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Grounded Theory
A Practical Guide



December 2010 | 224 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Nominated for The Qualitative Book Award for 2013

Watch Melanie Birks' interview on grounded theory

This is a highly practical book which introduces the whole range of grounded theory approaches. Unlike most existing books in this area, which are written from a particular philosophical standpoint, this text provides a comprehensive description of the strategies and techniques employed in this methodology.

Birks and Mills accessible and highly-readable text is driven by practical case examples throughout to help the reader get to grips with the process of doing grounded theory analysis for themselves. The book deploys a variety of educational activities to guide readers through both the principles and the application of grounded theory, making this an ideal starter text for those new to the approach.

This is an ideal first introduction to grounded theory for any student or researcher looking to use grounded theory approaches in their analysis for the first time.

 
Essentials of grounded theory
 
Planning a grounded theory study
 
Quality processes in grounded theory research
 
Positioning the researcher in a grounded theory study
 
Data generation and collection
 
Data analysis in grounded theory
 
Theoretical integration
 
Presenting a grounded theory
 
Evaluation and application of grounded theory
 
Situating grounded theory in the context of current debate
 
Glossary
 
Appendix A Working grounded theory - An example
 
Appendix B Windows into grounded theory - Contributor biographies
 
References

'Overall, Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide by Melanie Birks and Jane Mills (2011) is a well-written, easy to read and understand text that is highly organized and practical' -
The Qualitative Report


'As a guide for learning grounded theory the book is outstanding' -
International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches


Melanie Birks and Jane Mills are to be congratulated on compiling a book on grounded theory that reviews the field and provides excellent advice to the researcher... Birks and Mills provide a framework for researchers who wish to undertake research that follows a principled approach to making choices about important issues for researchers from diverse backgrounds and with varying levels of experience and or expertise... The book is well written, easy to understand and well set out. Each chapter begins with learning objectives and concludes with a summary, critical questions and leads to appendices that suggest that the reader pursue additional examples of grounded theory.

Professor Ruth Rentschler
Australasian Journal of Market & Social Research


Activity boxes prompt the reader to captalise on the activity conducted in the previous chapter. This activity becomes prospective in its focus and enables knowledge and learning to be taken forward in order to embrace the present chapter... The content of this paperback provides a fundamental approach to comprehend the processes involved in developing a grounded theory.

Jane Ryan
Qualitative Research


Grounded Thoery: A Practical Guide is comprehensive and covers topics in depth. This book could be used as a text for an introductory class for graduate students. The format is very appealing and useful for teaching; it is well structured and clearly written. Each chapter includes learning objectives, introduction to the chapter, activities, a "window into GT" (grounded theory; well-chosen examples), a "working grounded theory" (exercises), critical thinking questions, boxes, bullets, models, and conclusions.

Martha Ann Carey
Qualitative Health Research


I fell in love with the fact that Grounded Theory allows ideas and information to flow in as it comes, without the biases. Research automatically takes shape while processing thoughts and information in your mind, helping you to discover a lot more then what you started with.
Ekta Kudale
MA student, Wilfrid Laurier University


Overall, Grounded Theory is a very enlightening experience and will likely serve as an effective guide for any grounded theory research that I perform over the next few years. Thank you very much.
Michael Aiello
MA student, Wilfrid Laurier University


The book, and the theory itself, offered some attractive tenets for aspiring researchers, specifically in terms of identifying personal biases or assumptions that may not be self-evident. While this is not unique to the theory, I found the attitude towards personal bias and the utility hidden within very welcoming, as it offers a potential tool as opposed to an inherent weakness.
Jason Molloy

MA student, Wilfrid Laurier University


I'd like here to praise the extensive focus on practical advice given in Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide. Rather than present grounded theory as a magic bullet that bypasses all the shortcomings of other qualitative research methods, Birks and Mills present the depth and frequency of the pitfalls, that research inherently contains… grounded theory will be given serious consideration when I begin looking at doing field work.
Russell Ramey
MA student, Wilfrid Laurier University


I found reading Grounded Theory illuminating in a variety of ways. The activities provided throughout the book were highly informative in that they offered a practical method in allowing the reader to "play" with the some of the techniques presented in each chapter… I really had the chance to understand just how much qualitative information is able to surface, in regards to not only research data, but the way my own thoughts, assumptions and connections play in to the discoveries being made. For me, it was refreshing to know that it is encouraged to just let my mind "run wild," without having a specific question that needs to be answered… Overall, I absorbed that grounded theory, for me, has become the "orthodoxy" of qualitative research methods, and I very much appreciate Birks and Mills presentation of the text.
Keri Raif
MA student, Wilfrid Laurier University


Your book helped me find a love of Grounded Theory
Marisha McAuliffe
PhD Student, School of Design, Queensland University of Technology


The appendix within this book, which presents a synopsis of a working example of a Grounded Theory study conducted by the author, helps to put the theoretical concepts discussed into context. However, as a novice to the concept of Grounded Theory it is not always clear which 'type' of Grounded Theory is being discussed and the content often appears to be an amalgamation of the different ley GT authors perspectives i.e. Glaser and classic GT is often neglected from discussion in favour of more constructivist approaches adopted by researchers such as Charmaz. As an introductory text, the book provided some useful tips and explanations.

Mrs Vikki Park
Sch of Health,Community & Educ Studies, Northumbria University
January 5, 2015

An absolutely fantastic practical guide to conducting grounded theory. Other books may provide more philosophical background (which is not this book's aim), but the practical element of this book can not be ignored. As far as a research methodology book goes this is an enjoyable read and it 'gets to the point'. I finally feel comfortable to recommend a practical guide to grounded theory to my students and trainee counselling psychologists. I would highly recommend.

Dr James Porter

James Porter
Faculty of Health, Education, & Wellbeing, Wolverhampton University
October 15, 2014

As part of a module which relates to research, there are a number of avenues which students can take. This text will be used as a supplemental text for those students who want to gain a better understanding of grounded theory.

Mr Thomas Beary
School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Work, University of Hertfordshire
October 8, 2014

A comprehensive handbook for anybody wanting to utilise a grounded theory method approach to research, whatever your discipline.

Mrs Branwen Bingle
Institute of Education, Worcester Univ.
September 11, 2014

This is an excellent book which helps to introduce grounded theory to noice researchers and helps researchers to use it their every day practice.

Dr Munikumar R Venkatasalu
Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Bedfordshire University
August 12, 2014

This is a good introduction to how to deal with qualitative data for novice researchers.

Dr Jung Woo Lee
Institute for Sport, Physical Education & Health Sciences, The University of Edinburgh
May 28, 2014

The practical aspects of this text are particularly appropriate for teacher researchers.

Mrs Chris Neanon
School of Educ & Continuing Studies, Portsmouth University
May 9, 2014

This text is much too simplified. Glaser and Strauss provides a much better analysis of the framework.

Ms Mary Thomas
General Education, Saint Mary'S Univ Of Minnesota
April 11, 2014

A very comprehensive book that provides a clear understanding of the different approaches to grounded theory. The practical exercises and thought provoking ideas can be adapted for use in classroom settings as well as for individual study. The use of straightforward language underpinned by examples of research using a grounded theory approach to illustrate key issues , make this a useful book for researchers, students and lecturers.

Ms Deirdre Kelleher
school of nursing midwifery and health systems, University College Dublin
March 26, 2014

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1: Essentials of grounded theory


Preview this book

Melanie Birks

Melanie Birks is employed as Professor of Nursing (Teaching and Learning) at James Cook University, a role which serves her passions for education, research and nursing. Her primary focus is on the promotion of scholarship in teaching and learning through mentorship and fostering a culture of research. She has extensive experience in international education, having taught in Hong Kong, Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia. Her research interests are in the areas of accessibility, innovation, relevance and quality in nursing education to ensure preparation of graduates who are industry-ready and able to make a contribution to the... More About Author

Jane Mills

Jane Mills is Associate Professor, Director Centre for Nursing and Midwifery Research and Deputy Dean of the Graduate Research School at James Cook University, Cairns Campus, Australia. In this role Jane works closely with students and academic staff to build research and research education with the intent of creating a brighter future for life in the tropics world-wide through graduates and discoveries that make a difference.  Jane’s research in in the areas of  primary health care, health workforce development, health systems strengthening, and teaching and learning uses both grounded theory and mixed methods. Jane has... More About Author

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