Software and Qualitative Analysis

4. The Qualitative Research Process

Displaying Data

Finally, the researcher may enter these summaries into displays, for example text matrices or network diagrams, that aid in summarizing cases and themes, and identifying patterns and relationships in the data (Miles and Huberman, 1994). In Figure 1 the displays are offered as an example, and the categories are adapted from the work of Huberman and Miles (Huberman and Miles, 1983, 1984; Miles and Huberman, 1994). The example matrix is composed of rows representing several conditions for success of a school innovation (commitment, understanding, mastery) and columns representing some key stakeholder groups: users of the innovation (teachers) and the school administrators. The cells of the matrix would be filled with summaries of each stakeholder group’s views of each condition, allowing the researcher to look for patterns across the data. The network diagram, similarly, shows the researcher’s representation of the connections among the different conditions. These displays are intended primarily as analytical tools for the researcher, rather than as illustrations for a reader, though they may be adapted for the latter purpose as well.

From these summaries of the data—which may now exist in memos, code “definitions,” mini write-ups, and/or displays—the researcher draws conclusions. In order to verify these conclusions, the researcher can employ many of the same mechanisms of searching through the data (looking, for example, for disconfirming evidence) and constructing matrices (for example, to check a conclusion by triangulating from multiple sources or methods) to determine whether the conclusions reached are in fact supported by the data. And, finally, a report is produced.

Figure 1d

Diagram of the qualitative research process discussed in this section highlighting displaying data.

Miles, M. B. and Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis:  An expanded sourcebook, 2nd Ed.  Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Huberman, A. M. and M. B. Miles. 1983. Innovation Up Close: A Field Sudy in 12 School Settings. Andover, MA: Network.
Huberman, A. M. and M. B. Miles. 1984. Innovation Up Close: How School Improvement Works. New York: Plenum.
Miles, M. B. and Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis:  An expanded sourcebook, 2nd Ed.  Thousand Oaks: Sage.