Qualitative Data Analysis
: An Introduction
Phenomenology involves exploring, in depth,
experiences or texts to clarify their essences
There are several different forms of
Classical Phenomenology – Edmund
Seeks the structures of the world and how
people act and react to them, eg. the structure of
consciousness, intentionality and essences in an
how objects are constituted in pure
and how these constitutions can be identified
through processes of phenomenological
Phenomenological reduction (bracketing)
identify the phenomena or object
identify a recent experience of your own of this
phenomena in terms of how it appeared to you
take certain features of this experience and
develop variations on aspects of this bracketed
experience and then delete these from the object
continue this process until you arrive at the
essence or essential features of the object
Bracketing detail (1)
Ask more specific questions about your knowledge of and
attitudes (What do I think of this? What do I think this
experience would be like?)
Move back, remove all theoretical perspectives, symbols and
constructs and your preconceived ideas, experiences and
feelings re the topic under research
Prepare to confront the phenomenon with a blank sheet,
rather like taking the position of an alien from a distant
Focus on the phenomenon and become open and passive
Set reasoning aside
Listen carefully and allow yourself to be drawn in, in a
sustained and receptive manner
Bracketing detail (2)
Document answers to the question: what does the
experience appear to be now?
Examine this description, : Does it arise from my
own experiences or from past knowledge or my
reading? All aspects which can be seen to have
come from other sources must be abandoned.
Locate the experiences’ essence and identify and
critique the essences’ elements. Ask yourself the
question: Would the phenomenon still stand
without any of these?
Negotiate the essences’ elements with those
(Adapted from Crotty, 1996:158-159
Interview with open ended questions seeking
experiences. Return several times to seek clarification
of issues or to explore potential aspects which are
Observe (bathe in the experience as it occurs –
observing the human experiences both of yourself and
Include documentation e.g. literature, poetry,
biography, material culture etc. (seek perspectives of
others regarding these texts, meanwhile recording
your own understandings and experiences)
Identify and deconstruct discourses
Bracket out your own experiences
Enter a dialogue with individual participants (or
engage with an existing text)
Reflect on what you have gained through reading and
journaling your thoughts
Identify the major themes from the narratives/texts
using processes of preliminary data analysis and/or
Data analysis detail (1)
Stage 1: ideographic mode (the gathering of closely
connected ideas, words or concepts)
construct a ‘research key’ of categories from each transcript
and subcategories related to the research question. This key
will be expanded as more transcripts are perused.
isolate ‘natural meaning units’ – phrases with a single
meaning and number these according to categories in the
select themes which are central to the experiences of
participants - write a phenomenological comment on each
write a succinct sub narrative of the individual’s experience of
the phenomenon and relate it to the interpretive themes
Data analysis detail (2)
Stage 2; nomothetic mode (the search for abstract principles)
collate sub -narratives and interpretive themes and use concept
maps to to indicate interconnections around the phenomenon
rank interpretive themes in order of importance (frequency x
intensity) and group meta themes and subthemes
identify explicative themes (those which appear to have a primary
referential character) using bracketing of your own thoughts and
biases followed by creative writing through ‘free variation’ to
creatively write using your own embodied experience of the
phenomena together with information from the literature to
enhance phenomenological description of interpretive themes key
to the phenomena.
(adapted from Devinish, 2002: 5-6)
Existential Phenomenology; Sartre,
Heidegger, Merleau Ponty.
Consciousness is a separate entity
People are immersed in their life worlds
Phenomenological reduction is not desired
Movement from abstract to the real – the
meanings for being must be uncovered first
Husserl’s movement in classical phenomenology
is from the real to the abstract.
Hermeneutic Phenomenology : Heidegger,
Gadamer, Ricoeur & Van Manen
Investigates the interpretive structures of experiences of individuals or
The interpretive focus is from the outside - from the perspective of
the ‘objective’ researcher, or from the inside - with a focus on
interaction between the interpreter and text
The integration of part and whole in terms of overall interpretation
is essential. ‘being’ (existence) is the overarching hidden aspect
which becomes evident via the activities of ‘beings’ (individuals).
Bracketing does not occur but a reflective journal is kept
Co-construction of the data between researcher and respondent
occurs and that the outcome involves a continuous conversation.
Heuristic Phenomenology : Moutsakas 1.
1. Become one with the research question through self awareness
and self knowledge involving;
self dialogue ( ones own experiences),
tacit knowing (that which lies beneath intuition),
intuition (that which is between explicit and tacit
indwelling (going inwards for a deeper understanding),
focusing (on the central meaning of the experience ) and
examination of the internal reference frames (created
from knowledge and experience).
Heuristic Phenomenology : Moutsakas 2.
2. Immersion: the researcher becomes totally involved in
the world of data
3. Incubation: intense concentration on knowledge
expansion through increased awareness, intuitive or
tacit insights and understanding
4. Illumination: active knowing to expand understanding of
the experience through a breakthrough
5. Explication: reflective actions and comprehensive
depiction of core themes
6. Creative synthesis: bring together and display data
creatively to show patterns and relationships
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