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J Adv Nurs. 2003 Nov;44(4):427-35.

Rigour and grounded theory research.

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School of Nursing, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Grounded theory methodology is a suitable qualitative research approach for clinical inquiry into nursing practice, leading to theory development in nursing. Given the variations in, and subjectivity attached to, the manner in which qualitative research is carried out, it is important for researchers to explain the process of how a theory about a nursing phenomenon was generated. Similarly, when grounded theory research reports are reviewed for clinical use, nurses need to look for researchers' explanations of their inquiry process.


The focus of this article is to discuss the practical application of grounded theory procedures as they relate to rigour.


Reflecting on examples from a grounded theory research study, we suggest eight methods of research practice to delineate further Beck's schema for ensuring, credibility, auditability and fittingness, which are all components of rigour.


The eight methods of research practice used to enhance rigour in the course of conducting a grounded theory research study were: (1) let participants guide the inquiry process; (2) check the theoretical construction generated against participants' meanings of the phenomenon; (3) use participants' actual words in the theory; (4) articulate the researcher's personal views and insights about the phenomenon explored; (5) specify the criteria built into the researcher's thinking; (6) specify how and why participants in the study were selected; (7) delineate the scope of the research; and (8) describe how the literature relates to each category which emerged in the theory.


The eight methods of research practice should be of use to those in nursing research, management, practice and education in enhancing rigour during the research process and for critiquing published grounded theory research reports.

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