Once you have conducted your interviews and have transcribed the interviews, the next step is to organize and process your data in order to interpret and produce an analysis. The process can seem daunting and overwhelming at first. Coding your data, however, makes the process much more manageable, offering some of the most significant insights from your research and helping you create the broader storyline you want to share.
You can do coding by hand, or use one of the software programs available like like ATLAS.ti or MAXQDA. Here, we offer some basic step-by-step instructions for coding. Be sure to also check out the video by Kent Löfgren for a more detailed discussion of analyzing interview data using coding methodology.
Step 1: Open Coding
As you read your interview text, first ask yourself these questions:
- What do I see going on here?
- What ideas, themes and concepts appear, and how are they related to each other?
Write down a list of conceptual categories that you think are significant and/or that come up repeatedly in the interviews.
Step 2: Focused Coding
Re-read your interviews and identify sections that relate to your conceptual categories.
Step 3: Data Compilation
Cut and paste sections all relating to the same conceptual categories so that they are all together.
Step 4: Theory building
See if you can find patterns, themes and commonalities from your respondent’s quotes in each of the conceptual categories. See if you can create a hypothesis that explains the patterns you found in the data. Jump to FAQ 14 “How do I analyze the data I collect?” for a more extensive discussion of applying social scientific theoretical frameworks to making sense of your data.
Kent Löfgren shares a step-by-step guide to coding qualitative data in this video: