Secondary Analysis of Interviews: Using Codes and Theoretical Concepts From the Primary Study

  • Irena Medjedovic Universität Bremen
  • Andreas Witzel
Keywords: CAQDAS, interview, secondary analysis, panel-study, theoretical concept, typology, codes, category scheme


Despite the possibilities of using secondary analysis in social science there are reservations about methodological and ethic issues. Furthermore, the method is under-utilised in Germany due to the lack of readiness and access to the primary data. In our opinion, the lack of methodological experiences dominates scepticism. Using an interview from a panel-study about young adults entering the job market, we show in our contribution the opportunities, constraints and circumstances involved in secondary analysis. When carrying out secondary analysis, usually the demand for data is restricted to original data from the primary study. However, based on our experience, codes and category schemes used in the computer-assisted qualitative data analysis (CAQDAS) of the primary study are also adequate for performing secondary analysis. Under certain conditions inductive analysis is possible even when relying on theoretical concepts like typologies used in the primary study. If such schemes have the heuristic function of an "oversized card-index box" with broad and not apriori theoretically deduced categories, their applicability for secondary analysis should not contradict open-ended coding in the process of creating in-vivo-codes. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0501462


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Author Biographies

Irena Medjedovic, Universität Bremen
Irena MEDJEDOVIC, Dipl.-Psych., is research assistant at the Archive for Life Course Research at the University Bremen and is involved in establishing a national service infrastructure for archiving qualitative data. Her major research interests include the feasibility of archiving qualitative interview data and methodological issues of secondary qualitative data analysis.
Andreas Witzel
Andreas WITZEL (, Dipl.-Psych., is director of the Archive for Life Course Research at the University Bremen. He is engaged in establishing a national service infrastructure for archiving qualitative data. His major research interests include qualitative methodology and methods, work socialisation, biography and the life course, especially the transition from school to work.
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