From Content to Coding
From Content to Coding
SUSAN MARCUS: Hi. My name is Dr. Susan Marcus. And today, we’re going to be
looking at the process of going from content to coding for qualitative data analysis.
So what you’re seeing now is a transcript of an interview done with a graduate student
about her experience with social change and the meaning of social change. And we’re
going to prepare this transcript for coding. So the first thing to do is to go to Layout and
line numbers and add Continuous line numbers. And see how they appear down the
left-hand column so that when we start the process of moving this content onto our
Excel spreadsheet, you’ll be able to, if need be, go from this spreadsheet back to the
transcript and locate where you are.
The next thing to do is to locate the questions that are going to be analyzed. Now, this
interview was about 32 minutes long and has a number of questions. For the purposes
of this demonstration, we’re going to focus on the first four questions. But it’s really hard
to find them in the text. So I’m going to highlight those questions and number them.
So for example, if we look down here, we can see here’s the very first question. Could
you tell me what program did you graduate from at Walden? And I’m going to highlight
that. And here is the next question– and what year? And that’s really part of the first
question, finding out when they were in graduate school.
So let’s scroll down to find the next question. And you’ll notice that as I’m scrolling down,
I can see in the content that she and the interviewer are having a conversation that’s
sort of a side conversation relevant to understanding the interviewees experience. But
it’s not about the first question or the next question that we’re looking for.
So here we are. So here’s our second question. And I’m going to highlight that. And
then I would do the same for the rest of the questions that I’m going to be transferring.
And now we have the same document with all four questions highlighted. You can see
here, for example, why it’s important to highlight so that when the question is embedded
in something that the interviewer is saying, it’s easy to see. You can also see here
below at 4a where the interviewer asked, “can you give me some examples,” that’s an
example of the interviewer asking a probing question which is related to the question
So here, the interviewee answers the question. And then the interviewer follows up and
says, well can you tell me more about it? Can you give me more examples? We want to
make sure that when we’re coding, we have those two questions clearly identified.
Â© 2016 Laureate Education, Inc.
From Content to Coding
So now we’re going to go to our next document– an Excel spreadsheet. So you’re using
the most current version of Excel. So even if you’re using a PC, that it should look fairly
similar to what you see on your video. And what we want to do is prepare this so we’ll
be able to easily move both content and questions into the spreadsheet.
So I’m going to set up a template. And it looks like this. In the first box up here, I’m
going to put Q because the first line is going to hold the question. In the second row
right underneath, I’m going to identify this as where we’ll put the line numbers, then the
interviewees actual response, and then columns for where we’re going to put our codes.
You do have to spell correctly. So in your spreadsheet, you’ll be doing the same thing.
You’ll also notice that I’m going to put a column in here called memo. Memos are a very
important part of the qualitative data analysis process. Here, because you’re going to be
doing multiple things at once, this is a great place to put very short notes which you can
expand and place in your analytic memo notebook.
So now let’s just adjust this so it becomes more user friendly for the data analysis
process. We’re going to go under Page Layout and adjust the orientation so we’re in
Landscape. In fact, I’ll make this a little bit bigger so it’s easier to see.
Now, the response is each of the participants actual content. So we’re going to make
that a little bit bigger. And then some room for your coding here. And then your memo
notes here. And then I’ll just create a line so that I’ll be able to distinguish each question
and each question’s response.
So the only other thing to do here before we start is to label the tabs of the sheet for
each participant. So in this worksheet you’ll be having each participant’s answers in
each of the tabs. And I’m going to save it just onto the desktop for now. And we’ll save it
as First Cycle. OK.
So the next step here is using the two documents at once– moving from the Word
document back and forth between the Word document and the Excel document. Let’s
go back to our Word document and go back up to the top. Now we’re going to be
moving the questions and the content from the interview transcript to the Excel coding
And the process of doing this is a bit laborious. But it also prepares you for looking at
the transcript and the interview in finer, more component parts. So instead of looking at
the document holistically and the feeling that it creates, you’re looking at each of the
little bits of text to see what individual meanings might come through.
So this is the process. We Copy and Paste the questions above the template. And if I
merge these cells for the question, then I can highlight each question so that as I add
the content, the questions will still be visible.
Â© 2016 Laureate Education, Inc.
From Content to Coding
And here is the follow up question. But it still belongs with question 1. So we’ll put it in
the same line.
Now let’s move the content underneath the question. So I go back to the interview
document and I Copy and Paste and put the content there. Now you can see that this
would be a little bit hard to read. It runs past the column. So I use the Wrap Text
function. And now the text is all in one place.
I also want to remember to put the line numbers for where the text was located. So it
starts here. And you’ll see that’s line number 9. So I’ll put that here. And I’ll do this for all
of the content for each of the questions that we’ll be examining.
Here it’s interesting that the interviewee has mentioned a date that she graduated and
then corrected herself a little bit later on. So I’m going to put both pieces of data in there
and adjust it and put the line number in. And then I note that as I’m looking for the next
question or the next piece of text that the interviewee tells an interesting story about her
experience with Bill Clinton at the graduation ceremony. Now it’s not pertinent to the
interview. But as the researcher I think to myself, well that’s kind of interesting.
So as a memo, I’m going to put a note– “interesting story about Bill Clinton at
graduation.” So if it becomes relevant to the data analysis or my reflection later on, I’ll
know what part of the text it came from and what I was thinking about at the time.
So it looks like that’s about it for the first question. That was pretty straightforward. Now
we’re going to get into some of the meatier parts of the interview. So I scroll down and
find the next question about social change.
And again, here, we see that the question was asked, the interviewee was a bit
confused, and the interviewer had to clarify. And we can see that right here is where the
actual answer starts. So I go to my Excel spreadsheet and Copy and Paste so now I’ve
got the next question ready to go.
I place the question just like we did before. I merge the cells, highlight it, and then start
to put the text in. So she answers the question, “yes, it was.” And I put that here. But
then she explains in more detail.
Then here we have the interviewer having a conversation about the degree. So we have
to scroll through and see if the interviewee is saying something else that’s relevant to
the question. And she is. She tells a little story on the side which is relevant to the
question. Not directly addressing it, but we want to put that in as well.
OK. So this should give you a good idea of the process that it’s going to take to get from
moving your content into the Excel spreadsheet. And you can see what I end up with is
units of conversation for each question.
Â© 2016 Laureate Education, Inc.
From Content to Coding
And now here’s an example of what a finished coding spreadsheet looks like. We’ve
transferred all of the questions that we’re going to be analyzing and all of the content for
this particular interviewee. We would do the same for each person that we interview.
And again, as I said earlier, it’s a little bit laborious. But you can see now we’ve got a
good working document. We’ve moved from the individual transcript to moving the data
and the questions to our coding sheet. And now we’re ready to begin the coding.
Â© 2016 Laureate Education, Inc.
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