Top 5 Tips for Keeping Your Qualitative Data Organized

Top 5 Tips for Keeping Your Qualitative Data Organized
Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy


Truth be told, there’s no part of qualitative research that’s a walk in the park for the researcher, from the one-to-one interviews or focus group engagements to the data organization and the analysis itself. Then, there’s audio or video transcription to worry about if you recorded the interviews.

A 45-minute recording equivalent to 20-30 pages of text would take you about 8 hours to transcribe, and that’s if you’re an experienced transcriber. Establishing an effective system to organize your qualitative data can make the process feel less overwhelming, even when dealing with a ton of audio recordings and handwritten notes for a single project.  

What Is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is a study tool that researchers utilize to investigate why a group of people feel or think in a certain way within a specific context. Direct observation, in-person interviews, or focus group engagements, can help researchers explore a phenomenon behind particular behaviors or experiences observed among the study participants.     

Also Read: Qualitative Interview: Everything You Need to Know

Importance of Data in Qualitative Research

Recorded qualitative research data helps to shed more light on a situation or issue that isn’t well understood in a particular area of focus. By analyzing the data, researchers can produce actionable findings to help relevant stakeholders address the identified issue.

For example, healthcare policymakers can use such a study to clarify reasons for vaccination resistance among a specific demographic. Their data can be processed to help personalize future campaigns based on the identified needs of the target population.

Here’s a look at five strategies to keep your qualitative data organized:

1. Organize Your Research Files Early

Create a dedicated file/ folder for your study to store your field notes, interview recordings, and other relevant documents immediately after gathering your data. If you conducted the interviews virtually, be sure to download and put the recordings in this folder on your computer.

Video recording devices and virtual conferencing applications may assign files a difficult-to-memorize default name, so it’s important to rename each recording appropriately.

Naming can help you quickly figure out what’s or who’s on any specific recording without having to review it first when you begin to analyze the data.  

2. Use a Consistent File Naming System

A file name is its unique identifier in storage and makes documents easier to search and find for future reference.

For digital files, including qualitative research audio and transcripts, it’s best to use a uniform naming convention, such as a combination of the interview date, interviewee name, and name of your organization, all separated by an underscore (_) or hyphen (-).

When developing a naming system, remember that most computer systems don’t accept specific symbols in file names, such as colons (:), semi-colons (;), and question marks (?).

3. List All Interviews on a Worksheet

Use spreadsheet software to create a list of all recorded interviews. It’s a good idea to update the document every time you complete an interview.

For each entry on the list, you can use the same ID as for the actual recording on your PC and include other relevant details like the date, important notes, and the transcription status.

Putting this information in a worksheet simplifies the tracking of all interviews so you don’t accidentally exclude any raw data from the analysis.  

4. Follow Your Data Management Plan

During research design, you developed your methodology that defined how to collect your data among other things.

Qualitative research transcription can help you to neatly organize any such data if recorded on video or audio, such as interviewees’ answers or group discussions.

By this point, you should have decided key format preferences for your transcripts, such as how you want the recordings transcribed (verbatim or intelligent verbatim) or speaker identification (by name or anonymous, such as interviewer and interviewee).

5. Choose a Ready-To-Use Format for Your Qualitative Data Transcripts

You want your interview transcripts generated in an analysis-ready format to avoid wasting research time and resources reformatting.

Pick a format that’s easy to work with, such as an editable Word doc (rather than a PDF) if you’ll need to add notes or a printable document with sufficient page margins for you to write important details.

Also Read: 7 Effective Qualitative Research Methods for High-Impact Marketing

How GMR Can Help in Keeping Your Qualitative Research Data Organized

GMRT can manually produce highly accurate and ready-to-use transcripts for your qualitative research data. Follow these steps on our website to get quality transcripts with a fast turnaround time (TAT):

  • Create a GMR Transcription Client Account and Sign In

Sign up for transcription services on the GMR Transcription. Inc., website.

  • Upload Your Files

You can upload your research interview videos or audio onto our encrypted server directly from your computer or by copy-pasting a link from the files’ host website. Include the appropriate template or style guide if you need your transcript produced in a specific format.

  • Customize Your Order

Specify your preferred TAT and other service preferences.

  • Wait While Our Human Transcriptionists Transcribe Your Audio

We use a 100% manual process to transcribe your qualitative research data. Quality checks in place ensure you get a 99% accurate transcript for good audio every time.

  • Pay and Download Your Transcripts

We will notify you once the transcript is ready for download. After you pay for our service, you can get the document by email or from your GMR Transcription client account.

Although transcripts are an effective way to organize your qualitative research data for analysis, even experienced researchers barely have the time to manually produce them.

To help simplify your workflow, GMR Transcription. Inc., human transcriptionists (all of whom are native English speakers) will produce 99% accurate transcripts, for all your good audio recordings, that require no extra rework costs.

We are all US-based and always accord your sensitive information the highest levels of privacy and security required.

Our transcripts come in customizable formats and include same-day and 24-hour TAT options so you can get started on analysis right away.

Contact us to learn more, including about our reliable translation services for any Spanish interview transcriptions!

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Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy is the Cofounder & President of GMR Transcription Services, Inc., a California-based company that has been providing accurate and fast transcription services since 2004. She has enjoyed nearly ten years of success at GMR, playing a pivotal role in the company's growth. Under Beth's leadership, GMR Transcription doubled its sales within two years, earning recognition as one of the OC Business Journal's fastest-growing private companies. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids.