Analysing large volumes of complex qualitative data: Reflections from a group of international experts

Susie Weller, Rosalind Edwards, Lynn Jamieson, Emma Davidson

Research output: Working paper


This working paper brings together the reflections of a wide range of international researchers to explore, showcase and reflect critically on the potentials and challenges of analysing large volumes of complex qualitative, and qualitative longitudinal (QLR) data, including archived material. Big Qual analysis is a new area for qualitative work and there is little guidance on how best to work with masses of qualitative material. The working paper comprises a set of blogs housed in the ‘Big Qual Analysis Resource Hub’ ( We created this website to map the progress of our ESRC National Centre for Research Methods research project ‘Working across qualitative longitudinal studies: a feasibility study looking at care and intimacy’ (2015-2019). As part of the project we developed procedures for working with multiple sets of in-depth temporal qualitative data (see Davidson et al. 2019; Edwards et al. 2019 for discussion of our methodological findings).

We have gathered together and made available the 27 blog post reflections from 32 authors in this working paper form because accounts of data management and analysis in qualitative research are often sanitised by the time they reach academic journals. Here, our contributors document and share publicly the trials and tribulations, intellectual commitments, contingencies and decision-making processes underlying such analysis, contributing to debates around good practice. We hope that this collection of reflections will promote further conversations about analysis/secondary analysis across large scale and/or multiple qualitative data sets. With guest posts from international scholars, from early career through to established researchers, on topics as varied as the ethics of using Big Qual data, using secondary qualitative material and computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software, this collection of reflections profiles the diversity of work taking place internationally.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherNational Centre for Research Methods (NCRM)
Number of pages67
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2019

Publication series

NameWorking Paper (NCRM Working Paper)
PublisherNational Centre for Research Methods


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