Feeling incompetent to analyze qualitative data

18-Sep-18, 07:18
by Caxpax
Avatar for Caxpax
posted about 2 years ago
Hi everyone

I'm in my third year of PhD study but been lurking around this forum ever since I started.

So I'm doing a PhD in linguistics and there's a linguistic (quantitative) component and a qualitative component.

I've done the linguistic analysis right after I collected the data because the linguistic variables I'm investigating are right in front of me, so they were relatively 'easy' to extract and code. However, I'm feeling incompetent to start analyzing the qualitative data (written narratives and interviews). I've already prepared the QD; transcribed the interviews and entered the narratives in a data managing software, and so my QD is ready for analysis. But because I've been reading about QD analysis and how it requires 'deep' analysis, I'm inhibited to start the analysis and I can't help but think that I might either 'over analyze' or look into the data only on a surface level, and end up (in either case) with rubbish analysis and results. I don't have any difficulty with where to start the analysis, but at this point, I guess I'm doubting my ability to analyze QD the way it's 'supposed' to be analyzed.

Has anyone ever experienced this towards QDA? Any tips or suggestions would be great!

Thanks so much
18-Sep-18, 10:56
by emmaki
Avatar for emmaki
posted about 2 years ago
Maybe I am completely wrong, but this is what I did with my data and it worked!

I knew the data inside out. I think it is very important to familiarise yourself with your data. Then I kept looking at the interviews (yes, just looking at them) until the themes kind of popped out!
I used a coding programme, but mainly I did the work by hand. It was easier for me! So, I had the floor in my house full of papers and I was walking around with a bunch of markers in my hand!

Silly? Stupid? Maybe! But it worked!
19-Sep-18, 16:37
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 years ago
Haven't used qual as part of my PhD but when I used it in my masters programme I just tried and had a break and returned and tried again and things just started to fall into place. I think they call it being an "iterative" process? Just get into the data and it will start to make sense. Quants is different of course - much more clearly defined - so if you're used to doing stats then you have to just accept that qual is a different approach and will feel like the unknown at the start. I know it sounds silly but try to enjoy it rather than feeling anxious about it. Oh, and try different books and websites describing the method you're using - once you find the one that clicks it'll help. Good luck!
19-Sep-18, 17:16
edited about 14 seconds later
by Nad75
Avatar for Nad75
posted about 2 years ago
I also do it by hand, emmaki...and so does my supervisor!

I do qualitative discourse analysis, mainly focused on thematic and narrative. The important thing to remember is that it works with "grounded" methods, where a worldview is seen as coming from the discourse/narratives, and making sure you aren't applying a normative lens on something that is supposed to reveal the worldview of the individual utterer.

I know how you feel about the fear of being seen as "overanalysing", but don't worry, I don't think there is a way to overanalyse with qualitative. My last chapter/paper had 4 pages of analysis from just 3 lines of text, which at first seemed over-analysing but I was told it was the best set yet.
20-Sep-18, 09:59
edited about 15 seconds later
Avatar for kenziebob
posted about 2 years ago
Ha, I could have written this post! I am also about to start analyzing qualitative data and I too feel slightly nervous about it.

I also do it by hand :)


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