Question & Answer
Doing Qualitative Research Using Your Computer:
A Practical Guide
(Sage Publications)

Link to QRTIPS.COM Home Page

Introduction to coding terminology

Qualitative research has been enriched by the teaching and writing of many scholarly researchers. It is assumed that the readers of Doing Qualitative Research Using Your Computer will also be referring to texts that relate to their primary research method.

There is no universal set of terms to describe the various stages of qualitative coding, although upon careful review of scholarly texts, it is clear that the disparate terminology often refers to very similar coding concepts (see pages 6-8).

The illustration below shows a sampling of qualitative coding terms that more or less correlate. To simplify the language in the book so all qualitative researchers can benefit from the book's command-by-command instructions, the generic terms of Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4 are used. For researchers using Grounded Theory, Level 4 corresponds with the development of theoretical concepts.

Coding Level Pyramid
This illustration is best viewed from the bottom up as the data are progressively refined to arrive at categories, themes, and theories. The generalizations in this illustration are meant to broadly describe stages of the coding process while recognizing and upholding the vibrant differences between various qualitative methods.

The illustration is presented as a pyramid to represent the reduction in the number of codes as the researcher progresses from one level of coding to the next. There will be fewer Level 2 codes than Level 1 codes, and fewer Level 3 codes than Level 2 codes, etc. (see pages 121, 151, 154, & 166).

To share creative applications, make comments, or ask questions you may
visit the Doing Qualitative Research BLOG at or e-mail
Efforts will be made to respond in a timely manner.
Return to Qualitative Research Tips Home Page