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Contributor(s): Dr Kavita Abraham

Released on 20 August 2010

Qualitative data can provide a researcher with a lot of interesting information , but trying to interpret what it means can lead to methodological problems. Unlike a list of numbers, the meaning of a text is not something everyone will necessarily agree on. It’s much easier for researcher bias to affect the interpretation, and it’s often difficult to explicitly demonstrate how conclusions have been reached.

But what if you could train a machine to do the analysis? In this short film Kavita Abraham of LSE’s Methodology Institute explains how she has been using the software Alceste to analyse the transcripts of interviews with hundreds of people from Angola, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone. The interviews, which explored perceptions of local governance, were conducted by the BBC World Service Trust|, a charity that uses the power of the media to reduce poverty and promote human rights. Here Dr Abraham highlights some of the advantages of using a machine to study this kind of qualitative data.

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