Seeking Patterns in Qualitative Data

Key points

  • This seminar proposes common strategies to transform qualitative data into findings
  • You will learn to seek patterns in a qualitative dataset, uncover overarching themes, identify clusters and create second- and third-level constructs
  • The seminar can be taken as a standalone unit or combined with another seminar, any of the method courses or an NVivo course
How do you move from coding your data to identifying patterns, exploring associations and uncovering relationships between people, places or processes? How do you uncover the underlying structure of your data and put forward propositions, formulate explanations, make theoretical predictions and generate hypotheses? Seeking Patterns in Qualitative Data is a seminar that teaches you to do all that, irrespective of whether you adopt induction, deduction, abduction or retroduction as method of scientific reasoning. We start by defining what patterns are in qualitative analysis, the role they play in helping researchers move beyond merely identifying themes to uncover the structure in the data and the types of patterns one may choose from. We outline a number of techniques for pattern seeking, such as clustering themes in second-level constructs, aggregating codes in emerging propositions, and relating themes to discrete cases in formulating explanations. We then look at the ladder of abstraction in qualitative analysis, whereby different qualitative outcomes reach different level of inferences. This ladder is particularly helpful in understanding how much work your analysis will require if you plan to identify associations or develop a middle-range theory. The second half of the seminar consists of a workshop in which participants apply the seminar techniques and concepts to either their own data or sample data.

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 13:00 or full-day from 9:00 to 17:00.

This course is taught by invitation only in universities, research centres or institutions.

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, Coding Qualitative Data 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.

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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