The Importance of Ethnographic Observation in Grounded Theory Research
Keywords:grounded theory research, ethnography, qualitative research, observation, research design, reflexivity
Even though observational data have contributed to grounded theory research since the method's inception, it is interview data that is most often analyzed. In this article we argue for the greater inclusion of ethnographic observational data in grounded theory research, as this practice offers several benefits. By witnessing and experiencing for oneself the various social processes experienced by and impacting on participants, ethnographic observational data represent both a unique source of data and a way to enhance one's theoretical sensitivity. Additional benefits relate to sampling and recruitment, the development of interview guides, coding, and analysis. As such, conducting ethnographic observations supports grounded theory methods and can enhance the use of interview data to improve the quality of final theory. The writing of observational field notes overlays with traditional grounded theory memoing, compounding the analytical benefits to researchers, while providing an audit trail of the research process, and supporting reflexive practice.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Jarrah FitzGerald, Jane Mills
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