How to Code Your Qualitative Data—A Comparison Between Grounded Theory Methodology and Qualitative Content Analysis

Nicola Bücker


In qualitative research projects, the choice between different methods of analysis is often cumbersome, especially for novices writing their theses. In particular, the decision for a specific coding method poses a challenge for many researchers because the scientific discourse mainly focuses on the general differences between methods and less on their merits for specific types of research projects. Taking into account the growing differentiation of methods into diverging variants, this problem becomes even more urgent. In the present article, I discuss this issue with regard to some of the most central variants of grounded theory methodology and qualitative content analysis. First, I present the key analytic features of these variants. Second, I compare them with regard to the following aspects: how a priori knowledge is handled and how categories are constructed; how the resulting codings are further analyzed; and the type of results that the different variants generate. Finally, I discuss each variant's specific characteristics and merits for realizing different research interests.


qualitative content analysis; grounded theory methodology; comparison of methods; coding


Copyright (c) 2020 Nicola Bücker

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