Analyzing Qualitative Data in Psychology

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    • 00:00


    • 00:10

      BRENDAN GOUGH: My name is Brendan Gough.[Professor of Social Psychology, Leeds Beckett University]I'm a professor of social psychology,at Leeds Beckett University in the UK.I'm a qualitative researcher and have been for over 20 years.I co-founded and co-edited the journal Qualitative Researchin Psychology.I'm going to present a tutorial todayon methods of data analysis and qualitative research.

    • 00:31

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: And we're going to cover a range of different methods.We're also going to focus on themes.What is a theme?And I'm going to give you some examples of what a theme is.We're then going to look at theme development, howyou can do an analysis, which builds up your themes.And I'll also reference some other methods

    • 00:54

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: of analysis, which are little bit different includingnarrative analysis and discourse analysis.I will finish the tutorial by talkingabout ways in which qualitative analysis is reported.Range of Analytic Methods.

    • 01:14

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: Just as there are different forms of qualitative data,for example, interview transcripts, magazine articles,online materials from discussion forums and blogs and so on,there are a variety of ways in which data can be analyzedusing qualitative methods.There are a number of established or branded

    • 01:35

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: methodologies.For example, grounded theory, which was startedby a sociologist in the 1960s. [Glaswer and Straus (1967)].Another method is discourse analysis[Potter and Wetherell (1987)], which focuses on language.Another approach is interpretive phenomenological analysisor IPA.[Smith (1996)] and that was started by Smith in the 90S.

    • 01:57

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: And that focuses on individual experience.Another approach is called narrative analysis[Smith and Sparkes (2006)], for example,Smith and Sparkes' work, and not focuses on the stories thatpeople tell when they're talking about key experiences.And finally, a more recent methodology is thematicanalysis [Braun and Clarke (2006)],and a paper here is Braun and Clarke 2006.

    • 02:18

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: Out thematic analysis is interesting because in a wayall qualitative researchers try and develop themesfrom their data.But what Braun and Clarke did was present thematic analysisas a branded methodology in its own right.Now, each methodology comes with its own particular assumptions,

    • 02:39

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: traditions, and practices, although as I've just saidthematic analysis is a bit different,and that's a bit more flexible than most other methodologies.In order to make sense of the different methodologies,we can distinguish, for example, between experientialand constructionist approaches.Now, experiential, as the name suggests,

    • 03:01

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: means a focus on individual experience.So phenomenological methods would be ideal here.For example, IPA, interpretive phenomenlogical analysis.Constructionist approaches are more interestedand how the world is constructed by individuals, by groups,by institutions, by media and so on.

    • 03:23

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: So discourse of approaches, discourse analysis,would be more relevant there.So that's one broad distinction that can be used.To make matters a bit more complex,the same branded methodology like discourse analysis,for example, often has different versions.So some discourse analysis prefer

    • 03:45

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: to focus on wider societal representations and ideologieswhereas some prefer to focus on the microanalyticsof social interaction looking at how people do thingswith words.And what you also find is that some branded methodologiesprefer different types of data.

    • 04:06

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: IPA, interpretive phenomenological analysistends to work with individual semi-structured interviews.In contrast, some forms of discourse analysishave a preference for naturally occurring talks.It might be recordings of doctor patient interactions,and they prefer to look at that.

    • 04:26

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: In practice there is much flexibility,so people interested in individual experiencemight also use focus groups sometimes as well and so on.A point in common across all methodologiesis that qualitative analysis involves creativity.It involves the researcher bringing themselves

    • 04:49

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: to bear on the material, getting involved,using their intuition, so that's the creative side.But this has to be balanced by the morescientific systematic side.And a good analysis has a blend of creativity and science.It means it's rigorous and disciplined

    • 05:11

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: but also uses imagination and personality.Now, I'm going to talk a little bit moreabout thematic analysis, because this has becomevery popular in recent years.And perhaps because it's seen as very user friendly approachand the Braun and Clarke paper in 2006clearly outlined the way in which thematic analysis

    • 05:33

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: could be conducted.It's also a very flexible approach.It can be applied to interviews.It can be applied to focus groups.It can be applied to media and public data in a way whichother methods cannot really do.Now, one of the question that students often struggle with

    • 05:54

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: is which methodology should they choose when they'redoing qualitative research.Now, this question is important, and it's drivenby your own research interests.What are you going to focus on?What are the key research questions you're interested in?For example, if you're interested

    • 06:15

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: in personal experience, say, men's experience of depression,then you would use a phenomenological or humanisticapproach like IPA, interpretative phenomenologicalanalysis.Because this methodology is designedto study individual experience.If you're interested in understanding to perceptions

    • 06:36

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: of an event or a phenomenon, then youmight go to grounded theory or thematic analysis.So if you're interested, for example,in the way teachers understand gender differences,this isn't really about personal experience.It's about people's perceptions, so grounded theoryor thematic analysis might be better.

    • 06:56

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: If you're interested in things like media representationsin newspapers, magazines, or television,you might use grounded theory or discourse analysis.Because they focus on the social level of analysis the waythat a topic or an event gets represented.So for example, if you're interested in the way

    • 07:18

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: obesity is represented in newspapers,you might look to discourse analysis or grounded theory.Finally, if you're interested in the way people talkto each other, the way language isused in social interaction, the kind of practicesthat people use when in conversation, you mightgo for discourse analysis.

    • 07:40

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: So for example, if you're interested in the way peopletalk to each other about suicide in an online discussion forum,discoursive approaches might be more appropriate.A really good reference here, and to help you decide whichqualitative approach to use, is the Braun and Clarke textbookin 2013, Successful Qualitative Research and chapter three

    • 08:04

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: is the key chapter here.Themes.Most methods of qualitative analysisare interest in developing themes from the data.So the data could be interview transcripts, focus grouptranscripts, transcripts of television programs,or online forums.

    • 08:26

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: But students often ask what exactly is a theme?A theme is simply a category or a label, which you're using,which unites different elements within the data set.So elements that seem to go togetherhave something in common.What you do is think through what it is they have in common

    • 08:48

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: and give it a name.And that is your theme.So it's very simple.There are some quotations and definitions about a theme.Here's one.Themes are identified by bringing togethercomponents or fragments of ideas or experiences, which often aremeaningless when viewed along.That's from Leininger, 1985.

    • 09:09

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: Here is another definition by thematic analysis.Thematic analysis is a method for identifying, analyzing,and reporting patterns (themes) within the data.It minimally organizes and describesyour data set in (rich) detail.However, frequently goes further than this,and interprets various aspects of the research topic.

    • 09:32

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: So that's from the Braun and Clarke key paper, 2006.So what they're saying basically isthat there are two types of theme, one is descriptiveand one is conceptual.A descriptive theme, or a code, is very basic.It's simply a concise.wee statement of a piece of data.

    • 09:55

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: So if people are talking and they'reusing three or four sentences, you might sum that upwith a phrase or a short sentence,and that is a code or a basic theme.A conceptual frame comes later in the analysis.So that's where you built up a series of categories or code's

    • 10:15

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: already.And what you want to do here is to enhancethe level of analysis.So this is where interpretation comes into play.You're using your knowledge and your skilland your intuition to unite various categories of codestogether and give them more theoretical or psychological

    • 10:36

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: label.So this is interpretation.So here's a quick example.If you have an interview transcript between a clientand a therapist, and at one pointthe client interrupts the therapist when they'respeaking, a descriptive code for that would be simply the client

    • 10:56

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: interrupts the therapist.So its very basic.A more conceptual theme, which relatesto that aspect and other similar aspects in the transcript,would be more psychological, for example, client defensiveness.In other words, the interruption isseen as signifying something more psychologically deeper.

    • 11:19

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: Another example, and some researchI've done on homophobia, you get participantstalking about a gay men in very negative prejudice terms.One actually said, gay men are monsters.And you would just code that as it's spoken.

    • 11:40

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: But a more conceptual theme or label for that type of codewould be homophobia, which is obviouslya more psychological term.Again, in the research on prejudice,we had comments about women from young men,about women not being able to fly planes, for example.

    • 11:60

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: That would be your descriptive code, women can't fly planes.And the more conceptual thing thatcomes from that and similar bits of data would be sexism.Because that's the more psychological or moretheoretical label.So I you can see the difference between descriptive andconceptual labels.And basically when you do an analysis, when you're

    • 12:20

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: developing your themes, you generatelots of low-level descriptive codesto start with, but then towards the end youuse all those codes to cluster togetherinto different segments.And you use these clusters to develop your actual themes.Now in terms of doing thematic analysis,

    • 12:43

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: there are various guidelines out thereincluding the excellent Braun and Clarke paper,but basically this is something that youneed to keep practicing to build your experienceand confidence so that you can do it better as you go along.So to start with, what you would dois, say you've done an interview or focus group, when you finish

    • 13:05

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: that session, make some notes right afterwards or as soonas after as is possible reflecting on what happenedand how you think the session went.Then you will do your transcription.This isn't just about reproducing the text.This is actually where analysis starts,

    • 13:26

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: because you won't be able to help yourselffrom thinking about the meaning behind what is said.So you might as well make some notesas you're transcribing, which you can return to later to helpyou with your analysis.Once you've got your transcript, an obvious thing to dois read it closely, get immersed in the text,

    • 13:47

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: read it repeatedly.Make notes as you go along.You might think that there are links between different partsof the transcript.Make notes about those types of things, about what you thinkis going on.Then the more formal part of analysis starts.So what you often do is segment the textinto different sections, and it could be paragraphs,

    • 14:10

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: it could be pages.It doesn't matter.This is a very personal thing.And once you segmented the text, go back to you first segment,say it's a paragraph.Read that through closely, maybe line by line,and generate a code or a categoryfor every single different thing that is said.

    • 14:30

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: So for one paragraph you might have seven, eight,or nine codes, which are quite basic and descriptive.But this is the start of your formal analysis.And this is called induction.Your analysis is driven by the data.You're not bringing ideas or theories to the data,you're working with the data to generate themes and categories.

    • 14:53

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: Now we're going to look at a quick example of an extractfrom an interview, which is going to leadto two codes being developed.So here's the extract.It's about women deciding whether or notto change their name once they get married.So this woman says, it's too much like hard work.

    • 15:14

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: I mean how much paper have you got to signto change your flippin' name.I mean, we've thought about it halfheartedlyand I thought no, no, I just can't be bothered.It's too much like hard work.This extract is from Braun and Clarke, 2006,and they present two codes, two basic descriptive themes

    • 15:35

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: connected with that short piece of text.The first one is talked about it with partner.And second one is too much hassle to change name.So there are the two key things thathave been set in that extract.Very descriptive.But as the coding progresses, as yougo through the whole transcript, you'restarting to link codes together into clusters.

    • 15:59

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: And you might have a number of different clustersby the end of the transcript.As you go along, you've got a clusterwhich is well developed.You give it a label.And the label is the same.Now your labels can now be formed by your own knowledge.It You could be your own personal knowledge.It could be knowledge of the literature, your understanding

    • 16:22

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: of the psychology in this area.So the themes become less descriptiveand more interpretive, and the labelsbecome a bit more sophisticated.So this might happen at a number of stages.So you might have 10 clusters from one interview.

    • 16:43

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: And looking at the clusters, you might thenorganize these into a different level,so the 10 might become four.And you get these four clusters different labels.So you're saying that you have a theme system startingwith very descriptive, specific codes in the beginning.

    • 17:04

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: You'd have some middle level clusters,and you'd end up with relatively few higher order themes.So the idea is to move from being descriptive to beingconceptual and to move from lots of tiny themesto a few superordinate or core themes.

    • 17:24

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: Obviously once you've done this process with one transcript,you'd repeat it with other transcripts.And there are a few other strategiesthat you can use to help you with the process.For example, once you're confident that you'vegot a theme which you think is influential,you might do what is called focus coding.

    • 17:45

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: So you might read through the restof your data set with this theme in mindto see if there's evidence for this theme.So what you're doing here is testing the limitsand the extent of this theme.And you might find some counterexamples.Now you might actively look for counter examples.This is called negative case analysis.So you've got a theme in mind, you're

    • 18:06

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: checking for more evidence.But you might want to look at places where the theme is notsupported, and this will help you to actually refineyour theme so it becomes more accurate and sophisticated.So negative case analysis is an important discipliningprocedure.My students often ask how many themes should you come up with.

    • 18:32

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: And the answer is, there is no magic number.What I would say though is that less is more.I would say that four themes is better than 10.Ten themes is a bit too many, because when you're writing itup, you wouldn't have enough space to do each theme justice.So it's better to go for less theme

    • 18:54

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: and to spend more time explaining these and presentingthe evidence for those themes.Some people find it helpful when they'redeveloping their analysis and then presenting itto use visual representations.These could be tables, maps, where you're lookingat how themes intersect.

    • 19:16

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: And that can be a nice visual summary for peopleand help with presentation.It's not essential.You can do it if you want.Narrative Anaylsis.As I mentioned before, most forms of qualitative analysisare actually set up to look for themes.There are some exceptions.

    • 19:37

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: For example narrative analysis it'snot so much interested in themes but in the storiesthat people tell.So the types of stories people tellwhen they're talking about an important experiencein their life, not just individual stores,but social stories, the kind of storiesthat are available in the community

    • 19:58

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: that people reproduce when they'rerecounting an experience.So narrative researchers often usea type of interview approach called life historyor biographical interviews for obvious reasons.They want people to tell their life storyor to tell a story about important points in their life.And emphasis is on the turning points.

    • 20:22

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: So some of the narrative researchershave come up with different categories or types of storiesthat people commonly tell.For example, there are different types of illness stories.One is the restitution narrative,and that's where people with minor illnesses and setbacks

    • 20:43

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: kind of recover after a short period of time.And they become survivors, and their life moves on.For more major conditions, there are different types of stories.One is the chaos narrative, and that's the most difficult one.Because in this narrative, the way peopletalk about their condition, for example,

    • 21:04

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: it might be Alzheimer's disease is that there's no obvious wayout.There's no cure.There's no end to the suffering in sight.So that's why the term chaos is used, because the condition isenduring and progressive.And there isn't really a positive endpoint.

    • 21:24

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: In contrast, some people with a serious illnessuse a quest narrative.And what they do here is when their talkingabout their experiences, and thisis quite common in cancer stories,is that they focus on the positive.They focus on the things that theycan do so that they're actively coping with the condition

    • 21:48

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: and trying to reverse some of the effects.And it's about celebrating the positive in life.And this is very, very much emphasizedin the stories and the media around cancer survivorship.Discourse Anaylsis.

    • 22:10

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: Discourse analysis, in contrast, is more focusedon language and language used in social interaction.There are two levels of discourse analysis,really one might focus on the way wider discoursesor ideologies influence the way peopletalk and their identities and their practices.And another one is interested in more local level,

    • 22:31

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: the way people do things with language.So in terms of the former approach where you'relooking at ideologies and society,discourse analysts might look at, for example,the way the discourse of the breadwinner positionsmen and women differently with men being out at work

    • 22:51

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: in the public domain and women being positioned at homein the domestic realm.In terms of discourse practices and social interaction,discourse analysts might focus on the particular strategiesthat people use to perform particular functions,for example, blaming.And what you might find, for example,

    • 23:12

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: is that people would refer to external attributions or causesto explain personal failure and theninternal causes to explain success.Reporting.When you're reporting your analysis,whether it's in written form or it's in a verbal presentation,

    • 23:36

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: there are a number things that you need to bear in mind.It's really important to be concise,to be coherent, to be logical, not to repeat yourself,and to provide an account, which in the form of a story, whichreally emphasizes the key themes or narratives or discourses.

    • 23:57

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: You need to tell your story in a way that'sconvincing and persuasive.You need to really talk up the highlights of the analysis.It's also important that any claimsyou make about the data are backed up with evidence.You need to have enough extracts to demonstratethe prevalence of the theme within the data set.

    • 24:19

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: It's also useful to choose the most interesting or vividexamples to reinforce the points that you make.You can also refer to any literaturethat you've read to help you make sense and contextualizethe findings so that you can highlight the contribution

    • 24:39

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: to knowledge you're making.These days there are lots of useful textbooksthat you can use to help you with your analysis,although of course, in the end it comes time to practiceand your own personal engagement with the research process.A useful textbook here, for example,is the Braun and Clarke book in 2013

    • 24:59

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: called Successful Qualitative Research.You might also want to look at someof the key journals in the area like QalitativeResearch in Psychology and Qualitiative Psychology.So I hope you've enjoyed this brief tutorialon qualitative analysis.And it's important that you get as much practice as possible.Don't be afraid that you're doing it wrong,

    • 25:22

      BRENDAN GOUGH [continued]: and always get advice from your supervisor or your colleagues.[MUSIC PLAYING]

Analyzing Qualitative Data in Psychology

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Professor Brendan Gough presents an overview of qualitative data analysis. He explains the difference between narrative analysis and discourse analysis, and he provides step-by-step guidance on processing research data.

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Analyzing Qualitative Data in Psychology

Professor Brendan Gough presents an overview of qualitative data analysis. He explains the difference between narrative analysis and discourse analysis, and he provides step-by-step guidance on processing research data.

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