Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data1CCChhhaaapppttteeerrr 888::: CCCOOODDDIIINNNGGG OOOFFF QQQUUUAAALLLIIITTTAAATTTIIIVVVEEE DDDAAATTTAAACHAPTER OVERVIEW Preamble What is coding? What to look for when you arecoding Example #1: Coding Example #2: Coding Example #3: Coding Example #4: Coding Computer softwareKey TermsSummaryReferencesCONTENTSChapter 1: Introduction to Qualitative ResearchChapter 2: Qualitative Data Collection MethodChapter 3: EthnographyChapter 4: Case StudyChapter 5: Action ResearchChapter 6: Other Qualitative MethodsChapter 7: Qualitative Data AnalysisChapter 8: Coding of Qualitative DataCHAPTER LEARNING OUTCOMESWhen you have completed this chapter you will be able to: Discuss the techniques of coding qualitative data Apply data coding techniques when analysing qualitative data
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data2Since coding is an important and sometime most difficult phase of qualitative dataanalysis, this chapter has been devoted to the coding phase. Several examples areprovided to illustrate how coding is done. However, the coding method shown is not theonly way to go about coding qualitative data as there are several other methods.Let us repeat what was discussed in Chapter 7 about coding. Coding is the processof examining the raw qualitative data which will in the form of words, phrases, sentencesor paragraphs) and assigning CODES or labels. Strauss and Corbin (1990) identified thefollowing types of coding: Axial coding and Open Coding (see Figure 8.1).Data[from a Transcript]OPEN CODINGCode or Label words and phrases found inthe transcript or textAXIAL CODINGCreate Themes or Categories by groupingcodes or labels given to words and phrasesPREAMBLEWHAT IS CODING?
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data3 Open Coding – You “sweep” through the data and mark (by circling orhighlighting) sections of the text selected codes or labels. For example,you circle words or phrases describing the behaviour of the head ofdepartment. Axial Coding – Eventually, you have a large number of codes and youwill find it necessary to sort them into some sort of order or into groupsand this is called axial coding. Two common types of axial coding are:Non-hierarchical or Hierarchical Non-Hierarchical: For example, in a study a the researcher asked a group of adultshow they take a break from their normal work. The responses are grouped aregrouped as follows in a non-hierarchical manner (also called flat coding).CODES / LABELS Hierarchical: Here you find that several codes group together as types or kinds ofsomething. You need to put some of the codes or labels into a group of their own ormake them sub-codes, i.e. a hierarchical arrangement of codes, like a tree, abranching arrangement of sub-codes. Ideally, codes in a tree relate to their parents bybeing examples of..., or contexts for... or causes of... or settings for... and so on.For example, a researcher was doing a study on friendship‟ and asked a group ofadults their views on the topic and the following is the classification. take a holiday, go out for a walk, read a book, watch TV, take a nap, wander round the garden, work out at the gym, go for a drink with friends, go for a drive, play a computer game, follow a hobby, do voluntary workAdults taking abreak fromworkTHEME / CATEGORY
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data4THEME / CATEGORY CODES / LABELSFriendship types Close friend Sporting Club Non-club WorkChanges in Friendship Making new friends New same sexfriends New different sexfriends Losing touch Becoming sexual relationship the data into meaningful analytical units (i.e.,segmenting the data). When you locate meaningfulsegments, you code them. Coding is defined as marking the segments of datawith symbols, descriptive words, or categorynames.To recap, whenever you find a meaningful segment of text in a transcript, you assign acode or label to signify that particular segment. You continue this process until you havesegmented all of your data and have completed the initial coding. Next, you findrelationships between the codes or labels and group them into themes or categories.During coding, you must keep a master list (i.e., a list of all the codes that are developedand used in the research study). Then, the codes are reapplied to new segments of dataeach time an appropriate segment is encountered.Most typically, when coding, you usually have some codes already in mind andare also looking for other ideas that seem to arise out of the data. According to Charmaz(2003), you should ask the following questions about the data you are coding:Sub-codesSub-codesWHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN YOU ARE CODING
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data5 What is going on? What are people doing? What is the person saying? What do these actions and statements take for granted? How do structure and context serve to support, maintain, impede or change theseactions and statements?Lewins, Taylor. & Gibbs, (2005) provide a more detailed list of the kinds ofthings that can be coded (see Table 8.1). The examples of each kind tend to be descriptivebecause it makes it is easier to explain the phenomena. However, when you are coding itis advisable to move from descriptive codes to more analytic ones as quickly as possible.What can be coded Examples1 Behaviours, specific acts Seeking reassurance, Bragging2 Events – short once in a lifetime events or thingspeople have done that are often told as a story.Wedding day, day moved outof home for university, startingfirst job3 Activities – these are of a longer duration, involveother people within a particular settingGoing clubbing, attending anight course, conservationwork4 Strategies, practice or tactics Being nasty to get dumped,Staying late at work to getpromotion5 States – general conditions experienced by peopleor found in organisationsHopelessness “I‟ll never meetanyone better at my age”settling for someone who isnot really suitable6 Meanings – A wide range of phenomena at thecore of much qualitative analysis. Meanings andinterpretations are important pars of what directsparticipants actions.The term „chilling out‟ is usedby young people to meanrelaxing and not doing verymucha. What concepts do participants use tounderstand their world? What norms,values, and rules guide their actionsb. What meaning or significance it has forparticipants, how do they construe events,what are the feelingsJealousy “ I just felt why didshe get him”c. What symbols do people use tounderstand their situation? What names dothey use for objects, events, persons, roles,setting and equipment?A PhD is referred to as „a testof endurance‟ (becausefinishing a PhD is a challenge)7 Participation – adaptation to a new setting orinvolvementAbout new neighbours “In mynew house I have to keep my
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data6music down at night as theneighbours have youngchildren”.8 Relationships or interaction Seeing family “ Now my sisterlives in the next road she visitsmore and we‟ve become muchcloser.9 Conditions or constraints Lose of job (before financialdifficulties), moving away(before lost contact with oldfriends)10 Consequences Confidence gets dates, positiveattitude attracts opportunities11 Settings – the entire context of the events understudyUniversity, work place,housing estate12 Reflexive – researcher‟s role in the process, howintervention generated the dataProbing question “How didyou feel when he said that?”Table 8.1: Types of phenomena that can be codedRefer to this EXAMPLE in which a researcher interviewed several staff in an officeand asked this question: “What specific problems that needed immediate action in yourorganisation”?The following are some of the responses to the question. Try to code the data andcompare your themes / categories with the themes / categories provided below:LEARNING ACTIVITYa) What is coding?b) What is the difference between open and axial coding?c) What do you look for when coding data?d) Lewins, Taylor. & Gibbs (2005) provide a list of phenomenathat is often coded. What are they? Are there others?EXAMPLE #1: CODING QUALITATIVE DATA
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data7Table 8.2 Reponses of subjects in an officeThe responses to the question: “What specific problems that needed immediateaction in your organisation”? There is not enough space for everyone Our office furniture is dated and needs replacing We nee a better cleaning service for the office We need more objective recruitment and hiring standards We need objective performance appraisal and reward system We need consistent application of policy There are leadership problems Unproductive staff should not be retained Each department stereotypes of other departments Decisions are often based on inaccurate information We need more opportunities for advancement here Our product is not consistent because there are too many styles There is too much gossiping and criticising Responsibilities at various levels are unclear We need a suggestion box There is a lot of “us and them” sentiment here. There is a lack of attention to individual needs. There is favouritism and preferential treatment of staff. More training is needed at all levels. There need to better assessment of employee ability and performance can bemore objectively based. Training is needed for new employees. Many employees are carrying the weight of other untrained employees. This off ice is “turf” oriented. There is a pecking order at every level and within every level. Communication needs improving. Certain departments are put on a pedestal. There are too many review levels for our products. Too many signatures are required. There is a lot of overlap and redundancy. The components of our office work against one another rather than a team. We need more computer terminals
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data8THE DATA IS CODED INTO THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES:CATEGORIES DATAManagement Issues There are leadership problems We need a suggestion box There is a lack of attention to individual needs. There is favouritism and preferential treatment of staff. Decisions are often based on inaccurate information We need consistent application of policyPhysical Environment We nee a better cleaning service for the office Our office furniture is dated and needs replacing We need more computer terminals There is not enough space for everyone We need more objective recruitment and hiringstandards We need objective performance appraisal and rewardsystems Non-productive staff members should not be retained There need to be better assessment of employee abilityand performance so that promotions can be moreobjectively basedEmployee Development More training is needed at all levels Training is needed for new employees Many employees are carrying the weight of otheruntrained employees We need more opportunities for advancement hereIntergroup and Interpersonal Relations The office is “turf” oriented There is a lot of “us and them” sentiment here
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data9 There is pecking order at every level and within everylevel Communication needs improving There is too much gossiping and criticising Certain departments are put on a pedestal Each department has stereotypes of the otherdepartmentsWork Structure There are too many reviews for our product Too many signatures are required Responsibilities at various levels are unclear The components of our office work against one anotherrather than as a team There is a lot of overlap and redundancy Our product is not consistent because there are toomany stylesLEARNING ACTIVITYTry coding this short passage about Terry in Example #2.
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data10The example below show the coding of a short passage of text about a Terry movingout of his parents home and becoming independent.Terry“When you move into your own home, youre alone. There is no bustle of peoplearound the house. I miss having someone to chat to when I get home. I put the TVor some music so there’s some background noise, the silence makes me feel so alone.Sometimes I will be sat watching trash TV and thinking I should be out doingsomething rather than watching this rubbish. I read a lot but sometimes I am tootired and just want to veg out. But its been good to move out of mum and dad’s asits not healthy to rely on them as they wont last forever. I become independentand made my own decisions. Its good they still there when I need them. Its good tohave some distance as when I was at home I was arguing a lot with my dad and thatwas what made me decide it was time to go.”EXAMPLE #2: CODING QUALITATIVE DATA
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data11In Example #2, to help the analyst mark up the page, the text has been printed usingdouble spacing, so that it is possible to write code ideas and code labels between thelines.DESCRIPTIVE CODING AND NOTES.
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data12The analyst has read the text carefully and circled what seem to be key terms or keyevents or actions. A short note of what these are has been written besides the circling.These are the start of descriptive, or what grounded theorists refer to as open coding. Aninitial coding list from this might be: Own home Lonely Independence Moving out of parents Conflict Dependence Desire for companyThese terms summarise the events and actions noted by the coding in Example #2, andsome are more analytical, i.e. not merely describing something that happened or was said.They could form the start of a coding list that could be used to mark-up the rest of thistranscript and other similar cases.
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data13DESCRIPTIVE AND ANALYTIC CODING WITH NOTES.Using the sample data, a wide margin is used, so that code labels and othercomments can be written there. Print out your transcriptions in whatever way supportsyour preferred approach to coding the text.
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data14The codes used are still essentially descriptive but begin to move away fromsimply summarising what the respondent has said. Using brackets to the right of thetranscribed text, they also code much larger chunks or passages of text. This form ofcoding is most useful when you go on to make retrievals, i.e. gather together all the textabout one topic – that is to say, all the text that is coded the same way. With largerchunks, the retrieved text is less likely to be decontextualised. The analyst has also used ahighlighter to identify words that refer to feelings and these words suggest that thepassage about living alone is actually about the emotions and feelings associated withliving alone.Read the passage of text below about Amanda finding out she was pregnant. Lookat the list of codes below and decide which code sums up what is being talked aboutin each line of the text (you may use a code more than once).List of codes1. Breaking up2. Getting pregnant3. Insecurity4. Lifestyle5. Moving in together6. Not wanting to move7. Proposal8. Settling down9. UncertaintyLEARNING ACTIVITYTry coding this short passage about Amanda.EXAMPLE #3: CODING QUALITATIVE DATA
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data151 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9When I found out I was pregnant, I wasn‟t sure if I wanted toget married and he …wasn‟t the settling down kind. He was old enough to bringup a child but I knew he …wasn‟t ready to. He was in the Navy he liked the life andpreferred going off with …his friends and that bothered me. At first I hoped somethingwould happen so I …didn‟t have the baby and I wanted him to marry me ‟cause hewanted to not …because I was pregnant. Anyway when the baby was born webroke up and I have …seen him a couple of times but he has phoned lots and sayshe will marry me. He …wanted me to marry him and go and live with him, but Ididn‟t want to leave home.He leaves the Navy in 6 months so I‟m getting the flat readyfor him to move in. But …I still worry he‟ll go off with his friends and won‟t be able togive up the life.COMPARE your answer with the possible answer below. You may have chosen touse different codes from the ones we used, this does not mean you are wrong as you mayhave a very good reason for selecting that code. Often the same text can be coded in twoor more different ways.
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data16ANSWER:CODESWhen I found out I was pregnant, I wasn‟t sure if I wanted to getmarried and he …Getting pregnantwasn‟t the settling down kind. He was old enough to bring up a childbut I knew he …Settling downwasn‟t ready to. He was in the Navy he liked the life and preferredgoing off with …Lifestylehis friends and that bothered me. At first I hoped something wouldhappen so I …Uncertaintydidn‟t have the baby and I wanted him to marry me ‟cause he wanted tonot …Insecuritybecause I was pregnant. Anyway when the baby was born we broke upand I have …Breaking upseen him a couple of times but he has phoned lots and says he willmarry me. He …Proposalwanted me to marry him and go and live with him, but I didn‟t want toleave home.Not wanting to moveHe leaves the Navy in 6 months so I‟m getting the flat ready for him tomove in. But …Moving in togetherI still worry he‟ll go off with his friends and won‟t be able to give upthe life.InsecurityYou may have chosen to use different codes from the ones we used, this does not meanyou are wrong as you may have a very good reason for selecting that code. Often thesame text can be coded in two or more different ways.LEARNING ACTIVITYTry coding this short passage about Karen.
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data17Read the passage of text below about Karen leaving home. Provide a code thatsummaries what is happening for each line of text in the boxes.CODESIt was challenging, after living in Italy for 6 months and then I moved homebefore …I started university. I was used to doing things my own way when it suited me…and not having to tell people where I was going. I was living with friends andthey …didn‟t care what I did or where I went. It was really hard to go back to sort of…thinking of others … ‟cause Mum and Dad wanted to know where I wasgoing and …who with, which was a nightmare. My parents were strict but I had a lot of …freedom growing up, as long as I didn‟t overstep the boundaries. After I came…back from Italy they realised I was more independent and things changed and…they didn‟t try and stop me doing things anymore but they would still letknow if …they didn‟t approve.COMPARE your answer with the possible answer below. You may have chosen touse different codes from the ones we used, this does not mean you are wrong as you mayhave a very good reason for selecting that code. Often the same text can be coded in twoor more different ways.EXAMPLE #4: CODING QUALITATIVE DATA
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data18ANSWER:CODESIt was challenging, after living in Italy for 6 months and then I moved homebefore …Moving awayI started university. I was used to doing things my own way when it suited me…Independenceand not having to tell people where I was going. I was living with friends andthey …Freedomdidn‟t care what I did or where I went. It was really hard to go back to sort of…Moving backhomethinking of others … ‟cause Mum and Dad wanted to know where I wasgoing and …Controlwho with, which was a nightmare. My parents were strict but I had a lot of … Controlfreedom growing up, as long as I didn‟t overstep the boundaries. After I came…Boundariesback from Italy they realised I was more independent and things changed and…Growing upthey didn‟t try and stop me doing things anymore but they would still letknow if …Letting gothey didn‟t approve. DisapprovalThe important point is that line-by-line coding helps you to focus on the content of thetext in the line and helps you to focus on what it is about. When doing line-by-line codingthere is a tendency to produce descriptive codes. However, some of those you havesuggested may be more analytic or more theoretical. Thats good. The next step is to tryand develop such analytic codes and/or recode some of the descriptive codes you haveused.Today, various types of software are available to assist in qualitative dataanalysis. Thus many researchers have replaced physical files and cabinets with computerbased directories and files along with the use of word processors to write and annotatetexts. Many analysts now also use dedicated computer assisted qualitative data analysis(CAQDAS) packages that not only make the coding and retrieval of text easy to do, butcan add other functions like searching that computers do quickly but which takes humansages to do or in some cases, which humans have never done.At first the focus of CAQDAS was on text since that was easy to handle on PCs,but now that much audio and video is in digital form too, software has been developed toCOMPUTER-BASED QUALITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data19support the analysis of audio and video data. Among the popular software used inanalysing qualitative data is NVivo, Nudist and an open source software called WeftQDA [We will not be discussing the use of these software in this course]. You candownload Weft QDA and try it out. http://www.pressure.to/qda/ Coding is the process of examining the raw qualitative data which will in the formof words, phrases, sentences or paragraphs) and assigning CODES or labels. Open Coding – You “sweep” through the data and mark (by circling orhighlighting) sections of the text selected codes or labels. Eventually, you have a large number of codes and you will find it necessary tosort them into some sort of order or into groups and this is called axial coding. The way codes are developed and the timing of this process will depend onwhether your research project and your approach is inductive or deductive. Most typically, when coding, researchers have some codes already in mind andare also looking for other ideas that seem to arise out of the data.SUMMARYKEY WORDS Coding Open coding Axial coding Hierarchical Non-Hierarchical Meanings Reflexive Categories Descriptive codes Analytic codes Conditions
Chapter 8: Coding of Qualitative Data20 In coding, the researcher is looking for what is going on, what are people doing,what is the person saying, what do these actions and statements take for granted,how do structure and context serve to support, maintain, impede or change theseactions and statements. In coding, the researcher is looking for behaviours, events, activities, states,strategies, meanings, participation, relationships, conditions, consequences,settings and reflexive. Computer software is used by researchers to facilitate qualitative data analysis.REFERENCES:Bernard. R. (1996) Qualitative Data, Quantitative Analysis. Cultural AnthropologyMethods Journal, Vol. 8 no. 1, 9-11.Bogdan, R. & Biklen, S.K. (1998). Qualitative research for education. Boston: Allyn &Bacon.Bryman, A. & Burgess, R. (1993). Analysing Qualitative Data. London: Routledge.Coffey, A., B. Holbrook and P. Atkinson (1996) Qualitative Data Analysis:Technologies and Representations, Sociological Research Online, vol. 1, no. 1.Gibbs, G R (2002) Qualitative Data Analysis: Explorations with NVivo. Buckingham:Open University Press.Lacey, A. & Luff, D. (2001). Trent focus for research and development in primary healthcare: An introduction to qualitative analysis. London: Trent Focus.Lewins, A., Taylor, C. & Gibbs, G. (2005). What is qualitative data analysis? School ofHuman & Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield. United Kingdome.Miles, M. & Huberman, A. (1984). Qualitative Data Analysis. London: Sage.Strauss, A. (1987). Qualitative analysis for social scientists. New York: CambridgeUniversity Press.Strauss, A. and Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theoryprocedures and techniques. London: Sage.