Coding Qualitative Data

Key points

  • This seminar teaches the key concepts shaping the process of coding qualitative data
  • You will learn, and put into practice, notions such as meaning units, coding units, descriptive, interpretive and pattern codes and coding scheme management with sample / your own data
  • The seminar can be taken as a standalone unit or combined with another seminar, or any of the method courses or an NVivo course.

Coding Qualitative Data introduces participants to key concepts and approaches to coding qualitative data. In qualitative research, coding is broadly defines as assigning labels to data passages, gathering similar passages into codes and organising codes in a coding scheme. Although this may sound like a straightforward task, coding implies some key methodological decisions which should be answered before the coding starts such as: what meaning should I look for in the data? what segmentation criterion should I choose? how can I reliably code if I don’t do the intercoder reliability? These questions exemplify why a given coding approach may be suitable for one study but inappropriate for another. This seminar explores these issues and put them into practice during hands-on exercises so participants gain insights of what coding will look like with their own data. Code visualisations are then introduced to illustrate the importance of thinking of coding as an iterative process instead of a task detached from the rest of the analysis. The seminar concludes with a discussion of good practices for reporting the coding process in journal articles.

By the end of the seminar, you will be able to:  

  • Define the role that coding plays in qualitative analysis
  • Distinguish meaning units from coding units
  • Choose the right segmentation criterion for your data
  • Generate clear and meaningful codes when developing a coding scheme
  • Apply descriptive, interpretive and pattern codes to your data
  • Avoid the coding trap (and other common mistakes)
  • Choose between a theme- or design-based coding scheme for your study.

This is an introductory course on qualitative data analysis. Although no previous knowledge of qualitative data analysis is required, participants should have some familiarity with qualitative research.

Half-day from 9:00 to 12:00 or full-day from 9:00 to 16:00.

This course is taught online in Zoom as well as onsite on a request basis.

Teaching methods
Lectures with guided exercises in which participants work on their own data or sample data.

Please email me for information on fees.

Combining seminars
This seminar is the first of a series of four seminars that also includes Foundations to Qualitative Data Analysis, Transforming Data into Findings and Presenting Qualitative Findings. The seminar can be taken alone or in conjunction with the other related seminars. It can also be taught before, after or simultaneously with the Introduction to NVivo or Qualitative Data Analysis with NVivo courses.

Key readings
Coffey, A., & Atkinson, P. (1996). Making Sense of Qualitative Data. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Tesch, R. (1990). Qualitative Research: Analysis Types and Software Tools. New York: Falmer Press.

This seminar was taught at

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 in method schools and I consult for humanitarian aid agencies worldwide.

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