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Comment sifting: pragmatic qualitative analysis of LibQUAL + Comments

Michael Luther (Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, USA)

Library Hi Tech News

ISSN: 0741-9058

Article publication date: 2 November 2015




The purpose of this paper is to present a practical, low-tech and adaptable methodology for converting large amounts of comment data into actionable, qualitative analysis.


In 2013, the Horace W. Sturgis Library of Kennesaw State University conducted the LibQUAL+ survey, receiving 1,653 open-ended comments. In a home-grown approach to comment analysis, the Sturgis Library targeted specific areas of operational significance (chat, ILL, etc.) to analyze in depth. Keywords and synonyms were identified, comments containing these terms were evaluated and a document known as a mini-report summarized the analysis for each area.


Over the summer of 2013, two librarians created 12 mini-reports. The mini-report format allowed investigators to build up their understanding of the organization incrementally and proved a valuable means of summarizing qualitative analysis and sharing it with various stakeholders.

Research limitations/implications

Not all comments are coded, and therefore, potentially valuable information is lost. By limiting focus to specific operational areas, the methodology does not capture themes that are diffused throughout the organization. Some areas of operational significance are difficult to isolate by keywords.


This paper contributes to the literature on pragmatic qualitative analysis. Many existing models of qualitative analysis are resource intensive, in terms of time, technology and staff training. This paper presents a variation on a methodology that is more adaptable, allowing the researchers to explore within large pools of comment data without having to code and analyze every comment.



Luther, M. (2015), "Comment sifting: pragmatic qualitative analysis of LibQUAL + Comments", Library Hi Tech News, Vol. 32 No. 9, pp. 8-13.



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