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National Centre for Social Research (NatCen)

The Analysis of Qualitative Data.

I attended this two-day workshop to extend and refine my skills in qualitative data analysis (QDA). Facilitated by three experienced NatCen researchers in the area of applied social research, the workshop used a wide range of recent studies to introduce the range of skills required to handle large qualitative data sets. The centre has developed its own methodology – Framework – for carrying out such analysis and we learned how to apply this to a range of qualitative data.

Among the topics covered were how to develop a conceptual framework for analysis, thematic analysis, the development, use and limitations of typologies, associations and explanations in qualitative data and drawing inferences. Moving beyond the basic processes of coding data, this was not about conversational or discourse analysis (which is less relevant to our applied research context) and more about finding pathways through data. The workshop was attended by a range of PhD students and active social researchers (many from the Health sector, so doubly relevant to me!) and, as usual, not the least of the benefits of attending the workshop was the opportunity to share research experiences. The workshop was well organised and informative.

One particularly useful discovery is that the next version of Nvivo, which data analysis tool has been reported on elsewhere on this blog, will incorporate the Framework tool as part of the software. It is a testament to the robustness and reputation of NatCen research that Nvivo has sought to develop their tool to include the Framework approach to QDA in the next Nvivo software update anticipated in the autumn.

Whilst I wouldn’t claim to now be an expert on QDA I am willing to share what I have learned with other team members who may be engaged in this kind of research and have materials which we used during the workshop which you are welcome to look through.

Footnote – the venue at etc .venues was very good and close to Farringdon for away days. I brought a leaflet.


For information on the centre and their training events see

http://www.natcen.ac.uk/events-and-training/our training

For government guidance on producing quality in qualititative analysis see


  1. July 19, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Great post – thanks for this Neal and thanks for sharing your materials. It reassured me to know that I was carrying out qualitative research in more or less the way the experts advised, and I learnt some really useful things as well which I was not aware of.

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