The volume of information that we’ve gathered on the Pathways project so far is massive and we’re currently in the process of trying to make sense of the rich and varied stories we heard from the people we interviewed. Each interview was recorded and then transcribed and we have between 15-30 pages of text for each interview that needs to be read, digested and analysed. We are using a piece of software called NVivo to help manage, structure and make sense of this interview data.
The first phase of the analysis involved each researcher summarising and then ‘coding’ the interviews they had carried out. Coding involves highlighting pieces of text that stands out as illustrating one of the themes or topics we had agreed were important. As a project team we had many discussions about these themes which provided the starting point for the coding, although the researchers added in additional codes that we thought were valuable or useful as we went along. This was, in theoretical terms, using a combination of grounded theory where the researchers allow themes to emerge in response to what they are reading from the ‘bottom up’ and a ‘top down’ or structural approach where the hypotheses developed throughout the project are ‘super imposed’ on the data.
After this first phase of analysis we got together and ‘merged’ our three separate NVivo ‘projects’ or databases. We are now looking at the whole codes, such as ‘life stage’ and ‘challenges to participating’ from across all three of the case study areas in order to look for patterns, trends and surprises in the data. We’ll be testing out what we find in workshops in the case study areas in March.