Coding Data

Coding data is a data reduction method.  In qualitative research, codes are typically words or devices for identifying themes.

Ryan and Bernard (2000) cite MacQueen, McLellan, Kay and Milstein (1998) when suggesting that a good codebook should include:

  • a detailed description of each code
  • inclusion and exclusion criteria
  • exemplars of real text for each theme
  • exemplars of the theme's boundaries, if abstract

Miles and Huberman (1994) provide a very thorough discussion of strategies for coding and sorting segments of data.  See particularly chapters 4-9.


Crabtree, BF. and Miller, WL. (1999). "Using Codes and code manuals: A template organizing style of interpretation"  In BF Crabtree and WL Miller (Eds.) Doing Qualitative Research (2nd Edition) pp. 163-178.

Dey. I.  (1993). Qualitative Data Analysis: A User Friendly Guide for Social Scientists. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. pp. 95-151

MacQueen, KM., McLellan, E. Kay, K. and Milstein, B. (1998). "Codebook development for team-based qualitative research." Cultural Anthropology Methods Journal 10(2), 31-36.

Miles, MB. & Huberman, AM. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Particularly, pages 55-72.

Ryan, GW. & Bernard, HR. (2000). "Data management and analysis methods." In NK Denzin & YS Lincoln (Eds.) Handbook of qualitative research (2nd Edition). pp. 769-802.

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