Responsible Conduct in Research: Qualitative Data Management


Edna Greene Medford, Ph.D.

Department of History

What data management issues have you faced? What were the immediate and longterm consequences to your research project?

How did you resolve these issues?

To ensure quality of collection

To ensure ease of accessibility

To maintain integrity of data once collected

To safeguard the privacy of human subjects

Poor quality control in data collection

Insufficient or unclear file naming system

Inconsistency in documenting sources

Incomplete field notes or recorded data

Loss of data through carelessness or failure to back up

Field notes

Transcribed interviews

Focus group transcripts



Government documents, laws, court records

Speeches, addresses, letters, diaries

Audio and video recordings


Establish and follow quality control procedures

Organize data into clearly delineated files

Determine storage medium

Back up copies

Ensure authenticity and version control

Determine before collection how you wish to proceed

Be clear on your methodology and aware of its limitations

Transcribe carefully and accurately

Document thoroughly

Ensure that each file/document is clearly and properly named

Abstract each file; identify themes and information relevant to your study

Cross-reference with other documents/files of similar subject matter

If digitized data, determine best medium for storage (USB drives, CDs, DVDs, etc.)

Utilize best practices for securing storage devices

If data is to be stored on hard drive, ensure that computer is secure

Identify file/document version—first draft, revised, final, etc.

Indicate what changes have been made

Retain original or older files

Select an alternative storage medium

Store at least one copy of data off-site

Retain original, non-digitized data (including notes, interview consent forms, etc.) at the conclusion of the project/research

Using your specific discipline as example, what procedures have been implemented to ensure quality control in data collection and management?