Coding for Language Complexity: The Interplay Among Methodological Commitments, Tools, and Workflow in Writing Research

Cheryl Geisler
  • Written Communication, March 2018, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0741088317748590

Tools and methods for coding verbal data

What is it about?

Researchers in many fields need to analyze verbal data from interviews, texts, focus groups, and recorded conversations. This article explores the tools and workflow required to go beyond simple topical analysis to code for what the language is doing as well as saying.

Why is it important?

Most of the tools available for coding language data are general purpose tools that are not designed to support a rhetorical perspective -- to understand what language does as well as what it says. This article lays out the philosophical commitments required for a rhetorical perspective and explains the adaptations and workarounds required when using general purpose tools like Microsoft Excel or computer-assisted qualitative data analysis (CAQDAS) tools. Without an awareness of these commitments and workarounds, researchers may find themselves stuck with tools that can't support their analyses.


Cheryl Geisler (Author)
Simon Fraser University

Although coding verbal data is very common across a wide range of fields -- and is even becoming a part of the work done in the digital humanities -- there is surprisingly little guidance out there for researchers trying to develop an approach and choosing tools for coding. This article is my attempt to fill this gap, discussing important philosophical issues, detailing appropriate work flow, and explaining how to adapt a variety of general purpose tools to make them do what we want to do in analyzing language.

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