Analyzing Qualitative Data

This chapter examines the strategies and techniques that political scientists use when analyzing qualitative data. It compares qualitative research to quantitative research in terms of how it ensures trustworthiness and identifies four key principles for trustworthy qualitative research: credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability.

The chapter describes a three-step coding process designed to ensure the soundness of interpretations drawn from qualitative data. The first step is open coding, in which the researcher seeks to identify general themes in the available material. The second step is axial coding, in which the researcher tags specific elements of the data as evidence of these themes. The third step is selective coding, in which the researcher performs a combination of intra-coder testing and data cleaning to verify the accuracy of their interpretations. It discusses the difference between computer-assisted qualitative data analysis (CAQDAS) and prior methods of managing qualitative data and provides suggestions on how to present qualitative data in written analyses.