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Theoretical sampling

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While the qualitative researcher seeks descriptive saturation, the grounded theorist is concerned with saturation at a conceptual level. Theoretical saturation is not mere descriptive redundancy. Instead, theoretical sampling does not aim for full descriptive coverage, but systematically focuses and narrows data collection in the service of theoretical development. In so doing, the grounded theorist is able to transcend the descriptive level typical of qualitative research.

By saturating categories that seem to have the most explanatory power and integrating these into and around a core variable, the grounded theorist is able to present the theoretical essence of a substantive area.

While the saturation point indicates theoretical stability whereby the core category accounts for as much variation in the data as possible, it is crucial to understand that these concepts and hypotheses are openly modifiable within the substantive area.

Saturation in classic grounded theory is thus neither concerned with verifying hypotheses or exhausting the description of a particular situation at a particular point in time. Instead, the researcher should be concerned with generating a theory that can cope with changing situations a particularly important consideration within the ever-changing healthcare arena and less with in-the-moment accuracy that has little temporal transferability. From a grounded theory perspective, however, there lies an inherent risk in the excessive description of potentially irrelevant detail.

This is of particular concern in relation to the above discussion, whereby researchers should not automatically assume the relevance of participants socio-demographic characteristics to the emerging theory.

While demographic or social characteristics may provide a starting point for data collection, by presenting a thick, isolated description of participants at the start of a grounded theory research article the researcher is at risk of either belying an inappropriate approach to sampling, or obscuring the analytic flow and progression of theoretical insights thus compromising the credibility of an otherwise trustworthy study.

Morse has criticised the way in which theoretical samples are presented as static without detailing and justifying the selection and sequencing of the sampling process. Typically, researchers provide a one-off description of participants in the methods section of research articles, and ignore the impact of sampling decisions made during analysis Barbour However, if the researcher does not capture the flow of the theoretical sampling process, the complexities involved in the development of the theory may be lost.

Theoretical sampling is intertwined inextricably with the abstraction of description into theory, and is crucial to discovering and refining categories and their properties and suggesting relationships between concepts.

Studies that produce an artificially neat and static account of the grounded theory process serve only to obscure this complexity Barbour Novice grounded theorists should be careful to write-up a grounded theory study in a manner that best reflects the methodology.

Grounded theory researchers should avoid isolated, one-off, static descriptions of participants but should instead be challenged to integrate within their write up the progression, justification and contribution of sampling decisions so as to mirror the complex and iterative process of theory development.

Theoretical sampling is theoretically oriented, and will thus be different for every theory. There is no definitive checklist for ensuring credibility, and the reader should be careful when applying conventional guidelines of trustworthiness in qualitative research to grounded theory studies. For example, the emphasis on thick description in qualitative research has been demonstrated to be potentially antithetical to the inductive nature of grounded theory; sampling should be theoretically directed as opposed to variable oriented and only those descriptive characteristics that have a proven contribution to theoretical variation within the theory should be included in the write up.

The adequacy of a theoretical sample should be judged on the process of theory generation. Glaser and Strauss stated that an inadequate theoretical sample would be evident in a theory that is lacking integration and has too many remaining gaps.

It would seem then that transparency is a universal concern, common to both grounded theory and qualitative research; the credibility of a theory, or any piece of research, cannot be dissociated from the process by which it is generated.

This should be achieved by making the process through which theory has been developed explicit within the final write up, paying particular attention to capturing the flow of theoretical sampling which will demonstrate and explain the build up of theoretical insights into abstract theory. For the healthcare researcher, classic grounded theory offers an inductive methodology with a distinctly practical purpose: However, the full potential of grounded theory can only be realised through sound application of its distinct methodological principles, most notably theoretical sampling.

Although grounded theory has evolved and diversified since its inception, the emphasis on theoretical sampling as being essential to the analytic abstraction of theory has remained largely undisputed. Furthermore, there is wide evidence of inappropriate use and documentation of theoretical sampling within healthcare literature, resulting from the misconceptions regarding the methodological nature of classic grounded theory.

As a result, grounded theory studies have been accused of mysticism, whereby codes and categories appear as if out of nowhere. Researchers should capture the complex flow of sampling for the purposes of theory development by integrating key sampling decisions and justifications within the write up of their studies. However, researchers should also be wary of overly thick description of the sample; descriptive characteristics may provide an adequate starting point however these must not be awarded any assumed relevance until validated or dismissed by the emerging theory.

As a general methodology, novice researchers should beware appraising grounded theory on the basis of generic qualitative guidelines. A Case of the Tail Wagging the Dog? British Medical Journal , , Reflections of the Emergence vs. Journal of Advanced Nursing , 48, Journal of Advanced Nursing , 26, Guidelines for Occupational Therapists. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal , 54, The Sage Handbook of Grounded Theory pp.

Qualitative Health Research , 17, Qualitative Social Research , 5. Retrieved February 18, , from http: International Journal of Qualitative Methods , 1, Strategies for Qualitative Research.

The Defining Traits of Grounded Theory. Context and Method in Qualitative Research pp. Qualitative Health Research , 18, A Contemporary Dialogue pp. Research in Nursing and Health , 18, Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory 2nd ed.

Are you developing a classic grounded theory? Do you have data that could be resorted and further developed into a new grounded theory? Are you working on a formal theory, or are you reflecting on a methodological issue? We invite you to submit your paper for consideration for the next issue of Grounded Theory Review, which will be published in December The database of the Grounded Theory Review now contains more than a hundred articles on grounded theories—from either a methodological or a theoretical perspective.

We would like to expand the open access database with more grounded theories that truly demonstrates the interdisciplinary potential of the grounded theory method. Barney Glaser, we would like to see a conglomerate of new grounded theories that span a wide array of disciplines and topics and that demonstrate general applicability and conceptual strengths in diverse social contexts.

The theories will be peer reviewed by experienced members of the advisory board of the Grounded Theory Review. Posted on Jun 30, in Issue no. Subscribe to receive updates Leave Blank: Call for Papers Are you developing a classic grounded theory? The following descriptions describe the reasons for choosing a particular method.

A note on sample size - Once a sampling method has been determined, the researcher must consider the sample size. In qualitative studies, sampling typically continues until information redundancy or saturation occurs. This is the point at which no new information is emerging in the data. Therefore, in qualitative studies is it critical that data collection and analysis are occurring simultaneously so that the researcher will know when the saturation point is reached.

It is important to understand that the saturation point may occur prematurely if the researcher has a narrow sampling frame, a skewed analysis of the data, or poor methodology. Because of this, the researcher must carefully create the research question, select an appropriate target group, eliminate his or her own biases and analyze data continuously and thoroughly throughout the process to bring validity to the data collected.

The following slideshare presentation, Collecting Qualitative Data , and the Resource Links on this page provide additional insight into qualitative sampling. Qualitative Research Methods - A Data Collectors Field Guide - This comprehensive, detailed guide describes various types of sampling techniques and provides examples of each, as well as pros and cons.

Qualitative Research Overview - The following link provides a full overview of qualitative research, but also contains sections discussing types of sampling methods and methods of participant recruitment. Sampling - This resource provides a brief overview of sampling and sample size with links to descriptions of purposeful sampling strategies. A Guide to Using Qualitative Research Methodology - The file linked below contains a full description of how to conduct qualitative sampling, including a chart that lists the types of sampling techniques and includes examples.

Sampling Designs in Qualitative Research - The following article discusses sampling designs and ways to make the sampling process more public. This pin will expire , on Change. This pin never expires. Select an expiration date. About Us Contact Us. Search Community Search Community. Qualitative Sampling Methods The following module describes common methods for collecting qualitative data. Describe common types of qualitative sampling methodology.

Explain the methods typically used in qualitative data collection. Describe how sample size is determined. Purposeful Sampling is the most common sampling strategy. In this type of sampling, participants are selected or sought after based on pre-selected criteria based on the research question.

For example, the study may be attempting to collect data from lymphoma patients in a particular city or county. The sample size may be predetermined or based on theoretical saturation, which is the point at which the newly collected no longer provides additional insights.

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Theoretical sampling is associated with grounded theory approach based on analytic induction. Theoretical sampling is different from many other sampling methods in a way that rather than being representative of population or testing hypotheses, theoretical sampling is aimed at generating and developing theoretical data. Theoretical sampling .

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dierences between purposeful and theoretical sampling for nursing research. Keywords: sampling, qualitative, grounded theory sample size in order to ensure representativeness and INTRODUCTION the qualitative principle of appropriateness that requires Sampling procedures in qualitative research are not so purposeful samplingand a ‘‘good’’ .

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In theoretical sampling the researcher manipulates or changes the theory, sampling activities as well as the analysis during the course of the research. Flexibility occurs in this style of sampling when the researchers want to increase the sample size due to new factors that arise during the research. The goal of qualitative research is to provide in-depth understanding and therefore, targets a specific group, type of individual, event or process. To accomplish this goal, qualitative research focus on criterion-based sampling techniques to reach their target group.

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Qualitative research is designed to explore the human elements of a given topic, while specific qualitative methods examine how individuals see and experienc Theoretical sampling is a tool that allows the researcher to generate theoretical insights by drawing on comparisons among samples of data. First of all, both theoretical sampling and snowball sampling correspond to what is usually called "sampling strategies" in qualitative research. 1) Theoretical sampling makes up the classical.