Adding scientific rigour to qualitative data analysis: an illustrative example

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to illustrate how qualitative data may be analysed using a method that can be considered as rigorous/scientific as any statistical analysis of quantitative data. Design/methodology/approach – An artificial neural network programme CATPAC II™ was used to evaluate selected portions of two accounting standards: the Financial Reporting Standards Board of New Zealand's standard on consolidation; and the equivalent standard developed by the International Accounting Standards Committee and revised by the International Accounting Standards Board. Findings – The analysis of the concepts of control in the two standards identifies the differences that exist between the two standards. These differences are illuminated through the use of a hierarchical cluster analysis of 40 unique concepts in each of the two standards and 2D representation of the concepts. The extent of the differences in the concepts was established through a rotational analysis of the two datasets. Research limitations/implications – This research is limited to the analysis of the concept of control and associated commentary paragraphs and supporting documents associated with two accounting standards. Different results may have been obtained had the whole standard been analysed. Practical implications – Artificial neural network software can be used to support the intuitive textual understanding of the differences that exist in qualitative data. In this paper, the differences identified in the concepts of control may result in different interpretations being taken by the accounting standard users when determining what reporting entities to include in consolidated financial statements. Some additional uses for artificial neural network software in accounting research are also identified. Originality/value – This paper is the first in the discipline to use artificial neural network software to analyse and compare different texts.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Samkin, G. & Schneider, A. (2008). Adding scientific rigour to qualitative data analysis: an illustrative example. Qualitative Research in Accounting and Management, 5(3), 207- 238.
Emerald Group
Publisher version