Let’s use comics to analyze qualitative data!

Let’s use comics to analyze qualitative data!

That’s right. It can be done. And it is awesome.

Your friendly neighborhood cartoonist and comics-based researcher (CBR) here to tell you how to use the visual arts in general–and comics specifically–to analyze data. That’s what I’m able to share in my chapter, graciously included in After the Interview: Analyzing and Interpreting Qualitative Research, a new, gorgeous methods book from SAGE, edited by my brilliant colleagues, Charles Vanover, Paul Mihas, and Johnny SaldaƱa. As is always the case, when you have that one author who wants to submit her chapter as a bunch of drawings, it can be a challenge for an editor, but they were fantastic. And the book is one that I plan on teaching with myself– because so many of my students begin our qualitative data analysis seminar asking, rather sheepishly, “Okay, so what happens now? After the interview?”

My chapter is an illustrated step by step guide for anyone who wants to try out CBR techniques, and the title, “Look For The Headlights” references the murky writing process of following along in good faith, even if you cannot see the complete end of the journey clearly mapped out. It comes from a quote by E.L. Doctorow, who wrote that “writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights.” And yet, we must follow them as the story wends its way and the discovery part of data analysis takes shape. In CBR analysis this is particularly important as the artist must trust the artistic process and await the pricking up of ears. It is the suspension of disbelief that precedes astonishment and transformation. I promise.

They even interviewed me about the chapter! I like to call these Covid-era professional interviews “Stories From My Attic Crawlspace” because that is seriously where I am sitting to do the interview, in my third floor attick/crawlspace/broom closet, trying to keep it together while one or more of my three children practices her trumpet and/or screams into her Google Meet on the floors below.

You can see me talk about the video here, and get your own copy of the book here. Happy reading! Happy teaching! Happy Analyzing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *