Ein immer wiederkehrendes Problem, das sich mit der Analyse qualitativer Daten verbindet, ist die Frage der Kodierung. Wie stellt man sicher, dass die Kodierung unterschiedlicher Daten gleichmäßig, nicht willkürlich und mit dem Anspruch auf Vollständigkeit erfolgt. Zu diesen Fragen haben sich viele Forscher den Kopf zerbrochen. Eine Antwort, die Glaser und Strauss im Rahmen ihrer Grounded Theory geben, zitieren wir hier:
“Coding need only consists of noting categories on margins, but can be done more elaborately (e.g., on cards). It should keep track of the comparison group in which the incident occurs. To this procedure we add the basic, defining rule for the constant comparison method: while coding an incident for a category, compare it with the previous incidents in the same and in different groups coded in the same category. For example, as the analyst codes an incident in which a nurse responds to the potential ‘social loss’ of a dying patient, he also compares this incident, before further coding, with others previously coded in the same category. Since coding qualitative data requires study of each incident, this comparison can often be based on memory. Usually there is no need to refer to the actual note on every previous incident for each comparison.
This constant comparison of the incidents very soon starts to generate theoretical properties of the category. The analyst starts to think in terms of the full range of types or continua of the category, its dimensions, the conditions under which it is pronounced or minimized, its major consequences, its relation to other categories, and its other properties. For example, while constantly comparing incidents on how nurses respond to the social loss of dying patients, we realized that some patients are perceived as a high social loss and others as a low social loss. It was also apparent that some social attributes that nurses combine to establish a degree of social loss are seen immediately (age, ethnic group, social class), while some are learned after time is spend with the patient (occupational worth, marital status, education). This observation led us to the realization that perceived social loss can change as new attributes of the patients are learned. It also became apparent, from studying the comparison groups, under what conditions (types of wards and hospitals) we would find clusters of patients with different degrees of social loss” (Glaser, Barney G. & Strauss, Anselm L., 2006: The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research, p.106)