More than a bit of coding: (un-)Grounded (non-)Theory in HCI

Cole, Tom and Gillies, Marco. 2022. 'More than a bit of coding: (un-)Grounded (non-)Theory in HCI'. In: CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Extended Abstracts (CHI ’22 Extended Abstracts). New Orleans, LA, United States 30 April - 5 May 2022. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

Grounded Theory Methodology (GTM) is a powerful way to develop theories where there is little existing research using a flexible but rigorous empirically-based approach. Although it originates from the fields of social and health sciences, it is a field-agnostic methodology that can be used in any discipline. However, it tends to be misunderstood by researchers within HCI. This paper sets out to explain what GTM is, how it can be useful to HCI researchers, and examples of how it has been misapplied. There is an overview of the decades of methodological debate that surrounds GTM, why it’s important to be aware of this debate, and how GTM differs from other, better understood, qualitative methodologies. It is hoped the reader is left with a greater understanding of GTM, and better able to judge the results of research which claims to use GTM, but often does not.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

This work was partially funded by EPSRC grant EP/L015846/1 (IGGI).


grounded theory, research methods

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1 May 2022Published
1 November 2021Accepted

Event Location:

New Orleans, LA, United States

Date range:

30 April - 5 May 2022

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

16 May 2022 10:27

Last Modified:

17 May 2022 07:13


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