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Bourdon, Sylvain , May.

Organizing Qualitative Research Data with MAXQDA

The integration of qualitative data analysis software in research strategies: Resistances and possibilities [30 paragraphs]. Charmaz, Kathy Qualitative interviewing and grounded theory analysis, in Jaber F. Gubrium and James A. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. London: Sage. Dey, Ian London: Routledge.

Using Qualitative Data Analysis Software (QDAS) to Assist Data Analyses

Elo, Satu and Kyngas, Helvi The qualitative content analysis process. Journal of Advanced Nursing , 62 1 , MMG Working Paper Friese, Susanne London: SAGE. Praxis Grounded Theory. Theoriegenerierendes empirisches Forschen in medienbezogenen Lebenswelten.

Ein Lehr- und Arbeitsbuch , S. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. Friese, Susanne b. On methods and methodologies and other observations. Gable, Robert K. Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic. Gibbs, Graham Glaser, Barney G. Kelle, Udo Computer-assisted qualitative data analysis, in Seale, C. Komalsingh Rambaree Ethnography and Qualitative Design in Educational Research 2nd ed. San Diego: Academic Press. Miles, Matthew B. Qualitative Data Analysis 3rd ed. Prus, Robert C.

Richards, Lyn and Morse, Janice M. Richards, Lyn Riessman, Catherine K. Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences. Silver, Christiana and Lewins, Ann Starks, Helene and Brown Trinidad, Susan Choose your method: A comparison of phenomenology, discourse analysis, and Grounded Theory. Qualitative Health Research , 17 10 , Additionally, the inductive approach followed the creation of the codebook. This allowed for any unexpected themes to develop during the coding process [ 9 ].

Insight was thus derived from the application of the deductive model to the set of information and searching for consistencies and anomalies. This allowed for any unexpected themes with the potential to provide further useful analysis of the data to develop during the coding process. Combining these approaches allowed the development of patterns from the unknown parts that may fall outside the predictive codes of deductive reasoning and allowed for a more complete analysis. A critical realism ontological approach also meant that while the deductive approach provided an initial sound grounding, the creator of the codebook needed to include an inductive process to allow the reality of others to be clearly represented in the data analysis.


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The goal of this article therefore is to highlight the difficulties of the demonstration of rigour in qualitative thematic analysis. It does this by investigating the assumption which states that replicability is not seen as necessary in qualitative research. It then continues this conversation by showing the process of a codebook development and its use as a means of analysing interview data, using a case study and real world data.

It also aims to clearly discuss the approach to determining rigour and validly within thematic analysis as part of a research project. The description of analysis is embedded within the philosophical standpoint of critical realism and pragmatism, which adds depth to the utilisation of these methods in previous discussions [ 2 , 7 ]. The clear description of the coding and reliability testing used in this analysis will assist replication and will support researchers and doctoral students hoping to demonstrate rigour in similar studies.

This case study was a project investigating the development of effective communication and collaboration tools between acupuncturists and general practitioners GPs. A GP sometimes known as a family doctor or family practice physician is a medical physician whose practice is not orientated to a specific medical speciality but covers a variety of medical problems in patients of all ages [ 10 ]. Increasing numbers of patients are using complementary and alternative medicine CAM either as an adjunct, or as an alternative to standard mainstream care [ 11 ].

There are multiple reasons for the increase in CAM use cited in the literature including dissatisfaction with the biomedical model, increased perceived efficacy of CAM and an increase in training and practice of CAM therapies including biomedical appropriation of CAM skills [ 12 ].


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  4. Increasingly patients believe a combined approach of CAM and conventional medicine is better than either on its own, and more and more patients have the desire to discuss CAM with well-informed GPs [ 13 ]. Communication gaps identified in both the research and evidenced in clinical practice formed the basis of this research questions. The specific questions asked were:. What is the current communication and collaboration between general practitioners and acupuncturists or CAM? The mixed methods project utilised both survey and interview techniques to extrapolate data from the two participant groups acupuncturists and general practitioners.

    The research aimed to evaluate and define current practice in order to develop effective strategies to connect the two groups. The tools and strategies allow clinical utility and transferability to other similar clinical groups. Ethics approval for this study was obtained from the The University of Otago Ethics Committee, and additionally the Ngai Tahu Research Consultation Committee approved the research and considered it of importance to Maori health. The case study example within this article was part of a mixed method project which contained a qualitative approach to interpreting interview data using thematic analysis.

    It is the analysis of the qualitative component of this study that forms the basis of the discussion contained herewith. Therefore, there is no singular correct pathway to knowledge. This mode of analysis suggests a way to understand meaning or try to make sense out of textual data which may be somewhat unclear. Knowledge is derived from the field through a semi-structured examination of the phenomenon being explored.

    Thus there is no objective knowledge which is independent of thinking [ 16 ]. The case example utilised a codebook as part of the thematic analysis. A codebook is a tool to assist analysis of large qualitative data sets. It defines codes and themes by giving detailed descriptions and restrictions on what can be included within a code, and provides concrete examples of each code. A code is often a word or short phrase that symbolically assigns a summative, salient, essence-capturing, or attribute for a portion of data [ 17 ].

    The use of a codebook was deemed appropriate to allow for the testing of interpretations of the data, and to allow for demonstration of rigour within the project. Written informed consent was obtained from all participants. The recommendation for sampling size when investigating the phenomena surrounding experience is six participants [ 18 ]. However Guest suggests that thematic saturation is more likely to occur with a sample of twelve [ 19 ].

    Therefore a group of 27 14 GPs and 13 acupuncturists were invited to participate in the semi structured interviews. Maximum variation purposeful sampling was used for participant recruitment to allow for the exploration of the common and unique manifestations of the target phenomenon and demographically varied cases [ 20 ]. Demographic norms were mirrored where possible in the sampling technique with regard to sex, age, ethnicity and type and location of practice. Participants initially self-selected by indicating a willingness to be interviewed during the survey phase of this project, and further participants were targeted to meet demographic subsets.

    Semi-structured interviews, utilised in this case study, draw on aspects of descriptive research which allow a comprehensive summary of events in everyday terms, and allow for in-depth exploration of a specific phenomenon. The aim is to understand phenomena through meanings that people assign to them [ 21 ].

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    Through the ability to investigate this descriptive data, new perspectives, concepts and themes may be uncovered. During analysis researchers stay close to the data and there is no ability to prove causal effects.


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    Although the inquiry may be value-bound, the researcher aims through the adoption of their ontological and epistemological lens to identify a range of beliefs without introducing bias from their own world view. These descriptive techniques explored the range of attitudes, perceptions, beliefs and behaviours from the sample and ensured subsequent discussions and proposed interventions were applicable and appropriate to both GPs and acupuncturists.

    The qualitative data obtained from the semi structured interviews refined and explained the numerical and statistical results from earlier components of the study through a more in-depth exploration.

    The development, use and testing of codebooks is not often reported in qualitative research reports, and rarely in enough detail for replication of the process. The decision to use and test a codebook was important in the demonstration of rigour in this project, as it allowed a clear trail of evidence for the validity of the study and also allowed ease of inter-rater reliability testing of the data. The preliminary codebook underwent many iterations through the inductive process before the final version was agreed upon by the researchers. The process of the codebook development is represented in Fig.

    The utilisation of a codebook allowed a more refined, focused and efficient analysis of the raw data in subsequent reads [ 8 ]. The testing of reliability of codes was complex in the context of qualitative research as it could be seen as borrowing a concept from quantitative research and applying it to qualitative research. Yet when adopting the critical realist lens, it is acknowledged that interpretation would be difficult to infer to a wider group without establishing some line of reliability between testers.

    As this project was aimed directly at practical utility of its findings, the testing approach seemed appropriate. Following the literature review and suggestion of themes for inclusion in the early codebook a priori, the first read of a sample of the raw data was undertaken. Comments were inserted into the margins with initial thoughts and ideas. This was then done again using the literature informed codes as a guide to determine whether more codable units fitted within the early codebook, or whether further codes needed to be added to the analytical framework.

    Examples of each theme, subtheme and code continued to be reviewed and moved until agreement between the coders as to what determined sufficient demonstration of a true representation of a theme became evident. This involved reading and re reading the subset of transcripts multiple times until theme saturation was achieved.

    Qualitative data analysis

    Reoccurring themes were identified, but not necessarily given credence over stand out single comments that really embodied a theme. Codes were written following the guidelines of Boyatzis [ 9 ] and were classified with the following: label, definition, description, qualifications or exclusions and examples from the raw data. Once the codebook was in a draft form it was applied to a larger data set.

    Qualitative Data Analysis

    This was repeated in an iterative way using the early codebook as a guide to determine whether most codable units fitted within the code guide or whether further codes needed to be added to the analytical framework. Once this was done multiple times with no new codes emerging the codebook was assumed as a valid representation of the data. At this stage the raw data was then transferred into Nvivo software program [ 22 ] to allow for a systematic coding approach with the identified codes being added as nodes, and the coded text being matched to the nodes in a systematic way.

    This allowed for sorting, clustering and comparison of codes between and within subgroups.