Interpretation of Qualitative Data

How will the researcher interpret the data gathered? Interpretation of qualitative findings is a process of intellectualizing beyond the emerging themes to broader perspectives of the data. In simple terms, interpretation of findings is making sense of the data collected, and an act to identify the lessons learned from the study. In interpreting results, it is helpful to group similar responses into categories then identify usual patterns to derive meanings from what may seem unrelated and wordy responses. This strategy is very important in making sense of the outcomes of focus group discussions and interviews. It must also be remembered that interpretation depends on the point of view, of the researcher. The researcher can interpret qualitative findings by the following:

This strategy involves asking questions about the investigation and taking note of the possible results that can be drawn without actually making one. It may also include findings suggested by the data gathered, which are not part of the initial plan but can be considered for future research.

Interpreting and sharing data can be based on the researcher’s prior knowledge and comprehension of the context. It must be noted that the researcher has a sole point of view from becoming an expert on his/her data.

Colleagues in the same field can provide insights. However, the disadvantage of having many advices may give concurring or conflicting opinions.

Using other sources can be helpful in drawing out connections or supporting results and emphasize contributions of the research to the body of research.

The attempt to develop a theory from the data collected will connect the present study to larger issues and helps in the abstraction and applications of localized findings. This may also include further meanings to the data of the study.