Sunday, November 24, 2013

Reading :: Qualitative Data Analysis: A Methods Sourcebook

Qualitative Data Analysis: A Methods Sourcebook
By Matthew B. Miles, A. Michael Huberman, and Johnny Saldana

Miles and Huberman's Qualitative Data Analysis is a classic sourcebook for qualitative researchers. I have the second edition on my shelf in the office—the one that I bought as a new assistant professor at Texas Tech. Unfortunately, Miles and Huberman passed away before they could produce a third edition, and in the intervening years, qualitative research has gone through transitions. For instance, computer-aided qualitative data analysis (CAQDAS) packages have become commonplace, diversified, and become available on various platforms. Coding has become more systematized, partially because of Saldana's efforts.

The publisher, Sage, decided that it needed a new edition. So it approached Johnny Saldana, who has attempted to preserve Miles and Huberman's insights and text while updating and extending it. Saldana does not always agree with Miles and Huberman, and sometimes signals that disagreement by specifying the source ("Miles and Huberman say...").

The book is a sourcebook, not a cookbook: any method that works is fine (p.6). And it's focused on analysis, not research design or data collection, although it touches briefly on both. You can read it through sequentially—I did—but it's really meant as a reference. It covers matrix and network displays, the two basic types of data displays, and walks through how to apply these to explore, describe, order, explain, and predict. Simple, right? Yes, but the book is 373 pages of painstaking discussion.

It's all worth it. If you do qualitative research, this book should be either on your shelf or (more frequently) open on your desk.

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