It is arguably superior to content or thematic analysis because it embraces the complexity of a phenomenon but many criticize it because a. It chops people up into themes/doesn't preserve the persons story b. Assumes the researcher can get out of the way while a theory emerges from the data.....
Here's a nice diagram to help you think through stages of coding
Heres a basic description from socialresearchmethods.net
Grounded theory is a qualitative research approach that was originally developed by Glaser and Strauss in the 1960s. The self-defined purpose of grounded theory is to develop theory about phenomena of interest. But this is not just abstract theorizing they're talking about. Instead the theory needs to be grounded or rooted in observation -- hence the term.
Grounded theory is a complex iterative process. The research begins with the raising of generative questionswhich help to guide the research but are not intended to be either static or confining. As the researcher begins to gather data, core theoretical concept(s) are identified. Tentative linkages are developed between the theoretical core concepts and the data. This early phase of the research tends to be very open and can take months. Later on the researcher is more engaged in verification and summary. The effort tends to evolve toward one core category that is central.
There are several key analytic strategies:
- Coding is a process for both categorizing qualitative data and for describing the implications and details of these categories. Initially one does open coding, considering the data in minute detail whiledeveloping some initial categories. Later, one moves to more selective coding where one systematically codes with respect to a core concept.
- Memoing is a process for recording the thoughts and ideas of the researcher as they evolve throughout the study. You might think of memoing as extensive marginal notes and comments. Again, early in the process these memos tend to be very open while later on they tend to increasingly focus in on the core concept.
- Integrative diagrams and sessions are used to pull all of the detail together, to help make sense of the data with respect to the emerging theory. The diagrams can be any form of graphic that is useful at that point in theory development. They might be concept maps or directed graphs or even simple cartoons that can act as summarizing devices. This integrative work is best done in group sessions where different members of the research team are able to interact and share ideas to increase insight.
Eventually one approaches conceptually dense theory as new observation leads to new linkages which lead to revisions in the theory and more data collection. The core concept or category is identified and fleshed out in detail.
When does this process end? One answer is: never! Clearly, the process described above could continue indefinitely. Grounded theory doesn't have a clearly demarcated point for ending a study. Essentially, the project ends when the researcher decides to quit.
What do you have when you're finished? Presumably you have an extremely well-considered explanation for some phenomenon of interest -- the grounded theory. This theory can be explained in words and is usually presented with much of the contextually relevant detail collected.
Ive assembled the following resources
Good introductory slides
Great article on quality and rigour
Great book chapter
Practical 'how to' paper
.....make sure you also read Adele Clarke's situational analysis which helps you become more aware of your biases...
oh yeah...why Bowie? well on a completely different note its Ziggy Stardust's 40th birthday today so...