Grounded Theory – Coding and diagramming & Identifying the core category

In this article I am looking forward to discuss the other two common characteristics of grounded theory: Coding and diagramming and identifying the core category

In the traditional grounded theory, coding the data received is vital for this form of the methodology. Looking into Glaser we can see three form of coding: open, theoretical and constant comparison. (Glaser 1992)

Open coding is the initial step of theoretical analysis, developing codes from the data. This form of coding ends when it locates a core category. Theoretical codes are “conceptual connectors” that develop relationships between categories and their properties (Glaser, 1992, p. 38). Constant comparative coding describes the method of constant comparison that inspires both open and theoretical coding.

Another method used by Strauss and Corbin is conditional or consequential matrix. They described it as “an analytic device to help the analyst keep track of the interplay of conditions/consequences and subsequent actions/interactions and to trace their paths of connectivity” (Corbin & Strauss 1998 p. 199). Using the matrix, the researcher is able to locate an interaction that appears repeatedly in the data and then trace the linkages from this through the micro and macro conditions that might influence it (Corbin & Strauss, 1996).

Diagramming is central to the coding processes, and Strauss and Corbin use it extensively. Initially in the coding process, logic diagrams such as flowcharts are used. When undertaking higher level analysis, researchers use both the conditional/consequential matrix and integrative diagramming, illustrating the complex interplay between the different levels of conditions (Strauss, 1987; Corbin &Strauss, 1990, 1998).

An important feature of the grounded theory is that is does not impose a way of coding or reconstruction of the participants storeys, it offers the research a “smorgasbord table” (Corbin & Strauss 1998, p 8) from which he can chose the best technique that fits its research.


Identifying the core category

Centre to the grounded theory, the core category includes all the theory contrasts and consist in making a “story line” from all the findings and also integrates the researcher as a writer of a theoretical reconstruction. The story line is the final conceptualisation of the core category, and as such, this “conceptual label” must fit the stories/data it represents (Strauss & Corbin, 1990, p. 121). This process acknowledges the reconstruction of the participants’ stories by the researcher and the fulfilment of their obligation to “give voice—albeit in the context of their own inevitable interpretations” (Strauss & Corbin, 1994, p. 281).


Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (1996). Analytic ordering for theoretical purposes. Qualitative Inquiry, 2(2), 139-150.

Glaser, B. (1992). Basics of grounded theory analysis: Emergence vs. forcing. Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press

Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1994). Grounded theory methodology: An overview. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 273-285). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Eduard Claudiu Vasile


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s