When a cigar is not just a cigar: Alternative takes on data and data analysis


  • Margarete Sandelowski

    Corresponding author
    1. Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor, School of Nursing, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
    • #7460 Carrington Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599.
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A commonplace in the qualitative research literature is that data can be interpreted in more than one way. Less commonly considered are how much the interpretive flexibility of data depends on the adequacy of researchers' interpretive repertoires and how it troubles the lines conventionally drawn between methods, primary and secondary analysis, and between valid and invalid interpretation. What largely differentiates inquiry is not whether it is qualitative or quantitative but rather the attitude taken toward the data generated in a study. The more varied the interpretive repertoire of researchers, the greater will be their capacity to be tuned in to and credibly account for the varied ways in which data can be seen and treated. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 34:342–352, 2011