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Overlapping Methods or Developing a New Approach? Understanding Methodological Commonalities

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Grounded Theory (GT) and Content Analysis (CA) are widely known methodologies applied within multiple scientific communities, sharing a close background with social sciences. Each of these approaches has been developed and tested throughout distinct historical pathways, both shaped by different aims, results and theoretical constructions. Whereas GT belongs to what could be described as “inductive science”, CA is tagged under the motto of “deductive sciences”, assuming essentially different epistemological positions (Bernard & Ryan, 2009). They are also contrasted by their qualitative and quantitative data insights. Content Analysis is generally described as a process where data are “quantified”, in which key words and phrases are commonly interpreted into statistical terms, associated as a quantitative focus (Weber, 1990). Grounded Theory on the other side, remains as a predominantly qualitative analysis throughout the overall process. But the reason why I put these differences side by side is to ask simple yet complex questions: Are these distinctions enough to be talking about strictly different approaches? And do these differences mean that both methodologies are essentially incompatible and aim to separate prospects?

What comes to my attention, and what I will further present throughout this brief paper, is that, although both methods are defined within separate boundaries, their differences do not constitute an epistemological incompatibility. In fact, their paired use could lead us to alternative means for data exploration and theoretical constructions. Are there any significant commonalities between these methodologies? To what extents could they be used side by side, simultaneously and/or as triangulation source for th...


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...ison qualitative data analysis: Using NVivo. School Psychology Quarterly, 26(1), 70.

Leech, N. L., & Onwuegbuzie, A. J. (2008). Qualitative data analysis: A compendium of techniques and a framework for selection for school psychology research and beyond. School Psychology Quarterly, 23(4), 587.

Maxwell, J. A. (1996). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach (Vol. 41). Sage publications.

Tesch, R. (1990). Qualitative research: Analysis types and software tools. London: Routledge

Weber, R. P. (1990). Basic content analysis. Second edition. Quantitative applications in the social sciences. (Vol. 49). Sage Publications.

Yu, C. H., Jannasch-Pennell, A., & DiGangi, S. (2011). Compatibility between Text Mining and Qualitative Research in the Perspectives of Grounded Theory, Content Analysis, and Reliability. Qualitative Report, 16(3), 730-744.



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