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Grounded Theory

Grounded Theory
A Practical Guide

Second Edition
Additional resources:

February 2015 | 208 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

This highly practical book introduces the whole range of grounded theory approaches, providing a comprehensive description of the strategies and techniques employed in this methodology. Unlike most existing books in this area, it is not written from a particular philosophical standpoint, and is the ideal first introduction for any student or researcher looking to use grounded theory in their analysis for the first time.


Birks and Mills’ accessible and highly-readable text is driven by practical case examples throughout to help the reader get to grips with the process of doing grounded theory analysis for themselves. The book deploys a variety of educational activities to guide readers through both the principles and the application of grounded theory, making this an ideal starter text for those new to the approach.


This updated Second Edition:

  • guides the reader through each step of the grounded theory process
  • clearly explains how to memo effectively, using examples
  • includes a chapter which explains the difference between data generation and collection
  • features information on how to use digital resources to manage data
  • discusses the philosophy and ethics of grounded theory within the qualitative paradigm.
Chapter 1: Essentials of Grounded Theory
Chapter 2: Planning a Grounded Theory study
Chapter 3: Quality Processes in Grounded Theory Research
Chapter 4: Positioning the Researcher in a Grounded Theory Study
Chapter 5: Data Generation and Collection
Chapter 6: Data Analysis in Grounded Theory
Chapter 7: Theoretical Integration
Chapter 8: Presenting a Grounded Theory
Chapter 9: Evaluation and Application of Grounded Theory
Chapter 10: Situating Grounded Theory in the Context of Current Debate


Click for online resources

Free resources on the companion website:

  • A practice coding activity
  • Quizzes to accompany each chapter
  • Windows into grounded theory
  • Word games and glossary activities
  • A planning and thesis checklist
  • Links to free SAGE journal articles 
  • Links to suggested videos and websites 
  • PowerPoint slides 

I did not receive this title as a book - so was unable to review this.

Mrs Vanessa Grace Wilson
Nursing (Chesterfield), Derby University
May 23, 2022

Very complete and interesting book that provides the essentials of Grounded Theory

Dr Antonio Oller-Marcen
Education, Universidad de Zaragoza
February 10, 2021

The book is structured in a way to facilitate the understanding and application of grounded theory (G.T.) methodology to academic research and to make it easy for the reader to review any particular aspect of G.T. by jumping to the relevant chapter. Chapter 1 deals with the essentials of G.T., in particular, the fundamental G.T. methods that are the backbone of this methodology. The subsequent chapters then develop each method in more detail. The authors make it a point in this book to expose the reader to the divergent ideas of the pioneers of G.T., such as Glaser, Strauss and Corbin, and Charmanz. Birks and Mills, however, are careful in their analyses not to intrude upon the reader's choice of alignment. Often, they maintain a neutral stance, although they also tend to give their own interpretations of principles and ideas, or at least, make it clear from which seminal author they derived a particular notion. Of great help and inspiration are the boxes that detail experiences of G.T. researchers in dealing with particular aspects of G.T., such a Carolyn Eyles' use of data from multiple sources (p.66) or Nicholas Ralph's experience on the role of theoretical coding in G.T. (p.120). These experiential extracts help students to understand the use of particular concepts in G.T. through their application in authentic research situations. In addition, Birks and Mills also include useful chapters on how to plan a G.T. study, how to present the findings, and how to ensure and judge the quality of a G.T. study. The philosophical position of the researcher and hence his/her stance with regards to how data is collected or generated is discussed without prejudicing the reader's preference for one world view over others. The final chapter discusses G.T. in relation to the wider picture of academic research debate, and this helps the prospective grounded theorist to understand how his/her study would be placed, viewed, and sometimes judged, depending on the paradigm that the judges adhere to. In conclusion, 'Grounded Theory - A Practical Guide' is a very useful starting point for any academic student intent on pursuing a G.T. research study. It provides a very comprehensive overview of the methodology without overwhelming the reader. The book is the a good springboard for exploring in more detail the major seminal-text authors that have shaped and given different slants to this research methodology.

Mr Richard Zahra
Education, Malta College of Arts, Science And Technology
March 19, 2019

Great book for qualitative research course for specifically ground theory section

Dr Bahadir Namdar
Primary Education/ Science Education Program, Recep Tayyip Erdogan University
February 3, 2018

While too specialised to recommend for this module, it has been recommended for additional copies for the Library. Nonetheless an excellent book, readers will obtain a clear understanding of the range of approaches to grounded theory. It will particularly help those considering use of this approach, and those starting to engage with its use.

Mr Alastair Gray
Dept of Nursing,Midwifery & Healthcare, Coventry University
October 23, 2017

Contributes a useful complimentary voice in the space of text books on Grounded Theory. What sets this a part is the authors experience as a practicing academic, which is evident in the useful addition of key questions encouraging students to understand and articulate their own theoretical positions.

Mr John Morrison
School of Computing, Edinburgh Napier University
December 12, 2015

excellent outline and extremely useful section on 'how to choose questions'. A must for those using GT

Dr Lyndsey Therese Moon
Department of Psychology, University of Roehampton
March 15, 2016

very good introductory overview volume

Professor Xenia Zeiler
Department of World Cultures, University of Helsinki
January 29, 2016

Clearly written, accessible, and as the title suggests, practical.

Dr Georgia Philip
School of Social Work, University of East Anglia
February 10, 2016

valuable resource for for undergraduate students

Professor Xenia Zeiler
Department of World Cultures, University of Helsinki
January 29, 2016
  • An explanation of how to memo effectively
  • A new chapter which explains the difference between data generation and collection
  • Information on how to use digital resources to manage data
  • Discussion of the philosophy and ethics of grounded theory within the qualitative paradigm.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 2: Planning a Grounded Theory Study