Corpora in the Social Sciences – How corpus-based approaches can support qualitative interview analyses

Jennifer Fest


Qualitative and quantitative research approaches are often considered as incompatible, and when they are brought together in a study, the analyses often stay within the realm of the same research field. The study at hand aims at combining the two methods from the perspectives of different disciplines and tries to determine to which degree a corpus-based analysis might support the traditional content-focused approach to qualitative data and render additional results.

The basis for this study is a set of interviews taken from a survey in the field of educational science. It has previously been subjected to a qualitative analysis as used in social sciences. By processing the data as a corpus, this study will try to analyse in more detail the language used by the interviewees in terms of word frequencies, typical collocations and pronominal use, putting particular emphasis on the phrasing of criticism and evaluation.

Although these features can be traced relatively clearly when looking at language, they are easily overlooked or lost in an analysis categorising utterances on the basis of content only, as is the case in the given qualitative tradition. A corpus-based analysis of the data can therefore be said to give not only interesting but relevant insight into the structure of an interview and the information conveyed by the interviewees.

 DOI: 10.20420/rlfe.2015.0011

Palabras clave

qualitative research; corpus analysis; interdisciplinary research; interview analysis; evaluative language; speaker identities

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