Qualitative Research – The Critical, The Experiential and The Coding

During class we were given an individual interview transcript to code, where the participants were being asked about the ways they interacted with their mobile phones and their perceived intimacy. We were asked to code the data to provide an analysis.

Through coding a transcript, observational activity or focus group, it allows us to label, organise and sort data to provide a summary. This eventually becomes a basis for developing further analysis.

This coding can be done iteratively as ideas and concepts become more refined. In this sense the codes can evolve organically as the researcher develops their understanding of the codes which comprise their data.

It can also provoke areas for further research. For example, in our group we found that there were varying levels of addiction towards the mobile devices. This wasn’t the intention of the study, but from our coding it was raised as an area of interest – this could influence or support the current paper or it could be spurring point of a subsequent paper.

When I tried coding, it was quite difficult as I was just coding what was said and how the participant felt.

Iffound this was reflective of “Experiential Qualitative Research”, which has a focus on validating meanings, views and perspectives of its participants. It prioritises participant’s interpretations as the focus of analysis, and is focused around their own experiences and understandings of phenomenon. The analysis is more about the participant in relation to the topic of research.

The flipside is  “Critical Qualitative Research”, which has a more questioning approach. It tries to understand the ‘why’ of what is said, what factors influenced the participant to say this, and what this represented. It is considered to frame reality and science as being mediated by human interpretation and meaning.

However, there is a big distinction between the two, as it is best to choose one of these approaches when coding, rather than a mix of both, as this makes the refinement of the codes and subsequent analysis more difficult.

Overall I feel like this would be a really useful approach to analyse transcripts as it will help to analyse themes relevant to my potential future research, but also help highlight areas that I perhaps had yet to discover. However, my initial attempts at coding were too high-level to be considered useful and when I looked back at them a few days later they made little sense. Therefore, I feel like it is important to try and give my codes more useful labels that help better reflect the data they contain, and this can be done by trying to code at a ‘lower level’. These could be refined at a later point to make them easier to understand, but trying to refine too early meant that I had to go back and recode.

This is an approach I intend to continue improving, as I believe it will be a useful skill to have in my repertoire when it comes to analysing qualitative research data.


Author: Megan Venn-Wycherley

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