Qualitative Data Are Not Just Quantitative Data With Text but Data With Context: On the Dangers of Sharing Some Qualitative Data Comment on DuBois et al. (2018)

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There are many types of qualitative data and data analyses approaches stemming from different disciplinary approaches. In-depth interviews, group interviews, observations, mapping, and other methods are collected in different ways for myriad purposes. They are contextual and need to be understood within the framework of the research conducted. Interviews and transcripts cannot be treated simply as quantitative data sets. We argue the authors call for de-identifying interview transcripts is misguided. De-identifying data is not a simple process, nor is calling for a broad overarching approach to qualitative data sharing an appropriate solution. Data ownership and stewardship of different types of qualitative research is complicated and varies by disciplinary approaches, funding opportunities, and the need to protect vulnerable populations. In addition, we need to recognize there are many different ways of analyzing interviews and other qualitative data that vary by discipline, theoretical approach, and, hopefully, a deep understanding of the context and purpose in which the data was produced. Further discussions around qualitative data sharing, ownership, and stewardship must take into account all of the above issues.

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