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Qualitative research


Qualitative data takes many forms, so its analysis can be complex and lengthy.

There has been an emphasis on the analysis of text-based data. This includes transcriptions from interview for example.

Listed below are some books on various techniques of analysis available from Student and Library Services.

Search Discovery for more books :


Coding is identifying labels or tags for your data.

Thematic analysis

This is a method of analysing patterns in your qualitative data. It involves identifying a theme or themes. 

Identifying themes is a frequent way of analysing textual data. It allows you to identify the significant aspects and tries to reduce a complex and large set of data into a more understandable form.

This follows a process of coding your data and using these to identify broader themes in your research.

Content analysis

This approach looks at identifying the concepts in texts. The idea being that the text can communicate some deeper-rooted message.

Conversation analysis

Conversation analysis considers the structure and sequence of everyday talk. The researcher is looking at natural occurring interactions 

Discourse analysis

This analysis considers texts in relation to the shared background meanings and cultural assumptions. It focuses on the implied meaning of the text. 

Grounded theory

Grounded theory is a research strategy and also a way of analysing data. It is used to generate explanatory theory from the data collected i.e. theories are grounded in (developed from) the data. The analysis process is very similar to a thematic analysis.

Narrative analysis

Narrative analysis looks at how stories can work to make up social worlds and identities. It considers stories and why people tell stories and their importance in constructing meaning in a social world.

Visual-based data

This analysis of images and objects involves looking at its appearance, genre or style. Who produced it, when and why? The viewer's perspective also needs to be considered i.e. the audience it is intended for. Analysis needs also to look at the context such as where it was produced.

NVivo and using other computer software for analysis

Analysis can be with a printed 'hard' copy however there are software packages designed to help with this process. The best known is NVivo - this can be downloaded from the software downloads page.

The software can help you with:

  • Importing data.
  • Storage of the data.
  • Coding of the data.
  • Retrieval of the data.
  • Allowing visual presentation of the data.