Astrid Gynnild, Editor

GT constantly challenges grounded theorists to expand their skills and competencies in areas where they know little. Many researchers experience that theoretical coding is possibly the most difficult task of doing grounded theory.  One of the many myths is that most, or all, grounded theories are basic processes, or that they should be. As documented in Theoretical Sensitivity (Glaser, 1978) and Theoretical Coding (Glaser, 2005), there are dozens of theoretical codes and coding families available for grounded theorists to pick and choose from, depending on best fit for their particular theory.

In this issue of the Grounded Theory Review, I am delighted to publish a new research by Barney Glaser. “Staying Open: The Use of Theoretical Codes in GT,” is soon to be published as chapter two in Dr. Glaser’s new book No Preconceptions: The Grounded Theory Dictum. In this chapter, Dr. Glaser discusses consequences of theoretical preconceptions and the importance of actively studying theoretical codes to expand one’s repertoire of TCs. His message is that by constantly comparing theoretical codes also beyond one’s field, the growing mastery of TCs will help researchers open up, let go of personal and professional preconceptions, and become more sensitive to the data.

Following Barney Glaser’s often cited advice of using and exploring the constant comparative method beyond one’s field, Glen Gatin from Burdon University in Canada has generated a beginning formal theory of Keeping Your Distance. His starting point was the changing notions of distance prompted by ICT learning and social networking online. Dr. Gatin’s theory helps explain many apparent paradoxes related to extended openness of our time. Strategies for regulating distance are manifest in interactions between individuals and in the interactions between individuals and institutions. When we are accessible to “the whole world” wherever we are via new technologies, strategies for keeping your distance seems to be particularly important for identity formation.

Colin Griffiths from Ireland has studied verbal and non-verbal interactions of people with severe and complex disabilities. After collecting visual micro-data using video, Griffiths spent months analyzing the videos, frame by frame, according to the GT protocol. He points out that baseline data, the fourth layer of data in grounded theory, is defined as the best description a participant can offer. In his study, baseline data constituted micro and macro behaviors such as vocalization, facial expressions and body activity gestures. Griffiths discusses the strengths and challenges of collecting data from raw footage following GT procedures. He concludes that visual micro-data are well suited for uncovering and explaining patterns of non-verbal behavior.

In the next article, Gary Evans from the United Kingdom provides a ”Rationale for selection of classical grounded theory methodology” based on an examination of classic grounded theory, straussian grounded theory, constructivist grounded theory, and feminist theory respectively. Evans argues that the answer is in the data, but in order to find out which GT approach will be a good fit for you, one need to understand GT philosophy and decide which of them that best match your philosophy of research. Insights into the differences in coding procedures in particular, help identify personal preferences.  Writes Evans, ”Learning the different methodologies is a difficult journey as terminology often sounds similar to the novice researcher, but only by exploring the differences can the researcher rationalize their own choice.”

Daniel Berry, Canada, and four colleagues have written an interesting methodological essay which demonstrates the power of a classic GT to identify what is happening in a practical situation of software engineering. The ICT professors have identified striking similarities between the cyclic steps of a classic GT process and that of software engineers’ approaches to requirements engineering and architecture recovery. The authors emphasize that requirements engineering ”can be done in a way that resembles using a classic GT process to discover and construct requirements of the program that its client needs and wants.” As a consequence, the resulting requirements specification, which is a reflection of human-made decisions about the expected behavior of a program that meets human needs, might be called a working GT.

Finally, the experienced grounded theorist Susan Stillman from the United States provides a thought provoking review of one of Barney Glaser’s latest books, Getting out of the Data: Grounded Theory Conceptualization. She initially thought that any reader could easily delve into this book, but after testing it on a friend, she realized that the content of the book is for people who are genuinly interested in learning more about ditching description and going from data to conceptualization.

Hans Thulesius from Sweden reviews another book by Barney Glaser that was recently published, Stop, Write: Writing Grounded Theory. Thulesius guides the reader through the chapters and reminds us, when reflecting on aspects of sorting confusion discussed by Glaser, that not all confusion can be eliminated, since confusion ”is a part of the method. Confusion triggers the preconscious processing that takes care of assimilating ideas and parts of ideas into an integrated whole.” And that eventually helps grounded theorists write up their theories.

Have a good read!