Video Interview: Maria Dempsey

The process of developing theory in grounded theory research

The grounded theory approach has a distinctive aim that differentiates it from other qualitative research approaches. It aims to develop new theory from a close, systematic analysis of qualitative data. However, students and researchers are often unsure about what exactly they’re aiming to produce (‘What sort of theory?’, ‘What should it look like?’) and how they should go about developing theory in their grounded theory research. A student/researcher can follow all the recommended procedures, generate all the resources from which to create theory, and still feel unsure about how to make use of those resources and pull them together to build a theory.

In this video, Maria Dempsey provides an ‘insider’ perspective on creating theory in grounded theory research, drawing upon her PhD work in which she used a grounded theory approach to study experiences of teenage pregnancy in Ireland.

Maria refers to the role played by reflective notes in her research. For other examples of studies in which reflective materials were used, see the video interviews with Abdallah Rothman on reflexivity (Chapter 2), Laura Moreno-Galindo on Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Chapters 9 and 10) and Sarah Foley on a pluralistic approach (Chapter 17).

Maria Dempsey is a Counselling Psychologist and Lecturer in the School of Applied Psychology at University College Cork in the Republic of Ireland. She is Course Director of the Masters program in Applied Psychology (Mental Health). Her research interests focus on reproductive issues, mental health, and reflective teaching and learning.

An example of Maria’s grounded theory research can be found in this study which explores migrant Eastern European women’s experiences of pregnancy in Ireland: