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Research Paradigm Influence on Grounded Theory Method
This discussion should be completed after studying the readings in this unit. Compose and post an answer to the following question:
• Unlike quantitative research, theory does not have a distinct role across the various qualitative methods. Hall, Griffiths, & McKenna address the role of how different paradigms can influence the application of a grounded theory method. While more frequently associated with a grounded theory method, different paradigms can influence the application of other qualitative methods. Yet in other qualitative methods, a paradigm or preconception is avoided. In your words, summarize how a researcher’s paradigm can influence the use of a grounded theory method.
unit reading: • The Role of Theory in PhD Research
Now that you are beginning to develop a research plan for your dissertation, you need to understand and be able to respond to the following questions:
• What is theory?
• What is the role of theory in research?
The dissertation is comprised of 16 Milestones. In Track 1, you will complete Milestone 1, completion of the CITI training. In Track 2, you will complete Milestone 2, topic approval, and you will view the media piece entitled, Research Question Hierarchy. A scholar-practitioner, “seeks to connect practice with theory through applied research that addresses real-world situations” (University, 2012). In short, a scholar-practitioner’s dissertation contributes “to testing and building theory and actionable knowledge” (University, 2012) that can be applied in the context of the scholar-practitioner’s specialization.
So how can quantitative and qualitative research impact your professional practice? To illustrate an example of a quantitative study, consider Isaac Newton. Utilizing an experimental method, Newton developed the law of gravitation that explains the acceleration of a falling apple due to gravity. Quantitatively, he was able to demonstrate that the falling apple is an example of the laws of gravitation and motion. First, Newton verified his theory of gravitation and motion. Then, he generalized his findings to explain the impact of gravity and motion for all objects.
Now, consider Charles Darwin, a qualitative, naturalist researcher. Darwin gathered his data from observing nature. He then utilized the information to develop a rich description of the origin of species to develop a theory of evolution. Darwin did not quantify his theory but nonetheless, his work significantly impacted science and society.
Newton and Darwin are examples of quantitative and qualitative research; however, your mission is not to transform science and society in your dissertation. The dissertation is the final assessment to demonstrate that you have developed the competencies required to conduct independent research within your specialization. In dissertation, you will demonstrate to your mentor and committee that you can design and execute an independent research project that fills a gap, and not a canyon, in the literature of your specialization. In short, graduate first and then, use your knowledge and skills to pursue your research passion.
Each PhD specialization is defined by a body of scholarly literature grounded in theory. In Track 1, you begin developing your Research Plan by identifying a dissertation topic and developing a research problem. Part of this process includes identifying theory. Theory provides the structure for how you perceive your research. The hallmark of PhD research is to extend theory. In your coursework, you will encounter multiple theories that relate to your specialization. You should also go to Research in Your School, choose your school, and review the Programs of Research document for your school to identify theories appropriate for your specialization.
The role of theory in research is different for quantitative and qualitative methods. To understand the role of theory, you must also understand the philosophical assumptions underlying quantitative and qualitative research. The following philosophical assumptions will guide your research:
Within each of these assumptions are two philosophical perspectives, positivist and constructionist, also known as naturalist. The quantitative researcher’s assumptions are positivist and the qualitative researcher’s assumptions are constructionist. For the purposes of Track 1, the focus will be on ontological and epistemological assumptions.
Ontological assumptions are “assumptions about the nature of things”. There are two ontological assumptions, the positivist view and the constructionist view. For the positivist, the researcher is an objective observer of the research process. There is one reality and that reality can be broken down into defined and measurable variables. In contrast, constructionists accept nature as nature. The constructionist is part of nature and therefore, part of the research process. All research participants have a perception of reality within nature and there are as many realities as there are participants, including the researcher’s.
Epistemological assumptions are about the kind of knowledge we can seek with the methodology. Epistemologically, the positivist identifies specific variables to quantify, test, and verify. The positivist seeks truth. On the other hand, the constructionist observes a phenomenon in the natural setting and utilizes language to reveal a description, a lesson to be learned, an answer to a question, or an emergent theory.
The competencies covered in this unit include the following:
• Competency 3 – Plan how to develop the scholar-practitioner identity within the discipline.
• Competency 4 – Apply the process and characteristics of critical thinking.
• Competency 5 – Evaluate the importance and value of a scholarly discourse.
• Competency 6 – Support ideas and concepts with evidence from the literature.
University. (Producer). (2012). The research question hierarchy [Media]. Retrieved from http://media.capella.edu/
To successfully complete this learning unit, you will be expected to:
11. Define theory within the Scholar-Practitioner Model.
12. Compare and contrast the inductive and deductive processes of theory building.
13. Explain the role of theory in the quantitative research process.
14. Assess how a researcher’s paradigm can influence the use of a grounded theory method.
THEORY BUILDING IN PHD RESEARCH
To prepare for the activities in Unit 2, you will read two articles regarding the role of theory in the research process. The article by Lynham presents theory from primarily a quantitative perspective, while the article by Hall, Griffiths, and McKenna presents theory primarily from a qualitative perspective. To better understand the two philosophical approaches, both articles compare and contrast quantitative and qualitative approaches to theory and theory building in research.
Section 3.1 of the Quantitative Research Plan is Theoretical Foundations. Section 3.2 of the Qualitative Research Plan is Theoretical Implications. It is important to note the difference between theoretical foundations and theoretical implications. Foundation is the base upon which you will build your research. Implication suggests an inferred relationship. The unit activities will begin with quantitative research and theoretical foundations.
In quantitative research, the term “theoretical foundations” defines the central role of theory in the quantitative research process. The quantitative researcher identifies a gap in the literature to build or extend theory. Variables are identified and a hypothesis is developed. The researcher then tests the interaction of the variables and analyzes the data. The results of the statistical analysis will either verify or refute the hypothesis.
In qualitative research, the term “theoretical implications” is not so direct and the application of theory can be more of an implied part of the process. For example, the outcome of the grounded theory method is to arrive at an emergent theory. In addition to arriving at an emergent theory, as you read the article by Hall, Griffiths, and McKenna, you will understand how extant theory can be utilized to frame or guide the grounded theory process. A theory may also emerge from a generic qualitative method.
Qualitative methods other than grounded theory and generic qualitative usually avoid theoretical frameworks and preconceptions. Instead, theoretical implications are more related to the outcome of a qualitative study. In your coursework, research, and Tracks 2 and 3, you will learn more about theoretical implication and the connection to qualitative methods. You will apply what you learn in Unit 2 to your research plan in Unit 6 – Contributions to Theory.
Complete the following:
• Read Lynham’s 2002 article, “The General Method of Theory-Building Research in Applied Disciplines,” from Advances in Developing Human Resources, volume 4, issue 3, pages 221–241.
• Read Hall, Griffiths, and Mckenna’s 2013 article, “From Darwin to Constructivism: The Evolution of Grounded Theory,” from Nurse Researcher, volume 20, issue 3, pages 17–21.
• Review Section 3.1 of the Quantitative Dissertation Research Plan – Theoretical Foundations.
• Review Section 3.2 of the Qualitative Dissertation Research Plan – Theoretical Implications.