Qualitative Content Analyses and Grounded Theory Methodologies in Comparison: Variants and Profiles of the "Instructionality" of Qualitative Methods for Data Analysis

Katja Kühlmeyer, Petra Muckel, Franz Breuer


In this article, we compare variants of qualitative content analysis (QCA) and grounded theory methodology (GTM) with respect to a characteristic that we call the instructionality of the respective description of the approach. We understand instructionality as a concept that we characterize by the dimensional properties of precision and prescriptiveness. In qualitative methods, each of the dimensions can be pronounced high/strong or low/weak. In comparison, QCA proves to be a more precise and more prescriptive method than GTM. In newer textbooks, variants of QCA are represented that are—compared to previous representations—less prescriptive, in particular with regard to possible variations in the execution of the individual steps of action. We see reasons for the different instructionality profiles of qualitative methods in their different conditions of origin, in their different methods for the training of novices in qualitative research and in different approaches to the question of intersubjective comprehensibility and consistency of its results. Since QCA and GTM differ with regard to their instructionality profiles, the description of hybrid methods with building blocks from both research approaches should reflect the instructionality of the resulting method.


comparison of methods; qualitative content analysis; grounded theory methodology; data analysis; coding; categories; instructionality; hybrid methods; quality; trustworthiness

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-21.1.3437

Copyright (c) 2020 Katja Kühlmeyer

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