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CODING FIELD NOTES

Gene Shelley (1992) studied people who suffer from end-stage kidney disease. Most patients are on hemodialysis. Some are on peritoneal dialysis. The ‘‘hemo’’ patients go to a dialysis center, several times a week, while the ‘‘pero’’ patients perform a dialysis (called continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis, or CAPD) on themselves several times a day.

Figure 13.1 shows three descriptive notes from Shelley’s research. First, there’s a delimiter (she used the dollar sign) that marks the beginning of each note. This lets you pack all the notes together in one big file so a word processor or text analysis program knows where notes begin and end. Next is a unique number that identifies the note in a continuing sequence, starting with 0001. Next is the date.

Then come some numbers that refer to theme codes. In note 3, this is preceded by a location indicator. Finally, at the end of the codes at the top of each field note, there’s a cryptic indicator of the person to whom Shelley attributes the information—except for note 3, which was based on observation (box 13.2).

 
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