Data analysis – identifying themes

7 40 minute interviews generates quite a lot of material, doesn’t it?

Having done a rough transcription of each my next job has been to pick out the key themes that I can base my discussion around, all linked back to the research questions. Partly due to the questions and the content of the interviews I’ve broken these into the following sections:

Defining storytelling – I needed to establish what people thought they were talking about when they talked about storytelling.

Benefits of a storytelling approach (both to organisations and individuals) – what would drive an organisation to use digital storytelling and other narrative approaches?

Disbenefits and risks of using storytelling – what hurdles are likely to appear

Developing skills – what have people already done, what skills do they think need developing and what is the best way of helping them to develop the skills

Organisational perspectives – I need to define this better but I’ve used this category to look at what the impacts of a storytelling approach might be on an organisation and its stakeholders and what the main enablers are.

So, without going into too much detail, here are the emerging themes under each section with a bit of explanation…

Defining storytelling

Structure and content

Building blocks – narrative, character, plot, 
Clear underlying “message”

Nature of stories

Personal in natureMaking something memorable
Making connections with other topics

Impacts on audiences

Creating an impact
Making connections


Supporting existing functions

Demonstrating impact, communicating benefits

New approaches to communicating

Adding richness
Capturing what’s usually lost

Developing identities

Exposing our unique selling points
Understanding ourselves better
Reflecting on self and practice

Disbenefits and risks


High stakes strategy, a gamble



Integrity and Accuracy

Personal/professional boundaries
Emotional manipulation
More than just anecdotes
Under/overrepresnetation of certain voices and viewpoints
Quality control

Development and change



Skills and personal styles

Professional backgrounds
Levels of comfort
Congruence with styles

Approaches to learning

Peer support and feedback
Opportunities to practice

Organisational perspectives


Openness and Transparency
management expectations


Context of other tasks
Context of other communication channels (web, blog etc)

Changing environments

Increased emphasis on showing ROI, benefits and impacts



Looking at that list now I can already see some overlaps between the main topic headings and some of the themes within them so I’ll need to resolve some of those. The main offender is the definitions topic.

Also, the wording of some of the themes isn’t quite right, not accurately reflecting what’s whithin them. “Compatability” in particular needs looking at.















Gathering data – some thoughts

I experimented on Will before Christmas by trialling my first stage interview questions on him. I felt it went well and Will’s responses will be very valuable when seen alongside my other research subjects.

I don’t want to post too much about the interviews here in case I influence the other participants.

These interviews won’t generate sufficient data by themsleves and I’m struggling to think how best to capture other aspects. This is one of my main aras of concern to take to Guy next time I speak to him.

How do I fit in? I’m part of the case study as well but do I need to answer my own questions? Does that risk me skewing the data? I’ve undertaken quite a lot of work in the form of presentations, workshops, blog posts and so on but I’m not sure how to represent that in the case study.

All being well, over the course of the study we will have produced our own digital stories. I want to include these but will also need to capture reflection from the people that have produced them as well as the rest of the peer group.

For the 2nd stage interviews I was considering doing a workshop to try and capture individual experiences but also some of the group dialogue. We have been learing about participatory approaches to workshops recently and it would be good to put some fo those into practice. This will allow participants to visualise a lot of their experiences, mapping their journeys. This will have to be done carefully to make sure that sufficient data is captured on the day (I’ll need to employ an observer/note taker) as well as giving participants a chance to explain and interpret in their own words what they have come up with.

The more I think about it the more nervous I get that time is ticking away. I want to get my initial round of interviews wrapped up in the next 2 weeks or so so I can start transcribing and coding the data and then planning the next stages.