The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

Serving up champagne

Listen up everyone, says Andrea Steel, you need to hear what Rosie Campbell has to say about Language Analysis (as in 'the qualitative Holy Grail').

I did not want to miss this webinar delivered by one of the most respected voices of qualitative research. When attending anything through the AQR I do so with a view to learning something new or confirming that I am already doing the right thing. Here I achieved both.

I learned that it is okay to trust my own instincts and judgements. After all, I am human too, and I speak and use language so why not apply the knowledge about what I say and how I say it to my analysis? I affirmed that the most important thing about being a qualitative researcher is listening: listening to respondents, listening back to recordings and listening to your own instincts. This is what differentiates us as qualitative researchers — our ability to interpret what we hear and what this means to the outcome of the research.

Rosie’s presentation makes you realise how emotionally driven vocabulary is and that you really need to listen to your respondents. This listening isn’t just after the event as you try to make sense of the output, but also as you are moderating to ensure you ask the right questions, or at the very least don’t ask them in the wrong way. She cites an exchange between a mother and son which compounds the importance of this.

Rosie used a lot of metaphors in her presentation: “give your client champagne and not house white” and make sure that when you do your analysis you aren’t just “tidying the sock drawer”. In fact, we all tend to use metaphors in our language and these can be very telling. To me, qualitative research is all about the ‘why’ and the language used can give you a greater insight into the meaning behind what respondents are actually saying. Rosie’s presentation cemented this in my mind.

It is all about what people say and how they say it and not which box they select from a predefined list of responses. She asks us to think more about the language we encounter in our research settings and to use it more in our analysis.

So from now on as I carry on with my work as a qualitative researcher I will remember the importance of listening as well as hearing what respondents say. My analysis and output will be richer and more meaningful as a result.

But don’t just take my word for it, go on, hear it for yourself
Language Analysis - The Qualitative Holy Grail


Andrea Steel
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2015