Grounded Theory? Mixed Methods? Both? Current ponderings!
In a blog post yesterday I suggested that my research was going to be based on a Grounded Theory approach using Mixed Methods methodology. After spending till after midnight yesterday reading up on the subject and from what I have been reading this evening I can safely assume that I was talking complete nonsense. Well, possibly, but that's the beauty of learning: you think about things, and you develop your ideas and approaches based on your continuous learning and thinking, and the beauty of having a blog such as this is that the thinking, learning and development of ideas can be documented! So, where is my thinking at the moment? Methodologically speaking I can push the research in a couple of different ways: use a pure Grounded Theory approach, or used a Mixed Methods approach using Grounded Theory to explore qualitative data. That’s where my current thinking is: I know for sure that other types such an Ethnographic study, a Phenomenological study, an Action Research study, a Narrative Research study and so on are not appropriate for the aims of this research, and that is to develop a new theory that explains the relationship between constructs of a phenomenon of investigation.
I could use Grounded Theory and use quantitative and qualitative data to generate a new theory that explains this relationship among constructs, or I could develop a Mixed Methods study that initially uses Grounded Theory to develop a theory from qualitative data, and then collect and analyse quantitative data to experiment with this new theory. But I’m not sure at this time if I want to actually implement such a research design because the goal is to create a new theory and not to create and then experiment with the new theory: I’m not sure that there is enough time to create such a massive study and then having to write about everything that there is unless I am allowed to hand in a thesis that is a couple of hundred thousand words!
I’m quite happy that I’m really thinking about this because it shows engagement not just with the phenomenon of investigation but with the research methodology and the extent to which I can develop and push research methodologies and methods to really explore and acquire knowledge of that phenomenon. This refers to what I could class as the Philosophy of Research Methods and thinking about the research methods at this level includes the following questions in relation to my own research:
What extent could Mixed Methods methodology with Grounded Theory explore reality and the relationship between the constructs of the phenomenon that is being investigated?
What impact would the different Mixed Methods approaches have on the findings, and therefore on the development of the theory?
Comparing a pure Grounded Theory approach to a Mixed Methods approach, which method could really assist with contributing towards theoretical development?
What extent could Grounded Theory be pushed to explore the behaviour of a phenomenon of investigation?
Could Grounded Theory represent a more authentic reality and therefore provide the basis of a more convincing explanation of reality than Mixed Methods? Or vice versa?
The current contention is, I shall be using multiple methods within either methodology (Grounded Theory and Mixed Methods are known as methodologies although different authors have classed differently but they all have essentially the same meaning) so determining the answers to the questions asked might in part be answered by the way in which each methodology handles the multiple methods that I shall be using.
So, a lot of thinking to do! I shall be exploring both Mixed Methods and Grounded Theory methodologies over the next few weeks to really find out which would be most suitable for the aim of my research and the questions that I want to explore.
This shall also prove to be interesting for the Upgrade process because in the report and presentation a line of reasoning needs to be given as to why a certain methodology has been selected over other methodologies. Therefore, comparing Grounded Theory with Mixed Methods methodologies in the context of my research should provide plenty of material to work with!