On the Potentials and Problems of Secondary Analysis. An Introduction to the FQS Special Issue on Secondary Analysis of Qualitative Data


  • Louise Corti ESDS Qualidata
  • Andreas Witzel
  • Libby Bishop ESDS Qualidata




secondary analysis, qualitative data, data archives, context, anonymisation, teaching and learning, social research methods


Archived qualitative data are a rich and unique yet often unexploited source of research material that can be reanalysed, reworked, and compared with contemporary data. This issue aims to debate the methodological, ethical and theoretical considerations relating to the secondary analysis of qualitative data and to provide exemplars of applications of the method. Many of the papers present actual case studies based on re-using qualitative data, while others build on the growing body of published evidence that provide arguments relating to the strengths and weaknesses of particular approaches to the secondary analysis of qualitative data. In the first section, the papers explore issues of context: how to best preserve context and challenges posed by decontextualised archived data. The second set of papers offers case studies of reuse in areas including class, medicine, history, and employment and consider reinterpretation of original findings, analytic strategies and ways of teaching secondary analysis data of qualitative data. In the final section the contributions cover more practical issues such as strategies for anonymisation and tools that address some of the deficiencies of current technological systems for handling qualitative data. Although new resources to support secondary analysis are starting to appear, the need for more still exists, in particular for high quality and transparent exemplars of re-analysis. We hope this issue of FQS goes some way toward filling this need. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0501495


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Louise Corti, ESDS Qualidata

Louise CORTI is currently an Associate Director at the UKDA at the University of Essex, where she is Head of ESDS Qualidata, Outreach and Promotion. In the past she has carried out research in the fields of health, education and survey and panel study methodology. She has taught sociology, social research methods, statistics, qualitative software packages, research & data management at undergraduate, postgraduate and professional level. Her recent publications include various articles on archiving and re-using qualitative data and a virtual tutorial for social research methods. Her current research expertise and interests involve enhancing access to digital qualitative data, XML applications for qualitative data, consent and confidentiality in social research, and the application, use and promotion of social science data in teaching and learning. She holds/has recently held both JISC and ESRC research grants across these areas.

Andreas Witzel

Andreas WITZEL (http://www.qualitative-research.net/fqs/beirat/witzel-e.htm)>, Dipl.-Psych., is director of the Life-Course-Archive on the Graduate School of Social Sciences (GSSS), University of Bremen. His major research interests include qualitative methodology and methods, occupational socialization, biography and the life course, especially the transition from school to work.

Libby Bishop, ESDS Qualidata

Libby BISHOP is currently a Manager at ESDS Qualidata where she plans, oversees and coordinates the day-to-day work of the section. She also manages the development of ESDS Qualidata Online, especially by selecting collections for enhancement and by writing materials to promote reuse and secondary analysis. She is also helping to develop a framework (DTD), methodology and tools for providing online access to enhanced archived qualitative data resources and has given workshops and conference presentations in these areas. She has over fifteen years experience in qualitative research and research management in academic and non-academic organisations. She has taught sociology, including introductory qualitative methodology. Her current research project uses secondary analysis of several Qualidata collections to explore recent historical shifts in the use and status of processed foods.



How to Cite

Corti, L., Witzel, A., & Bishop, L. (2005). On the Potentials and Problems of Secondary Analysis. An Introduction to the FQS Special Issue on Secondary Analysis of Qualitative Data. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-6.1.498

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 > >>