From the Editor’s Desk

Research Publishing: The Unique Value of The Grounded Theory Review

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a colleague who had submitted a paper to a highly regarded, high impact journal. The study was well designed and well described as a classic grounded theory. As often happens, a peer reviewer for the journal was not familiar with the tenets and procedures of classic grounded theory. Since research methods, procedures, and language vary among the varieties of classic and remodeled grounded theory methods are not interchangeable with those of classic grounded theory, the peer reviewer’s suggestion was inaccurate and inappropriate. Yet like many classic grounded theorists, the author needed to find a way to satisfy a reviewer who was unfamiliar with the specifics of the method. This is a tightrope that many classic grounded theorists walk—trying to appease poorly informed peer reviewers and journal editors while avoiding language that violates the major premises of classic grounded theory. This is never the case with The Grounded Theory Review.

Founded by Barney Glaser and supported by the Glaser family, the Grounded Theory Review is unique. It is the only journal that focuses solely on the original grounded theory method as first described by Glaser and Strauss (1967) and more fully developed by Glaser in Theoretical Sensitivity (1978), Doing Grounded Theory (1998), and more than 25 other publications in the subsequent years. The Grounded Theory Review is solely dedicated to and focused on the dissemination of classic grounded theories and classic grounded theory methodology. Submissions based upon all other research methods, including remodeled versions of grounded theory (such those of Charmaz, Strauss and Corbin, Birks and Mills, and Clarke) are excluded from publication in this journal. Current Grounded Theory Review peer reviewers are a highly select group of international expert grounded theorists, all of whom were taught the method by Barney Glaser. So, authors can be assured that well-designed and well-written classic grounded theories will be fairly and accurately reviewed by this journal’s peer reviewers. Also, as they read the various theories and methodological papers published in the Review, readers and novice grounded theorists can discover what proper classic grounded theory looks like and gain clarity in a variety of methodological issues common to classic grounded theory.  

          The present issue of the Grounded Theory Review includes a combination of newly submitted papers, popular articles from past issues, and two especially compelling reprints from other sources. Glaser and Holton’s (2005) paper, Staying Open: The Use of Theoretical Codes in Grounded Theory provides an explanation of theoretical codes, the element that binds concepts into explanatory grounded theories. It also includes a related paper by Nathaniel, The Logic and Language of Classic Grounded Theory: Induction, Abduction, and Deduction, which describes the three types of logic employed in grounded theory and explains how all three are necessary to develop a classic grounded theory. In their paper Developing A Classic Grounded Theory Research Study Protocol: A Primer for Doctoral Students and Novice Researchers, Vander Linden and Palmieri explain in detail strategies for writing protocols for grounded theory studies. This paper gives valuable advice to those who are struggling to write research protocols following classic grounded theory precepts, while also satisfying advisors and committees who are  unfamiliar with the method. In their paper, Following Suit: Why Some Choose to Remodel the Grounded Theory Methodology in China, Wang, Shi, Li, and Fei, provide a methodological discussion of the trend in China of investigators remodeling the grounded theory methodology in pursuit of their own personal and professional agendas. In Building a Classic Grounded Theory: Some Reflections, Yarwood-Ross and Kirsten reflect on using processes inherent within classic grounded theory methodology to build knowledge surrounding military personnel who experienced combat-related limb-loss from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Otteren and Gynnild present a compelling original grounded theory in Remote Female Fixation: A Grounded Theory of Semi-Illegal Sharing of Nude Imagery Online. Based on data gathered online from a global, anonymous community with a reputation for extensive sharing of nude images of young women, this theory helps explain the increasing presence of sexual abuse in digital environments. In another reprint of an original study, Pluralistic Task Shifting for a More Timely Cancer Diagnosis: A Grounded Theory Study from a Primary Care Perspective, Thulesius,, present pluralistic taskshifting as a conceptual summary of strategies needed to optimise the timeliness of cancer diagnosis. This theory proposes that timing is central to cancer diagnosis in that a timely diagnosis reduces expensive investigations, waiting times, and unnecessary costs. This issue also includes especially popular reprints from past issues of The Grounded Theory Review including Surviving Situational Suffering: A Classic Grounded Theory Study of Post-Secondary Contingent Faculty Members in The United States by Barry Chametzky, The System was Blinking Red: Awareness Contexts and Disasters by Vivian Martin, A Novice Researcher’s First Walk Through the Maze of Grounded Theory: Rationalization for Classical Grounded Theory by Gary Evans, and De-Shaming for Believability: A Grounded Theory of Physicians’ Communication with Patients About Adherence to HIV Medication in San Francisco and Copenhagen by Toke Barfod.

This issue is my last as the Editor. In early 2018, I received an email from Barney Glaser offering the position of Editor of The Grounded Theory Review. Although this was an honor, I hesitated, knowing it would be difficult to meet the high standards set by the previous editors and distinguished classic grounded theorists, Judith Holton and Astrid Gynnild. Today I am proud that we have been able to carry on the vision of Barney Glaser—to disseminate original classic grounded theories and methodological papers that describe and explain the method, unadulterated by revisionism and misinformation. Look for changes in the Grounded Theory Review in the near future. I am excited that the Review will take on a new look under the auspices of The Institute for Research and Theory Methodologies, led by Dr. Kara Vander Linden and with the guidance of the newly appointed Editor, Dr. Barry Chametzky. Since both Vander Linden and Chametzky are experienced classic grounded theorists, the sole focus of the Grounded Theory Review will remain faithful to the original vision to provide a source of examples of good classic grounded theory and explanatory methodological papers.

I bid farewell with one last thought. In these turbulent years of geopolitical conflict, ideological upheaval, pandemic recovery, and extreme climate events, opportunities for grounded theory studies abound. I challenge anyone interested in discovering new social-psychological and social-structural processes to conduct and disseminate new classic grounded theories. As Barney Glaser said many times,  “Just do it!”

Alvita Nathaniel, PhD



Glaser, B. G. (1978). Theoretical sensitivity: Advances in the methodology of grounded theory. Sociology Press.

Glaser, B. G. (1998). Doing grounded theory: Issues and discussion. Sociology Press.

Glaser, B. G., & Holton, J. A. (2005). Staying open: The use of theoretical codes in grounded theory. The Grounded Theory Review: An International Journal, 5(1).

Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Aldine Transaction.