Barney G. Glaser
The message in this book, the dictum in this book, is to stop and write when the Grounded Theory (GT) methodology puts you in that ready position. Stop unending conceptualization, unending data coverage, and unending listening to others who would egg you on with additional data, ideas and/or requirements or simply wait too long. I will discuss these ideas in detail. My experience with PhD candidates is that for the few who write when ready, many do not and SHOULD. Simply put, many write-up, but many more should.
And yet writing is taken for granted, since without writing a substantive grounded theory is private “fantasy”. But taken for granted is often a postponement into the extended future, when the SGT is actually ready to write-up and should be made accessibly public. And writing up the theory is built into the GT method, which generates a readiness momentum to write it up. This is a readiness that is produced by sorted memos, which sorts emerged with autonomy and creativity. The researcher need only follow the procedures of the GT method to generate the motivation and readiness to write. To stop and write is built into the method. It is not done by pure choice, it is done by doing the next GT method step after sorting memos. The method produces this next step of readiness: to write-up memo sorts.
This book is important, as there is very little in published work about how to write a grounded theory paper according to and integrated with the GT methodology. For most researchers writing is just assumed with no integration of writing with the method. For the few chapters in other books that deal with writing, they also lack this important integration with the GT method. Writing GT is a part of the method, not an after chore. Thus this book will deal with the important product yield a write-up that gives GT much public “grab” worldwide.
Put simply, built into the GT methodology is the readiness and moment to write a substantive theory. This must be taken as it emerges, it is part of the method. It is not something to do after the research is done. It is part of the research GT methodology. In doing a GT research, first one goes into the field and starts open coding leading to conceptualizing his /her data using the constant comparative method. Then a core category is discovered, and selective coding starts and theoretical sampling for more data to see if the core category works. And if it does, one starts writing memos on the workings and relevance of the emerging concepts. Soon theoretical saturation of categories and their properties emerge and are memoed. Theoretical completeness emerges in the number of concepts about the core category, usually 4 to 6 sub concepts are sufficient. And in the emerging analysis of the concept memos, capturing the analysis, get more mature and formulated on their concept integration. Theoretical completeness occurs sufficiently to write a theory. The research then sorts his memos and writes more stimulated by the sorting. And then he/she is ready to write the theory in a first data draft, BY WRITING UP THE MEMOS. He/she does not write out of one’s head. The theory comes from a write-up of concepts and data in the mature memos. The method has produced its last stage of research. That is the write-up – a vital stage of the method carefully arrived at. Enough is enough. The researcher, if using the classical GT method, is set up to write – and must – to conclude a substantive GT. He/she should stop, write.
This production of a readiness writing moment by the GT methodology seems simple enough, but alas it is derailed quite often by inexperience, supervisors and colleagues, which prevents the proper GT write-up. By detailing many of these blocks to readiness to write-up I hope to help the reader handle them and to seize the readiness moment that he/she has worked so hard to reach.
The obvious derailment of the readiness to write is not following the GT methodology procedures and thus not arriving at the readiness moment. The impact of several of the QDA research demands on the GT research easily derails readiness. Too much data for coverage, not enough conceptualization or over conceptual description, worrisome accuracy, preconceived research problems, no core variable, preformed questionnaires and other QDA method claims all readily lose the readiness write-up moment of the classic GT method.
Coverage descriptively, which is a strong requirement of QDA, is not a problem for GT. With GT, readiness is conceptual completeness about a core category, not descriptive about the core however much the coverage. In fact, excessive description coverage is just interchangeable indicators for concepts that had been saturated. So more indicators are not necessary and they are redundant. And also explaining how a core category resolves a main concern most often does not take more than 4 to 6 sub concepts, so extensive further conceptualization easily bypasses the readiness moment produced by the method. The 5 or 6 concepts deal well with the conceptual need of a substantive grounded theory (SGT), even if it is just one general main concern of the participants. Remember, the substantive theory, en fin, is abstract of time place and people.
A core category with grab and 4 to 6 sub concepts may have generated general implications with such grab that the researcher feels unfinished and pursues yet more data for the implications. Thus again the readiness moment is bypassed when it should be written up and with a further research appeals at the end. The researcher cannot do it all, no matter how egged on by self, others or supervisors. GT can be so rich that not pursuing general implications can appear like the research is undone, or unfinished, and the researcher has not done enough. Not so. A substantive GT is only a slice of what is going on and will go on, however strange it is in explaining the continuing resolving of a main concern. Its discovery is an unending conceptualization, and the researcher should not attempt the unending generating of the theory. He/she can never reach it and if not writing when the readiness moment arises, the power and grab of the substantive GT could be lost. In short, yield to the readiness moment with all its pent up motivation that the GT method produces.
Do not talk the theory before it is written. There are many reasons. Talk vents to no avail the pent up motivation to write. Talk can easily derail the readiness moment that only the researcher feels and sees. Besides reducing the readiness motivation moment, others can start the reversibility of the interchangeability of indicators for concepts. By this is meant the coming theory, yet unwritten, has so much grab that others see indicators of it, which could yield more categories or subcategories. AND they are not gathered by research. They are gathered by triggering memories or by conjectures, thus they undermine the systematic collection of indicators done in the research. They indicate the grab of the coming theory, which is what we want, but they do not indicate systematically collected data by theoretical sampling. They can indicate general implication of the theory for future research.
These gratuitous indicators ignore the saturation of categories within the data set. And the GT method is based on saturating categories within the current data. They are part of the generated theory. Saturation ends the analysis and more indicators from “wherever” in the talk of others undermines before write-up the discovery of the core category and its conceptual resolution. More indicators could discourage the research with the readiness moment, thinking as if he missed something. The readiness moment must be seized, and the “more” data used subsequently by whoever. So stop, write after sorting memos.
Furthermore, more indicators from others, if used, can make the substantive theory too descriptive if they are not analyzed by constant comparative conceptualizing, which they seldom are. Thus the conceptual inductive power of the substantive theory by strict use of GT method can be weakened or even lost. Remember that conceptual coverage is unending for substantive GT. It is only with a formal GT of the core category that unending may give some closure, if at all. For example, one can take the core category of “supernormalizing” just about everywhere, on and on, always more indicators and implications.
This does not mean that the offered reversible, interchangeable indicators may not be interesting, or important. They are just not part of the systematic constant comparative conceptualization which generates the substantive theory. Again, they can be included in the appeal for future research. They should not be allowed to derail the substantive theory with accusations of a significant “miss”. They should not dismay the researcher for not having it a viable concept for the indicator. The researcher must accept the grab of his generated, discovered theory, which will stimulate others to example it as a way of understanding it and even applying it. It is the joyous effect of the grab of GT to stimulate people, but just do not let it derail the readiness moment.
The readiness moment can easily be missed, derailed or blocked by the qualitative data analysis’ (QDA) routine requirement to get full descriptive coverage. GT discovers and generates conceptual patterns among interchangeable indicators. Full coverage just repeats the saturation of conceptual patterns. It denies theoretical saturation. The pattern is the pattern like “routing,” and more data on it does not help conceptual and is a bore descriptively. Unending data collection coverage per QDA has no place in GT, and undermines getting to the readiness moment to sort memos and stop and write the theory. Again I emphasize that the quest for full unending QDA data coverage undermines and denies GT conceptualization.
Furthermore, unending data collection takes time and resources that deplete the energy for generating a GT. This form of data coverage becomes a distortion on the theoretical completeness achieved by sticking to the method within the chosen population. To repeat for emphasis, a core category and 4 or 5 sub categories is enough to generate a process or typology, or five Cs. Of course the theory can be extended infinitely and unendingly and even a formal theory be generated with its general implications. But this is unnecessary. All that is required is to just do the beginning theory, sort the memos and seize the readiness moment provided by the method. This is complete enough and a good start for others to use it and extend it to a formal theory.
Unending theoretical coverage, like unending data coverage, can go on interminably, which is not the job of the original generator of the core category and beginning theory. New categories generated by a quest of theory coverage do not change the meanings of original generated central theory. They just extend and modify it for broader use, which is the job of a formal grounded theorist. So stop the quest for data coverage and conceptual coverage and write-up of memo sorts for the original, generated theory. Stay within the boundaries of the original, available data, resources and allotted time, and its emergent categories of the generated theory. And yield to its original theoretical completeness and saturation. It is the first ending of generating a substantive grounded theory.
It is not for the original researcher to discover provisionally an apparently infinite core category theory. It is the SGT as discovered within the boundaries of the planned original research. That he/she must extend it unendingly, defeats the GT method by denying original closure. To continue excessive data collection and conceptualization is a fantasy of coverage. The researcher could never cover “it all” no matter how much extension. Keep in mind that the SGT is abstract of time, place and people, thus abstract of the description of the population used and which data/population is soon forgotten for using the theory. So the only real continued theoretical coverage is to plan to generate a formal theory (see my book Generating Formal theory), which is not the goal of a SGT. So again, stick with the GT method and get to the ready to write moment. Do not yield to the infinite extending, unending nature of a SGT, as a condition and often a way of avoiding write-up by needing to do yet more coverage in data and concepts.
SGT occurs within the boundaries of a set of data. Concepts are generated by saturation of the indicators within the data set, so more data collection is a redundant waste of time. Theoretical sampling and theoretical completeness are finalized within a population, and data collection within these boundaries and within the yield of the GT method is a waste of time. The patterns are the patterns. Sort memos and write them up.
Going to new data beyond the SGT is the beginning of a formal theory, which is not the task of the SGT researcher. The task of the GT researcher is to generate a theory within the chosen data boundaries. To start going elsewhere for more data under the guise of making the SGT “more comprehensive”, changes the goal of just generating a SGT for and from an available population, which is soon to be forgotten anyway in generating the conceptual theory abstract of time, place, and people. More comprehensive is just a QDA excuse to keep collecting and even conceptualizing to pursue descriptive coverage. The general implications of the SGT may stimulate taking it to a formal theory level, if someone cares to generate a formal theory on new data outside the original boundaries of the SGT. But the modification will only increase the theory somewhat.
Remember, going comprehensive is a misnomer for GT. The original SGT is comprehensive enough. There is always more concepts that can be generated from more data outside the original boundaries of data, but a modest amount of theory from the original data source goes a long way in opening up a core variable theory, an SGT, with general implications that apply many places, anywhere and everywhere it seems as it is abstract of time place and people.
The path to follow is the core category theory from a chosen, accessible population within the resources and time of the researcher. He pursues the GT method from data collection, to conceptualization of a core category and its sub categories through theoretical sampling and saturation to sorting memos for writing-up readiness at the end of the GT research path. From the data boundaries emerge the conceptual boundaries, which lead to the readiness write up moment. Data choice is determined not by volume, but by accessibility. The GT researcher simply goes where the data exists within his resources and time. Conceptual boundaries do not require more data, and formal theory can take the SGT on and on when suitable by a researcher. Until then, the SGT is enough and needs to be written up to show others. The readiness moment, built into the GT method, should not be bypassed and its momentum ignored or discounted. The write-up is a vital part of the method that must finalize the SGT. Its timing is sequential, its doing not optional. Unending data and conceptual coverage just changes the method to a routine QDA with descriptive generalizations which become stale dated very soon. Conceptual generalizations
last forever, e.g. there will always be supernormalizing or credentializing or likening (See GT Seminar Reader).
The GT method puts the researcher and his readers on the conceptual abstract level. Data overload lowers this abstract level to description. If the researcher finds it hard to stop data overload collecting, he/she is not using the constant comparative method to generate pattern/ concepts which would curb and alter the constant quest for data, that is just more indicators of what has already been conceptualized. And the readiness to write-up moment is derailed by this useless overload and lack of memo sorting.
Another form of overload was brought to attention by Hans Thulesius. He says “Another one of my PHD students is doing the opposite. She is overloading the writing by intermingling GT concepts with professional jargon concepts, so you cannot get heads or tails of what is grounded theory and what is conjecture from her position as a walking survey.” In short, the researcher should write up ONLY the GT emergent concepts and leave the intermingling of these SGT concepts with those from his/her profession to the literature integration when reworking the paper. This type of overload can seriously derail or even hide the GT in a world of professional jargon.
In contrast to missing the readiness moment by overload, a student wrote me: “It is such an exciting prospect to think that I will hopefully find something new at the end of the research and write it up.” Further she says, “I am writing numerous notes and memos and trigger words and sentences and they are helping me overcome my writer’s block by stimulating thoughts and ideas, I am guessing then that writing will become easier.” Thus, while doing her research according to the GT method, she is feeling the readiness to write momentum build as she writes memos. Also keep in mind that a memo can be any form of conceptual; writing varying from a trigger word, a jot to a several page conceptual conclusion or sub theory. It all gets sorted. In summary, students find it exciting that the GT method itself will produce a write-up of their theory. They are ready to become ready to write-up when appropriate. It does away with a major concern of many students. That is the question “when do I write and how do I write?”
To not sort memos into a theory to write-up leaves the researcher who wants to write NOT ready, and not knowing how, to write-up the theory. If one tries, he/she has jumped a vital stage of the GT methodology and is left wondering how to present the SGT as he is not yet ready, however eager to write. One student wrote me about her quandary of not knowing what or how to write before sorting memos. She said “Currently having difficulty in writing up the theory chapter. Just wondering what actually should be put in the theory chapter and how should it be framed, should it have a sequence process and how are the theoretical codes interweaved? While you say that memos are the write-up, how do you know as a novice classic GT researcher that you have comprehensively covered the concepts in the theory?” The answer to her quandary is simple: The memos are sorted into a theory, using theoretical codes usually, but not totally necessary and the write-up is of the various piles of sorts which show the concepts and how they are integrated to write-up. In short, this researcher was not ready to write and her need to write was premature. So as often as I say stop write, I can also say do not write until ready and readied by a pile or piles of sorted memos emerged into a theory that tells the researcher what to write-up.
Using the GT method can easily in some cases generate an eagerness and anticipation to write before ready by sticking with the method. The researcher must be patient about writing until the readiness moment. One student wrote me “Now I am excited to write. But first I gotta figure out how to code and memo. Got lots of resource material and I am going to trust the GT method.” Yes, sit on the eagerness to write until the readiness moment comes after sorting memos. Your trust in the method will be proven wise and warranted…and productive. Another student wrote “eagerness to write is getting the better of me.” She curbed her premature writing of her SGT until ready. It will satisfy those researchers who feel “creative and ready to go,” as one PhD student wrote me.
Writing up ones sorted memos is academic writing. It is NOT the narrative prose of a GT research process when the researcher wishes to bring the reader to a cutting point in his generating a substantive theory, even though the researcher may be beyond this cutting point in his thinking of researcher possibilities. But the researcher has enough in his memos to write an SGT In a working paper. Enough as I have said is a core category and 4 to 6 subcategories. To keep going on with more conceptualization is needless overload and his time and resources are not as yet available to keep going on. Future going on with the research can lead to chapters for a book, and each chapter being a sub theory of the core SGT.
Furthermore, to not write up sorted memos into a paper when the readiness moment arrives, is to risk depleting the energy from the motivational drive built into the GT method at every step. As I have said, a major block to readiness is too much talk with others even if they know GT methodology and worse if they do not. The researcher easily gets over loaded with more indicators of a pattern he already know. Shy waiting too long also withers the energy to seize the readiness moment. Choosing the readiness moment too soon is better than seizing it too late. Too soon still retains energy to keep generating. Too late leads to loss of energy for the write-up task. The cumulative buildup of motivation to write-up is a simple product of using the GT method. The write-up will become very exciting as the researcher sees his months of research according to the GT method emergently producing a theory with grab.
It is easy enough for me to say stop, write when the readiness moment arrives by using the GT methodology, but in actuality, detecting the moment may not be so easy. The researcher could be on a conceptual binge following general implications and miss saturation. An important tactic to stop coding overload is write memos on saturation of the core category and its sub categories, This fixes the relevant patterns In mind and their indicators, so the researcher can realize the saturation of the categories that make up the central SGT and stop coding and even collecting more data. These saturation memos will alert him to theoretical completeness of his SGT and to start sorting his memos for writing up. They will forestall taking the SGT in new directions away from the core emergent theory. Which suffices. They will stop the going on forever phenomenon of seeing the core category application everywhere. The saturation memos can also be used to stop the competitive parlance with others giving more indicators of the same patterns, if the researcher does talk about his theory before written.
Theoretical saturation memos help put the emerging GT, yet to be written, on the conceptual level abstract of time, place and people, which will help sorting memos and writing them up. Saturation memos firm up the concept in the bargain abstract of time place and people. Theoretical saturation memos also helps the eventual integration of concepts too soon be written into a theory, a theory that leaves behind the data it emerged from. This also forestalls dropping into QDA conceptual description. Memos of theoretical saturation will prevent the researcher from conceptualizing way beyond his core theory, which is all that is necessary. The patterns and their properties are the pattern, period. Saturation memos are a way of telling others that this saturation is enough for a theory that brings people to the researcher level. Over kill coverage is just that, by diluting the core category SGT. The impact of the theory can be killed.
An SGT with grab is an unending theory to generate. For some researchers, the rich conceptualization about the core category is hard to stop, especially for very smart, jargonizing researchers. They can go on and on conceptualizing with conjecture and more data as is their nature pressure and lack of self control. And if the researcher is a walking survey by doing a researcher in his own field, such as a nurse doing a study of some facet of nursing, stopping to write is even harder. This easily then becomes a scattered, not integrated, professional overdue and partly professionally jargonized with the generated concepts. Theoretical sampling does not yield to saturation in this condition. Pride and zest increase the never enough unending generating of theory and easily to the formal theory level. The cutting point of the readiness moment for a write-up of the theory is felt as not enough, and it actually is. The readiness completion moment is passed over for the ever growing of the theory in whatever direction. The researcher is actually generating several papers as if there is only one great paper, which there is not. One can find many papers in the over extending conceptualizing analysis. There is always more, and several papers are easier to reach the public with than one extended one with too much coverage. Stop, write, as the original core category of your SGT must be written by starting with the first working paper. Extending to make it comprehensive is a fantasy not worth chasing.
Core categories have grab and easily lead to general implications hard to resist. But resist he must to avoid extending the theoretical sampling on beyond the readiness to write-up momentum of sorted memos. For example David Healee emailed me, ”My inquiry is as follows. At the seminar I was encouraged to stay within the substantive area that of fractured participants only. However, is it appropriate to move outside this specific boundary for theoretical sampling? I would like to interview older adults with other acute illness/injury to clarify if renormalizing is present which includes living with existing conditions. Therefore I am interviewing for conceptual clarity and that re-normalizing is a natural pattern of behavior. Barney, your thoughts would be appreciated.”
My response was NO, stop, write your substantive on renormalizing regarding physical, cognitive and psychological sub categories. Then suggest your general implications for further research for living with all impairments. Do not let the general implications sabotage the clarity of your substantive theory boundaries. Do not go on and on. Write your SGT. Yield to the readiness to write momentum by sorting your memos into a theory if you have not already sorted. Do not show the original, rough draft of your write-up as quality is not the issue, and colleagues and supervisors will start quality remarks of over care, which can be very discouraging. There will be plenty of time to show the paper after reworking the rough draft, but at this step the theory is on paper. Now it’s a GT product, the result of the GT methodology. Reworking the rough draft can be taken into many styles of paper suitable to a diverse public, and the SGT researcher’s recognition, hence stature, starts to grow and the general implications can be pursued on other populations based on a written foundation that can be continued to grow the comprehensiveness of the original SGT. So stop, write, to start occurring these important consequences of more conceptualization. Even to start a formal GT if warranted. The strength of the GT method leads systematically to these important career, creativity, and contribution consequences.
Writing-up memo sorts yield just a working paper that will eventually be reworked, so do not worry about styles or writing techniques in the working paper. Style and techniques will come into play when reworking the paper according to its eventual public use. One can dream of writing a book, but that comes later. Rough working papers can abuse grammar, which will be cleaned up in reworking the rough draft. The important thing is to write up the ideas in the memos sorted piles. Get them on paper as the theory of how the core category continually resolves a main concern. It only takes one core category and 4 to 6 conceptual sub categories or properties. This is very different from regular writing taught in school.
Another help to write-up is setting a timetable and interim deadlines. And also set writing planned times in your day. Even if you vary from the times scheduled, you will have a temporal budget framework to judge your completion by and you have a reason to not lag behind in the write-up. If forced, you can tell significant others your temporal budget and why you might put yourself out of contact for a while as you are writing. One student wrote me that she will take about a year to write the full dissertation, and she is about a year late and will not meet the PhD program deadline. She is taking too long, and mixing write-up with reworking for use and showing to others or for publication use. As you will see below, reworking is not typical writing also and very different from the initial rough draft. She says: “even though I feel extremely motivated I worry about this time frame.” Thus, readiness momentum was not enough. She needed a temporal framework suitable to her time and ability and she did not realize the write-up stage as rough.
Researchers tend to outgrow their SGT when it is rich with grab and general implications. It is important in the write to stay within the boundaries of the substantive population from which the theory emerged. This is why talk derails boundaries as others take off with interchangeable indicators outside your population. There is plenty of time for this. Now stay within the boundaries of your concepts and your data. As said above, unending conceptual analysis tends to breaking through substantive boundaries. Stay within the theoretical completeness and saturation of the substantive data however provisional it may seem for further general implications and however strong your outgrowing your SGT may seem. Remember you are just bringing people to your original SGT level. You will always know more of the theory as it continually emerges in your realizations of more constant comparisons yielding more patterns. The SGT in the sorted memos is enough and not to be undermined by unending conceptual analysis.
Also the write-up readiness momentum keeps in bounds the researcher’s original resources of time, money and work planning. To keep extending conceptual analysis and data collection can easily use up these resources and can leave the researcher lacking a product and “poor” in resources to work one up out of data and analysis overload. They can easily get out of control, and life and other issues and work take over and reduce the priorities of the GT research for career and life. One advantage of having a collaborator is that the researcher’s one or two collaborators can force each other to keep the project within resource boundaries to get the write-up done when the method makes it ready. The write-up is important for all.
A colleague with GT experience can also keep up the researcher’s pace, by using
experiential stories and generalizations, if the colleague is respected and allowed entry to the researcher’s path. He/she can remind the researcher that data is judged by quality of conceptual yield using the constant comparative method, not by volume. And the yield demands write-up by following the GT method and it is important to follow the readiness momentum to write what come with sorting memos. This will stop the danger of superthink by continued conceptualization by conjecture and deductive speculation. It’s a natural tendency coming from the grab of a SGT.
Furthermore, extending the SGT will not change it. It just modifies its conditions by adding sub properties. The researcher will not lose his generated write-up discovery. Modification can give it more use, hence recognition to the original, autonomous researcher GT theorist. Modification may lead to a formal theory. But all modifications and subsequent use of the SGT are done and based on using the original write-up of the researcher who did it. I can only emphasize yet again that the original data is good as far as it goes, and is enough for the theory comprising 4 to 6 sub categories and a core category. There will always be more possible data, but these data when conceptualized just modify the SGT, by taking it anywhere and everywhere, They do not verify it, nor make the original SGT lacking or corrected. The original SGT is enough for theoretical completeness. Its richness and grab should motivate the write-up. Seeing the core category operating everywhere is part of the fit, work, and relevance of the original SGT is general enough. It starts with the write-up. Subsequent modification just helps see the theory’s generality. New related theories do not change the original SGT, they just extend and modify it. And increase its abstraction from time, place, and people, that is its generality.
In this final stage of the GT methodology, the write-up of piles of memo sorts, writing techniques and styles are not important. There is plenty of time for reworking the writing according to desired styles. The purpose of the write-up is to capture the integration of the SGT into a conceptual explanation of how a core category is continually resolved. This is in stark contrast to QDA writing, which is typically lengthy description with some implicit theory and a concept.
Grammar, punctuation, paragraphs are left crude and will be fixed in reworking for style and presentation later. Now the goal is to capture in writing the theory in the sorted memos. The researcher does not say I am writing at this stage. He says, “I am writing up.” And actually his writing up started with the emergence of parts of his substantive theory within the first conceptual memos.
The researcher does not report to others that he is writing. He reports, if necessary, that he is writing up his theoretical memos into a theory. He is not a writer per se, so no need to fear or be shy writing-up. He is just making sure his theory is not a lost product that he worked so hard to generate, as it will be without a write-up. The write-up is not hard. It is in the sorted memos. No memory is required.
Although he/she is writing up memos, and not writing from memory, he is likely to realize even more conceptual memos when writing up. He should write them up and sort them in as long as they are grounded. At this stage the theory should be robust enough, but if too thin, the researcher may have to go back to the field. After all this grounding he /she should not conjecture like it was grounded or he make a lead part of his appeal for future research. The rigorous process that got him to write-up of sorted memos should not be undermined by conjecture of ungrounded “wisdoms”, especially not by the competitive parlance of close colleagues if the researcher does talk while writing up. Colleagues and supervisors will always have theoretical sampling ideas and conjecture coming from the grab of the core variable general implications.
This chapter is serious, so I will be a bit repetitive in closing it.
The final empowerment of the GT research process is reached in the final stage of the GT method, that is, writing up conceptually an integrated set of conceptual hypotheses generated in sorting the theoretical memos into categories and their relationships. There is no preconceived outline. An outline emerges in sorting memos into the relationship structure of the theory using theoretical codes. Theoretical completeness is generated and emerged within the boundaries of the research population and emerged core category. The theory explains how a core category and its subcategories continually resolved a main concern. This is very exciting to the GT researcher. He/she becomes very excited about the wonderful SGT discovered and generated, which excitement spills into the readiness momentum to write up conceptually. Writing conceptually is a major experientially learned empowerment of the grounded theory researcher. As one student wrote me: “I am a creative individual at heart and here would be the way for me to express it. When I was told about GT. I got it and understood what to do.” The autonomously gained excitement comes naturally to many researchers when doing GT and finally writing up.
Writing up freezes for the moment the generated product yielded from the intense activity of the GT research from the start. It starts the future reworking of the SGT write up for many purposes. To repeat, the GT method has provided many stages of emergent generating of concepts to theoretical saturation and completeness and the last stage of a write-up. Concepts have been generated and saturated. Memos written about them with subsequent growing maturity. Then the memos are sorted for a write-up. So stop, write, and actualize the previous months of research work. And write-up before saturation leads eventually beyond excitement to loss of readiness motivation to write and distractions from elsewhere which can undermine finishing the research with a written product. Of course, do not write up too soon, especially before sorted memos.
But also do not let the readiness momentum diminish. Stop writing up only when all the memo sorts are written up. Keep up the writing until totally complete. Then the SGT will be as good as it can go within the boundaries of the present GT research. Do not worry about the crudity of the writing – grammar, paragraphs, spelling, best outline, etc. English editing will take care of that later, it is the conceptual ideas that count. Upon stopping when complete, congratulations, you have discovered, generated and emerged a substantive grounded theory according to the classic GT method.
The above article Stop.Write! is identical to the first chapter of Barney G. Glaser’s latest book, “Stop.Write! Writing Grounded Theory!”. To be published later in 2012.