Saldana: Introduction to Codes and Coding p. 1-15 (Allison)

Codes are ways to discover, identify and label repeated evidence collected from qualitative data: surveys, interviews, observations, focus groups, etc.

Saldana states, “The is no ‘best’ way to code…” and advocates a Pragmatist Paradigm of the “right tool for the right job” (Saldana, 2008 p. 2).

29 Coding methods: a few examples (states rarely are all used, even throughout a career).

Descriptive Code: summarizes the primary topic of an excerpt.

In Vivo Code: taken directly from the participant and is indicated by quotes.

Initial Coding: an open-ended process, where first impressions are recorded

Process Code: a word or phrase that captures action

Simultaneous Coding: two or more codes within a single datum


First Cycle: the first pass when reviewing data, a single word or phrase can be used

Second Cycle: revisit the passages and edit, reword, or regroup

Decoding: decipher the core meaning(s) from a passage

Encoding: labeling the passage

Recognizing patterns:

Patterns: have various forms







Filters: how one perceives, documents and codes the data

Codifying & Categorizing: creating a systematic arrangement, even if one category might be labeled “differences”

Recoding and recategorizing: Repeat first and second cycle, are they any changes? Codes, themes, groups and categories may change

Toward Theory

As the categories, subcategories and concepts become evident, they can begin to be related to theory. Layer upon layer can be found and built upon each other.

Code vs Theme: A theme is an outcome of a coding, categorizing, and analytic reflection.

What to code? Depends…

Life happens at four coordinates: participants, activities, time, and place


Units of social organization

  1. Cultural practices
  2. Episodes
  3. Encounters
  4. Roles
  5. Social and personal relationships
  6. Groups and Cliques
  7. Organizations
  8. Settlements and habitats
  9. Subcultures and lifestyles

Questions to consider:

  1. What coding method(s) is appropriate for your study?
  2. What method(s) have you used so far?
  3. What kinds of questions to ask that do not narrow the answer of the participant?
  4.  What is involved in the First cycle and when does one begin the Second Cycle?
  5. What is the rationale for recoding and recategorizing?
  6. How does the researcher find the emergent themes and connect them to a theory?