Qualitative data has been described as voluminous and sometimes overwhelming to the researcher. In what ways could a researcher manage and organize the data?
Qualitative research is a systematic approach used to describe experiences and situations from the perspective of the person in the situation. The qualitative researcher can analyzes the words of the participant, finds meaning in the words, and provides a description of the experience that promotes deeper understanding of the experience. The researcher can have a data organized by keeping track of connections between various bits of data which requires meticulous record keeping and may be supported by using computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS) programs. The researchers will read, reread, and analyze the data over time to maintain a close link with—or become immersed in—the data being analyzed. The software allows the researcher to write memos about the analysis process and decisions that were reached, and it creates the audit trail of the study. The limitations on the length of manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals may prevent the researchers from reporting details of data management. However, having a general understanding of data management and analysis may provide the background needed to evaluate study proposals being considered by facility or IRB (Institutional Review Board). Experienced researchers often create an organizational plan for the data they will collect as part of the preparation for the study. Considerations include securing computers, storage devices, and files to preserve the confidentiality of the data. Some IRBs may require that files be password-protected. Storing data files in more than one location is recommended to prevent loss of the data in case a computer crashes or a storage device becomes corrupted. (Grove, et al, 2015). In this way the data can be organized.
According to Johnson et al, 2010, in his published article, “Structured Qualitative Research: Organizing “Mountains of Words” for Data Analysis, both Qualitative and Quantitative”, qualitative research creates “Mountains of Words”. Even a small qualitative project easily generates thousands of words. Major ethnographic projects easily generate millions of words. Recent advances in computer technology and software have made it possible to manage these mountains of words more efficiently. The planning, organizing, collecting, transcribing, storing, retrieving, coding, and analytic approaches described are necessary to facilitate the hard work associated with data analysis and report writing. While the developed procedures may be reasonably efficient and effective in locating and retrieving appropriate and highly relevant qualitative textual segments, the analyst retains the responsibility for all aspects of preparing an article for journal publication. After retrieving a query containing questions and answers that are highly relevant to a given topic, the analyst and research teams will often have to review the text in pages of quoted materials, searching for respondent statements that clearly indicate something about a given theme. Even after identifying such quoted materials, and arranging them according to thematic content, many other issues arise. The analyst will then need to review the relevant scientific literature to frame the key themes or ideas that emerge from ethnographic data, place the research methods and findings within the context of this literature, and write a coherent text or narrative incorporating these qualitative data into an article that makes an important scientific contribution to the published literature. Perhaps such information may provide important guidance for intervention agents and agencies. (Johnson et al, 2010).
Proper data collection, storage and analysis is essential to efficient studies and makes the latter part of the study easier and well organized.
Grove, S., Gray, J., Burns, N. (2015). Understanding Nursing Research, 6th Edition. [Pageburstl]. Retrieved from https://pageburstls.elsevier.com/#/books/9781455770601/
Johnson, B. D., Dunlap, E., & Benoit, E. (2010). Structured Qualitative Research: Organizing “Mountains of Words” for Data Analysis, both Qualitative and Quantitative. Substance Use & Misuse, 45(5), 648–670. http://doi.org/10.3109/10826081003594757