Introduction

In this chapter we look at how qualitative data might be analysed. Traditionally, the approach has been to transcribe notes or recordings of meetings and to make an analysis based on visual inspection of the data, quoting what people have said as evidence to support a point of view. The approach has appeared to lack the rigour of quantitative analysis. Recently, however, more analytical methods have been introduced and brought to bear on this form of research and an introduction to these methods is presented here.

The chapter first considers the general overall approach to qualitative analysis, a key aspect of which involves transcribing data, either what has been said or otherwise recorded, and then undertaking a detailed analysis of the transcribed written text. This involves searching for keywords and phrases and categorising sections of text. Methods for doing this are reported in the chapter, together with types of computer program that may be used to help. In quantitative research, tables and graphs are used to display data and convey meaning in the analysis. In qualitative analysis the same effect may be achieved with matrices and networks. The chapter provides some examples of these tools. In the case of networks, attention is also specifically given to the construction of causal diagrams which can do much to help the interpretation of findings.

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