Examples of coding
Authors of this page: Graham R. Gibbs
Affiliation: University of Huddersfield
Date written: 30th June 2005
Updated 5th April 2011
Ref: Gibbs, G R (2011) "Examples of coding", Online QDA Web Site,
These examples below show the coding of a short passage of text about a young man called Terry moving out of his parents' home and becoming independent. They show ways that analysts have coded the text and the different kinds of codes they have developed and used.
This is the text that is coded:
“When you move into your own home, you're alone. There is no bustle of people around the house. I miss having someone to chat to when I get home. I put the TV or some music so there’s some background noise, the silence makes me feel so alone. Sometimes I will be sat watching trash TV and thinking I should be out doing something rather than watching this rubbish. I read a lot but sometimes I am too tired and just want to veg out. But it's been good to move out of mum and dad’s as it's not healthy to rely on them as they won't last forever. I become independent and made my own decisions. It's good they still there when I need them. It's good to have some distance as when I was at home I was arguing a lot with my dad and that was what made me decide it was time to go.”
To help the analyst mark up the page, the text has been printed using double spacing, so that it is possible to write code ideas and code labels between the lines.
Example 1. Descriptive coding and notes.
The analyst has read the text carefully and circled what seem to be key terms or key events or actions. A short note of what these are has been written besides the circling. These are the start of descriptive, or what grounded theorists refer to as open coding. An initial coding list from this might be:
Moving out of parents
Desire for company
These terms summarise the events and actions noted by the coding in Example 1, and some are more analytical, i.e. not merely describing something that happened or was said. They could form the start of a coding list that could be used to mark-up the rest of this transcript and other similar cases.
In this example a wide margin on the right is used, so that code labels and other comments can be written there. Print out your transcriptions in whatever way supports your preferred approach to coding the text.
The codes used in Example 2 are still essentially descriptive but begin to move away from simply summarizing what the respondent has said. Using brackets to the right of the transcribed text, they also code much larger chunks or passages of text. This form of coding is most useful when you go on to make retrievals, i.e. gather together all the text about one topic – that is to say, all the text that is coded the same way. With larger chunks, the retrieved text is less likely to be decontextualized. The analyst has also used a highlighter to identify words that refer to feelings and these words suggest that the passage about living alone is actually about the emotions and feelings associated with living alone.
Example 2. Descriptive and analytic coding with notes.
The resources on this site by Graham R Gibbs, Dawn Clarke, Celia Taylor, Christina Silver and Ann Lewins are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.