Author: Ridwanah Gurjee – Principal Lecturer (School of Social Work, Care and Community)
Naturally, research students, particularly on the Masters in Community Leadership programme, are questioning their ability to analyse the data they have collected, such as, what type of data will help me answer my research questions? How will I be able to find out about the behaviours I am investigating? How will I report this? An interesting aspect illustrated by Campbell, Gilroy and McNamara (2004:129) is the notion of layers during data analysis.
The field work through interviews and focus groups each represent one person’s account of their experience. Consequently, interpretation of the data becomes ‘a story of a story, with the event itself gradually disappearing under layers of interpretation.’ There are many anxieties faced when attempting to analyse qualitative data, particularly when attempting to use new and unused analytical tools, however, fitting the pieces together bit by bit, like a jigsaw puzzle provides deep insights and helps make small steps in mountains of textual transcript information.
Subsequently, the process for data analysis using NVIVO for qualitative methods included categorising the data in order to identify themes, making the whole process much more manageable and supporting effective interrogation of responses to research questions. The interrogation of data also includes identifying statistical demographics in terms of gender, age and ethnicity, with the aim of demonstrating the diverse background of participants that are represented in the sample. Also allowing opportunities to produce graphs and charts to represent research findings in a visual format. This practice is now embedded into post graduate programmes in Community Leadership, offering workshops and guidance on NVIVO to ease the data analysis tensions of a ‘Social Science Researcher.’