After a few weeks reviewing a bulk of literature on qualitative data analysis techniques and mechanics, I found myself overwhelmed and lost. And I thought transcribing the interviews was hard work, but I was apparently wrong! This was even harder. At one point in time, I was just staring at all these ‘words’ and don’t know where to start.
Upon further digging, I found that the most appropriate techniques for my study, can be divided into two approaches. One technique requires the researcher to let the data ‘talk to them’ and eventually arriving at a theme and theory for discussion, an inductive approach; whilst another argues for the researcher to analyze data based on a prearranged/predecided framework of ideas or themes, which was based on the literature review, and ‘locate’ the data that support or oppose those themes; a deductive approach.
Both have its pros and cons. The inductive approach in my view if used for my research will not make me treat my data selectively and thus avoid bias in my arguments. However, the approach requires meticulous examination of the data, takes longer and will leave me bog down with processing data, which may appear interesting but not directly related to the research. As for the deductive approach, heading straight for the data that appears relevant to the study will make analysing data more manageable and make it, in my opinion, more sense. But, this approach risk me ignoring potential important information because it might not seem relevant to me upon initial analysis or ‘fit’ the prepared framework of analysis.
After fiddling with both approaches for a while, my supervisor advises me that whatever, I chose to do – always keep the research’s objectives and focus in mind. What is it that I want to achieve from all the data I collected? What’s the point of having all these data for the thesis? Is it not to support my claims, my arguments, my concerns, to arrive at my final plan of action for my study? So that’s how I should be looking at and managing all my data.
I have decided then, to combine both approaches in my data analysis. Initially starting the analysis using the deductive approach through a framework of analysis designed from my research questions and later combining the analysis with the inductive mechanics, in order to avoid missing potential insightful information from the data. Both approaches will be used iteratively throughout the data analysis process in order to ensure I cover all related grounds.
Once all data analysis is completed, the time has arrived for me to draft the first ‘serious’ outline of the thesis structure. Fuuuhhh….scary!!!