Beyond Replication: Secondary Qualitative Data Analysis in Political Science

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Shared qualitative data – such as interview or focus group transcripts – can be used for secondary qualitative data analysis (SQDA). Yet, much archived qualitative data remains unused after primary analysis. Applications and guidance on how to employ SQDA are rare. We use an example application of SQDA studying informal institutions and resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa to show: First, SQDA depends on how primary researchers share ‘raw’ qualitative data and additional documentation to understand primary context. Second, deductive and inductive uses of SQDA require varying engagement with primary data. Third, current practices of participant consent often do not consider potential SQDA. Fourth, SQDA is not less time-consuming than primary data research but offers different benefits, such as expanding the comparative sample of cases or avoiding research fatigue of studied communities. Going forward, SQDA requires greater consensus on the instruments (e.g. transcripts and participant consent forms) used by researchers and further applications of hypothesis-testing and hypothesis-generating designs.




Kern, F. G., & Mustasilta, K. (2023). Beyond Replication: Secondary Qualitative Data Analysis in Political Science. Comparative Political Studies, 56(8), 1224–1256.

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