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What Is Qualitative Data Analysis in a Few Words

So Just What Is What Is Qualitative Data Analysis?

Firstly you need to understand what is Qualitative data; this is measurement that is not based on numbers and recognizable measures but on people’s opinions and feelings more often than not expressed in everyday language. Being able to analyze people’s feelings, behaviors and beliefs is what qualitative data analysis is about. While some may see this as being highly subjective and open to interpretation as in this example from a fan of quantitative data analysis; many others see it as the only way to get a true understanding of many subjects.

statistical data analysis schema

So a brief qualitative data analysis definition would be to say that it is “a method or process to interpret or understand the qualitative data about the people or issues that we are investigating.”

Why Do We Want to Use Qualitative Data Analysis?

While there are many instances in which we will use firm numbers as a basis for our research such as what color car is the most popular there are times when we want to get information in a far less structured manner or use observation method of data collection and ask questions such as “why did you choose a car of that color?” There could be many answers to this question and we would be wrong to define the answers before we started the process of data gathering or we would bias the information that we gathered. If you really want to understand what is going on in a specific situation. Often we can conduct research into an area without a defined hypothesis just seeking to find out more about a situation and using the information that we gather to later form our thesis.

Why Is Qualitative Data So Hard to Analyze?

When you are learning what is qualitative data analysis you will be painfully aware that being able to actually analyze the data is going to be a very hard task. Many people will claim that the task is in many instances subjective and that the researchers are making interpretations of the data rather than just reflecting what was found. However in many cases it is possible for the researchers to find common themes and ideas within the data that they gather and then be able to create a hypothesis based on those observations. Critics however can claim that there are few ways that you could actually measure the relevance of your observation and may even question if all of the possible factors that could have influenced what you have found have been controlled or considered. When working with people’s opinions and feelings it can be very hard to come up with a factual statement that will be accepted by all.

Can You Convert Qualitative Data into Quantitative Data?

If you are struggling with learning what is qualitative data analysis it may be easier to try to take the data that you have gathered and turn it into data that is quantitative in nature. So for instance if you looked at a qualitative data analysis example researching why people did not buy a particular brand of washing machine it may try to categorize and quantify the reasons for the decision. So for instance you may take the number of people that talk about warranty claims or unreliability and then quantify exactly what percentage of the respondents use that as a reason for not purchasing. This could be done for all of the reasons that people give allowing you to create statistical data that could be of use and analyzed in the same way as any other quantitative data.

Learning what is qualitative data analysis is not easy but it is by far a better way of gaining insight. Without this style of data gathering and analysis there would be many things that you would miss!