Edited by Keith Townsend, Rebecca Loudoun and David Lewin
Chapter 3: Anchoring qualitative methods for longitudinal studies
This chapter details an innovative research methods approach to measuring change in experiences at work over multiple time periods and worksites. Using a recent research project in a large public sector organisation we describe a longitudinal study where baseline qualitative, interview data were “anchored” in such a way that subsequent changes in responses could be tracked over time at an individual and an aggregate level. While qualitative research is generally considered the superior option for exploring “how” rather than “how many” questions, and for understanding phenomena from the perspectives of those being studied (Pratt, 2009), deliberate strategies need to be used when trying to evaluate changes in people’s experiences over time. Significant technological developments have occurred, with digital recorders, ubiquitous desktop and notebook computers, transcription or voice recognition software, computer-aided qualitative data analysis software (for example, NVivo) all becoming readily available to support the qualitative researcher. Despite this, qualitative research does not lend itself naturally to easy comparison over different time periods.
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