"Help, I'm Getting Buried in Field Notes!"

A Manual for Qualitative Data Management and Analysis

| Rebecca Widom

Evaluations of social policies and programs often use qualitative research to describe program implementation, understand the experiences and perspectives of program staff and clients, and explain, illustrate, amplify, or qualify findings from quantitative research. Large multisite, multiyear studies often involve massive datasets, engage large teams of researchers, and experience significant staff turnover. In these studies, qualitative research is quite a departure from the traditional ethnographic model of a single researcher responsible for all of the data collection, analysis, and writing. As such, data analysis in this context presents several unique opportunities and challenges. This manual compiles the experiences of MDRC staff working on a variety of large-scale studies under tight budget and time constraints and provides both general methodological recommendations and specific tips for using N5, a qualitative data management software package.