Table 2

Steps of qualitative data analysis as outlined in four popular textbooks7 8 19 22

Merriam and Tisdell8 Creswell and Poth7 Marshall and Rossman22 Creswell and Guetterman19
Identifying segments or units of data responsive to research questions.Managing and organising the data.Organising the data.Preparing and organising the data for analysis.
Category construction
Reading and memoing emergent ideas.Immersion in the data.Initial exploration of the data through the process of coding.
Sorting categories and data.Describing and classifying codes into themes.Generating case summaries and possible categories and themes.Using codes to develop descriptions and themes.
Naming the categories.Developing and assessing interpretations.Coding the data.Representing the findings through narratives and visuals.
How many categories?
(narrowing the focus).
Representing and visualising the data.Offering interpretations through analytical memos.Interpreting the meaning of the results through personal reflection and use of literature.
Becoming more theoretical
(levels of data analysis in qualitative research).
Searching for alternative understandings.Conducting strategies to validate the accuracy of the findings.
Writing the report.