Key debates in the reuse of qualitative data

Key debates in the reuse of qualitative data

The debates about reusing qualitative data have tended to cluster in three broad areas:

  • There is a debate about context, and whether data can ever be appropriately reused when secondary researchers lack the context of the original project.
  • There are legal and ethical concerns as to whether reuse can be carried out while complying with data protection and other legislation. Moreover, there are ethical questions about informed consent for unknown future uses of data and of changes in relationships with participants when data are shared.
  • There are more practical challenges of reuse, such as the newly emerging challenges of sampling from what are, in some cases, vast quantities of qualitative data that are now available for reuse.

More detail about all these debates can be found in the page on reuse articles.

Early examples of the reuse of qualitative data

Early classic examples of data reuse include:

  • Seebohm Rowntree’s (1901) three surveys of poverty in York
  • Llewellyn Smith’s (1930-1935) repeat of Charles Booth’s (1891-1902) poverty survey in London
  • Robert and Helen Lynds’ studies of Middletown (1929, 1937)
  • Oscar Lewis (1963) of Robert Redfield’s (1930) research on the village of Tepotzlan in Mexico.