Programme of Work

The demonstrator project will have two major strands:

1. The critical consideration of the methodological (ethical, intellectual and epistemological) issues involved in qualitative data archiving, re-use and re-analysis. The project will develop Web-based illustrations and exemplars, and offer potential solutions to identified methodological dilemmas for data archiving and reuse. The project will contribute to the development of guidelines and procedures that enable qualitative researchers to present, combine and communicate original datasets, with/in appropriate methodological, analytical and theoretical contexts.

2. The development of open-source XML protocols and a suite of tools for presenting the guidelines and case-study exemplars to the user. This includes the capacity for user interaction with/in the presentation in a customised way. This will be achieved through the construction of an interactive Online Guide and an interactive Methodological Trail (see below). In the process, the applicability and accessibility of such technological innovations for wider use in the qualitative research community will be explored. Accordingly, this strand will add value to the technological aims by testing out XML tools for future data sharing and archiving.


The primary dataset that will be used to develop and test protocols and workable tools will be that generated by the Cardiff team as part of the project funded under the ESRC Research Methods Programme. This is a rich, multimedia, digitized data set, including a range of qualitative data (fieldnotes, documents, interview transcripts and recordings, video, still photography, soundscapes). The Cardiff team also has a second multimedia dataset, generated as part on earlier ESRC funded research project on hypermedia and ethnography. This will also be utilized, where appropriate, for illustration and demonstration purposes. The advantages of utilising these existing datasets are considerable. They are already archived in digital form. Contextual and methodological materials and information are also either already available, or could easily be prepared. Moreover, these projects have already explicitly investigated the use of digital technologies for analyzing and representing qualitative research.

Developing guidelines and exemplars

The programme of work will develop:

• Computer protocols and tools for XML data mark-up for qualitative data in a range of media.

• An Online Guide (consisting of interactive guidelines and exemplars concerning a range of methodological dilemmas) for data re-users, using and testing the mark-up procedures.

• A hypertextual Methodological Trail (consisting of a working model of a methodological route through our own existing dataset and analysis) in order to illustrate how the dilemmas described in the Online Guide were worked out in an actual real-time project.

The Guide and the Trail will be developed using existing datasets, which will be refined in terms of accessibility, navigation, visualisation and the capacity to re-use the data for the analytical and theoretical work proposed. Cardiff and ESDS Qualidata will work collaboratively to explore a number of key methodological ‘dilemmas’ which require careful consideration, planning and design if data are to be centrally archived and/or made available for re-use. Each area will be explored and ‘tested’ with concrete examples from existing datasets, and from this the Online Guide will be developed and refined. These will then be fully applied and illustrated through the hypertextual Methodological Trail. These dilemmas will map onto key research questions for the demonstrator project and will provide methodological, epistemological and ethical frameworks for the practical development of the technological tools and protocols.