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Loudspeaker icon Revising and restructuring the codes in a Template.

Here is a video of Prof. Nigel King, one of the developers of Template Analysis, talking about ways of revising the template codes.


The development of the template

Authors of this page:Dawn Clarke and Graham R. Gibbs

Affiliation: University of Huddersfield

Date written: 2nd Sept. 2008





Learning outcomes

  1. Learn how to revise the codes from an initial coding frame (template)
  2. Be able to develop and use codes that represent new theoretical ideas about the project
  3. Learn how to deal with having too many codes.

Frances produced two templates before the final one that she used for her data analysis. This was a normal procedure that was required in order to see what works and what does not. What will become apparent in the next section are the changes that Frances implemented; comparing the first and second templates, seeing what was different, discovering why these changes had been made and to what end.

The first change was the history of the whiplash injury that had been removed as a category from the second template.


Loudspeaker icon Frances explained why she removed this theme:

It was me as a medical person that wanted to look at the [injury] or it's how I would look at what the actual injury meant really.  But in fact, what the category did was to keep me really focused on a medical way of looking at things. So the history of the injury itself really wasn’t that important. So it [the research] wasn’t about a historical thing, its more about the present and what it [the personal experience of whiplash injury] meant. And I’ve got [data about] previous incidents: "impact on recent injury". Well that really is very medical, not at all about a different way of understanding, so it tells me nothing really about the injury [experience].


What Frances realised was that the category of the history of the injury produced medicalised descriptive data that did not 'uncover' what she was trying to explore.


Loudspeaker iconFrances explained how she wanted to go 'beyond' the medical description:

One of the things that I wanted to do was to uncover the meanings of this injury, rather than think it’s a whiplash, it’s a, a sprain and that’s all that didn’t actually mean anything. All that did was just keep me describing from a medical viewpoint. It didn’t actually say what it meant to the participant.


Not only that the data were merely re-stating the knowledge which was already known it was not going to yield information to develop a new understanding; in short Frances would have failed to address one of her main research aims.

The next change was one of naming a category; on the first template Frances used the title 'self management' which she changed to 'looking after yourself' on the second template.


Loudspeaker iconFrances explained why:

I think they are [the two titles] very similar, I think they’re just a play on words with a 'looking after yourself.’ That felt more meaningful in terms of that's what people would 'look after themselves' rather than 'self manage yourself'. But again as a medical way of understanding, oh it's 'self management'. So it's.. again it's about that shift for me from a medical way of looking at something to a more holistic [way]. It changes, immediately opens up the meanings rather than closing down [because] I think the medical part closed things down.


The change in title moved Frances away from a medical way of understanding whiplash injury and enabled her to capture the experiences of the participants because her focus became the way the participants were responsible for themselves. What will become evident is that this focus became a central part of her final template.

Frances did not re-code parts of the transcript she only changed the title of the category but, in doing so she opened it and as a consequence more sections of the text were incorporated and hence there was some additional coding. The result of this was that Frances was able to develop her understanding of the participants' experiences.

The next change that Frances implemented was changing the title of a category from ' seeking help and initial consultation' to 'consultation and treatment'


Loudspeaker iconFrances explained why she made this change:

There’s two separate things there, it was actually deciding to seek help, so that’s something is wrong, which therefore leads you to have that first consultation.  But the actual consultation treatment is, is a different aspect of that relationship. Whereas the first time, [I analyse the data] I just automatically see seeking help and a consultation and diagnosis as part and parcel of that.  It's just automatic. But, in fact, when I start to break it down it's actually not the same as a decision to seek help, which was why they wanted to do that... What they thought about... Who they thought they might go to... But then when they actually take that step and meet somebody, although its part of that seeking help what takes place where the consultation or treatments carried out is different.


Frances went on to explain that the change was relatively minor but it was an attempt to move away from her medical understanding of whiplash injury, what her 'immediate take on it would be' that is to say, the medical perspective would be that the injury would be too minor to warrant medical treatment. Thus Frances felt that splitting consultation and treatment enabled her to change her focus, to 'let go of the way she normally viewed things' and explore the participants' experience of whiplash regardless of the severity of the injury. However, eventually, Frances put consultation and treatment under the same heading of 'attaching the label' she explained why:


Loudspeaker iconFrances explained why she combined these two themes:

One of the things that I kind of, and I kind of still do I suppose is, erm, you know, you think how many categories do you need, what’s the minimum, is there a maximum, should I have 3 categories, is that too much, is, is, is that not enough? Hedging all the time between what would be too much and what would not be enough.  For me, looking at it [the coding categories], I didn’t need to have 'initial consultation' and 'symptoms' all as separate categories, it could all be under the one.


The number of coding categories is often of concern for many researchers', frequently they will develop and use a large number at the beginning of the analysis. This is necessary at the start in order to become familiar with the data and hence to develop an understanding of the subject. Typically the categories will reduce as the data continues to be analysed, in this case Frances was less descriptive and more theoretical in her approach. This lead on to a further reduction in coded categories as she began to realise that some of the information she had gathered was not quite as relevant overall now as she thought it was at the beginning. Most of the changes that Frances made at this stage were about moving her information around and making connections between coded categories. When placed together they enabled her to analyse whiplash injury from the personal perspective of the participants, moving away from her own medical background.


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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.


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