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Enhancing the quality of a GT project through interviewing the self - a methodological development
Enhancing the quality of a GT project through
interviewing the self
A methodological development
• Research focuses on how course leaders in a small-
specialist HEI experience using evidence in their role.
• Limited evidence currently exists (van Veggel & Howlett (2018))
• Building evidence-base from scratch → grounded
• Employed at Writtle University College
• Course leader / senior lecturer
• Evidence-based Vet. Med. methodologist
• Insider researcher
• Interviewing colleagues in similar roles
• Colleagues with more and less experience
• Deliver EBP staff development for colleagues
• Outsider researcher
• EdD from external institution
• Only qualitative researcher in institution
Let’s focus on the following
• What does quality mean in qualitative research?
• What does quality mean in a grounded theory context?
• How is quality affected in GT research?
• How is interviewing-the-self useful?
• How does one interview-the-self?
Quality in qualitative research?
• Quality determined by trustworthiness and rigour
Trustworthiness is the conceptual soundness which
allows evaluation of value of research
Credibility → Does the data reflect the findings? (also
covers researcher influence)
Transferability → How well does your theory transfer to
Dependability → Can the process be confirmed
Confirmability → Can someone else get similar outcomes
when given your dataset?
Rigour in GT
• Glaser (1992): Fit, work, relevance, modifiability,
parsimony and scope
• Gasson (2004): Confirmability, dependability, authenticity
• Cooney (2011): Credibility, auditability, fittingness
Rigour in GT
• Amalgamating these criteria into a set of questions to be
asked of a GT study (van Veggel, 2021)
Criticisms of grounded theory
• Is the theory really grounded?
• Can GT really be objective?
• What about researcher preconception?
• Does being an insider researcher make this different?
• As an insider-researcher you are a source of bias
• Biased research justification
• Biased research design
• Biased data collection
• Biased data analysis
• Biased outcome reporting
… as long as it is addressed appropriately.
In GT, this bias is a form of preconception...
this is not a
Reflexivity in insider research
• Reflexivity is the examination of one’s own beliefs, judgements and
practices during the research process and their influence on the
• Reflexive research practice develops transparency (Engward & Davis 2015)
• As an insider, how do you as a source of bias affect the process and the
• Reflexive practice can enhance credibility (Hall and Callery (2001
• Once recognised, how do you acknowledge this explicitly?
• Normally, this is done in a narrative, somewhat disconnected way
Tension between reflexivity and GT
• Not all GT is the same (Levers, 2013)
• Role of the researcher in GT
• Researcher must remain open to patterns
identified and of the impact of their own
• Process managed differently (O’Connor et al., 2018)
• Charmaz and Corbyn & Strauss advocate
• Glaser says reflexivity is not necessary as GT
process deals with this
Purpose & practice of self-interview
• Asking yourself the same questions you ask your participants will
allow you to analyse your answers through a reflexive lens
• This process will allow a critical analysis of researcher bias,
directly linked to the research process, and make it explicitly
clear how this bias has affected the research
• Interviewing-the-self is currently not used in qualitative research
for this purpose
• I am developing it as a contribution to grounded theory methodology
Purpose & practice of self-interview
• Ask an experienced interviewer to use your interview
schedule to interview you.
• Experienced: better data, make interview their own
• External interviewer: prevents prediction → variations in style
• Analyse your answers to questions through a reflexive
• Use the analysis to explain your researcher bias
• I found that having to explain my thoughts made it easier
to analyse them reflexively and consider them purposively
• I realised through reflexively analysis I was more sensitive
to negative aspects of participants roles which resonated
Easier to develop codes and concepts
• My insiderness led to assumptions of how participants
experience course leadership and projected this onto
Contribution to knowledge
• Pragmatically, process to address the role of the researcher should be somewhere
• How to be reflexive in GT is not clear (Engward & Davis, 2015)
• Critical analysis of self interview allows reflexivity and acknowledgement of
bias/preconception (Charmaz 2014)
• Self-interview is “just another source of data” (Glaser, 2007)
• It is an explicit method to increase research transparency, which leads to better
research practice, which leads to increased credibility.
This work is part-funded through a Writtle University College Learning and
Development Fund Grant
I’d like to thank Dr Sally Goldspink for supporting the self-
interview process and the constructive methodological
• Charmaz, K. (2014). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
• Cooney, A. (2011) Rigour and grounded theory. Nurse Researcher. 18(4), 17–22.
• Edgware, H. & Davis, G. (2015) Being reflexive in qualitative grounded theory. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 71(7), 1530-1538. DOI:
• Engward, H., Davis, G. (2015) Being reflexive in qualitative grounded theory: discussion and application of a model of reflexivity. Journal of Advanced
Nursing. 71(7), 1530–1538.
• Gasson, S. (2004) Rigor in grounded theory research: An interpretive perspective on generating theory from qualitative field studies. In M. E.
Whitman & A. B. Woszczynski, eds. The handbook of information systems research. London: Idea Group Publishing, pp. 79–102.
• Glaser, B.G. (1992) Basics of grounded theory analysis: emergence vs. forcing. Mill Valley: Sociology Press.
• Glaser, B.G. (2007) All Is Data. Grounded Theory Review. 6(2).
• Hall, W.A., Callery, P. (2001) Enhancing the rigor of grounded theory: Incorporating reflexivity and relationality. Qualitative health research. 11(2),
• Levers M-J.D. (2013) Philosophical paradigms, grounded theory, and perspectives on emergence. Sage Open 3,4. DOI: 10.1177/2158244013517243.
• O’Connor et al. (2018) An exploration of key issues in the debate between classic and constructivist grounded theory. Grounded Theory Review.
• van Veggel, N. and Howlett, P. (2018) Course leadership in small-specialist UK higher education - a review. International Journal of Educational
Management, 32, 7, 1174–1183.
• van Veggel, N. (2021) Using Grounded Theory to Investigate Evidence Use by Course Leaders in Small-Specialist UK HEIs. Preprints, in press.
Presentation delivered at a Queens University Health Science community of practice seminar on 24 July 2021.