Analysing qualitative data

Steve Griggs
Creative Research


Any one looking through recent back numbers of the various publications of the MRS would probably arrive at several conclusions concerning the state of the art of qualitative research in the UK: firstly, a sense of the coming of age of qualitative research after a period of some 10 years or so of rapid growth. Secondly, an apparent obsession with techniques and methods for eliciting information from respondents with 'transactional analysis' the latest craze. Thirdly, concern about the interpretation and presentation of results and, fourthly the apparent continuing uneasy relationship between planners from advertising agencies and outside researchers. In contrast, one would find almost nothing about the analysis of qualitative data. Instead, qualitative researchers talk about interpreting the data. Thus, Sue Robson writing in Survey (Robson 1986) argues that qualitative research answers the questions 'Why?' and provides an 'explanation and an understanding of the consumer as an individual'. According to Robson, the strengths and weaknesses of qualitative research lie in the interviewing and interpreting skills of the researcher.