Traps on the Path of Analysis


CB #3210, Hamilton Hall, Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3210; e-mail:


Qualitative researchers experience common traps as we build our analyses. These traps include (1) becoming attached to studies related to our topic; (2) feeling overly sympathetic toward participants; (3) unknowingly taking on lay assumptions and beliefs; and (4) falling into subjectivism. These categories are neither exhaustive nor mutually exclusive but represent the stumbling blocks we have encountered in our research and in others' work. We examine these barriers to qualitative analysis and discuss practical strategies to avoid or overcome them.