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Research data

When you collect data, you need to store it somewhere. Take a look at the links below for tips on storing and organising the data you collect.

Data protection

As well as being mindful of what we post about others, we also need to be careful about any personal information we are gathering and storing about people. If you are developing a site or issuing an online survey you need to be mindful of data protection laws.

For example, did you know that according to data protection laws in the UK, all personal data that you collect must be:

  • Processed fairly and lawfully
  • Processed for a specific purpose
  • Adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • Accurate and kept up-to-date
  • Not kept for longer than necessary
  • Processed in accordance with the individual’s rights
  • Protected by appropriate security measures
  • Not transferred outside the EEA without adequate protection

Should you be collecting and storing other people’s personal data it is imperative that you are doing this for a specific reason and that the data is secure.

Qualitative data analysis

Qualitative data analysis is the analysis of things other than numbers — usually text information. It's mostly a case of just reading stuff, but it can also be advantageous to find ways of quantifying content.

NVivo is a qualitative data, text management and organisational tool which enables an analysis of very rich text-based and/or multimedia information, where deep levels of analysis on small or large volumes of data are required. It is often used for qualitative research and literature review.

Analysing spoken content

NVivo can be used to analyse more than just text-based files: images, audio and video can also be marked up. If you have an audio file of an interview, for example, you can annotate it directly in NVivo, without the need for transcription:

A waveform with coding stripes

If you do feel the need for a transcription, you're going to have to create it yourself (unless you can persuade somebody else to do it for you!). To save time, you could transcribe directly into NVivo and code as you go; or you could choose to code it up in some other way.

Auto-transcription is possible (though seldom very reliable). NVivo offers a paid transcription service, but there are free alternatives such as the ones we discuss on our Subtitling Skills Guide (if you're conducting an interview over Zoom, you can also enable its built-in auto-transcription). Be aware, though, that even with an automatic transcript, you're going to need to do a lot of work if what you're actually wanting is a perfectly punctuated verbatim text. It may well be nearly as quick to transcribe it manually.

If you create a transcript that you're wanting to analyse in NVivo, be sure to make use of Styles in your document. This will allow you to do some basic auto-coding (i.e. to identify the interviewer and interviewee). You can also sync a transcript to a video though this might require some preparation if you're working from a conventional subtitle file.

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