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Dissertation Studies. Qualitative Data Analysis. What is Qualitative Analysis?. provides analytic tools for handling masses of raw data allows researcher to be systematic and creative simultaneously helps to consider alternative meanings of phenomena

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dissertation studies

Dissertation Studies

Qualitative Data Analysis

what is qualitative analysis
What is Qualitative Analysis?
  • provides analytic tools for handling masses of raw data
  • allows researcher to be systematic and creative simultaneously
  • helps to consider alternative meanings of phenomena
  • helps to identify, develop and relate the concepts that are the building blocks of theory
sources of qualitative data
Sources of Qualitative Data
  • Interviews
    • transcribed
  • Memos
    • diary entries
  • Observations
    • field notes
  • Documents
    • reports, plans, brochures, publications
analysis approaches
Analysis Approaches
  • Deductive Approaches
    • Structured
        • used with structured questionnaires
    • Semi-Structured
        • using a prior established (theory driven) frame work for analysis
  • Inductive Approaches
        • allow themes to emerge from data
    • Thematic / Pattern Analysis / Grounded Theory
  • Combinations



test hypothesis

accept/reject theory

  • Used with questionnaires and very structured face to face interviews
  • In situations where everyone is asked the same questions
  • Examine the data for:
    • Range of responses
    • Similarities
    • Differences
  • Step 1
    • Collate everybody's answers for each question
    • Analyse each of the questions in turn
  • Step 2
    • Summarize each persons response (3-7 words)
  • Step 3
    • Group similar responses together
    • then provide an overall summary for that group
  • Step 4
    • compare each group
    • identify similarities
    • identify differences
  • Step 5
    • look for evidence to explain the similarities / differences from the interviews
  • Step 6
    • repeat process for the next question
semi structured
Semi Structured
  • Stage 1
    • Identify analysis framework
      • list of qualities that you are looking for
        • derived prior analysis
        • derived from the literature
      • may use an existing research framework from past research to guide analysis
semi structured1
Semi Structured
  • Stage 2
    • Identify units of analysis or meaning units in your transcripts
      • usually
        • phrases
        • sentences
        • paragraphs
semi structured2
Semi Structured
  • Stage 3
    • Coding
          • Label each unit of analysis with one of the themes from your analysis framework
  • Stage 4
    • Group each theme together
          • Firstly, within an individual transcript
          • and then with the same theme in all the other transcripts
semi structured3
Semi Structured
  • Stage 5
    • Sub themes
          • is there a range of responses within a theme?
          • summarize and describe each sub theme
  • Stage 6
    • Compare sub themes
          • what are the differences
          • is there evidence to explain the differences
example 2
Example 2
  • Theory 1
    • Three types of Organisational Conflict (Robbins, 1974)
      • relationship
      • structural / task
      • communication
  • Theory 2
    • Conflict Handling styles (Thomas-Kilmann, 1971)
      • avoidance
      • forcing
      • accommodation
      • compromising
      • collaborating



identify patterns


thematic or pattern
Thematic or Pattern
  • Constant Comparison
    • categories emerge from the data
    • researcher is attempting to build a systematic account of what has been observed and recorded
        • Work systematically through all the transcripts developing your themes


        • select 2 or 3 of the interviews and identify the major issues / ideas/ themes within those interviews (similar to semi structured)
thematic or pattern1
Thematic or Pattern
  • Stage 1
    • Identify units of analysis or meaning units in your transcripts
      • usually
        • phrases
        • sentences
        • paragraphs
thematic or pattern2
Thematic or Pattern
  • Stage 2
    • Open coding
      • labelling each unit of analysis with a code
        • A code is usually one word that helps the researcher understand the phrase
  • Stage 3
    • Closed coding
      • A process of coding the Open Codes
        • The aim is to reduce the open codes to a smaller range of ideas.
thematic or pattern3
Thematic or Pattern
  • Stage 4
    • Group your Closed codes together to form themes
      • A tree of codes should begin to emerge
  • Stage 5
    • intra-theme analysis
      • examine for relationships within a theme
thematic or pattern4
Thematic or Pattern
  • Stage 6
    • inter-theme analysis
      • examine the relationship between the each of the themes

The key idea is that as new ideas emerge there is a need to reassess the old information

(constant comparison)

















what do i put in my findings section
What do I put in my findings section?

1. Describe your respondents

  • Give the reader a feel for the participants.

Four of the interviewees were the executive officer of the organisation and the remainder were volunteers who held positions on the board of directors of various organisations. Most were in their mid forties or early fifties.

what do i put in my findings section1
What do I put in my findings section?

2. Report the Major/Minor Themes

  • a narrative incorporating…
  • etic:
    • interpretations -researchers summarised themes
  • emic:
    • actual words, examples / illustrations of the these interpretations
use charts figures and diagrams
Use charts figures and diagrams

Figure 1: Exploration of the Motivation Theme


The first area of potential difference between volunteers and paid staff was the mission of the organisation. The volunteers in this study suggested that the rationale of the existence of the organisation (the mission) was threefold. Firstly, there was a set of ideals that underpinned the creation of the organisation. For example, one interviewee remarked, “We went back to the articles of association and [asked] what was the type of things our founders said we ought to be doing (VOL-1)” and another commented that, “We can run virtually any activity as long as it follows the principles of the [organisation's] mission (VOL-2)”.

The third aspect of the volunteers' perspective of the mission was that the organisation did not exist without its members. They were the spirit and drive of the organisation. The following statements from volunteers clearly demonstrate this view.

I believe that the members are the organisation. If you said, what is the [name of organisation] or if you take out the members we are nothing. As soon as you take the members out there is nothing left - just 34 buildings (VOL-1).

One of the things that I've wrestled with is “Why is this gym a [name of organisation] programme? What is the difference? (VOL-2).

3. Describe the Differences/Relationships

In practice, these two mission perspectives can be the source of conflict; for example, one executive officer recounted the following incidents.

I was writing this bit on professional development, maintaining the professional development of staff in the office, and she [board of director] has written in it, maintaining professional development of staff and board members. You don't normally get that outside the organisation. You are not here to develop board members as well [laugh] (EO-2).

4. Discuss then move on to next theme

This was clearly the "existential quandary" outlined by Wood (1989) and as these interviews highlighted, differences in the perception of mission have the potential to lead to conflicts in VSOs. Etherington (see Harris, 2000) argues that the lack of clarity concerning an organisation's mission is one of the greatest issues challenging the management and leadership of nonprofit organisations today. The mission reflects the organisation's philosophy and influences all other aspects of the organisation such as the allocation of resources, structure and recruitment of volunteer and employees. A good mission contains not only the reason for the organisation’s existence and the benchmarks to measure performance but also the values and processes the organisations wishes to embody in achieving its performance (Brooks, 2002; Etzioni, 1964; Stone, 1991).

helpful readings
Helpful Readings
  • Lichtman, M. (2010) Qualitative Research in Education- A User’s Guide. London: Sage Chapter 11
  • Miles, M. & Huberman, A. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis. An Expanded Source Book. Newbury Park Ca : Sage
  • Punch, K. (2009). Introduction to Research methods in Education. London; Sage Chapter 9
  • Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of Qualitative Research. London: Sage Publications.
Numbers are added to Column A to create points of reference and so that the original order can be retained