Faith Communities Study Logo

Faith Communities Study Logo
Faith Communities Study Logo

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Research update #11: Beginning analysis

Hello to all! Here's another quick update to let you know that this project is still alive and going. My intention from this spring was to dedicate time to the analysis of these data in the summer. So, here we are in the summer, and here I am dedicating my time to the analysis! For those research buffs out there I am using a newer method of qualitative analysis and complimenting it with an older method. The newer method is the "Sort & Sift, Think & Shift" method that I went through training for in November of last year ( The older method is grounded theory in the Charmaz tradition (

The first step is to immerse myself in the data. So, I am re-reading all of the transcripts from the 30 interviews that we conducted back in the spring of 2016. Next, I'll look for themes that arise from the data, and use constant comparison to compare pieces of data to each other, in terms of looking for ways to expand or support the themes. One part of immersing oneself in the data involves identifying "power quotations" - or quotations that really strike the reader as important or worthy of highlighting. The purpose of identifying these quotations is to then consider, what was it about that quotation that made me pause? What is the idea that quotation is conveying? How could I best summarize that idea?

The Sort & Sift, Think & Shift (SSTS for short) method calls for the researcher to stay in a "vertical" mindset, not a "horizontal" one. What that means is that in the SSTS method, we treat each piece of data as a stand-alone entity in the beginning. We examine it from top to bottom, as if it existed with no other pieces of data. This is appealing to me because it gives "voice" to each participant of the study in a way that honors their stories and gives each story a chance to stand alone. I really enjoyed listening to each person's stories, and I want to find a way to honor their voice without it getting buried in the analysis. In qualitative analysis, we move from abstraction to abstraction, meaning that we move further away from the data so that we can summarize and categorize into themes that help us understand the "whole picture." Think of it as putting a jigsaw puzzle together. The transcripts of the interviews are like pieces of the puzzle. But the way I think of it is like those puzzles where you can make little mini pictures within a greater puzzle. Like, when an owl or a tiger is hidden in a larger puzzle of a train station. I don't like losing sight of the smaller stories for the sake of the larger analysis. So I like to stay "close to the data," or in other words I like to keep those stories fresh in my mind. But, it is very difficult to make a whole puzzle if you only look at individual pieces. So, I like the SSTS method because it gives me tools to both "stay close to the data" but also to "zoom out" and look at the larger picture that is coming together as I look at each interview and think about how they might be connected.

So anyway, I am getting off topic a little bit. I just wanted to give you a sense of what I'm doing with the study at this point! I'll be sharing a few sneak peeks of my analysis on my Twitter feed as I go through the data, so stay tuned for more updates!

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