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Coding qualitative data: a synthesis guiding the novice

Mai Skjott Linneberg (Department of Management, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)
Steffen Korsgaard (Department of Entrepreneurship and Relationship Management, University of Southern Denmark, Kolding, Denmark)

Qualitative Research Journal

ISSN: 1443-9883

Article publication date: 8 May 2019

Issue publication date: 4 June 2019




Qualitative research has gained in importance in the social sciences. General knowledge about qualitative data analysis, how to code qualitative data and decisions concerning related research design in the analytical process are all important for novice researchers. The purpose of this paper is to offer researchers who are new to qualitative research a thorough yet practical introduction to the vocabulary and craft of coding.


Having pooled, their experience in coding qualitative material and teaching students how to code, in this paper, the authors synthesize the extensive literature on coding in the form of a hands-on review.


The aim of this paper is to provide a thorough yet practical presentation of the vocabulary and craft of coding. The authors, thus, discuss the central choices that have to be made before, during and after coding, providing support for novices in practicing careful and enlightening coding work, and joining in the debate on practices and quality in qualitative research.


While much material on coding exists, it tends to be either too comprehensive or too superficial to be practically useful for the novice researcher. This paper, thus, focusses on the central decisions that need to be made when engaging in qualitative data coding in order to help researchers new to qualitative research engage in thorough coding in order to enhance the quality of their analyses and findings, as well as improve quantitative researchers’ understanding of qualitative coding.



Skjott Linneberg, M. and Korsgaard, S. (2019), "Coding qualitative data: a synthesis guiding the novice", Qualitative Research Journal, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 259-270.



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