Qual Data Analysis & Phenomenology

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Qualitative data analysis varies by methodology. Learn about approaches for phenomenological studies in these open access articles.

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Image showing aspect of life experience

Phenomenology is the reflective study of lived experience… it is the study of the lifeworld as we immediately experience it, rather than as we conceptualize, theorize, categorize,
or reflect on it.
(van Manen, 2008)

This collection of open access articles offers diverse perspectives on data analysis in various schools of phenomenological research.

Phenomenological Reduction and Emergent Design: Complementary Methods for Leadership Narrative Interpretation and Metanarrative Development
(Gilstrap, 2007)

Abstract. The author’s intent in this paper is to discuss new methods for conducting research on and connecting the works of chaos and complexity theorists with interpretive, hermeneutical, and phenomenological theorists as a multiple-method mode of inquiry. He proposes a methodological design that incorporates a recursive process of phenomenological reduction to find connectedness and generate shared meanings among the research performed by leadership theorists. He also provides an emergent metanarrative method for presenting research results, using a complexity-based, interpretive framework.

A Phenomenological Research Design Illustrated
(Groenewald, 2004)

Abstract. This article distills the core principles of a phenomenological research design and, by means of a specific study, illustrates the phenomenological methodology. After a brief overview of the developments of phenomenology, the research paradigm of the specific study follows. Thereafter the location of the data, the data-gathering the data-storage methods are explained. Unstructured in-depth phenomenological interviews supplemented by memoing, essays by participants, a focus group discussion and field notes were used. The data explicitation, by means of a simplified version of Hycner’s (1999) process, is further explained. The article finally contains commentary about the validity and truthfulness measures, as well as a synopsis of the findings of the study.

Understanding the Key Tenets of Heidegger’s Philosophy for Interpretive Phenomenological Research
(Horrigan-Kelly, Millar, & Dowling, 2016)

Abstract. Martin Heidegger’s phenomenology provides methodological guidance for qualitative researchers seeking to explicate the lived experience of study participants. However, most phenomenological researchers apply his philosophy loosely. This is not surprising because Heidegger’s phenomenological philosophy is challenging and the influence of his philosophy in shaping the conduct of interpretive phenomenological research is broadly debated. This article presents an exploration of Dasein, a key tenet of Martin Heidegger’s interpretive phenomenology and explicates its usefulness for phenomenological research. From this perspective, we present guidance for researchers planning to utilize Heidegger’s philosophy underpinning their research.

Using transcendental phenomenology to explore the “ripple effect” in a leadership mentoring program
(Moerer-Urdahl & Creswell, 2004)

Abstract. Several approaches exist for organizing and analyzing data in a phenomenological qualitative study. Transcendental phenomenology, based on principles identified by Husserl (1931) and translated into a qualitative method by Moustakas (1994), holds promise as a viable procedure for phenomenological research. However, to best understand the approach to transcendental phenomenology, the procedures need to be illustrated by a qualitative study that employs this approach. This article first discusses the procedures for organizing and analyzing data according to Moustakas (1994). Then it illustrates each step in the data analysis procedure of transcendental phenomenology using a study of reinvestment or the “ripple effect” for nine individuals who have participated in a youth leadership mentoring program from the 1970s to the present. Transcendental phenomenology works well for this study as this methodology provides logical, systematic, and coherent design elements that lead to an essential description of the experience.

Introducing Interpretive Approach of Phenomenological Research Methodology in Environmental Philosophy: A Mode of Engaged Philosophy in the Anthropocene
(Paul, 2017)

Abstract. Environmental philosophy, needless to say, is going through a transition in the zenith of the Anthropocene. It is high time to carry out engaged philosophy to bring in philosophical understandings in approaching real-world environmental issues for obtaining some novel insights into the human–environment relationship. For the same, I argue, we need to explore some new methodologies that would be capable of offering the opportunity to do engaged philosophy instead of borrowing methodologies from the social sciences. Here, I examine Phenomenological Research Methodology (PRM) for the same. I elaborate on the process of conducting a field study with this methodology. For analyzing narratives, I choose the interpretive stream over the descriptive one. By drawing extensively from the philosophy of phenomenology, I propose a four-step narrative analysis process that can unveil a narrator’s transcendent mode of being. Finally, I share my research experiences while employing PRM in the field and demonstrate how PRM has the potential to sidestep some of the widely held concerns associated with field studies. Along with, I highlight critical reflection of my experiences while employing this methodology, particularly, in the context of India.

Ricoeur’s Theory of Interpretation: An Instrument for Data Interpretation in Hermeneutic Phenomenology
(Tan, Wilson, & Olver, 2009)

Abstract. Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenology, although providing an appropriate philosophical foundation for research in the social sciences that seeks to investigate the meaning of lived experience, does not provide clarity of process, making it difficult to assign the degree of rigor to the work demanded in an era dominated by the positivist paradigm. Ricoeur (1981) further developed both Heidegger’s and Gadamer’s ideas, in the areas of method and interpretation of hermeneutic phenomenological research, in a direction that has addressed this difficulty. In this article the authors outline Ricoeur’s theory, including three levels of data analysis, describe its application to the interpretation of data, and discuss two apparent contradictions in his theory. Ricoeur’s theory of interpretation, as a tool for the interpretation of data in studies whose philosophical underpinning is hermeneutic phenomenology, deserves consideration by human sciences researchers who seek to provide a rigorous foundation for their work.

Related MethodSpace Posts:


Gilstrap, D. L. (2007). Phenomenological reduction and emergent design: complementary methods for leadership narrative interpretation and metanarrative development International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 6(1), 95-113. doi:10.1177/160940690700600107

Groenewald, T. (2004). A phenomenological research design illustrated. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 3(1), 42-55. doi:10.1177/160940690400300104

Horrigan-Kelly, M., Millar, M., & Dowling, M. (2016). Understanding the key tenets of Heidegger’s philosophy for interpretive phenomenological research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 15(1), 1609406916680634. doi:10.1177/1609406916680634

van Manen, M. (2008). Phenomenology. In L. Given (Ed.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods. Thousand Oaks, California. Retrieved from https://methods.sagepub.com/reference/sage-encyc-qualitative-research-methods. doi:10.4135/9781412963909

Moerer-Urdahl, T., & Creswell, J. W. (2004). Using transcendental phenomenology to explore the “ripple effect” in a leadership mentoring program. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 3(2), 19-35. doi:10.1177/160940690400300202

Paul, K. B. (2017). Introducing interpretive approach of phenomenological research methodology in environmental philosophy: a mode of engaged philosophy in the anthropocene. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 16(1), 1609406917724916. doi:10.1177/1609406917724916

Tan, H., Wilson, A., & Olver, I. (2009). Ricoeur’s theory of interpretation: an instrument for data interpretation in Hermeneutic phenomenology. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 8(4), 1-15. doi:10.1177/160940690900800401

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