Research quality considerations for grounded theory research in sport & exercise psychology

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Objectives:The aims of this article are: to examine the application of grounded theory in sport and exercise psychology; to locate such applications within broader grounded theory methodological debates and; to support the future use and evolution of the method in the field.Methods:A search of the four sport and exercise psychology journals with the highest impact factors in 2007 (Psychology of Sport and Exercise, Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology and The Sport Psychologist) using the search term “grounded theory” and the date parameters 2000–2008 was conducted. These articles were discussed in relation to research quality concerns for grounded theory at the micro- and macro-level.Results:Twelve articles were returned from the search. At the micro-level, eight elements representing collective sufficient conditions for grounded theory were discussed, which only two of the twelve articles returned met. Examples of common mistakes in relation to these elements were provided from the twelve articles. At the macro-level, the ontological and epistemological debates surrounding variants of grounded theory were discussed. Only one of the twelve articles explicitly recognised that there are variants of grounded theory, whilst the potential to generate more generic formal theory, and thus make a wider contribution to bodies of knowledge, was not discussed in any of the articles.Conclusions:There are research quality concerns regarding the application of grounded theory in sport and exercise psychology at the micro- and macro-level, largely linked to a lack of understanding of the methodology and its implementation. Suggestions to address this for editors, reviewers and authors are offered.

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