difference between inductive and deductive inquiry; how grounded theory method of data gathering and analysis provide researchers with a viable means of generating new theory; the primacy of the questions used in data gathering and data analysis; and, the research-theory link as opposed to the theory-research link.

In keeping with the academic requirement that doctoral candidates generate new knowledge through their dissertation, Elliott (2007) carried out a scoping exercise of the literature on her area of interest, which was clinical decision-making and advanced nursing practice.

In order to provide a justification for the research proposal, a requirement for registration, a systematic analysis of the decision-making literature was carried out to determine what was already known and what was not known.

A critical review of the literature is used to generate the research question and consequently, for many students, precedes the selection of a research methodology.

In other words, students complete a literature review for the purpose of generating a research question, and it is at this stage they are in a position to select an appropriate methodology to answer the research question.

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.


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