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Using Large Scale Data Sets in Qualitative Research

One Day Workshop

City University London

on Friday 29th October 2004

It is becoming standard advice in research methods textbooks to use a mixed methods strategy to triangulate the data and to combine the strengths of different kinds of evidence – the best of all worlds.  Linking qualitative and quantitative research evidence is thus an aim of many current projects. In practice, however, multi-method strategies present some interesting challenges that have not been well explored in the methodological texts. This workshop will present the example of one mixed methods strategy and discuss the issues that arise from it. During the day there will be input, discussion and the chance to work with extracts from the data.

The aims of the workshop are to offer a practical example of using a large-scale data set in a qualitative research project with hands-on experience of the project data and an analysis of some practical and epistemological issues that are raised by a mixed methods strategy.

By the end of the day participants will be able to…

  • Identify key issues in developing a research methodology using large-scale data sets
  • Specify the possibilities and constraints of working with data arising from large-scale data sets
  • Develop a proposal for using existing data sets for small scale qualitative research

The workshop is for anyone engaged with research who is interested in mixed method research strategies and in exploring creative ways to combine the insights from quantitative and qualitative data sources. The workshop draws on data from the Changing Faces Project, a critical history and policy analysis of adult basic education 1970-2000. We have carried out interviews with practitioners, policy makers and a sample of adults from the National Child Development Survey Cohort (NCDS).  The interviewees from the NCDS cohort were carefully chosen according to variables held in the NCDS database. We compiled individual profiles based on this information, and the interviews built on these.


For more information and to book a place please email Jas Kaur at City University: (Jasvir Kaur, Postgraduate Courses and Research Officer, Department of Continuing Education, School of Arts, City University, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB), or visit the RCBN website (


Workshop Facilitators: Mary Hamilton, Lancaster University; Yvonne Hillier, City University; Sam Parsons, Institute of Education, London

Programme for the day:

11am – 1pm

  • Introduction to the Changing Faces Project
  • Initial activity – familiarising participants with the project data
  • Designing the sampling strategy: how we chose the interviewees from the NCDS cohort, to fit with the project aims and research questions
  • Issues in the data collection process

1-2pm LUNCH


  • Analysing the Data: what life history interviews can add to the survey information workshop activity with interview extracts
  • Creating new variables from the interviews to add into future surveys (speculative discussion, led by the facilitators, with examples)
  • Final discussion on linking quantitative and qualitative data.

Number of Participants: 40 maximum

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This page was last modified: 1st October 2004