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

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After Level 2 coding, what data do I print from the code database for Level 3 and Level 4 coding?

Detailed Question. I'm at Level 3. I used Excel to create my code database. It is time to print out 'Level 2', 'Level 1', and the 'idea source' fields.

Does the raw data get printed out at all? Or does it stay in the database for retrieval if needed? If so how do I track and pull out the 'good' quotes that illustrate the themes?

Answer. I recommend excluding the raw data from your code sheets. You have already sifted through the full-length original data and are now working toward your conclusions, it is time to focus on your most important data.

At this point the value of the idea source field becomes evident... it give you the key to quick access to the raw data when you need to review it in-situ. You don't want to create unnecessary clutter by re-copying all of your data. It will be sufficiently cumbersome to deal with the amount of data from the Level 1, Level 2, and Ideas Source fields.

As you are doing your level 3 coding make sure your computer is nearby. Whenever you want to go to the raw data relating to any code in either Word or Excel, do an Edit > Find command on the "idea source" cryptogram. (See pages 142-3 for "Find" techniques in Access, and page 157 for Excel.)

Detailed Question. Instinctively, I'm wanting to print out the quotes and my other data so I can see the 'good ones'. I fear though... if I do this... I will not be moving away from the raw data to think conceptually if I have all these quotes as print-outs.

Answer. You are right, you need to focus less on the raw data, and more on the concepts, categories, and themes that have started to come together during your level 2 coding. Good work, it seems that you answered your own question as you thought through the problem.

Question. What do you do with the Level 1 raw codes once you've printed out the Level 2 codes, and started reducing to levels 3 and 4?

Answer. You use the exact same pieces of paper (code sheets) for all levels of coding past level 2. The level 1 codes will always be there because they are printed on the code sheets, but they become less relevant as you move on to successively higher coding levels. As you move on to level 3 and level 4 coding you won't need to refer to the level 1 codes as much, but they will be there on your code sheets when you want to review at them.

Level 3 and Level 4 coding is great fun because your conclusions are going to start to emerge and the fruits of all that hard work will become more apparent.

You should be happy to know that your report writing will be made easier because of your Level 4 and Level 3 codes (see Chapter 10). The level 4 codes can be your section headings in your Results and Conclusions chapter, and the level 3 codes can be the subheadings. Whenever you need a quotation from the raw data to help make an important point, go to your code database and execute a filter (or sort) command on the Level 3 or Level 4 code of interest, and then scroll through the records to find the raw data quotation that fits the best. Cut the quotation from your code database, and paste into your report. Smile at how easy it was for you to find the perfect quotation.


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