Design Decisions in Research

6. The Analytic Phase

In all research, the analytic phase is closely aligned with the empirical phase. After data are collected, the data is prepared for analysis. Quantitative data is typically entered into a statistical software program and qualitative data is often transcribed verbatim to facilitate data analysis. Numerous software programs are available to facilitate qualitative data analysis. Procedures must be in place to ensure the accuracy of this process. For example, quantitative data may be double-entered into two separate databases so that the databases can be compared to identify any errors in the data entry process. Qualitative data is often evaluated for accuracy by comparing audiotapes to transcriptions. For all types of data, data entry and management procedures must also be in place to protect the private health information of participants.

In the analytic phase of all research, patterns and relationships in the data are identified and the research question is answered through the synthesis of numerical and/or narrative data. Descriptive statistics are used to describe the sample characteristics which enhances the interpretation of other analyses. It is important to evaluate the outcome of the sampling plan and determine whether study participants are representative of the larger population in quantitative research and whether participants provided rich data in qualitative research.