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Data Analysis in Qualitative Research

Theorizing with Abductive Analysis

From two experts in the field comes an accessible, how-to guide that will help researchers think more productively about the relation between theory and data at every stage of their work.

In Data Analysis in Qualitative Research, Iddo Tavory and Stefan Timmermans provide a how-to guide filled with tricks of the trade for researchers who hope to take excellent qualitative data and transform it into powerful scholarship. In their previous book, Abductive Analysis: Theorizing Qualitative Research, Timmermans and Tavory offered a toolkit for innovative theorizing in the social sciences. In this companion, they go one step further to show how to uncover the surprising revelations that lie waiting in qualitative data—in sociology and beyond.
In this book, they lay out a series of tools designed to help both novice and expert scholars see and understand their data in surprising ways. Timmermans and Tavory show researchers how to “stack the deck” of qualitative research in favor of locating surprising findings that may lead to theoretical breakthroughs, whether by engaging with theory, discussing research strategies, or walking the reader through the process of coding data. From beginning to end of a research project, Data Analysis in Qualitative Research helps social scientists pinpoint the most promising paths to take in their approach.


200 pages | 2 halftones, 1 line drawings, 1 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2022

Reference and Bibliography

Sociology: General Sociology, Methodology, Statistics, and Mathematical Sociology, Theory and Sociology of Knowledge


“Timmermans and Tavory have done the field of sociology a great service with their deep and probing exploration of methods of analyzing qualitative research data. Students will find the questions they are often asked answered here to everyone's satisfaction.

Howard S. Becker, author of Writing for Social Scientists

“Timmermans and Tavory show us how to use abductive analysis through every stage of the research process to exploit the potential for theory construction that breaks new ground. They give qualitative researchers—beginning and experienced—new ways to think about what we do as we are doing it, as well as a set of new analytic practices.  In so doing, they also give us the ability to teach it.”

Diane Vaughan, author of Dead Reckoning

“In spite of its title, Data Analysis in Qualitative Research is as much about theory as it is about data. The authors make a case for theoretically informed qualitative research in which true discovery—or, as they put it, surprise—is key. At times irreverent in tone and informed by years of experience, the book will prove valuable to ethnographers and interviewers grappling with qualitative analysis.”

Mario Small, author of Someone To Talk To

"This book is a manifesto for a better sociology—one centered on explaining the inexplicable in a way that does not merely replicate what we know but empowers us to know more, know subversively, know better. I want to assign this book to every incoming grad student—both to instruct them on what sociology can be and also put in their minds the expectation that they too can create great sociology."

Jennifer Carlson, University of Arizona

Data Analysis in Qualitative Research aims to show researchers how to collect, analyze, and write about their data in more theoretically fruitful ways. It presents a set of principles to guide and empower researchers to think more productively about the relation between theory and data. This approach is likely to induce the active engagement that will generate innovative research, rather than simply guiding readers to follow a recipe that would produce a merely passable piece of work.”

Carol Heimer, Northwestern University

"Timmermans and Tavory’s how-to guide provides tricks of the trade for researchers who hope to take excellent qualitative data and transform it into powerful scholarship. One focus is on how researchers can approach qualitative research in a way that will locate surprising findings that may lead to theoretical breakthroughs."

Law & Social Inquiry

Table of Contents

1: Surprise
2: Beginnings
3: Theories
4: Collecting
5: Open Coding
6: Focused Coding
7: Clues about Clues
8: Writing It Down, Writing It Up
9: Abduction in Action
Appendix: From Qualitative to Computational Abductive Analysis

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