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Hello I am a doctoral student from Chile

I would like to get some advise about good examples of grounded theories reports in education.

Is there any "master paper" or a "master dissertation" that can provided guidelines to new researcher in this area?

Best regards and thanks in advance


Universidad de La Frontera

Temuco - Chile

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Cristian, I used grounded theory for my doctoral research into notions of curricular difficulty and challenge with gifted students (University of Warwick, UK).  One short section of the thesis reviewed some grounded-theory studies in education in the UK and USA.  I have attached this section of the text, with references.  I hope it might be useful to you.


I am sure you are reading the work of Glaser and Strauss; Corbin and Strauss; and Kathy Charmaz.  You might want to look at this paper too:


Thomas, G. and James, D. (2006). Reinventing grounded theory: some questions about theory, ground and discovery. British Educational Research Journal, 32(6) December, pp.767-795.


The authors are highly critical of grounded theory – so if you are adopting the approach, you need to have some kind of answers to their stance.


Good luck with your work.


Dr Lambert

Thank you very much for this information.I will look for the paper you recommened.

What approach of grounded theory did you used in your dissertation?


Strauss & Corbin?


Best regards


Cristian, which approach to take is an interesting question…


The good thing about grounded theory is that there are plenty of approaches you can take – it is quite flexible.   The bad news is that this means there are many decisions you have to take, and not many are easy ones.   


In general I found that it was not usually a case of choosing a particular approach – of Glaser, or Strauss, or Corbin, etc.   It was better to identify key issues where a decision had to be made and then to work out what to do, being informed by the literature on grounded theory, but sometimes fashioning one’s own, more ‘personalised’ approach.


Here are two of the many issues where this applied:


What are you creating?  The standard perspective is that grounded theory produces ‘theory’, although Thomas and James (2006) cited in my last message vigorously disagreed.  Indeed I found myself not claiming that my research was resulting in ‘theory’- I argued instead that I was creating a ‘persuasive perspective’ on my theme.  A bit over-cautious, maybe…


How to use the literature?  There is a debate within grounded theory as to when and how to use the published literature on your topic.   Glaser and Strauss originally argued that you start without the literature and instead use it almost as data in your theory building.  My understanding is that Glaser stuck with this view, but Strauss seemed later to acknowledge that starting any research with no preconceptions was not possible.  An interesting paper on this is:


McGhee, G., Marland, G.R. and Atkinson, J. (2007). Grounded theory research: literature reviewing and reflexivity. Journal of Advanced Nursing 60(3), pp.334-342.


The authors examine both possibilities (and do not come to a conclusion about which is better).  In my study I argued a pragmatic approach, using literature wherever it was useful – before, during and after the investigation.


So things are not easy with grounded theory – but it does give you plenty to think and write about.  Anyone else got thoughts on this?




P.S. The abstract for my thesis is at

Dr Lambert

Thank you very much for this amazing support.

It is brings light to my research project, specially the paper related with the role of literature review and with the idea of being working in a theory.

Now I have a lot o reading and thinking before moving on.

Best regards.


Dr. Lambert and Crisian: Talking about a literature review vis-à-vis a Classic grounded theory method study--especially for a doctoral dissertation--is tantamount to dancing.  It is important to meet the requirements of the school while being faithful to the methodology.  At times it is challenging.  Yet, I believe that Dr. Odis Simmons (2011) explained it best with the phrase "to the extent possible."  Doctoral learners and candidates generally need to do a literature review before their proposal is approved and then, whenever possible (Simmons, 2011), they need to "forget" the research in order to avoid preconception.

Simmons, O. (2011). Why classic grounded theory. In V. Martin & A. Gynnild (Eds.), Grounded theory: The philosophy, method, and work of Barney Glaser. (pp. 15-30). Boca Raton, FL: BrownWalker [sic] Press.

Thank you Barry

Your post represents exactly my current position as a doctoral student.



Dr. Barney Glaser (I forget the exact sources) often stated "get 'er done."  (By the way, Dr. Gatin on this list also says that!)  If the school wants a lit review, do it.  Then, forget about it (to the extent possible, [Simmons, 2011]) when you collect and analyze your data. :)  Once you get your degree, you can follow gt more closely (I know I will!) but you need the degree first.



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