In using qualitative research, you will be collecting and analyzing at the same time.  These processes inform each other.  Be open to new ways of thinking as you learn more from your data.

  1. Go through everything you have collected. Make notes as you go.

  2. Look for themes, patterns, big ideas. Key words and phrases can trigger themes. Determine these themes by your scan of the data, not on your preconceived ideas of what you think the categories are.

  3. Narrow the themes down to something manageable (3-5 of your most compelling and interesting).

  4. Go back through all of your data and code or label information according to the themes in order to organize your ideas. Some ideas may fit into more than one theme. Create sub-groups under each theme.

  5. Write continuously. Jot down what you are seeing, what questions are emerging, and what you are learning. Keep notes on those new ideas which are unanticipated. These may be findings or surprises which you had not planned.

  6. Review your information after it is coded/labeled to see if there is

    • a frequency of certain items and/or
    • powerful, interesting, unusual comments or behaviors which are of particular interest to you.  This may be an incident which gives you a new insight, and it may be one of the most important to hold on to.
  7. Identify the main points which appear most frequently and are the most powerful. It will be hard to let go of some of your information, but it is important to sift through it.

  8. Write up your major points.  You can write them up by

    • theme,
    • chronologically, or
    • the different modes you used for collecting information.
  9. Draw the information together to include some of the evidence which supports each of your themes. The reader should be able to draw conclusions based on the evidence you have presented.