Qualitative data is any information that can be captured that is not numerical in nature. It can be gathered from interviews, observation and written documents. (Trochim, 2006).
Unlike the quantitative data, the qualitative data is difficult to analyze and report, it depends on the criteria of the researcher and often researchers find difficult to prove its trustworthiness, transferability, credibility, confirmability and dependability. (EdinburghX: SOCRMx, 2017)
To understand better how to analyze and report conclusions from qualitative data, we will analyze 6 essays written by young people living on the Isle of Sheppey in the southeast of England who were about to leave school in 1978. They were asked by sociologist Ray Pahl to imagine that they were nearing the end of their life, and that something made them think back to the time when they left school. They were then asked to write an account of their life over the next 30 or 40 years.
By reading these 6 essays we find a key theme. Young adults left school at around 16 years old, in most cases they became apprentices of an occupation from the community, in this case few of them aspired to get into a college, study and have a better job opportunity. After that, they report themselves in the clear majority to marry and have kids. Most of them visualize themselves with family in an owned house, but just few of them owned a car. Most of them stood on the same job for a long time, and they were ascending of position at work, just a few decided to change their paths to create their own business or experiment another job, until they retire. (Pahl, 1978)
By using this data, researchers might find out how many 16-year-old men began or finished college and how was their opportunities, income and family composition different from those who began to work at the age of 16.
In my opinion, if I was conducting a project using this data, I will like to segment the different stories into the ones that dream to enter college against the ones that stood to work when they left school at 16 years old. Also, I will like to segment between the kids that had more details and clear dreams against the ones that didn’t to understand if there is a relation between having a clear project and the chances they had to achieve it against the ones that don’t have a clear project, did they are satisfied with what they achieved?
Researchers in qualitative analysis need to have time and be very detailed observer when doing this analysis looking to find the most information they want and with a clear goal. Information in qualitative analysis is often very interesting but difficult to analyze, but having a clear goal gives researchers a path to get more from their data.
EdinburghX: SOCRMx. (2017). EDx. Obtenido de Social Research Methods course: https://courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:EdinburghX+SOCRMx+3T2017/ba4f7dff0e9d4e06bbcfd78bf79bdc99/
Pahl, R. (1978). School Leavers Study. South East: University of Kent at Canterbury. Faculty of Social Sciences.
Trochim, W. M. (20 de 10 de 2006). Qualitative Data . Obtenido de Research Methods Knowledge base: https://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/qualdata.php