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Qualitative Data Analysis Looking for Themes and Patterns.

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Presentation on theme: "Qualitative Data Analysis Looking for Themes and Patterns."— Presentation transcript:

1 Qualitative Data Analysis Looking for Themes and Patterns

2 Data to analyzed will consist of: Words recorded on tape or transcribed. Your notes. Documents or other pre-existing items.

3 Components of qualitative analysis Organizing words or behaviors into categories, patterns, and themes. Sample quotations. Written narratives that summarize what you found out.

4 Where to start – basic or “first level” coding (establishment of categories ) Creation of data transcript. Organizing this transcript into units of analysis – easiest way is to do this question by question in your interview guide (assumes that you have asked all of most of the questions to each of the respondents). Choose a unit of analysis in a written document or transcript. This might be a whole interview, page, paragraph, sentence, phrase, or word. Across all respondents, count the number of times a particular word, similar phrase or sentence occurs.* Establish categories for similar phrases or thoughts. Put together a frequency table to indicate how many times this common element occurs or simply describe how many times it occurred in your narrative *You may want to double check or triple check your categories and the assignments of responses to each. You might also want to have someone else do the analysis over to make sure there is nothing that you missed. ** You can also present your results in terms of occurrence, magnitude, duration, or whether products were produced).

5 The next step is making comparison across categories and among questions (axial or second level coding) Are there similarities among the categories Does one category precede another Do two categories occur at the same time in the same statement Are there overlaps among the categories Are there obvious patterns or themes Can a hypothesis be generated about cause and effect relationships (based on these patterns).

6 For example, if we were to use the following interview guide, we would transcribe all responses underneath each question in a WORD processing program. (Sample interview guide) 1.Can you describe how you first became aware of your deafness? Respondent #1 Respondent #2 Respondent #3 2.How do you see yourself today, in terms of your deafness? Respondent #1 Respondent #2 Respondent #3 From Janesick, V. (1998). "Stretching" exercises for qualitative researchers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, p. 75.

7 We enhance reliability or rigor of our data analysis by: Comparing our categories to pre-existing frameworks. Having an additional person redo the analysis. Comparing notes from more than one source. Using more than one type of qualitative data in our analysis (observation, interviews, document analysis). Supplementing the qualitative analysis with information from another quantitative source (for example, a survey). Keeping a record (audit) of how you established data categories and identified themes. Establishing a feedback loop so that participants can verify whether or not the analysis is accurate enough to reflect their views (member checking). We call this process in qualitative research as “trustworthiness.”

8 Padgett (1998) defines trustworthiness as: A trustworthy study is one that is carried out fairly and ethically and whose findings represent as closely as possible the experiences of the respondents (p. 92) Lack of trustworthiness comes from: a) reactivity b) researcher biases c) respondent biases/ such as withholding information or the halo effect.

9 Example of using quotes (from gang study in Sin City) One fourth of the youths surveyed said that they didn’t like gangs or didn’t want to join a gang. Almost 40% said that being in a gang was bad or stupid. One youth described being in a gang as a “dead end choice.” Nine percent felt that being in a gang was dangerous or scary. One respondent said being in a gang was scary because “they always talk about killing or beating up other people.” Only 6% of the respondents thought being in a gang was fun or was necessary for protection. However, one youth said that being in a gang made him feel “safe and good, cool to be around.”

10 In the previous quote there were categories: Didn’t like gangs Gangs are bad or stupid Being in a gang is fun

11 For example, this quotation from Fadiman, A. (1997). The spirit catches you and you fall down. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. While Foua was telling me about the dozens of tasks that constituted her “easy” work in Laos, I was thinking that when she said she was stupid, what she really meant was that none of her former skills were transferable to the U.S. – none, that is, except for being an excellent mother to her nine surviving children. It then occurred to me that this last skill had been officially contradicted by the American government, which had legally declared her a child abuser.

12 One approach to writing a narrative is “thick description” – creation of a picture of observed events, people involved, rules associated with certain activities, and social context or environment. Thick description can also incorporate the researcher’s perspectives.

13 Clients articulate their belief that the welfare system is not designed to help them succeed or care for their families….Often it feels as if the information they received from workers is blatantly wrong. In one focus group, participants talked assuredly of the misinformation they had received ….As one women said “[The policy] is a lie. This what happens in the welfare system”….Such a lack of trust raises serious questions about whether or not clients will heed front-line staff. From Sandfort, Kalil, & Gottschalk (1999). The mirror has two faces. Journal of Poverty, 3 (3),

14 A narrative or text-based summary should include Identification of common themes in responses. Patterns of behavior Cultural or other symbols found in the setting or described by respondents. Identification/description of cultural norms Common words or phrases used by many respondents with sample quotations Minority responses with sample quotations


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