Course Description and Objectives
This course is a hands-on introduction to systematic methods for analyzing qualitative data. The course encompasses a broad range of analytic traditions—grounded theory, discourse analysis, content analysis, word-based and semantic network analysis, narrative analysis, and more. The overarching goal is to equip you with the skills you need to work within and across these traditions, as your research interests demand it.
The first part of the course focuses on the building blocks of text analysis that cut across traditions: identifying themes, building and applying codebooks, making comparisons, and developing, presenting, and testing models. The second part focuses on how these building blocks are adapted and applied in specific analytic traditions. The last part of the course will focus on applying what you’ve learned to your own projects.
By the end of the course, you should be able to:
- Identify and discuss the major paradigms and traditions of text analysis
- Select the appropriate methods for analyzing text, based on the aims of a given project
- Use a variety of techniques for identifying themes in qualitative data
- Build and apply codebooks with one or multiple coders
- Make systematic comparisons within and between cases in a qualitative data set
- Develop models to present the results of your analysis
- Use software to facilitate the management and systematic analysis of qualitative data.
- Produce a publishable research report using qualitative data.
Text analysis, like all aspects of research, is a craft. And like any craft, it takes practice to become good at it. Therefore, our approach will be hands-on right from the start. You will have opportunities to learn by doing in all aspects of the course—in class meetings and in out-of-class assignments.
Our time in class will be split between lectures, discussions, and hands-on exercises. The purpose of the lectures will be to review the major conceptual points of each new topic and to integrate the material. You are expected to have completed all reading assignments prior to class, so that our class time can be more interactive. I hope we can use our meetings to discuss points of particular interest or difficulty, and to move beyond the information presented in the text. We will spend the bulk of our time in class practicing specific methods of analyzing text.
You will then be expected to apply what we’ve learned in an independent project, using either data from your own research or secondary analysis of an existing data set. We’ll spend our last four meetings in a workshop format, focused on your projects.
There is one required book, available locally at the UF Bookstore. Additional required readings will be made available electronically on the course website.
Bernard, H. Russell and Gery W. Ryan. 2010. Analyzing Qualitative Data: Systematic Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. [ISBN: 9780761924906]
Software and Computing
You will be required to use MAXQDA software on your own laptop computer. Unfortunately, MAXQDA is only available for the Windows platform, so if you use a Mac (as I do), you will need to install Windows under Boot Camp or a virtualization program like Parallels or VMware.
Special student pricing is available for MAXQDA software, if you wish to purchase your own copy. (Be sure to purchase the MAXQDAplus version, which includes the MAXdictio add-on.) Otherwise, you will have free access to an extended 100-day trial version of MAXQDAplus.
You may be required to install free versions of the following software as the semester unfolds:
The following texts are recommended as supplementary reference materials, if you wish to deepen your skills in methods for analyzing qualitative data.
Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide through Qualitative Analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2008). Basics of Qualitative Research, Third Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Lewins, A., & Silver, C. (2007). Using Software in Qualitative Research: A Step-by-Step Guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Neuendorf, K. A. (2002). The Content Analysis Guidebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Saldaña, J. (2009). The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Schensul, J. J., & LeCompte, M. D. (1999). Ethnographer’s Toolkit (7 Volumes). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Teddlie, C., & Tashakkori, A. (2009). Foundations of Mixed Methods Research: Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
- Foundations of text analysis
- Identifying themes
- Codes, codebooks, and coding
- Making comparisons and building models
- Grounded theory and schema analysis
- Word-based and semantic network analysis
- Cultural domain analysis
- Discourse and narrative analysis
- Content analysis and content dictionaries
- Analytic induction and qualitative comparative analysis
Course Requirements and Grading
Your final grade has four components: in-class participation (20 percent), lab exercises (20 percent), a research journal (20 percent), and a research project (40 percent). Final grades will be A (90-100), A- (87-89), B+ (84-86), B (80- 83), B- (77-79), C+ (74-77), C (70-73), C- (67-69), D+ (64-66), D (60-63), D- (57-59), E (<57).
- Class participation (20%). I expect you to attend each class meeting and to take an active part in discussions and activities. Active participation requires that you read all assigned readings and prepare thoughtful questions and critical discussion points. You will also be expected to take an active part in all hands-on data analysis exercises. I will evaluate your class participation on the quality of your contributions, not just on how often you speak in class.
- Lab exercises (20%). Most weeks you will be expected to complete out-of-class lab exercises designed to help you develop your skills in analyzing qualitative data. Details about these exercises will be distributed in class and through the course website.
- Research journal (20%). You are expected to keep a running journal of your learning experience as you work on your independent research project. The purpose of this assignment is to develop a reflexive understanding of your learning process and of the strengths and weaknesses of different methods. You will keep this journal in the form of a blog that all course participants will have access to. Each week, you should add one new blog post that addresses the following questions about your work on the independent research project:
- What new steps have you taken this week in the analysis of data for your project?
- What findings are you coming up with?
- What challenges or difficulties have you encountered?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the specific methods you have used this week?
This assignment is based on Wright, M.C. (2007). Making sense of data: How public health graduate students build theory through qualitative research techniques. Qualitative Health Research 17(1):94-101.
- Qualitative data from your thesis or dissertation research.
- Secondary analysis of existing data available from another researcher or through a data archive such as Qualidata or the Murray Research Archives.
- A new data set collected from naturally occurring text (e.g., published speeches, Internet discussion boards or blogs, published research articles).
You must decide and inform me of the data set you will use no later than our third meeting of the semester, September 13. The end product should be a research report of publishable quality. You should identify a peer-reviewed journal that would be appropriate for your research and prepare the paper in accord with the journal’s submission guidelines. The paper is due to me via email by Friday, December 10, at 5:00 p.m.
Policy on Late Assignments
You are required to complete all assignments by the stated due dates. Late assignments will lose one half-letter grade for each day past the deadline. There are no make-up opportunities for any assignment, as you will have ample time to complete each requirement. I will not assign grades of “incomplete” except in the most unusual, extreme circumstances of incapacitating illness, death of family members, or other university-approved excuses. You must provide documentation of such circumstances from a medical doctor, funeral home, or other appropriate authority.
Academic Honor Code
Unless it is specifically connected to assigned collaborative work, all work should be individual. Evidence of collusion (working with someone not connected to the class or assignment), plagiarism (use of someone else’s published or unpublished words or design without acknowledgment) or multiple submissions (submitting the same paper in different courses) will lead to the Department’s and the University’s procedures for dealing with academic dishonesty. All students are expected to honor their commitment to the university’s Honor Code.
Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the Instructor when requesting accommodation. Please make any requests by the second week of class.
UF Counseling Services
Resources are available on-campus for students having personal problems or lacking clear career and academic goals that interfere with their academic performance. These resources include:
- University Counseling Center, 301 Peabody Hall, 392-1575, personal and career counseling
- Student Mental Health, Student Health Care Center, 392-1171, personal counseling
- Sexual Assault Recovery Services (SARS), Student Health Care Center, 392-1161, sexual counseling
- Career Resource Center, Reitz Union, 392-1601, career development assistance and counseling.
Syllabus Change Policy
This syllabus is a guide for the course and is subject to change with advanced notice.