Analyzing Video Data: Qualitative

Categories: Creative Methods, Data Analysis, Other, Research Design, Research Skills

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We are kicking off a three-month focus on data analysis, starting with Analyzing Words, Pictures, and Numbers in July. This month we will have the opportunity to learn new ideas and practical skills from Mentors in Residence Stephen Gorard, Jean Breny, and Shannon McMorrow. Find the unfolding series through this link.


How can you analyze and interpret media?

Anyone who owns a smartphone has a video camera in their pocket. We can easily share digital pictures or media with friends and family, or the world of social media. We’ve seen dramatic examples where video footage captured on the scene of a crime, natural disaster, or event has reverberated through the news and public discourse. With video documentation becoming the norm, researchers have many opportunities to collect data in various media forms. Then what? This collection of open-access articles includes qualitative examples of analysis for video data. Subsequent posts will offer quantitative examples, and examples of analysis for photographic data.


Qualitative Analysis of Video Data

Borish, D., Cunsolo, A., Mauro, I., Dewey, C., & Harper, S. L. (2021). Moving images, Moving Methods: Advancing Documentary Film for Qualitative Research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods. https://doi.org/10.1177/16094069211013646

Abstract. With the widespread use of digital media as a tool for documentation, creation, preservation, and sharing of audio-visual content, new strategies are required to deal with this type of “data” for research and analysis purposes. This article describes and advances the methodological process of using documentary film as a strategy for qualitative inquiry. Insights are drawn from a multimedia study that explored Inuit-caribou relationships in Labrador, Canada, through the co-production of community-based, research-oriented, participatory documentary film work. Specifically, we outline: 1) the influence of documentary film on supporting the project conceptualization and collaboration with diverse groups of people; 2) the strength of conducting filmed interviews for in-depth data collection, while recognizing how place and activities are intimately connected to participant perspectives; and 3) a new and innovative analytical approach that uses video software to examine qualitative data, keep participants connected to their knowledge, and simultaneously work toward creating high impact storytelling outputs. The flexibility and capacity of documentary film to mobilize knowledge and intentionally create research outputs for specific target audiences is also discussed. Continued and future integration of documentary film into qualitative research is recommended for creatively enhancing our abilities to not only produce strong, rich, and dynamic research outputs, but also simultaneously to explore and communicate diverse knowledges, experiences, and stories.

Craig, S. L., McInroy, L. B., Goulden, A., & Eaton, A. D. (2021). Engaging the Senses in Qualitative Research via Multimodal Coding: Triangulating Transcript, Audio, and Video Data in a Study With Sexual and Gender Minority Youth. International Journal of Qualitative Methods. https://doi.org/10.1177/16094069211013659

Abstract. The variety of formats in which qualitative data may be collected have been explored within the methodological literature. Yet, the multiple options for coding these data formats have not been comprehensively detailed. While transcript analysis is widely used across disciplines, it may have limitations—particularly for research involving marginalized populations. This paper presents a multimodal coding approach as a methodological innovation for triangulating three data formats (transcript, audio, and video), detailed through the application of this analytic approach during a qualitative study exploring media engagement with sexual and gender minority youth (SGMY). Nineteen semi-structured interviews with SGMY were filmed and transcribed. Nine independent coders then utilized the innovative multimodal approach to code the three data formats using a constructivist grounded theory framework. Some codes were similar across modalities, such as those related to safety issues and finding identity and community through media. Others differed between modalities, such as those related to participant affect, perceived contradictions, discrepancies between verbal statements and body language, level of comfort and engagement, and distress when discussing traumatic experiences. Video coding captured the broadest range of emotions and experiences from marginalized youth, while transcripts provided the most straightforward form of data for coding. Multimodal coding may be applicable across qualitative approaches to enrich analyses and account for potential biases, thereby enhancing analytical lenses in qualitative inquiry. Methodological strategies for coding and integrating data types are discussed.

Fitzgerald, A., Hackling, M., & Dawson, V. (2013). Through the Viewfinder: Reflecting on the Collection and Analysis of Classroom Video Data. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 52–64. https://doi.org/10.1177/160940691301200127

Abstract. The possibilities inherent in the collection and use of video footage point to an important innovation for classroom research. Unfortunately, researchers often experience uncertainty about incorporating video into their methodological approach as it can present a potential minefield of operational, technical, and ethical issues that require consideration and negotiation. Nevertheless, with the increased emphasis on the use of digital technologies, the timing is right to engage in more in-depth discussions about the role of video data in education research. In contributing to this discussion, this article unpacks several issues connected to the use of video technology as a tool for data collection and analysis. This article focuses on addressing some of the barriers faced by education researchers such as making sampling decisions, maintaining research authenticity, and grappling with ethical issues that arise. In terms of the advantages for researchers, this article highlights the suitability of video technology for classroom-based research because it provides a permanent and detailed record, which can be analyzed from multiple perspectives. These issues are explained through the experiences of an education researcher, who used video as the main data source for documenting and examining the practices of two effective primary science teachers in Perth, Western Australia.

Fitzgerald, A., & Lowe, M. (2020). Acknowledging Documentary Filmmaking as not Only an Output but a Research Process: A Case for Quality Research Practice. International Journal of Qualitative Methods. https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406920957462

Abstract. Documentary films play an important role in how we see and position ourselves in the world. While traditionally viewed as a creative practice, documentary filmmaking has been transitioning into the academic world as a way to undertake and engage with research practices. Some question marks remain, however, over the nature of documentary filmmaking as a research method. This paper seeks to build a case for documentary as a research practice using Guba and Lincoln’s quality criteria, which is typically employed to ensure the trustworthiness of collected data, as a frame for sense making. This case for research innovation also draws upon the first author’s previous experiences with video ethnography and the second author’s expertise as a documentary film maker. Their collaboration resulted in a longitudinal research project that foregrounded documentary practices as key to data gathering and sense making. This research project sought to understand the early career experiences of Australian graduate teachers from their perspective. Using this research project as a context, this paper unpacks how seven quality criteria can be explored and addressed using documentary filmmaking as method. This work highlights the possibilities and challenges inherent in innovating in the qualitative methodology space when considering the use of documentary filmmaking practices. It also adds meaningful and practical insights to a growing groundswell of voices that recognize documentary filmmaking as a viable and valuable research method.

Hopper, M. J., & Quiñones, S. (2012). A Hunch without a Sound: Co-Constructing Meanings of Nonverbal and Verbal Interactions in Video Data. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 547–572. https://doi.org/10.1177/160940691201100503

Abstract. This narrative account describes a collaborative qualitative video data analysis process between a bilingual Deaf female researcher and a bilingual Puerto Rican female researcher. Via three processing points, we examine our journeys to co-construct meanings from a single video data source which was part of a larger ethnographic study of an urban community change initiative. We highlight how our respective epistemologies informed the process of watching, analyzing, and interpreting nonverbal and verbal interactions from a video segment. The video watching process included a hunch and discovery of a critical incident. While engaging independently and collaboratively in analysis, we confirmed how the critical incident revealed concepts of access and participation. This article is distinctive in that it highlights Deaf epistemology and qualitative inquiry processes through video data analysis of nonverbal interactions. Our work contributes to the growing body of methodology literature emphasizing collaborative social practices for video data analysis.

Laurier, E., Strebel, I., & Brown, B. (2008). Video Analysis: Lessons from Professional Video Editing Practice. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research9(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-9.3.1168

Abstract. In this paper we join a growing body of studies that learn from vernacular video analysts quite what video analysis as an intelligible course of action might be. Rather than pursuing epistemic questions regarding video as a number of other studies of video analysis have done, our concern here is with the crafts of producing the filmic. As such we examine how audio and video clips are indexed and brought to hand during the logging process, how a first assembly of the film is built at the editing bench and how logics of shot sequencing relate to wider concerns of plotting, genre and so on. In its conclusion we make a number of suggestions about the future directions of studying video and film editors at work. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0803378

Legewie, N., & Nassauer, A. (2018). YouTube, Google, Facebook: 21st Century Online Video Research and Research EthicsForum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research19(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-19.3.3130

Abstract. Since the early 2000s, the proliferation of cameras in devices such as mobile phones, closed-circuit television (CCTV), or body cameras has led to a sharp increase in video recordings of human interaction and behavior. Through websites that employ user-generated content (e.g., YouTube) and live streaming sites (e.g., GeoCam), access to such videos virtually is at the fingertips of social science researchers. Online video data offer great potential for social science research to study an array of human interaction and behavior, but they also raise ethical questions to which existing guidelines and publications only provide partial answers. In our article we address this gap, drawing on existing ethical discussions and applying them to the use of online video data. We examine five areas in which online video research raises specific questions or promises unique potentials: informed consent, analytic opportunities, privacy, transparency, and minimizing harm to participants. We discuss their interplay and how these areas can inform practitioners, reviewers, and interested readers of online video studies when evaluating the ethical standing of a study. With this study, we contribute to an informed and transparent discussion about ethics in online video research.

Li, B. Y., & Ho, R. T. H. (2019). Unveiling the Unspeakable: Integrating Video Elicitation Focus Group Interviews and Participatory Video in an Action Research Project on Dementia Care Development. International Journal of Qualitative Methods. https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406919830561

Abstract. With the intention to comprehensively reflect the reality, foster interactions between researchers and participants, and empower the marginalized groups to be heard, videos are increasingly used in health studies. The findings of an action research project that integrates video-based methods into the development of dementia care in an aged care home in Hong Kong are reported. A working alliance consisted of practitioners, community-dwelling volunteers, service managers, university educators, and researchers was formed to develop a sustainable, need-based play program for the institutionalized elderly with dementia (EWD). Two innovative methods, namely, video elicitation focus group interview (VEFI) and participatory video (PV), were applied. Data analyses were collaboratively conducted by all practitioner-researchers during eight reflexive sessions. Several short films were made through PV for institutional training and community education. VEFI effectively enhanced the practitioners’ understanding of the embodied expressions of the EWD and provided a reflexive, democratic environment to generate knowledge among practitioner-researchers. Counter-narratives of the EWD and educational materials on dementia care were generated through PV. The study demonstrates how innovative video-based methods may enable participatory health research to be more inclusive, engaging, and empowering, and how these methods may provide new perspectives on the ethics of researching vulnerable populations.

McNaughton, M. J. (2009). Closing in on the Picture: Analyzing Interactions in Video Recordings. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 27–48. https://doi.org/10.1177/160940690900800405

Abstract. In this paper the author provides a detailed account of the processing and analyzing of data obtained through video recording during reflective practitioner research. She sets out five stages in the analysis of video recordings of classroom interactions during a series of educational drama lessons, from decisions relating to the selection of data for close analysis to the seeking of themes and finally to the presentation of conclusions. The researcher adapted and synthesized several processes derived from discourse analysis to produce a range of instruments for use in transcription and analysis of verbal and nonverbal discourse. These include a simple transcription key, classifications for verbal and nonverbal discourse, and a template for a transcription and analysis matrix.

Meier zu Verl, C., & Tuma, R. (2021). Video Analysis and Ethnographic Knowledge: An Empirical Study of Video Analysis Practices. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 50(1), 120–144. https://doi.org/10.1177/0891241620973716

Abstract. This paper discusses the practical foundations of ethnographically informed video analysis by investigating empirically one of the core activities of video research in sociology: the video data session. Most discussions are shaped by methodological considerations, little is known however about actual video analysis practices. By making these practices itself an object of analysis, we do show how interpretation is a social and communicative activity. In doing so, we highlight different forms of knowledge that are a resource for and topic of ethnography and video analysis. To frame our argument, we discuss the current methodological discourse on videography. Subsequently, we focus on empirical video data from video data sessions of a research network in order to discover the details of video analysis practices. We conclude this paper by highlighting our empirical findings: Video analysis is carried out communicatively by labelling knowledge, creating quotable objects through bodily reenactments, translating professional knowledge, and reassessing irritations.

Roy, A., Kennelly, J., Rowley, H., & Larkins, C. (2020). A critical discussion of the use of film in participatory research projects with homeless young people: an analysis based on case examples from England and Canada. Qualitative Research. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794120965374

Abstract. The focus of this paper is on the complex and sometimes contradictory effects of generating films with and about young people who have experienced homelessness, through participatory research. Drawing on two projects – one in Ottawa, Canada, and the other in Manchester, UK – we scrutinise two key aspects of participatory research projects that use film: first, how to appropriately communicate the complexity of already-stigmatised lives to different publics, and second, which publics we prioritise, and how this shapes the stories that are told. Through a theoretical framework that combines Pierre Bourdieu’s account of authorised language with Arthur Frank’s socio-narratology, we analyse the potential for generating justice versus reproducing symbolic violence through participatory research and film with homeless young people. In particular, we scrutinise the distinct role played by what we are calling first, second and third publics – each with their own level of distance and relationship to the participatory research process.

Schmidt, R., & Wiesse, B. (2019). Online Participant Videos: A New Type of Data for Interpretative Social Research?Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research20(2). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-20.2.3187

Abstract. In this article, online participant videos (OPVs) are defined as audiovisual participant accounts of social situations and events, and simultaneously as components of social media, online video culture and their technical, media and social logics. We demonstrate that OPV is a multi-layered and meaningful type of data which—depending on the genre—often documents a sociologising of the participants, and which can be used profitably in interpretative video analysis. We present different procedural steps of analysing OPV, based on our experiences from teaching research projects, especially in the context of the sociology of political protest. This shows that the analytical possibilities provided by OPV lie especially in the field of the interpretative sociology of affect.

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