Literature Review and Constructivist Grounded Theory Methodology

Rodrigo Ramalho, Peter Adams, Peter Huggard, Karen Hoare


In grounded theory research it is commonly discouraged to conduct a literature review before data collection and analysis. Engaging with the literature about the researched area in that stage of the research is described as a constraining exercise rather than a guiding one. This can be a puzzling notion for the researcher engaging with grounded theory methodology (GTM), particularly when she/he is expected to produce a literature review in early stages of the research process, e.g., by ethics committees and/or funding bodies. The current article examines this controversial issue by exploring the different stances taken on the subject by the founders of the methodology, as well as the one introduced by constructivist GTM. The different approaches towards the potential impact of a literature review conducted before data collection and analysis are introduced not only as a methodological issue, but also, and more importantly, as an epistemological one. Reflexivity is described as a key element in ensuring the groundedness of a theory in constructivist GTM and various reflexive strategies are presented. It is suggested that the researcher's epistemological framework should be explicitly explored and acknowledged in early stages of the research.



grounded theory methodology; constructivism; literature review; reflexivity; epistemology

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Copyright (c) 2015 Rodrigo Ramalho, Peter Adams, Peter Huggard, Karen Hoare

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