Strategies in teaching secondary analysis of qualitative dataLouise Corti and Libby Bishop ESDS QualidataAmsterdam RC33 Conference August 2004
Re-using data • Archived qualitative data are a rich and unique, yet too often unexploited, source of research material. • They offer information that can be re-analysed, reworked, and compared with contemporary data. • In time, too, archived research materials can prove to be a significant part of our cultural heritage and become resources for historical as well as contemporary research. • What then are the methodological, ethical and theoretical considerations relating to the secondary analysis of qualitative data?
Culture of re-use • well-established tradition in social science of reanalysing quantitative data • no logical intellectual reason why this should not be so for qualitative data • however, among qualitative researchers no similar research culture • lack of discussion of the issues involved in literature on the benefits and limitations of such approaches • more now published, but more needed …!
What data? • often a diversity of methods and tools rather than a single one are encompassed • types of data collected vary with the aims of the study and the nature of the sample • samples are most often small, but may rise to 500 or more informants • as we have seen data include interviews, group discussions, fieldwork diaries and observation notes, personal documents, photographs etc. • created in a variety of formats: digital, paper (typed and hand-written), audio, video and photographic
Secondary analysis potential • description • comparative research, restudy or follow-up study • augment data you collect e.g. expand sample size • re-analysis or secondary analysis • verification • research design and methodological advancement • teaching and learning
Description • describing the contemporary and historical attributes, attitudes and behaviour of individuals, societies, groups or organisations • data created now, will in time become a unique historical resource • providing alternative sources (the people’s voice etc.) to the public record that will be deposited in archives
Comparative research, replication or restudy • of original research • to compare with other data sources • to provide comparison over time or between social groups or regions etc. • to follow up original sample • verification - substantiating results, although we have yet to see any evidence of re-use for this purpose (might be useful in a teaching context though)
Re-analysis • secondary analysis • asking new questions of the data and making different interpretations to the original researcher • approaching the data in ways that weren't originally addressed, such as using data for investigating different themes or topics of study • the more in-depth the material, the more possible this becomes
Research design and methodological advancement • designing a new study or developing a methodology or research tool by studying sampling methods, data collection and fieldwork strategies and topic guides • although researchers often publish a section on methods used, researchers' own fieldwork diaries can offer much insight into the history and development of the research • encourage researchers to reflect on the researcher’s own experiences
Teaching and learning • older 'classic' studies and more contemporary focused sets of transcripts can provide unique case material for teaching and learning in both research methods and substantive areas across a range of social science disciplines • ESDS Qualidata can advise teachers and students on many aspects of using data resources in lectures and for self-study • providing a number of teaching datasets and associated learning materials • training workshops and online materials • We are always looking for partnerships with academics and researchers to create new resources!
Qualitative data re-use examples • classic restudies include Rowntree's three surveys of poverty in York, and Llewellyn Smith's repeat of Booth's survey in London. • also the two successive community studies of Banbury • anthropological example - the controversial restudy and reinterpretation by Oscar Lewis of Redfield's Tepotzlan in Mexico • material from Paul Thompson's national study of 'Family Life and Work Experience before 1918', has been re-used by over 100 researchers and students, providing the basis of a series of books and articles
‘Difficulties’ in re-using data • practice of secondary analysis of qualitative data is not a commonplace research activity • Major barriers cited: • problem of the implicit nature of qualitative data collection and analysis – context and reflexivity • lack of time to get fully acquainted with research materials created by someone else • Constraints of informed consent • insecurity about the exposure of one’s own research practice; IPR or threat of misinterpretation • Lack of publicly available research data
How to enable? Secondary analysis is then somewhat dependent on: • what data are available to suit research needs • data access and restriction policies • data formats – audio-visual is richer • amount of contextual documentation that is available • time to get to know data well • analytic skills
Prerequisites for undertaking secondary analysis • Having a rich an diverse stock of quality data sources, without excessive restriction • Having access to original sources where possible, e.g tape recordings or full transcriptions • Having access to data contextualising material e.g. online catalogues, lists, methodology etc. • Have a solid foundation in “primary” data analysis – range of qualitative research methods • Possess rudimentary skills in computer assisted qualitative data analysis software (not essential, but useful) • Have adequate time to engage in the project
ESDS Qualidata - facilitating secondary analysis Encouraging: • Researchers to consult existing data sources • Teachers to use real data for teaching and learning • Students to explore original data sources By • Make obtaining data more straightforward • Promotion… exploit existing and new networks • Producing enhanced data and documentation: • user guides and digital samplers • exemplars and case studies of re-use • online access to qualitative data • Providing user support and training activities
Enhanced user guides and digital samplers Providing a better understanding of the study and research methods: • enhanced users guides – detailed notes on study methodology and re-use; 'behind-the-scenes' interviews with depositors • thematic pages – searching multiple collections • digital samplers of classic sociology collections
Blaxer User Guide: interview excerpt • PT: I’m wondering how you handled all this diverse information, to get that interpretation? • MB: Well, I had some frameworks, of course, of what I had initially suggested were the available frameworks into which people could fit. There are frameworks of medical practice, and rehabilitation services practice, and law, and social work practice, and welfare benefits and so on, there are all these frameworks, all these labels available. So that gives you an initial framework, of approaching the way people talk of their condition, in medical terms, to see how it fits into the medical framework, or how it fits into these other frameworks. So that gives you a framework to start with, for analysis.
Exemplars and case studies of re-use Providing guidance on data resources and how to re-use them: • overview of ways of re-using data, FAQ • case studies of re-use including reflections and commentary (FQS Special Edition 2005) • bibliography of re-use articles • 'packaged' training resources • user support and training programme
Online access to qualitative data • new emphasis on providing direct access to collection content • supports more powerful resource discovery • greater scope for searching and browsing content of data (supplementary to higher level study-related metadata) • since users can search and explore content directly… can retrieve data immediately • providing access to qualitative data via common interface (ESDS Qualidata Online) • supporting tools for searching, retrieval, and analysis across different datasets
Training and outreach programme Workshops on: • secondary analysis of existing sources • exploration of data sources and data browsing systems • using CAQDAS software • thematic events, by discipline or method • data creation workshops • Promotion and publications: e.g. FQS, book chapters and website
Promoting best practice in creating data • best practice in data creation roadshows • break-out discussion groups • surgeries • telephone help desk for individual discussion • working with research funding bodies to implement data archiving policies • informative web site http://www.esds.ac.uk/aandp/create/introduction.asp
Web pages on re-use ESDS Qualidata www.esds.ac.uk/qualidata/support Email: email@example.com