Courses and Seminars in Qualitative Data Analysis

Method and software courses

Qualitative data analysis is a fascinating stage in qualitative inquiry, yet it is sometimes difficult to see how researchers go from dozens of pages of transcripts to a handful of conclusions. This is because no account is provided about what they actually did when they analysed their data. This state of affairs undermines the trustworthiness of the analytical journey and impacts negatively on qualitative inquiry as a whole.

What drew me to develop methodological expertise in qualitative analysis was a feeling of frustration with the fact that so many well-executed qualitative studies presented a remarkably poor analytical record — despite otherwise carefully reporting the theoretical framework, sampling procedures and data collection. Qualitative analysis is often reduced to merely identifying themes in the data and presenting an excess of quotes that supposedly epitomise each theme that ’emerges’ from the data. It goes without saying that themes do not ’emerge’; rather, it is the researcher who, through meaning making, constructs themes from raw data. This problem of a poor analytical record is often compounded by other methodological problems, such as when the researcher — in disregard of the basic requirements of a given methodology — claims to have applied ‘grounded theory’ or the ‘Miles and Huberman approach’, yet presents no theory or cross-case analysis in the results section. Crucially missing in many qualitative studies is a description of the relationships between themes and of the meaning of these relationships, as only with such a description can we gain a better understanding of a given social phenomenon. But for such a description to be possible, the researcher must genuinely analyse their data, rather than merely sort through large chunks of material. It is only through such an analysis that insightful propositions, explanations or theoretical predictions about the studied phenomenon will be obtained.

I teach several seminars and courses that tackle the concepts, processes and challenges associated with qualitative analysis:

  • Four methodological seminars that address issues such as the foundations of qualitative analysis, the process underlying coding qualitative data, techniques to seek patterns and identify relationships and, finally, strategies to present qualitative findings in evocative and insightful displays.
  • Four method courses that focus on specific methods for conducting qualitative analysis, namely, qualitative content analysis, thematic analysis, cross-case analysis and grounded theory. The fifth course, methods of qualitative analysis, provides an overview of the four methods.
  • Two NVivo courses that teach how to structure a qualitative dataset, code, retrieve and visualise qualitative data.
  • I also teach the above courses at the ECPR Winter and Summer School, and the IPSA-NUS Method School.

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As a freelance methodologist, I train social scientists and humanitarian practitioners in qualitative analysis, decolonising research and participatory methodologies. I coach research teams, teach doctoral-level courses and I consult for humanitarian aid agencies worldwide.

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