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Secondary Analysis Of Qualitative Data

2797 words - 11 pages

This essay aims to examine the practice of secondary analysis on qualitative data in terms of barriers to overcome and advantages of its practice. Over the last decades, archives of qualitative data have become widely accessible to research-es and there has been a smaller revolution in the practice of secondary analysis on such data. (Seale, 2004) There are both practical and methodological ad-vantages for researchers to use data that has been collected by others in order to pursue new research. However, this approach is not unproblematic. One of the most prominent features of qualitative research is its emphasis on contextual understanding and data- generating process between the researcher and partici-pants, which is to some extent lost when secondary analysis is pursued. The con-textual problem translates into methodological and ethical issues, which needs to be acknowledged and resolved. Furthermore, there are practical barriers, which surrounds the same pillars of context, ethics and methodology.

Initially, I will define key concepts of qualitative research and secondary analysis on qualitative data. Second, I will identify certain limitations and barriers to pur-sue secondary analysis in the order of contextual information barriers, methodo-logical barriers and ethical issues. Third, I will briefly discuss how such barriers can be overcome and why researchers should pursue secondary analysis. Doing so, I will look at using research in the pilot stage, economic reasons and method-ological advancements.

Qualitative research involves the methods of case- studies, in- depth interviews, text/discourse analysis and historical analysis, focusing on a few cases with the primary purpose of gain in- depth understanding of the research subject. By us-ing such methods its primary advantages lies in the centrality of meaning, con-text and history. (Vromen, 2010, pp. 250- 255) Because of its characteristics, it tends to be, but not exclusively, practiced by epistemological interpretivists. Epistemology is the theory of how knowledge can be established. (Furlong and Marsh, 2010, p. 185) Interpretivism argues that knowledge do not exist inde-pendently out there in an objective form, but rather is socially or discursively constructed. Thus, we can only establish how people understand the world. (Ibid, pp. 199- 200)

Secondary analysis is the use of an existing data set to find answers to new or refined research questions, which differs from the question asked when collect-ing the data for the primary study. (Hinds et al. 1997)(Heaton, 2008) Fielding and Gilbert (2000, pp 4-5) contrast primary to secondary analysis by distinguish-ing between collecting it yourself and using data collecting by others. In terms of secondary analysis of qualitative data, it will also apply to undertaking research on data you collected yourself, with a new research purpose. Secondary analysis is restricted to non- naturalistic qualitative data, in which the researcher plays...

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