The Magical "We": Enhancing Collaboration Transparency in Grounded Theory Method in Information Systems Research
Study: The Magical "We": Enhancing Collaboration Transparency in Grounded Theory Method in Information Systems Research
Grounded theory (GTM) research aims at understanding practice issues from observing it. When researchers collaborate and use GTM, they often report their research method by stating "we did the research." This, however, does not clarify how they reconciled differences in the researchers' viewpoints and their omitted descriptions may lessen the quality of the study, possibly resulting even incorrect conclusions. Omitting details can make it difficult to observe and assess collaborative work.
We advise researchers to use one of our four modes of collaboration as a basis for:
- Deciding which mode best fits with the research endeavor, questions, and strategy
- Considering what activities are needed to establish and maintain a common ground, how much coordination overhead and coordination activities are necessary throughout the research process
- Reporting the research process honestly and transparently in their scientific publication.
These pieces of advice improve researchers' and practitioners' awareness on the GTM research process and increase its transparency. Practitioners would then be more aware of how researchers are studying their organizations, and what problems can hinder their work. Being aware of possible problems in turn helps the reader assess the interpretations of the research data, judge the quality of the study, and assess its results.
How it was studied:
This paper analyzes a sample of papers from top Information Systems journals to describe how IS researchers have collaborated during the GTM process and reported their research process. We also describe and compare alternatives for collaboration using GTM. We highlight potential issues that arise from different world views, and provide guidance and examples of how these issues can be avoided, and how the research process can be made transparent.