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Asking Questions of the Data: Memo Writing in the Grounded Theory Tradition

Memo writing is essential to Grounded Theory methodological practices and principles. It is the fundamental process of researcher/data engagement that results in a ‘grounded’ theory. Memo writing is the methodological link, the distillation process, through which the researcher transforms data into theory. In the memo writing process, the researcher analytically interprets data. Through sorting, analyzing, and coding the ‘raw’ data in memos, the Grounded Theorist discovers emergent social patterns. By writing memos continuously throughout the research process, the researcher explores, explicates, and theorizes these emergent patterns. It is the methodological practice of memo writing that roots the researcher in the analyses of the data while simultaneously increasing the level of abstraction of his/her analytical ideas (Charmaz 2006). Ultimately it is the integration of these abstract analyses developed in memos that the researcher shares with a public audience. Memos are uniquely complex research tools. They are both a methodological practice and ...

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