Qualitative Analysis and Interpretation

Course Number
5100 (Social and Behavioural Health Science)
Course Instructor(s)
Brenda Gladstone

Course Description

  • This is an advanced graduate-level course in qualitative research methodology that focuses on the theory, techniques and issues of data analysis and interpretation. It is a course in the Essentials in Qualitative Research course series offered through the collaborations in the Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research (CQ, www.ccqhr.utoronto.ca ). The course is designed for students taking qualitative approaches to their thesis research i.e. using both qualitative forms of data and qualitative (non-numeric, interpretive) forms of analysis. Ideally students should be in the late data gathering and analysis phase of their research, although students at the proposal writing and pre-data collection stage also benefit from the course. The course aims to give students knowledge and experience in concrete analysis practices, but also to enhance their ability to articulate and address the core theoretical and methodological issues of qualitative inquiry. Although the topics discussed are generic to qualitative methodology, the literature and class instruction draw heavily on the field of health, and on the instructor’s own disciplinary background in sociology and substantive research in work and health.
  • Lecture/Seminar Student presentation of their own work and class discussion of it. Asignments tied to students own on-going projects. Guests include senior graduate students/new graduates who speak about their research. Course numbers are capped at 15.  Students should contact the instructor about their interest in taking the course and get their names on a ‘wait list’ if necessary.

Course Objectives

This course aims, first and foremost, to develop in students a deeper marvel for and enjoyment of qualitative research. At the end of the course students should have made significant progress towards being able to understand and articulate:

  1. What it means to critically analyze and interpret qualitative data, including the difference between value-added analysis and primary description.
  2. The role, place, significance and timing of theory in the analysis process
  3. The implications for analysis and interpretation of the data collection, transformation and management process
  4. The complexity and implications of the interpretation of ‘meaning’
  5. The role of the researcher in analysis, and the significance of standpoint
  6. The notion and practice of methodological reflexivity, and its role in research
  7. The constitutive effects of writing on the analysis, and the different ways of representing the results of qualitative inquiry and their implications
  8. The issues associated with the judgment of research quality in qualitative inquiry.
  9. The importance of being able to articulate convincingly to others the nature, value, place and limitations of qualitative method.

General Requirements

  • Students taking this course need to have prior training and/or experience with qualitative research. Knowledge of the theoretical and philosophical fundamentals of qualitative inquiry, and of data collection, is expected. Students should have their own data/research plan to use in the course. Permission from the instructor is required for enrollment. A maximum of 15 students can be in the course at one time. Audits are not generally accepted. Priority is given to students in departments/faculties that are ‘contributing’ members in CQ (Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research) and its EQR course series (Essentials of Qualitative Research), and to those with optimal backgrounds and current research situations for benefiting and contributing to the course.