Analyzing qualitative data after it has been collected begins with a process known as coding. This involves reviewing the data that was collected and identifying important passages and information. The researcher can then group those passages according to their respective topics and develop specific themes about those topics that are supported by the data. This process involves careful thought and a great deal of discipline. It is easy for researchers to manipulate passages and themes to support their hypotheses and expectations. This is problematic for several reasons: It promotes biased results, it limits the scope and depth of the analysis, and it makes the discussion and defense of the researcher’s techniques rather difficult.
This Discussion allows you to experience the processes of coding and analyzing qualitative data. In doing so, you should gain a deeper understanding of these techniques and their challenges.
- Select at least five of your classmates’ Introduction posts from the Class Café to code and analyze.
- Using the strategies presented in the Smith and Firth article, code your five selected postings by removing identifying information, coding the information, and identifying specific themes. As you begin the process, keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way of coding; however, your categories and associated data should—without heavy explanation—make sense to someone unfamiliar with your research.
- When you have completed coding the data, reflect on your experience of analyzing this type of data. Ask yourself: How can qualitative research methods promote evidence-based practice?
By Day 5
Post a cohesive response that addresses the following:
- Identify the overall themes you selected from coding the posts. Justify why you chose these particular themes. Try to be as scholarly as possible and remember that researchers try to refrain from directly identifying the subjects of their qualitative studies.
- Formulate a brief analysis and conclusion about your classmates’ Introduction posts based on the themes you identified.
- Discuss what you gained from your experiences with coding and analyzing qualitative data and how qualitative research can promote evidence-based practice.