Tips & Tools #18(A): Quick Tips for Coding
Coding your qualitative data (e.g. interviews, focus groups and observations) can be both a labor-intensive and lengthy process. This tips & tools provides quick tips for the process. For a full description of the steps involved, see Tips & Tools #18, Coding Your Qualitative Data.
Some ideas to think about when coding:
Do not wait until all data are collected before you begin the coding process. Start as soon as you begin collecting data.
Codes are labels to help organize and retrieve data.
Creating pre-set codes forces you to think about the purpose of your data before you collect data.
When coding data, refer to the storyline (eg. What is this evaluation about?).
Coding is intended to help you see patterns and themes; a way to develop insights.
Coding is not intended to produce frequency points to prove a hypothesis.
Please know that it is not uncommon for some pieces of data to fit into two or more coding categories.
Be prepared to refine codes as applicable.
Make sure all of the codes fit into a meaningful structure.
Use word or phrase codes in lieu of number or symbol codes.
Have all the codes on a single sheet (codebook).
Define all codes (operationalize the codes)this is called the codebook.
Come up with an orderly way to store coded data.
Gibbs, Graham. 2007. Analyzing Qualitative Data.
Lofland, John, and Lofland, Lyn H. 1995. Analyzing Social Settings: A Guide to Qualitative Observation and Analysis. Wadsworth Publishing Company: B elmont, CA.
Miles, Matthew B., and Huberman, Michael A. 1994. Qualitative Data Analysis.
Taylor, S.J. and Bogdan, R. (1998). Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods. Wiley and Sons: Hoboken, NJ.