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Qualitative data analysis: a practical example
  1. Helen Noble1,
  2. Joanna Smith2
  1. 1School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queens's University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  2. 2Department of Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK
  1. Correspondence to : Dr Helen Noble
    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen's University Belfast, Medical Biology Centre, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK; helen.noble{at}qub.ac.uk

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The aim of this paper is to equip readers with an understanding of the principles of qualitative data analysis and offer a practical example of how analysis might be undertaken in an interview-based study.

What is qualitative data analysis?

Qualitative research is a generic term that refers to a group of methods, and ways of collecting and analysing data that are interpretative or explanatory in nature and focus on meaning. Data collection is undertaken in the natural setting, such as a clinic, hospital or a participant's home because qualitative methods seek to describe, explore and understand phenomena from the perspective of the individual or group. Reality is coconstructed by the research participants and the researcher, with the depth of data collected more important than recruiting large samples. The individual interview method is the most widely used method of data collection in qualitative research and a range of data can be collected including field notes, audio and video recordings, images or documents. Qualitative researchers usually work with text when analysing data; data can be transcribed in entirety or focus on selected sections. However, focusing on selected sections of the data may not capture the nuances of observations or participants’ descriptions and may fragment the data. The challenge for qualitative researchers is to present a cohesive representation of the data, which can be …

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