writing up qual findings

Avatar for sneaks

I have 40 participants, I'm not sure how to write up the findings. I have lots of quotes, but at the moment I'm putting e.g.

"many participants reported that chocolate was nice: [chocolate is really really nice] - participant 14"

But not sure if that's too 'dry' should I add names in? (obviously fake names), or is 40 participants too much to think about doing that?


Hi Sneaks,

I think that using names would be too much, readers will not remember many names and my find it confusing. You could use certain subgroups, for example: nurses indicated, or a nurse indicated etc.

With such a big group you could also use: many participants etc. As you know, due to the qualitative nature of the project, you cannot generalise even if many participants mentioned something.

I analysed the data, wrote the story and then filled it in with quotes, trying 50-50 for the results part. I think a lot of quotes makes the whole thing readable and interesting.

Kind regards,


Avatar for sneaks

======= Date Modified 27 Sep 2011 11:32:12 =======
thanks Rick, my findings are from 20 in each group - i.e. I have 2 sets of themes and I'm comparing the two groups of 20 in each group. I'm just missing those bits I read in other papers that say "For example, Jane first ate chocolate at age five: ["I really liked chocolate and wanted to try all the different types, but settled on dairy milk"]


Sorry that is not clear AT ALL. Imagine they are 20 men, 20 women, I have analysed their data separately and am now comparing the themes that arise in both (some of the same, some are different)

Avatar for Caterpillar27

Personally, I would use pseudonyms to add a "real people" feeling. I don't think the amount of participants matters. Unless you are following only a few people, I don't think the reader expects to keep account of who said what, just what the issues/findings were and how they were expressed by the participants.

Good luck  ;-)


My reserach is only qualitative.
I have given pseudonyms to my participants and when I am writing a quote, a use their speudonym, thei role, gender and age group e.g.

All of my participants agreed that chocolate is very healthy (I wish!!!)
"blah blah blah" (Jane, Female chocolate eater, 30-39)

Avatar for sneaks

ok, well I'm going to write up and then look through and see if names will add anything.

On another note, my sup reckons my quotes are too long - they are anything between 15-110 words long, but most sit around 30-60 words. I'm not sure if I can really cut them though, they seem like good quotes to me :-(


I think whether you name them or not is more of a personal choice rather than anything, I only had a few so I named them but I agree with Rick, with 40, it's unlikely people will be able to make connections between who said what and when. I've read papers where the participants were given names, others numbers (I remember one where there were only 12 or 14? and they numbered participants). Maybe you could give them an initial to each group and name them? so females and males F and M?

I also added a table with participants demographics and any significant info so when quoting, I didn't need to add age, etc.

As for adding quotes, I added everything I thought was significant, the common aspects amongst participants and some exceptions that I thought were significant. I structured it with something like this:

Chocolate was found to be consumed more often by women than men.

'I really like chocolate, and eat it most days' (F1).

'I'm not really keen on chocolate really, I can take it or leave it so I don't eat it very often' (M3)

(The paragraph after I'd explore the quotes) So whilst F1 eats chocolate most days, M3 rarely eats it.

Good luck!


======= Date Modified 27 Sep 2011 13:38:37 =======
I know I'm dodging the question about whether you have too many participants to name but could you use (made up) initials rather than names if you decide to take that approach to avoid all the preconceptions which get attached to names? Have very nebulous recollections of a study done asking primary school teachers to pick from a list of first names those they would associate with troublemakers which showed quite a number judged character on the basis of names. Though can equally see that 40 sets of initials might get confusing.


Hi Sneaks

My supervisor made a point of saying that, during her MPhil qualitative study she used something like the following:

F (for female), 18 (for the age), etc.

She said that the labels made them look like prisoners with tag numbers! It made me laugh, but I could see her point from a qualitative point of view (the exploration of personal opinions, beliefs, bla bla bla).


I think Clupea bring forward a good point: certain forenames may be connected with particular prejudice. I know a research paper about a GU med clinic where it was checked whether names were associated with certain diseases.

As such, one needs to be able to justify why you give a participant a particular name.

Although I seen papers were "Mary said..." etc. was used, I would just stick to "a participant" and then provide a code regarding which person in which focus group said that.:-)

Avatar for sneaks

I've had a think about it and will use numbers instead. Although that does kind of depersonalise the statements, I think the prejudice surrounding names is going to be tricky with my study. Also, making up names for one half of my sample (i.e. 20 participants) is going to be very tricky as I'm not clued up enough on each of their different backgrounds - i.e. they may have to have religious type names, that I'm just not aware of, so may accidently introduce a major problem into the thesis if I use names. Numbers it is!