This paper describes the development of a methodology to study the relationship between quality of care received by patients and the quality of the ward as a learning environment for nurses in training. Firstly, the literature review and background literature to the research question are described. Secondly, the methodology or rationale for the choice of methods is discussed. Key research perspectives include (a) the role of the participant observer in generating low level grounded theory or working hypotheses and (b) triangulation of the data using a multi-method approach. The organization of the project is outlined schematically and the research setting and data collection described. The final section of the paper discusses preliminary findings as illustrative of the grounded theory approach, i.e. the analysis of the data as they are collected and the formulation of working hypotheses to be tested and developed as the research progresses.