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Qualitative data refers to data that examines or determines the characteristics and attributes of a study subject or phenomenon during a research study. Qualitative data is used for describing non-numerical attributes such as gender and color of the study subjects or elements. Qualitative data is usually voluminous and bulky, thus, poses numerous challenges to researchers. Therefore, it is important for a researcher to develop appropriate techniques for managing and organizing qualitative data during the study.

Techniques for Managing and Organizing Qualitative Data

First and foremost, the researcher should develop and sketch a suitable plan for collecting, analyzing and interpreting the qualitative data at the beginning of the study. This helps in outlining the right procedures and steps to be followed during the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; hence, ease data management and organization during the study. Developing a plan also involves creating a realistic timeline within which specific activities must be carried out, for example, data collection may take two days while analysis may take one day. In my view, the timeline helps in proper time management which also positively impacts data management.

Secondly, the researcher may use the iterative process of data management. This involves integrating various activities during the research study, for instance, data collection and analysis activities may be integrated and carried out simultaneously. Iterative process also helps in proper time management, as well as in reducing costs of collecting and analyzing data during the study.

Thirdly, the researcher can also develop a suitable data tracking system to help him during the collection and analysis of qualitative data. For example, the researcher may use file naming to ensure consistency during data collection, thus, eliminating data redundancy. File names may include information such as place and date of data collection, participants’ identification numbers and codes for demographic data. Coffey and Atkinson also assert that proper organization and management of qualitative data can also be achieved through the establishment of proper data tracking systems that clearly indicate how data that have been gathered is stored and retrieved.

Fourthly, the researcher should also establish appropriate data transcription procedures. Data transcription usually helps in eliminating grammatical errors, unwanted information and overlapping data. This helps in reducing the volume of the qualitative data to a manageable level. Data transcription also helps in filtering the collected data, hence improving reliability, validity and relevancy of data to the study.

Fifthly, the researcher must also ensure that data is documented properly. Documentation usually involves assignment of codes to data and classification of related data into groups. Similarly, the researcher may also use appropriate data access controls to prevent unauthorized access of data which may lead to manipulation and loss of data. Moreover, the researcher should use appropriate storage devices such as tape recorders, video recorders and computers to store data. The storage devices must also permit easy access and retrieval of data.

Last but not least, Gibson and Brown (2009) assert that a researcher must also create backup systems for all qualitative data gathered during the study. This helps in ensuring that data is safe, secure and can be retrieved in case of emergencies such as system failure. Backing up data helps in preventing loss of information as a result of unforeseen occurrences.


Although it may be highly challenging and exigent to manage and organize qualitative data during a research study, it is vital for the researcher to develop and implement appropriate strategies and techniques for managing data in order to ensure that goals and objectives of the research study are fully met.

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