Archive | May, 2012

Qualitative analysis: Where to begin?

16 May

So Monday and Tuesday of this week, following recommendations from one of my supervisors, I atteImagended a qualitative analysis course run by Liz Spencer (one half of Jane Ritchie who developed Framework). I am using Framework for my analysis management with the help of NVivo 9. Details in Chapter 9 of this book (a revised version is being written as we speak).

This course was organised (very well) by the Social Research Association http://www.the-sra.org.uk/sra_scotland.htm

I am now at the stage of having all my qualitative data there (a lot of data!), ready to do something with it! I have spent hours and hours and hours of reading qualitative analysis books and papers and thought I pretty much knew what I had to do. At least in the early stages of analysis anyway. I have also conducted previous qualitative research. Attending this course made me realise that I didn’t know everything and that my previous research has been mainly descriptive. One of my constant niggling worries was moving from the descriptive to the more conceptual stage of analysis and I just couldn’t see how I would be able to do that.

I had high expectations of this course, but it surpassed all my expectations and more. After getting over the star struck feeling of meeting Liz (who is absolutely wonderful by the way and an amazing teacher), I learned more in two days than I think I could ever learn from a text book. One of my main (simple) take home messages was that I cannot get to the conceptual stage and begin proving explanations etc., until I went through all the descriptive stages. This of course takes time and patience. For me, I am now MUCH clearer as to what I need to do at each stage (Liz Spencer’s words – ‘Framework is not an analytic strategy, it is a data management tool to help you work through the process. What we are doing is thematic analysis using this tool’) – a revision I need to make in my methodology chapter!

I am not going to go into any more detail about what I learned here, but what I intend to do is post regular short sharp blogs throughout each stage of my analysis. This I hope will help anyone doing analysis (or about to do analysis). I would also very much welcome comments, questions etc. as it really can help us all learn and develop as we go.

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My final piece of advice at this stage would be if the opportunity is available to you, definitely go on one of these courses. I promise you will learn so much…

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