Grounded theory vs the opposite

A few years back I tried to study the information culture of a community and I ended up conducting a research–collecting data, sifting through the literature– and coming to some conclusions. It was at Masters level and my supervisor was of the view that I needn’t go into the technicality of theories, frameworks and the lot.

So what I ended up doing was coming up with a sort of a model or a concept map based on the literature that directed me to the scope of what I was trying to study and also to identify where I was drawing the boundaries of my work.

info culture

Now, let’s keep that aside and try to analyze what I am doing right now. Currently  I am trying my hands at a PhD and as such, my supervisor is making me look into theories and models so that I can come up with a theoretical framework to situate my chosen research.

And when I go along and join the candidacy workshops that tries to guide us and help us in getting our candidacy proposals together, I end up getting confused at times and at times I think I see it a bit more clearly. The elusive concepts that I am trying to nail down.

One such workshop was talking about grounded theory and I ended up reading a bit on that that and now I am thinking what I was doing earlier for my MPhil was applying grounded theory– to some extent. And this time what I have been trying to do so far is the exact opposite–that is choosing a theoretical framework, and then applying this model to the phenomenon to be studied.

Here is a definition of Grounded theory method from Wikipedia.

Grounded theory method (GT) is a systematic methodology in the social sciences involving the discovery of theory through the analysis of data.[1][2] Grounded theory method is a research method which operates almost in a reverse fashion from traditional social science research. Rather than beginning with a hypothesis, the first step is data collection, through a variety of methods. From the data collected, the key points are marked with a series of codes, which are extracted from the text. The codes are grouped into similar concepts in order to make the data more workable. From these concepts, categories are formed, which are the basis for the creation of a theory, or a reverse engineered hypothesis. This contradicts the traditional model of research, where the researcher chooses a theoretical framework, and only then applies this model to the phenomenon to be studied.[3]

Grounded theory method does not aim for the “truth” but to conceptualize what is going on by using empirical research. In a way, grounded theory method resembles what many researchers do when retrospectively formulating new hypotheses to fit data. However, when applying the grounded theory method, the researcher does not formulate the hypotheses in advance since preconceived hypotheses result in a theory that is ungrounded from the data.[5]

There is a lot more one can sit and read on Grounded theory and all the jargons and technicality of it. What I have figured is that my current research goes nowhere near grounded theory. I rest the case here and turn my attention to theoretical framework.


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I write as I think. I think as I write.

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