Monday, 20 July 2020

Four data analysis steps

Flow Model of Qualitative Data Analysis Components
 (Schutt, 2011, p. 326)
As I explained in a previous post (here), we can use Excel to organise and sort our qualitative data for our findings chapter.

However, it is also useful to have an overview of what the qualitative research analysis steps are so that we can be clear as to which stage we are at in the findings process at any particular time. This is particularly useful as the process of writing up data tends to be an iterative and retroductive one. Knowing which stage we are in helps us to stay focused on what our output needs to look like for that particular stage.

Once we have our data collected, we have done step 1 "data collection" (in Schutt's image accompanying this post, 2011). We have our recordings, our field notes, and emails. We may also have formalised our own reflection, using a reflective model such as Gibbs (1988), or Driscoll (1994).

We now move onto step 2, data "reduction" in Schutt's (2011) model, where we sort what we have found. Please note that we have not yet started to think about how we write up our findings, because we are still analysing them.

When it comes to step 3, this is our "data displays" element, where we write up our findings and look to make sense of them (Schutt, 2011). We may be graphing, getting percentages, evaluating incidence, importance, order, progression, and any other elements of pattern seeking that will help us make sense of the chaos that is our findings.

Step 4, "conclusion drawing", is where we are cross-tabbing, cross-comparing our data sets to develop our findings chapter, organising to ensure that it is clear what data we have found (Schutt, 2011). We verify what we have found using the internal validation we have built into our data collection. Then we move on to the discussion chapter, where we connect our now organised findings with the literature we uncovered earlier, and develop argument about what our findings mean.

Some findings chapters may be descriptive only, ending at step 3 ("data displays"), with conclusion drawing all in the discussion chapter (Schutt, 2011). However, please note that we will still be attempting to validate our data within the findings chapter.

I hope this helps :-)


  • Driscoll, J. (1994). Reflective Practice for Practise. Senior Nurse, 14(1), 47-50.
  • Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by Doing: A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods (1st ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford Polytechnic.
  • Schutt, R. K. (2012). Investigating the Social World: The Process and Practice of Research (7th ed.). Pine Forge Press.

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