Coding Interviews: Learn Coding Basics
Andrei Cucleschin, 09 July 2019
Andrei Cucleschin, 09 July 2019
Are you a student who’s doing a qualitative research? Already recorded and transcribed interviews for your thesis or project? Scared of coding interviews?
Luckily, it is much easier than it sounds. If you associate the word “coding” with HTML5 or similar tools – breathe out. Coding qualitative data is much more straightforward and in 10 minutes you’ll know your way around it, both theoretically and practically.
Let’s begin by understanding what we mean by coding interviews in qualitative research, what’s the use of it and what types of coding are out there. Let’s start from coding basics: a code can be any label (number, figure, symbol, word, phrase), that you assign to a part of your text, that represents a certain theme. Generally, a code should be precise and summarize the main idea behind a certain theme. Let’s review a simple example, imagine we study an article about different views on American culture. Although this passage is quite broad and can be coded in many different ways, we opted for “American culture as “the American dream“ for the sake of keeping it simple.
Example: American culture is largely built on the notion of “American dream”. This concept entails a social ideal, in which everyone is able to achieve success through hard work.
Coding your data helps you to identify the main points of interest in your research documents. Additionally, coding interviews makes it easier to organize large chunks of information and share it with other people.
There are 2 approaches to coding qualitative data: inductive and deductive. You’re probably familiar with these terms, but let’s do a quick recap. If you have a set of ideas and assumptions that guide your research – you can develop preliminary coding categories and search for them in your interview data. This way, you’re testing theory and thus using a deductive coding approach.
On the other hand, if you start your coding process from scratch and aim to identify themes to create a theory – you’re using inductive coding. No matter which approach you’re using, the coding procedure remains largely the same.
Before we proceed, there is an important point to be made. You don’t have to use the software to perform qualitative coding. All the steps mentioned below can be done the old-fashioned way of using pen and paper. The software provides additional convenience and potentially saves time, but it’s not essential.
Time to show you the step-by-step instructions on how coding interviews. In our example, we’re using a software package called QDA Miner Lite (can be downloaded for free).
However, these steps look very similar in other tools as well. If you want to look at other tools for analyzing qualitative data, check out this post on qualitative data coding tools for a nice overview.
First of all, open the QDA Miner, create a new project and select the file (s) you’re going to work with.
In our case, we are going to use a template of a job interview transcript, that we’ll use for coding. In this example, we’ve chosen a broad coding category called “Candidate Bio”. It is further split into more precise codes, such as “Personal Motivation”, “Qualification” and “Perseverance”.
Depending on the research method; you either search for text, that corresponds to your codes or you develop codes based on the patterns and correlations you found in the text.
When you’re done, your file should look like this.
Great job! If you’ve successfully coded all the themes you want to cover in your study – go ahead and start analyzing them. Look for correlations, patterns, and inconsistencies, and form a meaningful conclusion.
1) You might want to look for certain words and phrases and assign a specific code to them.
2) You can also do the opposite and search for sentences, that contain a specific code.
3) You can assess how often a specific code was used.
QDA Miner will generate a simple table that shows you a number of times and % of cases, indicating the use of code(s).
If you’ve read this far, you should be ready for coding interviews! And if this topic has captured your interest and you want to become a real coding professional, the book “The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers” comes highly recommended.
In case you don’t have the transcription of your interview yet – make it automatically in a matter of minutes with Amberscript. Try it for free!
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