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Enhancing the Transparency of Qualitative Data Analysis:a Case Study using Software for Qualitative Research : 

Enhancing the Transparency of Qualitative Data Analysis:a Case Study using Software for Qualitative Research Simon Maxwell Environment and Society Research Unit Department of Geography, University College London, UK Presentation to the Third ASC International Conference University of Edinburgh 22nd-24th September 1999

Introduction : 

Introduction Analytic processes in qualitative research are often mystical Software for qualitative research can help enhance transparency in analytic processes Grounded theory approach to research This combination can aid ‘rigour’ and quality in qualitative research These issues are of paramount importance as qualitative methods are increasingly used more directly in decision-making

Structure of presentation : 

Structure of presentation Background A grounded theory approach to qualitative analysis Software for qualitative research Making data and analytic processes accessible Case study: public meanings of car use Discussion Conclusions

Background : 

Background New methodologies to address exclusion from decision-making and lack of trust in public institutions Better understandings of the public’s own priorities are central Qualitative research more open to bias? Baxter and Eyles (1997): emphasize the importance of detailing the analytic process Geertz (1973): ‘detailed, thick description’

Grounded theory 1 : 

Grounded theory 1 Based on the work of two sociologists: Barney Glaser and Anton Strauss (e.g., Glaser and Strauss, 1967) An approach to an entire research project:‘In this method, data collection, analysis, and eventual theory stand in close relationship to one another. A researcher does not begin a project with a preconceived theory in mind (unless his or her purpose is to elaborate and extend existing theory). Rather, the researcher begins with an area of study and allows the theory to emerge from the data’ (Strauss and Corbin, 1998) Each step of a grounded theory analysis requires careful documentation

Grounded theory 2 : 

Grounded theory 2 Line-by-line analysis; constant checking of data against other data; open, axial and selective coding; extensive use of diagrams; theoretical memos The importance of staying close to the data The process is creative Aims to recognize the complexities, contradictions and ambiguities of human actions

Software for qualitative research : 

Software for qualitative research Many packages designed around the concepts of grounded theory Core functions for analysis of textual data- easy and flexible access to transcribed data- variety of means for coding data- recording notes- building links Audio recordings contribute to ‘thick description’ ATLAS.ti used in case study

Making data and analytic processes accessible : 

Making data and analytic processes accessible To the researcher or research team To principal users of the research To wider users

Case study: public meanings of car use 1 : 

Case study: public meanings of car use 1 Case study project titled Creating places: using deliberative and inclusionary processes to explore public meanings of car use Funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Grounded theory approach In-depth discussion group methodology Each group had between eight and ten members and met once a week for five weeks In-depth group work with parents of young children and older people

Case study: public meanings of car use 2 : 

Case study: public meanings of car use 2 All group discussions were recorded and transcribed Audio files were transferred to computer using Cool Edit software All transcripts were coded on a line-by-line basis Codes also developed for group dynamics ‘Emic’ codes represent the first level of analysis made available to research users Codes printed from ATLAS.ti with details showing location of all corresponding primary text

Transcript extract with emic codes from ATLAS.ti : 

Transcript extract with emic codes from ATLAS.ti

Extract of code list from ATLAS.ti : 

Extract of code list from ATLAS.ti Code: It was burnt out: a good reason not to have a car {1-0}P 3: Parents 3.txt, 232 - 235Code: The bus service was good {1-0}P 3: Parents 3.txt, 238 - 240Code: Has to be a balance between stick and carrot {1-0}P 3: Parents 3.txt, 228 - 229Code: We never had a car when we lived in Liverpool {1-0}P 3: Parents 3.txt, 230 - 232Code: Inconvenience of looking after a car {1-0}P 3: Parents 3.txt, 240 - 241

Case study: public meanings of car use 3 : 

Case study: public meanings of car use 3 ‘Emic’ codes and theoretical memos cut up and sorted and sifted into categories by hand ATLAS.ti used to explore additional dimensions of coding An intensive, dynamic and iterative process Categories represent the conceptual categories and theoretical constructions emerging from the research (‘etic’ codes) ‘Etic’ codes relate back to empirical work through ‘emic’ codes ‘Etic’ codes represent the second level of analysis made available to users

Transcript extract with etic codes from ATLAS.ti : 

Transcript extract with etic codes from ATLAS.ti

Discussion : 

Discussion The analytic process represented aims to be a creative mix of paper-based and computer-based methods Aims to acknowledge the benefits of more traditional and technological approaches to qualitative analysis The process outlined is just one way of using software for qualitative research Computer-based approaches are central to enhancing the transparency of the analytic process Computerized techniques can appeal to a desire to impose control on qualitative data Very difficult to retain the creativity essential to qualitative analysis if the process is carried out entirely on computer

Conclusions : 

Conclusions Software for qualitative research can:- open analytic procedures to critical evaluation by other researchers and a wider audience- improve 'rigour' and quality in qualitative research Greater emphasis is needed on the transparency of analytic processes as qualitative techniques are used more directly in decision-making

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