Qualitative data can generate a ton of words, overwhelming indeed as explained by Johnson and Colleagues (2010). However, they also explained how modern advances make it easier to organize, “Fortunately recent advances in computer technology and software have made it possible to manage these mountains of words more efficiently.”
They went on to explain other methods. For example, the use of data-bases help manage the data, as to strategies for collecting the data such as field notes, baseline qualitative protocol, follow-up qualitative protocol and focus groups protocols.
Hiring and managing qualified staff was also noted as an important tactic. An important consideration to be made was the proper training of these qualified staff, especially considering the sometimes dangerous or questionable situations they may find themselves while gathering the data. This makes sense, after all what good is there in trying to manage or organize data that is invalid or missing.
The management of field expenses is also important to consider. Turns out, this isn’t just about managing and organizing data. When dealing with information on this level, there is a lot of infrastructure to consider.
Johnson, B. D., Dunlap, E., & Benoit, E. (2010). Structured Qualitative Research: Organizing “Mountains of Words” for Data Analysis, both Qualitative and Quantitative. Substance Use & Misuse, 45(5), 648–670. http://doi.org/10.3109/10826081003594757
Organizing and keeping track of the text is necessary to ensure one’s qualitative data is useful towards the research being carried out. Managing and organizing qualitative data will be easy if it is checked from the start to make sure everything is together and accurate. You can decide to use a special format of ordering the data so that it is well arranged. For instance, you can have an identification code to each respondent or interview. Again, there is need for extra copies of the data. A backup is necessary to ensure that any accidental loss of data does not send you back to the starting point. This can also help to track the changes you may make to the data when drafting the final copy. Any reference can be made to the original copy of the data when it is necessary.
Another strategy is to organize or combine related themes into major categories. Then make proper labeling of the categories. You can hence work on category after category. This is an important part of documenting your work. Documentation of data activity is essential to maintaining data integrity and facilitating efficient write-ups during analysis. A competent system for tracking, processing and managing data is key to the successful and timely completion of the entire research being carried out.