Constant Comparison

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art&scienceresearch methods nursing standard: clinical · research · education

Use of constant comparative analysis in qualitative research
Hewitt-Taylor J (2001) Use of constant comparative analysis in qualitative research.
Nursing Standard. 15, 42, 39-42. Date of acceptance: March 19 2001.
This article describes the application of constant comparative analysis, which is one method that can be used to analyse qualitative data. The need for data analysis to be congruent with the overall research design is highlighted.


HE AIM OF qualitative research is to portray the reality of the area under investigation, and to enhance understanding of the situation and the meanings and values attributed to this by
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The codes were written on hard copies of each document next to the related section. The codes and their definitions were recorded in a separate file. For example:
I Code – nursing and self-directed learning.
I Definition – any reference to, or indication that there might be issues relating to, selfdirected learning which is specific to nursing.
I Abbreviation – NSDL.
A separate file was used to ensure that the use of each code remained consistent and to establish a clear decision trail that could be used by auditors or future researchers. During data coding, notes were made about how decisions had been reached, how the coding process had been

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I Research methods
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British Nursing Index. This article has been subject to double-blind review.

july 4/vol15/no42/2001 nursing standard 39

art&scienceresearch methods nursing standard: clinical · research · education

conducted, and any specific queries raised.
Data analysis was inductive, as the study sought to promote understanding of individual perceptions, not prove a preconceived theory.
Codes were, therefore, generated from the data, rather than predetermined. Although literature-based codes can provide a useful tool, they can impede the development of new ideas
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