Rigor and Grounded Theory
School of Nursing and Midwifery National University of Ireland, Galway Galway, Ireland
Glaser and Strauss (1967 p.3) suggest two main criteria for judging the adequacy of a grounded theory: fit and work. Strauss and Corbin (1990; 1998b) identify similar criteria: fit, understanding, generality and control. Corbin and Strauss (2008) expand these to ten criteria: fit, applicability, concepts, contextualisation of concepts, logic, depth, variation, creativity, sensitivity and evidence of memos. These lists suggest that the criteria on which to judge a "good" grounded theory are explicit and non-contentious. This is not the case. Elliott and Lazenbatt (2005) argue that such criteria are insufficient because their use means the evaluating criteria are -"the very constructs used to generate it". They suggest it is more important to consider the research methods themselves when evaluating a grounded theory study, for example, constant comparative analysis and theoretical sampling. Glaser and Strauss (1967 p.224) agree that the evaluation criteria used should be based on the "actual strategies" employed. Some authors agree with this perspective, others do not. These differing perspectives appear to result from whether the author focuses on "methodological rigour" (Glaser and Strauss, 1967; Glaser, 2004; Elliott and Lazenbatt, 2005) or -interpretive rigour? (Beck, 1993; Chiovitti and Piran, 2003). Others argue that both these dimensions should be considered but allow that the various criteria comprising these may not be equally applicable or important to a particular study (Fossey et al., 2002; Corbin and Strauss, 2008). For example, Strauss and Corbin (1998 p.265) indicate that both - "the adequacy of the research process and the grounding of its findings" should be considered. What is not clear is how this should be achieved. Neither Corbin and Strauss (2008) nor Strauss and Corbin (1998) specify criteria, choosing instead to refer to the work of others. This paper will examine the adequacy of Beck's (1993) criteria for establishing rigor in a grounded theory study. Examples of how Beck's criteria were interpreted and applied in a recent grounded theory study will be shared.