This book tackles the challenges of how to make sense of qualitative data. It offers students and researchers a hands-on guide to the practicalities of coding, comparing data, and using computer-assisted qualitative data analysis. Lastly, Gibbs shows you how to bring it all together, so you can see the steps of qualitative analysis, understand the central place of coding, ensure analytic quality and write effectively to present your results.

The Nature of Qualitative Analysis


After reading this chapter, you should:

  • see that some features of qualitative analysis are distinctive, but at the same time they are features over which there is often disagreement between qualitative researchers;
  • know about some of the different understandings of qualitative research; and
  • understand that they bear upon analysis and map out the limits of the qualitative ‘territory’, and understand some of the distinctive styles and approaches qualitative analysts adopt.


The idea of analysis implies some kind of transformation. You start with some (often voluminous) collection of qualitative data and then you process it, through analytic procedures, into a clear, understandable, insightful, trustworthy and even original analysis. There is disagreement even about this transformation. Some researchers focus on the ‘office’ processes involved; ...

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