Query: Creative ways of collaborative qualitative data analysis

Dear All,

I am reaching out for your insights. The group has set the objectives of the review. they will design the process, collect data, analyse and disseminate. I plan to facilitate online participatory data analysis with a group of about 15-20 staff members from different organisations. The study is qualitative. I have facilitated group data analysis a few times, but would like to go a bit deeper. 

Any creative ideas/experiences on collaborative data analysis would be very welcome! 

Thanks and regards,


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If you are using a common data set and conducting a thematic analysis, you might assign various anticipated themes - based on the evaluation structure, questions and data content - to pairs or trios of participants, ask them to comb through the data prior to the call and be ready to report on highlights of findings relevant to their assigned themes.

You might also provide participants with a summary template so that everyone's work is completed in a similar format and easy to merge or blend if that is a useful step.

Thanks a lot Dr Deborah. What if the group arrived at the themes on their own as well? 

Better still if participants arrive at the themes on their own without being prompted.  More realistic.

I think generating themes is a really good idea.  You might start out with soliciting actual stories, and then maybe have the participants draft "ideal-type" stories that demonstrate processes and outcomes? I'm thinking of user scenarios/stories from the design world. Usually you do them in the beginning, but it might be interesting to ask for them at the end, once the participants have seen how the thing you're evaluating really works! 

If you're interested in soliciting narratives about why things worked or didn't, you could try doing a Five Whys style exercise. Or you could tweak this Unintended Consequences exercise to have participants investigate what were the consequences that weren't anticipated/part of the TOC, and try to get a causal narrative there. Ooh, I Like, I Wish, I Wonder might be a good structure for a go-around? (I really like HyperIsland Toolbox, as you can tell, even though everything needs to be flipped from being about business/design to be being about evaluation/community building...)

You could invite participants to comb through specific (assigned) evaluation questions to look for themes within the findings related to those specific questions as a way to divide the work.

Amazing suggestions, many thanks Dr Deborah!

This is a super interesting question! I'm assuming the data already exists and the group will be analyzing it, not generating the data...

If what you want at the end is coded texts, I have used the free software Taguette to have many people coding the same transcripts - it can get a little funny if two people are in the document at the same time but otherwise works well.  

You could also divide the analysis - ten questions for 20 people, each person gets a question, everybody looks at the material, and then you think-pair-share their analysis (each person thinks alone, they pair up with the other person/people doing their question and discuss, they present their analysis to the group and the whole group dialogues about it). 

To what extent will you be determining what is being evaluated as you work together, or will everyone come to the conversation with an agreed-upon idea of what is being evaluated in the data?

Amazing Emily! Am grateful. They will be generating the data. I would like the group to take on the role of decision making at each step.


You could ask them to think about how cultural and organizational context influences (positively and challenging) their work -- Get them to tell "stories" -- that is conduct qualitative inquiry to obtain meaning and context to their responses.  These "stories" are qualitative data and if you have the context you can compare across the organizations, staff lines, topical areas etc.  Its callled "thick description" in anthropological inquiry.

Mary Ann Castle

Thanks Mary Ann. Please would you give me a bit more on the - how cultural and organizational context influences (positively and challenging) their work.

I will love to use it. Am so grateful to you!

also -possibly-the most important aspect would be to know who the participants are .. this will give you much information about how to analyze and understand their responses


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