Secondary Analysis of Qualitative Data


Secondary analysis is a research methodology in which preexisting data are used to investigate new questions or to verify the findings of previous work. It can be applied to both quantitative and qualitative data but is more established in relation to the former. Interest in the secondary analysis of qualitative data has grown since the mid-1990s, although the idea of reusing qualitative data has been met with a mixed reception by the social research community. This entry describes how the secondary analysis of qualitative data has been variously defined, promoted, practiced, and debated in the United Kingdom, Europe, North America, and Australia. It begins with an overview of the methodology, and how it differs from documentary analysis and other qualitative approaches. This is followed by sections on how qualitative data have been reused in practice, different sources of data, types of qualitative secondary analysis, and examples of previous studies from the author’s own work are described. In the remaining sections, the main epistemological, ethical, and methodological issues discussed in the debates about the methodology are explained. The entry concludes with a summary of the key perspectives and identifies some of the opportunities and challenges ahead in this field.

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