Preparing Data for Analysis and Triangulation

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Here are some tips on how to set up a table in a word processing application, so that the researcher can bring together data from different sources. This step is critical to data retrieval during analysis and to capture demographic information that can be important to the study. For example, it is useful to highlight the criteria used to select the study participants, as these attributes can be important to the analysis.

The criteria or attributes are the basis for identifying key sort categories.

At this stage of the data table preparation, it is helpful to think about the information that will be key to retrieval of data when data tables are merged. Consider the many conditions for which data analysis will be made easier and more accurate by merging tables:

  • Multiple respondents (study participants)
  • Focus groups (several respondents)
  • Study data from different time periods
  • Data grouped by question type across respondents

Adding Columns to Tables

So far, the data table would show these columns (left to right): Participant Name or ID; Theme Code, Moderator Questions / Participant Response; Sequence. However, to fit this page, the column for Participant Name or ID has been left out in the table example below   Note that in practice, this column is essential for analysis. 

The next columns to be added will show selection criteria or participant attributes.

  For example, a researcher may wish to be able to sort participant responses by their role in an organization, by age, or by gender. Recall that the text in rows containing questions asked by Interviewers or Moderators are made bold in order to stand out visually from the responses of study participants.

It is helpful to format the table in landscape view by adding columns for pertinent criteria or attributes will extend the width of the table considerably. 

Using Short Labels for Key Sort Categories

Sort categories can be represented by numbers, letters, or number-letter combinations.  Instead of writing out the sort categories in full words, a researcher may choose to use short tags instead.  For example, in the table above, the organizations are different orchestras around the world.  The orchestras can be matched with short tags as follows:

  • Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra = S
  • Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (YOLA) = L

The roles of individuals in the organizations can also be coded.  Some examples are below:

  • Conductor = 1
  • Concert Master - 2
  • Musician = 3
  • Music Teacher = 4
  • Festival Director = 5

Example Step 3.


Table for Analysis of Multiple Source Data

Organization  Age  Role  Theme  Code  Interviewer Questions / Participant  Responses Sequence #  N/A  N/A   N/A  4.205 Interviewer:  How did playing ensemble music in the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra influence how you felt about being a boy from the barrio?  45

 Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra

 23 Musician  4.205

Before I joined El Sistema, I was a bit of a trouble-maker.

I stopped thinking of myself that way once I learned to play an instrument.  I am convinced that practicing with the other music students, every afternoon and every Saturday morning, kept me from getting into serious trouble.

The market research budget of a small business owner or, especially, a home-based business generally does not have room for spending large sums on software to analyze the qualitative data collected for business development. 

This series of articles provides step-by-step information on how to use an ordinary word processing application to conduct text analysis for qualitative market research.  The processes described can be applied to the analysis of quantitative data collected from surveys research, focus group sessions, and in-depth interviews


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Dey, L. (1993). Qualitative data analysis: A user friendly guide for social scientists.  London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.MacQueen, K. E., McLellan, K., Kay, K., and ilstein, B. (1998).  Code book development for team-based qualitative analysis.  CAM Journal, 10, 31-36.