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Coding refers to an analytical process in which data, often from interview transcripts or questionnaires, are categorised to facilitate analysis.

Quantitative Approach

Classification of information, is an important step in preparation of data for computer processing.

Data which are coded usually come from questionnaires used in qualitative research in social sciences. Those data, usually measured and recorded as nominal or ordinal variables, are coded in order to be analyzed by statistical software (in social sciences, spreadsheets such as Excel and more advanced packages such as PSPP/SPSS and DAP/SAS are particularly common).

Questionnaire data can be pre-coded (process of assigning codes to expected answers on designed questionnaire) or post-coded (coding of open questions on completed questionnaires).

One code should apply to only one category and categories should be comprehensive. There should be clear guidelines for coders so that code is consistent in order to simplify classification.

Qualitative Approach

For disciplines in which a qualitative format is preferential, including ethnography, humanistic geography or phenomenological psychology a varied approach to coding can be applied. Iain Hey (2005) Outlines a two step process beginning with basic coding in order to distinguish overall themes, followed by a more in depth, interpretive code in which more specific trends and patterns can be interpreted. The process can be done manually- which can be as simple as highlighting different concepts with different colours, or fed into a software package.

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