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Selecting the Method of Descriptive Analysis

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Data Analysis and Interpretation

INTRODUCTION
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We focus on quantitative research design, statistical computing and data analysis. We provide service to faculty, students and staff at the University of Kansas and other universities as well as conduct research for corporate and governmental clients throughout the United States.

Visit the Project Consulting page to learn more. This occurs in several ways:. Skip to main content. CRMDA offers consulting and support for all phases of the research process: A "walk in" service offered in partnership with the KU Libraries. Available for faculty, students and staff at the University of Kansas.

For student projects--mainly theses and dissertations--we provide the same support, but serve primarily in an advisory capacity. If a student needs our staff to write code or prepare tables, figures, and a report, then the student needs to obtain the permission of the advisor before we participate. Please visit our Project Consulting page. Analysis also occurs as an explicit step in conceptually interpreting the data set as a whole, using specific analytic strategies to transform the raw data into a new and coherent depiction of the thing being studied.

Although there are many qualitative data analysis computer programs available on the market today, these are essentially aids to sorting and organising sets of qualitative data, and none are capable of the intellectual and conceptualising processes required to transform data into meaningful findings. Although a description of the actual procedural details and nuances of every qualitative data analysis strategy is well beyond the scope of a short paper, a general appreciation of the theoretical assumptions underlying some of the more common approaches can be helpful in understanding what a researcher is trying to say about how data were sorted, organised, conceptualised, refined, and interpreted.

Originally developed for use in the grounded theory methodology of Glaser and Strauss, 4 which itself evolved out of the sociological theory of symbolic interactionism, this strategy involves taking one piece of data one interview, one statement, one theme and comparing it with all others that may be similar or different in order to develop conceptualisations of the possible relations between various pieces of data. For example, by comparing the accounts of 2 different people who had a similar experience, a researcher might pose analytical questions like: In many qualitative studies whose purpose it is to generate knowledge about common patterns and themes within human experience, this process continues with the comparison of each new interview or account until all have been compared with each other.

A good example of this process is reported in a grounded theory study of how adults with brain injury cope with the social attitudes they face see Evidence-Based Nursing , April , p Constant comparison analysis is well suited to grounded theory because this design is specifically used to study those human phenomena for which the researcher assumes that fundamental social processes explain something of human behaviour and experience, such as stages of grieving or processes of recovery.

However, many other methodologies draw from this analytical strategy to create knowledge that is more generally descriptive or interpretive, such as coping with cancer, or living with illness. Naturalistic inquiry, thematic analysis, and interpretive description are methods that depend on constant comparative analysis processes to develop ways of understanding human phenomena within the context in which they are experienced.

Constant comparative analysis is not the only approach in qualitative research. Some qualitative methods are not oriented toward finding patterns and commonalities within human experience, but instead seek to discover some of the underlying structure or essence of that experience through the intensive study of individual cases.

For example, rather than explain the stages and transitions within grieving that are common to people in various circumstances, a phenomenological study might attempt to uncover and describe the essential nature of grieving and represent it in such a manner that a person who had not grieved might begin to appreciate the phenomenon.

The analytic methods that would be employed in these studies explicitly avoid cross comparisons and instead orient the researcher toward the depth and detail that can be appreciated only through an exhaustive, systematic, and reflective study of experiences as they are lived. There are numerous forms of phenomenological research; however, many of the most popular approaches used by nurses derive from the philosophical work of Husserl on modes of awareness epistemology and the hermeneutic tradition of Heidegger, which emphasises modes of being ontology.

Examples of the kinds of human experience that are amenable to this type of inquiry are the suffering experienced by individuals who have a drinking problem see Evidence-Based Nursing , October , p and the emotional experiences of parents of terminally ill adolescents see Evidence-Based Nursing , October , p Sometimes authors explain their approaches not by the phenomenological position they have adopted, but by naming the theorist whose specific techniques they are borrowing.

Colaizzi and Giorgi are phenomenologists who have rendered the phenomenological attitude into a set of manageable steps and processes for working with such data and have therefore become popular reference sources among phenomenological nurse researchers. Ethnographic research methods derive from anthropology's tradition of interpreting the processes and products of cultural behaviour. Ethnographers documented such aspects of human experience as beliefs, kinship patterns and ways of living.

In the healthcare field, nurses and others have used ethnographic methods to uncover and record variations in how different social and cultural groups understand and enact health and illness. An example of this kind of study is an investigation of how older adults adjust to living in a nursing home environment see Evidence-Based Nursing , October , p When a researcher claims to have used ethnographic methods, we can assume that he or she has come to know a culture or group through immersion and engagement in fieldwork or participant observation and has also undertaken to portray that culture through text.

It involves sifting and sorting through pieces of data to detect and interpret thematic categorisations, search for inconsistencies and contradictions, and generate conclusions about what is happening and why. Many qualitative nurse researchers have discovered the extent to which human experience is shaped, transformed, and understood through linguistic representation.

The vague and subjective sensations that characterise cognitively unstructured life experiences take on meaning and order when we try to articulate them in communication. Putting experience into words, whether we do this verbally, in writing, or in thought, transforms the actual experience into a communicable representation of it. Thus, speech forms are not the experiences themselves, but a socially and culturally constructed device for creating shared understandings about them.

Narrative analysis is a strategy that recognises the extent to which the stories we tell provide insights about our lived experiences. Through analytic processes that help us detect the main narrative themes within the accounts people give about their lives, we discover how they understand and make sense of their lives. By contrast, discourse analysis recognises speech not as a direct representation of human experience, but as an explicit linguistic tool constructed and shaped by numerous social or ideological influences.

Discourse analysis strategies draw heavily upon theories developed in such fields as sociolinguistics and cognitive psychology to try to understand what is represented by the various ways in which people communicate ideas. They capitalise on critical inquiry into the language that is used and the way that it is used to uncover the societal influences underlying our behaviours and thoughts.

General distinctions between selected qualitative research approaches: Morse 1 has summarised the cognitive processes involved in qualitative research in a way that can help us to better understand how the researcher's cognitive processes interact with qualitative data to bring about findings and generate new knowledge.

Morse believes that all qualitative analysis, regardless of the specific approach, involves:. Although the form that each of these steps will take may vary according to such factors as the research question, the researcher's orientation to the inquiry, or the setting and context of the study, this set of steps helps to depict a series of intellectual processes by which data in their raw form are considered, examined, and reformulated to become a research product.

It used to be a tradition among qualitative nurse researchers to claim that such issues as reliability and validity were irrelevant to the qualitative enterprise.

Instead, they might say that the proof of the quality of the work rested entirely on the reader's acceptance or rejection of the claims that were made. More recently, nurse researchers have taken a lead among their colleagues in other disciplines in trying to work out more formally how the quality of a piece of qualitative research might be judged.

Many of these researchers have concluded that systematic, rigorous, and auditable analytical processes are among the most significant factors distinguishing good from poor quality research.

Through this short description of analytical approaches, readers will be in a better position to critically evaluate individual qualitative studies, and decide whether and when to apply the findings of such studies to their nursing practice.

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Analysis is more than coding

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Data analysis methods in the absence of primary data collection can involve discussing common patterns, as well as, controversies within secondary data directly related to the research area. My e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Dissertation in Business Studies: a step by step assistance offers practical assistance to complete a.

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15 Methods of Data Analysis in Qualitative Research Compiled by Donald Ratcliff 1. Typology - a classification system, taken from patterns, themes, or other kinds of.

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Data analysis has two prominent methods: qualitative research and quantitative research. Each method has their own techniques. Each method has their own techniques. 6 Methods of data collection and analysis 2 Introduction The quality and utility of monitoring, evaluation and research in our projects and programmes fundamentally relies on .

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Data Analysis is the process of systematically applying statistical and/or logical techniques to describe and illustrate, condense and recap, and evaluate data. According to Shamoo and Resnik () various analytic procedures “provide a way of drawing inductive inferences from data and distinguishing the signal (the phenomenon of interest. When it comes to data analysis, some believe that statistical techniques are only applicable for quantitative data. This is not so. This is not so. There are many statistical techniques that can be applied to qualitative data, such as ratings scales, that has been generated by a quantitative research approach.