The third position means stepping outside the situation and seeing issues from the point-of-view of a third party. NLP reminds us that people receive information in various sensory channels: the visual, the auditory, the kinaesthetic (perception of movement of effort) and the digital mathematical or reasoned thinking (Taylor, 2000). The idea being that people use all of these modes, but may have a preferred mode.
Ethnographic approach: this takes its cue from observing how people behave in more natural settings, rather than placing the emphasis on collecting information in a research setting. So, the commercial ethnographic analyst will place considerable importance on fully understanding the marketing context in which an individual is playing out their behaviour and expressing their attitudes (Weick, 1979). The ethnographic school of data analysis has a long tradition in social research, and is now popular again with commercial market researchers. Although the commercial application of ethnography will fall some way short of the total immersion, over long periods of time, demanded by social research. For most holistic data analysts, the dominant framework of thinking adopted for the analysis of qualitative evidence will be a fairly eclectic and pragmatic one. It will be one that will be sensitive to each of the various analytical schools of thinking discussed above. Thus, it will reflect the rational school, through its rigorous interpretation of the hard consumer data. However, it will also show awareness of the value of subjecting particular types of evidence to various 'interpretivist' treatments. In sum, on any specific problem, the holistic data analyst will elect to choose the most appropriate framework for thinking, rather than being a devotee of any one specific framework for thinking.
2.2 Analytical Approaches Used By The Holistic School:
The main analytical process in understanding qualitative research, as explained earlier, is one of going back and forth between the overall picture under investigation, and the details of the data. It is the idea of developing a rolling hypothesis that is constantly being checked against the available data, concepts, and principles (Ruff, 2004). Thus, the holistic analyst, in looking at qualitative evidence, will start the analysis process by immersing themselves in the data, noting, as they do so, any big 'thoughts'. They will then circle through the data again, picking up any small clues that help verify the first 'big' idea, while also beginning the process of identifying the next 'big' thought. We now explain this analytical process in more detail, dividing this task into two categories. Looking at ways to help the analyst get to grips with the 'big picture'. Examining techniques to help the analyst study the 'detailed' qualitative evidence.
2.3 Mapping the Big Picture:
The best analysis strategy is to first identify the evidence that has the biggest impact on the key issues and decisions to be taken. So we start by looking at some techniques to help the analyst of qualitative data quickly get to grips with the 'big picture'. This is the process of identifying the overall storyline, and beginning to compare and contrast themes emerging from different sub-groups. The analyst is beginning to select information for its relevance, making decisions about which information is going to be central to the final presentation of the data, as opposed to evidence that will play a less prominent part in advancing different arguments (Weick, 1979).
It is at this stage of the process that the analyst will be looking for inter-relationships, shapes and patterns, or alternatively discontinuities, in their qualitative evidence. At this point, the analyst will also be searching out metaphors that may help throw light on the analysis and/or be locating the data in the wider context of available models that explain some of the dynamics, relationships, and generalizations at work. To achieve this goal of understanding the big inter-relationships and patterns at work within the data, it is often helpful to prepare some form of 'cognitive' map or some other kind of 'visual display' (Yin, 2003). This technique,...
The above approach could start by constructing such maps for individual respondent case studies, and could then build up to become a composite account of how groups of respondents seem to be responding (Sang, 2003).
2.4 Analysing the Detail:
At the same time as understanding the big picture; following the principle of the Hermeneutic Circle; the analyst will also be examining the significance of different detailed findings. There is a wide range of techniques for exploring the detail in qualitative evidence. Some qualitative researchers will simply 'absorb' the detail by close study of the respondent's comments. Others will use specific techniques, including various counting techniques and content analysis (Rioux, 2005). We outline these approaches below. Based on prior knowledge, and a preliminary overview of the themes coming through in the transcripts; en route towards preparing a cognitive map or some other summary; the analyst will draw up a framework of the issues and concepts that may emerge in this project. We have established that the holistic data analyst; following the principles of the Hermeneutic Circle; will constantly be switching between sorting the detail of a point and generating schemes and conceptual frameworks that explain what, in overall terms, is happening. The holistic data analyst will constantly be attempting to understand the detail, fit this into the whole, and then modify the whole to accommodate the details. This process will continue until they feel they have arrived at a grounded 'resolution' of what the data is saying. However, the exact way in which different qualitative researchers will physically process the various forms of qualitative evidence in the above way will vary dramatically (Ruff, 2004). The precise way in which the materials are handled will be personal from researcher to researcher. The actual handling process is, after all, only a tool. Different analysts will use procedures that work best for them on a fitness-to-purpose basis. Thus, for example, those analysts who are good at simultaneously absorbing the big picture and the detail will place less reliance on detailed methods for annotating group discussion transcripts to capture the detail. Whereas those who are stronger on seeing the whole, but may struggle to remember the detail, may require more elaborate annotating systems for capturing detailed 'quotes' to be used at the reporting and presentation stage. So it is clearly inappropriate to lay down tight prescriptions about what constitutes good qualitative 'materials handling practice'. It is helpful, though, to look at the kind of material that is in the qualitative researcher's toolkit, and briefly review some of the handling options (Gabor, 2001).
2.5 The raw material of qualitative research:
The various types of qualitative research raw material used could include the following:
Audio recording of groups/depth interviews. Video recording of groups/depth interviews.
Transcripts of the above. Notes made during the focus groups/depth interviews. Post-group/depth interview notes. Comments and observations made by clients (and/or research colleagues) attending a group. Notwithstanding the above caveat, about the way qualitative material is handled being personal to the researcher, it is helpful to provide a short checklist of some of the options open for handling the qualitative material. Some analysts may opt for a process of total immersion and reflection on the topic, supported by listening (repeatedly) to group discussion or depth interview tapes (usually; but not always; making notes as they do so). Some will prepare, after each depth interview and group discussion, a set of notes on the main issues that arose, and use these notes as the basis of the analysis (Hogg, 2001). This would include possibly preparing summaries of individual interviews or groups of interviews in the form of variants of the cognitive map, outlined above. The use of detailed typed transcripts of group discussions/depth interviews is also extremely popular. Analysts will then make use of various marginal, and other annotational, mechanisms to record significant 'big picture' and 'micro-points' emerging on each page (Folpmers, 2008). Again, here some will make use of various summary techniques, such as cognitive maps, to record the overall storyline, while also possibly using various counting mechanisms to look at the detail. Some researchers; working individually, in pairs or in teams; may 'brain dump' from memory their observations and recollections of their participation in the qualitative research process. Others will literally cut and paste sections of the transcripts, sorting and arranging them under headings that relate to the key research objectives spelt out in the research brief/proposal.
Some will place the emphasis on quantification, and will, from the outset, construct data grids or matrixes along the lines explained above in terms of content analysis and counting, to assemble concrete facts under different headings. Some may use statistical software to help with their analysis (although this is currently not widespread among commercial qualitative market researchers in…
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