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Grounded Theory

Grounded Theory
A Practical Guide

Second Edition

Grounded Theory

© 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.
Available with Perusall—an eBook that makes it easier to prepare for class
Perusall is an award-winning eBook platform featuring social annotation tools that allow students and instructors to collaboratively mark up and discuss their SAGE textbook. Backed by research and supported by technological innovations developed at Harvard University, this process of learning through collaborative annotation keeps your students engaged and makes teaching easier and more effective. Learn more.
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 

Birks and Mills have produced a wonderful textbook on Grounded Theory for learners at many different levels of study and across multiple disciplines.  The writing is very clear and immensely accessible.  Each chapter begins with clearly stated learning objectives and ends with an interesting and productive learning exercise.  I would recommend this book to any colleague planning to teach, or student hoping to learn about, Grounded Theory.

Pamela A. Saunders
Associate Professor, Georgetown University School of Medicine

Birks and Mills present a thorough introduction to the key writers and principles of Grounded Theory. Their survey provides readers with the fundamental concepts for designing and implementing one of the most utilized methodologies of qualitative inquiry. This is a useful text for researchers interested in not just the basics but the nuances of Grounded Theory processes.

Johnny Saldaña
Professor Emeritus, Arizona State University

This updated new edition contains detailed guidance on all aspects of conducting a Grounded Theory study, from planning a study and ensuring its quality, to the presentation of results. The authors are experienced researchers who are skilled in conducting Grounded Theory studies, ensuring that the advice is both practical and relevant. The book also considers how Grounded Theory relates to wider debates about research evidence, funding and impact, and it will be an invaluable resource for students and researchers alike.

Janet Anderson
Senior Lecturer, Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, King's College London

Mills and Birks' second edition of Grounded Theory is a must read for anyone currently engaged in, teaching, thinking of using, or wanting to revisit Grounded Theory. The authors clearly delineate the history, practice evolution and contestation of Grounded Theory through a well balanced and thorough understanding of the research method. Whether a novice in or well steeped in the tradition, this text provides a clear pathway to taking up Grounded Theory while also detailing the nuances, complexities and limitations of the method. It is a valuable addition to a research method that continues to grow and develop across disciplines.

Patrick Lewis
Associate Professor, University of Regina

The book is thoughtful about research issues and unpicks the complexity in an accessible way, working with you as a reader in what could be described as a work book method, giving activity ideas to increase understanding and reflexivity. Throughout reading this book I felt my anxieties about research were understood and validated. The book supported me to grow in confidence and advance my justification of chosen methods. The book is likely to be a useful resource, to accompany seminal texts, for any student or researcher completing Grounded Theory.

Hannah Nicholls
International Journal of Research & Method in Education
  • 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

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ISBN: 9781446295786

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