Qualitative data is information gathered in a non-numeric form. Common examples of such data are: Interview guides, Field (observation) notes (notes taken in the field being studied), Video, Audio recordings, Images, Documents (reports, meeting minutes, e-mails).
Qualitative Data Analysis (QDA) is the range of procedures involving various steps: from collecting data to some form of explanation, understanding or interpretation of the people and situations under investigation. QDA is usually based on an interpretative philosophy of a researcher.
There are various steps used in Qualitative Data Analysis. For the purpose of this guide, the following steps are briefly explained: data transcription, data coding, and data interpretation and generalization.
Data Transcription: Representation of audible and visual data into written form is an interpretive process which is forms the first step in qualitative data analysis. Transcription involves transforming audible data into written words using a word processing package like Microsoft Word. Transcription involves judgments about what level of detail to choose, data interpretation and data representation. Different levels of detail and different representations of data are required for studies with differing objectives and methodological approaches.
Data Coding: For a qualitative study, coding involves looking for similar words or phrases in qualitative data, sorting and categorizing the phrases into themes. This is done in order to reduce a large volume of raw data into homogeneous groups (themes) to get meaningful relationship (Stake, 1999).
Interpreting and generalizing data from themes: After coding, data is presented under respective themes based on the study parameters. Interpretation about the phenomena in question is done in the light of the available literature.
The following is an example of analysis procedure in a mixed research approach which was used in a study conducted by Ndaita (2013) on the influence of principals’ instructional quality assurance role on students’ academic performance in Kitui West District in Kenya:
Qualitative data were derived from the principals’ and District Quality Assurance and Standards Officers’ interview guides. The following steps were employed in the analysis: transcription of data, qualitative data coding which involved sorting, categorizing and grouping of the responses into themes. The themes basically fell under respective research objectives. The key responses based on respective themes were cited verbatim. These, along with quantitative data, formed the basis of interpretation and discussion in the light of the reviewed literature.
Ndaita, J. (2013). Influence of principals’ instructional quality assurance role on students’ academic performance in Kitui West district in Kenya (Unpublished PHD Thesis). The Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Nairobi.
Stake, R.E. (1995). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks, Ca: Sage Publications.