Secondary Analysis of Qualitative Interview Data: Objections and Experiences. Results of a German Feasibility Study

  • Irena Medjedović Universität Bremen
Keywords: secondary analysis, qualitative interviews, feasibility study, data fit, context, research ethics


The German feasibility study on archiving and reusing qualitative interview data has surveyed experts, namely qualitative researchers. Their views, ideas and problems have to be considered as central conditions if the aim is to open up the horizon for the theory and practice of secondary analysis. Although the overall results of the feasibility study can be regarded as quite positive, this contribution takes a closer look at the issues of secondary analysis of qualitative data. The analysis shows that there are some concerns and open issues associated with this new and unfamiliar research strategy. On the methodological side specificity and context sensitivity of qualitative research are raised as objections. On the ethical side concerns relate to an assumed breach of the confidential relationship to the research subject constituted within an interview. Furthermore, considerations concerning competition also play a role when researchers are asked to provide their data for reuse by others. This article provides a further step for a discussion about qualitative secondary analysis (in Germany), by pointing out the critical aspects of secondary analysis. But the experience of the expert researchers who were interviewed suggests that the problems associated with secondary analysis do not necessarily constitute unsolvable obstacles.



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Author Biography

Irena Medjedović, Universität Bremen

Irena MEDJEDOVIC, Dipl.-Psych., is head of the research unit "Qualification and Competence Research" of the Institute Labour and Economy (IAW) at the University of Bremen. Until December 2010, she worked at the Archive for Life Course Research where she was involved in establishing a national service infrastructure for archiving qualitative data. Her current major research interests include vocational education and training research, qualification research, occupational life course research, and methods, especially qualitative methods and methodological issues of secondary qualitative data analysis.

Archival and Biographical Research Projects (and Initiatives) in Six European Countries