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With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility:. Teaching the benefits of qualitative software while maintaining an inductive approach to the analysis of data James Mullooly, PhD California State University, Fresno Presentation at University of the Pacific 11/12/07

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With great power comes great responsibility

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility:

Teaching the benefits of qualitative software

while maintaining an inductive approach

to the analysis of data

James Mullooly, PhD

California State University, Fresno

Presentation at

University of the Pacific


With the helpful assistance of

Michelle C. Bligh, Ph.D.

Who authored several of the slides used today

What is grounded theory
What is grounded theory?

  • Grounded theory: development of a theoretical explanation for behavior based on the analysis of data; this approach differs from the traditional deductive derivation of a hypothesis;grounded theory is used most often to generate explanations for behavior observed in qualitative investigations (http://srmdc.net/glossary.htm#g)

  • Grounded Theory (GT) a systematic research methodology in the social sciences developed by the sociologists Glaser and Strauss emphasizing generation of theory from data.

  • According to Kelle (2005), "the controversy between Glaser and Strauss boils down to the question whether the researcher uses a well defined "coding paradigm" and always looks systematically for "causal conditions," "phenomena/context, intervening conditions, action strategies" and "consequences" in the data,

  • or whether theoretical codes are employed as they emerge in the same way as substantive codes emerge, but drawing on a huge fund of "coding families.“ (wikipedia.)

A conversation about coding in ethnography


From: 9/3/03 through 9/9/03

  • Herve Varenne

  • Janise Hurtig

  • Mica Pollock

  • James Mullooly

  • Ken Jacobson

  • Jon Wagner

  • Frederick Erickson

  • Joe Maxwell

  • Kevin Foster

  • Consensus: These software programs are dangerous because they encourage one to “code too soon”.

Valuable but dangerous
Valuable but Dangerous

  • Benefits

    • Miles and Huberman (1994) and others preach the benefits

  • (Potential) Dangers of “data reduction” software

    • Losing the natural “iterative” process of reading and rereading one’s notes

    • Coding too soon

      • Resulting in “codes in search of a theory”

        • A decidedly un-inductive approach

Deductive and inductive approaches
Deductive and Inductive Approaches

  • Deductive Approaches

    • HypothesisAnalysis

      • from general to specific

  • Inductive Approaches

    • AnalysisHypothesis

      • from specific to general

What is the solution
What is the Solution?

  • Throw it out and disregard the ability to:

    • organize hundreds of pages of notes taken by many researchers,

    • find something in your notes,

    • detect correlations you had previously not noticed.

  • Or Use it More Responsibly

With great power comes great responsibility1
“With great power comes great responsibility”

  • How can one use these software packages yet maintain an inductive approach to the generation of data?

  • The challenge

    • To use this technology yet thwart the natural tendency to take the easy (deductive) way out.

How have i done this
How have I done this?

  • Undergraduate anthropology students of ethnographic methods

    • using N6 and Atlas/ti

      • Free downloads on line (but cannot save)

      • Coding (indexing) was more easily achieved when using Atlas/ti

        • Consequently, Atlas/ti is likely the more dangerous program


    • “Defensive Posturing and Group Maintenance in Ethnographic Relief: Fights for Freedom in Post-911 America” (Visser and Campos, 2005)

With great power comes great responsibility

HU: Peace To You File: [c:\program files\scientific software\atlasti\textbank\Peace To You]Edited by: Super Date/Time: 2005/03/23 - 10:04:39All (28) quotations from primary text: P 2: VisserCampos011605a.txt (C:\Program Files\Scientific Software\ATLASti\TEXTBANK\VisserCampos011605a.txt)

P 2: VisserCampos011605a.txt - 2:17 (76:86) (Super)

  • Media: ANSI Codes: [Roles]

    • Roles MR- leader wise owl ST- contact guy worker TH- D- odd ball N- Controller/adimate Fr- DA- nudist Ka SE Je-

  • P 2: VisserCampos011605a.txt - 2:18 (87:88) (Super)

  • Media: ANSI Codes: [group] [membership]

    • ** floating membership come and go as you please

  • P 2: VisserCampos011605a.txt - 2:19 (90:91) (Super)

  • Media: ANSI Codes: [description]

    • banner- videotape to cover and serve as evidence which in past protests have been used against them by the police

  • P 2: VisserCampos011605a.txt - 2:22 (62:64) (Super)

  • Media: ANSI Codes: [group] [membership]

    • Recruiting styles-MR (Fahrenheit 9/11) said that as a response to their recruiting styles that they should have someone follow in the recruiters to high schools basically telling students after they talked to the recruiter that that was not their only option and show them scholarships etc.

With great power comes great responsibility

  • P 2: VisserCampos011605a.txt - 2:23 (98:100) (Super)

  • Media: ANSI Codes: [group] [membership]

    • Affinity group== group of people who agree to carry out some sort of action and work together in the event that one or more of its members are arrested. Inside the prison their goal is to slow the process of their arrest by not speaking at all to the police and some even to their lawyer.

  • P 2: VisserCampos011605a.txt - 2:25 (118:119) (Super)

  • Media: ANSI Codes: [fears]

    • Th said that most convergence centers were most likely bugged and often that they only talk about this stuff on the street because they don’t want people to know

  • P 2: VisserCampos011605a.txt - 2:26 (121:125) (Super)

  • Media: ANSI Codes: [ideology]

    • MR told Elizabeth- what’s really going to happen is that the group is volunteering to serve the homeless next to a big candle light dinner for the big wigs we are going to help with serving desserts and said that there’s more than that, there is a risk of people getting arrested and the police coming to slip everybody out because of the banner drop saying l’LET THEM EAT CAKE’ said they shouldn’t arrest everyone but that serving ties into being with the banner.

  • P 2: VisserCampos011605a.txt - 2:27 (131:136) (Super)

  • Media: ANSI

  • Codes: [fears] [infiltration]

    • Decoys/infiltration= every movement and protest has govt decoys they come in saying they are friends of other protestors friends not in attendance. People will call and say do you know this person, they don’t that’s how they find out they are bugged and there is a general suspicion always and people are even asked in various groups is that ( a member of the particular group) a cop?? General suspicion and fear – explains us being skunk eyed while the rest walk through with no problem- we are much more less carefree and less reserved.

With great power comes great responsibility

Results of


too Soon

Types of codes miles huberman 1994
Types of Codes (Miles & Huberman, 1994)

  • Descriptive: attributing a class of phenomena to a segment of text (e.g., room description) [INDEXING]

  • Interpretive: include a more complex, underlying meaning (e.g., roles)

  • Pattern: inferential and explanatory; group codes into a smaller number of themes or constructs; analogous to factor analysis in statistics (e.g., ideology) [CODING]

The problem




The soultion





prior to Codification

With great power comes great responsibility





prior to codification

With great power comes great responsibility


(“annote” reactions to something; your opinions of the reaction, reminders for next visit to field, etc.)





prior to Codification

Classroom exercise
Classroom Exercise

  • Exercise: Students make comments in the margins of the fieldnotes I distribute

    • then return to the author,

    • I note them in Altlas.ti’s comments window

    • Semiotically analogous to rabbinic discourse

    • (Washabaugh, personal communication)

      • Handelman, S. 1982. The Slayers of Moses: The Emergence of Rabbinic Interpretation in Modern Literary Theory, SUNY Press.

With great power comes great responsibility

The Mishna and Talmud are surrounded by commentaries. In this way, discoursing rabbis are making "comments on comments“ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_Talmud)


and notes



Rabbi 1

Rabbi 2


on commentaries

and notes

Www templesanjose org judaisminfo torah talmud htm

The Mishna and Talmud and Commentaries this way, discoursing rabbis are making "comments on comments“


  • 1 = Mishna is the first major transcription of the oral law, Rabbi Judah the Prince composed the Mishna around the year 200.

  • 2 = Gemara is a written record of analytical discussions of the Mishna, along with philosophy, ethics, and practical advice, by the rabbinic authorities who lived between 200 and 500. This is the main body of the Talmud, consisting of some 4,500 pages of text.

  • 3 = Rashi is an acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Isaac, an 11th-century French commentator. Rashi explains the difficult terms and helps students understand the Gemara's analysis and reasoning.

  • 4 = Tosefos, which literally means "additions," are collections of comments, generally based on Rashi, made by French and German rabbis between 1100 and 1300.

  • 5 = Hananel are comments by a 16th-century North African Talmudist.

  • 6 = Eye of Justice, Mitzva Candle, by 16th-century Italian scholar Rabbi Joshua Boaz, includes notes referencing final legal decisions found in Maimonides' and others' codes of Jewish law.

  • 7 = Talmud Cross-References

  • 8 = Light of the Bible includes references to Biblical quotations.

9 = Bach's Annotations, textual emendations by 17th-century Polish scholar Rabbi Joel Sirkes,

10 = Gra's Annotations, concise notes by 18th-century Lithuanian scholar Vilna Gaon, suggest fascinating insights into legal rulings. Similar annotations by the Lubavitcher Rebbe and other 19th- and 20th-century scholars are planned for the new edition of the Talmud.

Where is t ruth
Where is this way, discoursing rabbis are making "comments on comments“ Truth?

  • In the Judaic Holy Book

  • In the Christian Holy Book?

  • In the U.S. Constitution?

Conclusion why use this technology at all
Conclusion: this way, discoursing rabbis are making "comments on comments“ Why use this technology at all?

  • The critics make an important point about the dangers inherent in these programs

    • But “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” may not be the only option

Use common sense
Use Common Sense this way, discoursing rabbis are making "comments on comments“

  • We all have a common sense as Kuhn (1962), Kaplan (1964) argued initially and Garfinkel (2003) has been arguing all along

    • To ignore it, or worse, assume it does not exist invites a variety of other dangers

We mourn the passing of Common Sense

Maintaining analytic induction
Maintaining Analytic Induction this way, discoursing rabbis are making "comments on comments“

  • The use of systematic, highly visibleindexingis how I introduce students to these programs

  • This will get them into the software quickly and motivate increased rereading on their notes (iteration)

    • When indexed, fieldnotes become far more available and facilitate systematic iteration and annotation (i.e., analytic induction)

Maintaining analytic induction1
Maintaining Analytic Induction this way, discoursing rabbis are making "comments on comments“

  • When (if) patterns emerge, the choice of using the more powerful aspects of these programs (e.g., pattern coding, conclusion drawing etc.) becomes the choice of the (now) vigilant analyst.

Postscript this way, discoursing rabbis are making "comments on comments“

  • After a presentation with Russ Bernard, one of the leaders in Anthropological methods, his advice to me was:

    • Don’t worry about teaching “vigilance”

    • Rather, encourage iteration(returning to the data).

      • Mistakes will be realized naturally and worked through in due course (personal communication).

Bernard, Russ. 1988 Research Methods in Cultural Anthropology .

Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

References this way, discoursing rabbis are making "comments on comments“

  • Garfinkel, H. (2003) Ethnomethodology's program Boulder, Co: Rowman & Littlefield.

  • Kaplan, A. (1964) The conduct of inquiry. Scranton, Penn.: Chandler Publishing Company.

  • Kuhn, T. (1970 [1962]) The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Miles M. B, & Huberman A. M (1994) Qualitative Data Analysis, Sage.

The process of interpretive and pattern coding bligh
The process of Interpretive and Pattern coding (Bligh) this way, discoursing rabbis are making "comments on comments“

  • Create a provisional “start list”

    • Usually anywhere from 12 – 60

    • Get them on a single page for reference

    • Make sure they are organized/structured

  • Create code definitions

  • Revise coding scheme

    • Filling in: adding, reconstructing preexisting codes

    • Extension: recoding with a new theme or insight

    • Bridging: seeing new relationships

    • Surfacing: identifying new categories

The process of interpretive and pattern coding cont
The process of Interpretive and Pattern coding (cont.) this way, discoursing rabbis are making "comments on comments“

  • Structure is key: codes should eventually relate to one another, they should be part of a governing structure

  • Structure includes larger, more conceptually inclusive codes, and smaller, more differentiated codes

  • Pattern codes should represent a web of meaning that is grounded in the data

With great power comes great responsibility

www.atlasti.com this way, discoursing rabbis are making "comments on comments“

The vise principle www atlasti com
The VISE Principle this way, discoursing rabbis are making "comments on comments“ (www.atlasti.com)

  • Visualization

    • The visualization component of the program means directly supports the way human beings (this includes researchers!) think, plan, and approach solutions in creative, yet systematic ways.

  • Integration

    • Another fundamental design aspect of the software is to integrate all pieces that comprise a project, in order not to lose sight of the whole when going into detail.

    • Therefore, all relevant entities are stored in a container, the so-called "Hermeneutic Unit (HU).” Like the spider in its web, the HU keeps all data within reach.

  • Serendipity

    • The term "serendipity" can be equated with an intuitive approach to data.

  • Exploration

    • Seriously, though: exploration is closely related to the above principles. Through an exploratory, yet systematic approach to your data (as opposed to a mere "bureaucratic" handling), it is assumed that especially constructive activities like theory building will be of great benefit.