Qualitative Data Coding

Posted August 31, 2017

Coding is an essential part of qualitative data analysis that ultimately determines the themes that will be generated. Taking transcribed interview data and creating themes requires careful attention and a clear frame of mind. The logic you use to code the data must be something that carries over once you have finished the coding and begin to categorize the data, or search for the relationships between the codes.  I prefer to use computer assisted qualitative data analysis software to help with the coding process. It makes it easier to manage all of the data and help organize the codes in ways that make sense to you.

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During these sessions, students can get answers to questions about the research design and rationale, the role of the researcher, the selection of participants, instrumentation, procedure, data analysis plan, issues of trustworthiness, data analysis and results.

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Coding is the process of assigning a label to phrases, sentences, or paragraphs that hold important meaning. This label can be descriptive or summative; it can be lengthy or just a few words. It really depends on what helps you. I find it helpful to create lengthy descriptive titles for the codes because it helps me understand exactly what each phrase, sentence, or paragraph is talking about. However, there have been times during coding that the latent meaning of a passage is incredibly clear and I would use a short, summative label for the phrase, sentence, or paragraph.

The most important thing is to make sure that all the important and relevant data has been captured during the coding process. This can be done by reviewing the data alongside the codes to ensure that all the information was captured. Sometimes participants do not provide detailed accounts of their experiences, and other times participants will provide so much information that it can be daunting to unpack and organize it in some fashion.  If need be, taking out a legal pad and writing out your thoughts on paper can help you organize your mind around what seems to be important after first reading the document.

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