The Constant Comparative Method
The constant comparative method is a process in which any newly collected data is compared with previous data that was collected in one or more earlier studies. This is a continuous ongoing procedure, because theories are formed, enhanced, confirmed, or even discounted as a result of any new data that emerges from the study.
As you know by now, one way in which data can be constantly compared throughout a research study is by means of coding.
Although usually the data that we code arises from sections of text that we have transcribed from interviews, it can also be excerpts from audio or video recordings, or images. All these are similarly coded to ensure consistency of coding within any particular research study.
As you work through the data, the number of codes will expand as more topics/themes are identified. If a theme is identified from the data that does not quite fit the codes that you have already identified, then you have to create a new code to involve that theme within your analysis.
As you now know, there are three types of coding that we use in qualitative research:
open coding - the initial organisation of the data to try to make some sense of it
axial coding - the interconnecting the categories
selective coding - the development of a story that connects the categories
Hopefully, at the end of these processes, you will have produced a set of theoretical propositions.
data analysis analysing data