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Generic Steps for Analysing Qualitative Data

Generic Steps for Analysing Qualitative Data

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Published by etorresgodoy
Simplified steps for analysing qualitative data
Simplified steps for analysing qualitative data

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Published by: etorresgodoy on Nov 14, 2009
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Page 1of 3
Generic steps for analysing qualitative data
(from Creswell 2003)
Step 1.
Organise and prepare the data for analysis.
Step 2.
Read through all the data. A first general step is to obtain a general sense of the information and to reflect on its overall meaning. What general ideas are participant saying? What is the tone of the ideas? What is the general impression of the overall depth, credibility and use of the information? Sometimes, qualitativeresearchers write notes in margins or start recording general thoughts about the data atthis stage.
Step 3.
Begin detail analysis with a coding process. Coding is the process of organising the material into “chunks” before bringing meaning to those chunks. Itinvolves taking data or pictures, segmenting sentences (or paragraphs) or images intocategories, and labelling those categories with a term, often a term based in the actuallanguage of the participant (called an
in vivo
term).3.1.Get a sense of the whole. Read all the transcriptions carefully. Perhaps jot down some ideas as they come to mind.3.2.Go through one of the interviews asking yourself “what is this about?Do not think about the “substance” of the information but itsunderlying meaning. Write thoughts in the margin.3.3.When you have completed this task for several informants,
make a listof all topics
.
Cluster together similar topics
.
Form these topics intocolumns that might be arrayed as major topics, unique topics andleftovers.
3.4.Now take this list and go back to your data.
Abbreviate the topic ascodes
and
write the codes next to the appropriate segment of thetext
. Try this preliminary organising scheme to see if new
categories
 and codes emerge.3.5.
Find the most descriptive wording for your topics and turn theminto categories
.
Look for ways of reducing your total list of categories by grouping topics that relate to each other
. Perhapsdraw lines between your categories to show inter-relationships.3.6.Make a final decision on the abbreviation for each category andalphabetise these codes.3.7.Assemble the data material belonging to each category in one placeand perform a preliminary analysis.3.8.
If necessary, recode your existing data
.
Step 4.
Use the coding process to generate a description of the setting or people aswell as categories of themes for analysis.
 Description
involves a detailed rendering of information about people, places or events in a setting. Researchers can generatecodes for this description. This analysis is useful in designing detailed descriptions for case studies, ethnographies, and narrative research projects. Then, use the coding togenerate a small number of 
themes
or categories, perhaps five to seven categories for a research study.
These themes are the ones that appear as major findings in
 
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qualitative studies and are stated under separate headings in the findingssections of studies
. They should display multiple perspectives from individuals and be supported by diverse quotations and specific evidence.Beyond identifying the themes during the coding process, qualitativeresearchers can do much with them to build additional layers of complex analysis. For example, researchers interconnect themes into a storyline (as in narratives) or developthem into a theoretical model (as in grounded theory). Themes are analysed for eachindividual case and across different cases (as in case studies), or shaped into a generaldescription (as in phenomenology). Sophisticated qualitative studies go beyonddescription and theme identification an into complex theme connections.
Step 5.
Advance how the description and themes will be represented in the qualitativenarrative. The most popular approach is
to use a narrative passage to convey thefindings of the analysis
. This might be a discussion that mentions a chronology of events,
the detailed discussion of several themes (complete with sub-themes,specific illustrations, multiple perspectives from individuals, and quotations),
or a discussion with interconnecting themes. Many qualitative researchers also usevisuals, figures or tables as adjuncts to the discussions. They present a process model(as in grounded theory), they advance a drawing of the specific research site (as inethnography), or they convey descriptive information about each participant in a table(as in case studies and ethnographies).
Step 6.
A final step in data analysis involves making an interpretation or meaning of the data. “What were the lessons learned” captures the essence of this idea (Lincolnand Guba 1985). These lessons could be the researcher’s personal interpretation,couched in the individual understanding that the inquirer brings to the study from her or his own culture, history, and experiences. It could also be a meaning derived from acomparison of the findings with information gleaned from the literature or extanttheories. In this way, authors suggest that the findings confirm past information or diverge from it. It can also suggest new questions that need to be asked – questionsraised by the data and analysis that the inquirer had not foreseen earlier in the study.One way ethnographers can end a study is to ask further questions. The questioningapproach is also used in advocacy and participatory approaches to qualitativeresearch. Moreover, when qualitative researchers use a theoretical lens, they can forminterpretations that call for action agendas for reform and changes. Thus,interpretation in qualitative research can take many forms, be adapted for differenttypes of designs and be flexible to convey personal, research-based, and actionmeanings.
 

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