New research article published about secondary analysis of archived qualitative data and research design

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-11-14-53I am delighted that my first journal from the ‘Men, Poverty and Lifetimes of Care’ (MPLC) study has been published today in the International Journal of Social Research Methodology.

Here is the abstract so that you can get an idea of what it is about:


In recent years, the possibilities and pitfalls of qualitative secondary analysis have been the subject of on-going academic debate, contextualised by the growing availability of qualitative data in digital archives and the increasing interest of funding councils in the value of data re-use. This article contributes to, and extends these methodological discussions, through a critical consideration of how the secondary analysis of thematically related qualitative longitudinal (QL) datasets might be utilised productively in qualitative research design. It outlines the re-use of two datasets available in the Timescapes Archive, that were analysed to develop a primary empirical project exploring processes of continuity and change in the context of men’s care responsibilities in low-income families. As well as outlining the process as an exemplar, key affordances and challenges of the approach are considered. Particular emphasis is placed on how a structured exploration of existing QL datasets can enhance research design in studies where there is limited published evidence.


I wrote this paper because I wanted to provide researchers with a worked example of how I developed the research design for the MPLC study based on the exploratory use of existing qualitative data that has already been produced, in this case data stored in the Timescapes Archive. My engagements with this data were structured, providing me with insights in relation to:

  • The research site where I wanted to conduct my study;
  • Substantive information about men’s experiences of providing care in low-income and disadvantaged contexts, which has not been widely researched; and
  • the processes through which men come to become the main informal and formal carers as a result of need by other familial generations.

The process of secondary analysis was time-consuming and fraught with difficulties. As a relatively novel reason for engaging with existing datasets, including bringing two different datasets together, this was a unchartered activity. In the main though, it was also an insightful process that has engendered critical consideration of research methodology and the ways in which sociologists produce knowledge. I reflect on these points in greater detail in the paper.

There are 50 free copies available here but please do get in touch for a copy if the free copies have run out or if you can’t access the paper.


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