Organizing Qualitative Data

Many of you all are probably starting to collect qualitative data if you haven’t already. One of the biggest problems we face, whether it’s in anthropology, psychology, or any other social science, is how to organize, code, and database all of that information. Today, Austin Kocher, a PhD student in Geography at The Ohio State University,  offers his method of qualitative data organization:

“I used Filemaker Pro to build a simple database that met the research demands. Filemaker Pro was a good fit because it has a low learning curve and can handle multiple file formats, including Word documents, PDFs, and audio files. As a result, I could track everything I needed for each research participant on one screen.”

The software and others like it, such as DevonThink Pro, allow him to create a database of all his contacts and the relevant information collected from interviews.


“I began by creating a database, which is like filing cabinet for everything associated with my project. Next, I created tables, which are like hanging file folders: they hold similar types of information in a standard format … I created fields for each kind of information I needed from organizations – name, address, phone number, etc. – and created a layout. Finally, I created a new record for each organization as needed.”

For the full article, complete with helpful screenshots, check out the post on the Prof Hacker Blog.


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