Can we re-use qualitative data via secondary analysis? Notes on some terminological and substantive issues.
Sociological Research Online, 15(1)
The potential gains and practical problems associated with secondary analysis of qualitative data have received increasing attention in recent years. The discussions display conflicting attitudes, some commentators emphasising the difficulties while others emphasise the benefits. In a few recent contributions the distinctiveness of re-using data has come to be questioned, on the grounds that the problems identified with it - of data not fitting the research questions, and of relevant contextual knowledge being absent - are by no means limited to secondary analysis. There has also been a more fundamental claim: to the effect that these problems are much less severe once we recognise that, all data are constituted and re-constituted within the research process. In this article I examine these arguments, concluding that while they have much to commend them, they do not dissolve the problems of 'fit' and 'context'.
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