Using email interviews in grounded theory studies

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    Ahmad Salih

    I wonder if it’s possible to collect data through email interviews in GT research?

    Feedback is highly appreciated. Thanks.

    Dr Mike Lambert



    Glaser and Strauss (1967) advocated ‘multi-faceted investigation’ (p.65).  If they had had email at the time, they would surely have included it as one of the many options in grounded theory methodology. Relevant also, however, is the reminder from Tashakkori and Teddlie (1998) that the best method is the one that answers the research questions most efficiently.  If email interviews will do this, then they should be used.  If not, then think again.


    Glaser, B.G. and Strauss, A.L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: strategies for qualitative research. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.


    Tashakkori, A. and Teddlie, C. (1998). Mixed methodology: combining qualitative and quantitative approaches. London: Sage Publications.



    Ahmad Salih

    Dr. Lambert,

    Many thanks for the feedback. Reading your perspective is relieving.

    Helen Scott

    Hello Ahmad,

    I collected a large part of my data using email. Chapter 3 of my thesis discusses same and in case it is useful to you, is available to download from the bottom of this page .

    Good luck with your study.


    Ahmad Salih

    Hi Dr. Scott,

    Marvelous. Thank you so much for sharing your thesis. Your thesis addressed three subjects about which I am passionate–grounded theory, email interviewing, and online learning. So the reading will not be limited to Chapter 3.

    By the way, I am having problems saving the thesis in a PDF format. 

    Thanks again,


    Janet Salmons


    Yes, it is possible to conduct interviews online for grounded theory studies, using synchronous as well as email technologies (or a combination.) Several of the studies in Cases in Online Interview Research use grounded theory approaches.

    Email allows the researcher and participant to develop a relationship and explore the phenomena of interest to the study. Participants can think and reflect on the question before responding. Synchronous communications allow for real-time exchange, and immediate response to questions. If relevant, images or pictures can be shared in either style of research.

    Hope you find an approach that fits your study!


    Ahmad Salih

    Hi Dr. Salmons,

    Thanks for the feedback. I used email interviewing in my research for my doctoral study and I totally agree with the benefits you mentioned in your post. 

    I have read your earlier book (Online Interviews in Real Time) and will get a copy of the new one.

    Many thanks,



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