Consensual Qualitative Research: Coding for A Qual Project

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    Alyssa Deitchman

    Hi Methodspace community,

    I am doing a qualitative research project for which I have collected data. My project is looking at the impact of a household economic shock on the academic experiences of full time college students exploring three domains: interpersonal changes, intrapersonal changes, and academic shifts in their goals and perceived competence of academic issues.

    I know there has been a plethora of discussions surrounding qualitative work and coding specifically. However, I was wondering if anyone is familiar with Consensual Qualitative Research (Hill, 1997)?

    Even if not, I am wondering how to create a coding manual for interviews. I am the PI on this project. I interviewed individuals using an eligibility screener assessing the dependent variable-the impact of a major economic loss on a person’s life. The participant had to answer “yes” to 4 of 5 prompts that asked for emotional impact, interpersonal changes, and so forth. I am interested in the process of coping and the things they described as prompted by my semi-structured interview questions. My research mentors and colleagues tell me to not code for the questions I am asking because it is obvious that what I interviewed for would exist in their responses. However, I am interested in why or why not certain responses came up when questioned and the process. Clear so far? I hope so.

    I have been told to bring my transcripts to individuals who know nothing about my data or a priori hypotheses to see what they perceive as coming up. I do not know what way of looking at the data would be most effective: content-based themes or emotional themes? How should I go about developing a coding system that would systematically produce the most insightful, rich and hypothesis generating results?

    Thank you. Your contributions are invaluable.


    My issue with this problem is that really you should have decided how to analyse the data BEFORE you collected it. questions that you ask in the interview will be dependent on what method of analysis you are going to use. It sounds like your colleagues are talking about deductive coding (a priori ideas of what’s in the data) and inductive coding ( exploring the data in order to generate codes or ideas). The method of analysis will include some ways of looking at you might produce and not others …. What is your epistemological and ontological position as regards this research … It feels very realist so perhaps you should be looking at something likes miles and huberman’s data reduction model?

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