April Focus: Qualitative Data Analysis

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Qualitative data analysis is a focus on MethodSpace for April. By logging into MethodSpace you will automatically receive new posts by email. You can also follow the series through this link: QualDataAnalysis.

What is qualitative data analysis?

Qualitative data analysis is an umbrella term that encompasses many steps and processes. The term describes ways we work with data collected with qualitative methods, meaning potential inclusion of verbal responses, media or audio files, visual data such as photographs, drawings, or graphics, field notes, as well as text. Qualitative data can be deep and narrow, generated using in-depth methods with a small group of participants. But qualitative studies can also use Big Data drawn from a large number of participants or sources. Some researchers use software known as CAQDAS, short for Computer Assisted Qualitative Data AnalysiS, to carry out some of these steps while others use standard programs such as Microsoft Word or Excel. In other words, a single qualitative data analysis approach is impossible! That means you will need to assess the options to see what fits your particular study.

Common Stages of Qualitative Data Analysis


How can we make sense
of qualitative data?

Most styles of qualitative data analysis include variations on these common stages:

  • Choosing a strategy and committing to ethical practices
  • Managing raw data
  • Organizing, labeling or tagging data
  • Identifying major concepts or themes
  • Coding data in multiple rounds
  • Writing analytic memos
  • Using reasoning to interpret results and find meaning
  • Drawing and verifying conclusions
  • Explaining and presenting results

You will find posts and resources about each stage as this QualDataAnalysis focus series unfolds. Use the comment area to raise specific questions.

Want to try analyzing qualitative data?

SAGE Research Methods contains numerous datasets developed for just this purpose. Find one or more from this list, and use it to work through the stages of data analysis.

Access SRM

If your library doesn’t have a subscription, and you would like to access the materials listed here, explore SAGE Research Methods with a free trial.

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