Qualitative data are data representing information and concepts that are not represented by numbers. They are often gathered from interviews and focus groups, personal diaries and lab notebooks, maps, photographs, and other printed materials or observations. Qualitative data are distinguished from quantitative data, which focus primarily on data that can be represented with numbers.
Qualitative data can be analyzed in multiple ways. One common method is data coding, which refers to the process of transforming the raw collected data into a set of meaningful categories that describe essential concepts of the data. Qualitative data and methods may be used more frequently in humanities or social science research and may be collected in descriptive studies.
Examples of qualitative data are the transcript of an interview and data collected in free text fields in a survey.
There are many tools available for qualitative data analysis, depending on the data type. Some popular tools include:
Deakin University Library created a great video explaining the difference between qualitative and quantitative research and data:
This guide provides a full look at qualitative data, including how and why it’s collected and used: