Data analysis is the process of reducing large organized data into summarized and categorized data. In the case of qualitative data, grounded theory is sometimes applied while performing the analysis. This process consists of four stages. The previous article showed how to conduct the first stage, i.e. initial or open coding in grounded theory analysis using a case example of interviews of nine shoppers regarding their shopping behaviour. In this article, the case is further analysed for the last two stages of grounded theory analysis, i.e. axial and selective coding.
Types of data analysis
Approaches of data analysis include ethnographic analysis, narrative analysis, phenomenological analysis and constant comparison method (Onwuegbuzie, Dickinson, Leech, & Zoran, 2009). The ethnographic analysis involves a culture’s demographic and human life. Narrative analysis is utilized in several fields of study. The phenomenological analysis provides an epochal approach to identify an individual’s assumptions about the phenomenon, imaginative variation. Lastly, the constant comparative method focuses on codes and conceptual relationships (Hancock, Ockleford, & Windridge, 2009). The constant comparative method is used to evaluate data related to codes and categories.
Assumptions of good code in qualitative data analysis
A good code carries five elements;
- a name,
- a definition of the theme concerns,
- an elaboration of translating a theme to a code,
- an explanation of inclusion or exclusion to the identification of theme, and,
- listing of positive and negative examples.
Categories are generated from the coding process and it should have characteristics like categories reflect the purpose of research and it is mutually exclusive (Kawulich, n.d.).
Coding is of three types;
- open coding,
- axial coding and,
- selective coding.
Open coding identifies concepts by asking questions about the data. The second stage of coding is axial coding, it is used to make connections between categories, sub-categories and coding (Kawulich B.B.).
Axial coding in grounded theory analysis
Axial coding is the second phase of ground theory analysis. The word ‘axial’ used by Strauss and Corbin (1998) is intended to put an axis through data. This axis connects identified categories in open coding. Axial coding puts categories back together in order to explore theoretical possibilities. So axial coding identifies causal relationships, context, intervening conditions to interconnect data. So the outcome of axial coding is an approach towards the central phenomenon of the data (Punch K. F. , n.d.).
Further analysis of the case of nine shoppers ( Joan, Farideh, Doreen, Grace, Pam, Elena, Anne, Lily and Laura) involves axial and selective coding. The below table represents stage 3, i.e. axial coding in grounded theory analysis. It includes the creation of sub-categories and sub-sub-categories for each of the main categories identified in the interviews.
|Frequency of shopping at KDS||Once in a month|
|Reasons for shopping at KDS||Spacious space, a wide range of goods, Car Parking, nice staff, new checkout system|
|Amount of time spent at the store||A couple of hours|
|Intend to buy at KDS||Household items, Christmas gift|
|Any other place apart from KDS for exploration||Yes||Debenhams, internet, West End or Kensington, Waterston, a new store at Guildford, Market|
|Any products/range of products not currently stocked in KDS||Yes||Bridal Service, Wide range of goods, Quality and Styling of garments, Kitchen goods, Garden furniture, New stock of clothes|
|Any products/ranges currently stocked that is not considered buying from KDS||Yes||Electrical Goods, Furniture, Apparels, Toiletries|
Categories and codes of the case
Seven categories emerged from seven themes or codes:
- Frequency of shopping at KDS.
- Reasons for shopping at KDS.
- Amount of time spent shopping at KDS.
- Intend to buy at KDS.
- Any other place apart from KDS for exploration.
- Any products or range of products not currently stocked in KDS.
- Any products or ranges currently stocked that is not considered buying from KDS’.
From each category, sub-category is evolved as presented below.
- The first category, ‘Frequency of shopping at KDS’ shows two sub-categories; ‘once in a month’ and ‘seasonal’. These sub-categories have been developed from responses of open coding.
- The second category, ‘Reasons for shopping at KDS’ specifies sub-categories like spacious space, a wide range of goods, Car Parking, nice staff, new checkout system.
- ‘Amount of time spent at the store’ category has a sub-category of ‘Couple of hours’.
- The fourth category ‘Intend to buy at KDS’ specifies two sub-categories like Household items, Christmas gift.
- The fifth category, ‘Any other place apart from KDS for exploration’ initiates positive response and develops sub-sub-categories like Debenhams, internet, West End or Kensington, Waterston, a new store at Guildford, Market.
- Positive response ‘yes’ is also seen in the sixth category ‘Any products or range of products not currently stocked in KDS’. Sub-categories are developed, such as bridal services, a wide range of goods, quality and styling of garments, kitchen goods, garden furniture, new stock of clothes.
- Last category, ‘Any products or ranges currently stocked that is not considered buying from KDS’ elicited a positive response with subcategories like electrical goods, furniture, apparels, and toiletries.
Selective coding to identify the relationships between categories
Selective coding is the third stage of grounded theory analysis. In this phase, the analyst selects one central aspect of data as a core category or final category and put his or her concentration on it. The aim of selective coding is to integrate and pull together developing analysis. So a core category will be developed as an emergent concept. This stage displays those categories where more data are essential which denote more theoretical sampling. This stage is also called systematic densification and saturation of the theory.
Formation of selective coding is based on axial coding. The framework of data analysis represents that selective coding is the last stage of qualitative data analysis. It is presented as-
Selective coding is derived from acquired conceptual details of data collection and open coding, axial coding and from axial coding theory is developed for precision and consistency. This concept is emerged in selective coding and thus ends the grounded theory method.
The emergence of the final category from the original and refined category in grounded theory analysis
An original category is derived from axial coding, follows refined category and final category. Original category assimilates category and sub-categories of axial coding, refined category specifies majority respondents’ opinion and final category emerges the core concept of theory. The activity of the final category is to connect the main purpose of research.
In the case of the above example, the original category, like ‘Frequency of shopping at KDS’ has two sub-categories, ‘once in a month’, ‘Seasonal’. The refined category is ‘once in a month’.
The second original category, ‘Amount of time spent at the store’ gives refined category ‘couple of hours’. The core concept of the first two original categories is ‘Regular Purchasing’.
Third original category ‘reasons of shopping at KDS’ has clustered sub-categories like Good Service Quality, Spacious Space, Wide Range of Goods, Car Parking, Nice Staff and refined categories are Car Parking, Nice Staff.
Fourth original category, ‘intend to buy at KDS’ determines subcategories Household items and Christmas gifts. Refined category,’ Household items’ entails a new concept, ‘Service Quality of Store’ and this core concept is also derived from the third original category.
Fifth, sixth and seventh original category have a positive response in terms of refined category and these categories evolve concept like, ‘Lack of loyalty for dissatisfaction with product range’.
This is presented in the table below.
|Original Category||Refined Category||Final Category|
|Frequency of shopping at KDS|
– Once in a month, Seasonal
|Once in a month||Regular Purchasing|
|Amount of time spent at the store|
– An Hour
– A couple of hours
|A couple of hours|
|Reasons for shopping at KDS|
– Good Service Quality
– Spacious Space
– Wide Range of Goods
– Car Parking
– Nice Staff – New Checkout system
|Car Parking, Nice Staff||Service, Quality of the Store|
|Intend to buy at KDS|
– Household items
– Christmas gifts
|Any other place apart from KDS for exploration||Yes||Lack of loyalty for dissatisfaction with a product range|
|Any products or range of products not currently stocked in KDS?||Yes|
|Any products or ranges currently stocked that is not considered buying from KDS?||Yes|
- Cho, J. Y., & Lee, E.-H. (2014). Reducing Confusion about Grounded Theory and Qualitative Content Analysis: Similarities and Differences. The Qualitative Report, 19, 1–20.
- Hancock, B., Ockleford, E., & Windridge, K. (2009). An Introduction to Qualitative Research. National Institute for Health Research, 4–37.
- Kawulich, B. B. (n.d.). Data Analysis Techniques in Qualitative Research. 96–113.
- Onwuegbuzie, A. J., Dickinson, W. B., Leech, N. L., & Zoran, A. G. (2009). A Qualitative Framework for Collecting and Analyzing Data in Focus Group Research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 8(3).
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