Data Analysis Reboot

Well, yeah.  I thought this might happen, but it’s still not great when you have to hit the undo button is it?

I had started the data analysis of my first round of interviews a long while back, shortly after the interviews had been completed.  This was my first ever attempt at ‘coding’, putting meaning to sentences.  Someone might for instance be talking about their job, and I would code this ‘job’, and other deep and meaningful codes such as that.

I’ve dipped in and out, so can’t really say for definite how long I’ve spent on the coding process, but a fair few sessions at the keyboard.

But there’s been a nagging doubt that I wasn’t doing it right, and that the information wasn’t going to be useful when looked at across the participants.  But this is how the books all say that it should be done, so I ploughed on until about a month ago.

At that time, instead of continuing the coding I wrote little stories, or narratives of the participants, incorporating their quotes, and what they had told me about themselves, the organisation and what they do outside work.  Three things happened.

  1. These people came to life, in a way that highlighting their words and allocating a near-arbitrary code hadn’t managed to do.
  2. My word count in the thesis leapt.  Compared to a dense literature review, writing these narratives was relatively easy.
  3. I realised that I would have to start my Data Analysis from scratch.

Well, OK.  That’s a pretty big step, acknowledging that the work that you’ve done has to be restarted.  But I knew, and was supported in conversations as my recent cross-cohort residential, that I had to do this.  I took the chance too to review the software I had been using. Yeah, it was free and also worked in my native Mac environment, but did that mean it was the best for me.

Another member of cohort three had put me onto an online, web based qualitative analysis software, called Dedoose.  It’s SaaS, you pay a subscription for the months that you want to use it, you don’t pay if you don’t need to, and whilst there are more powerful packages available (and for free through my various academic affiliations), this one just works.  And of course it ‘just works’ regardless of the platform I’m running, Mac, PC, Chromebook.

So my coding starts again, and my code set looks a lot different.  Over the last few months my theoretical framework has developed, and I have just five specific things that I’m looking for in the interviews, five connections that I’m looking at within the individual and organisation by the use of e-portfolios (well, at least at the start).  So with new tool, new criteria, and  a big, big pot of coffee I’m off on the (re)coding wagon again.

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