Data generated by Timescapes’ projects was both qualitative and longitudinal and this offered opportunities for the development of innovative analytical strategies once secondary analysis is brought into play. Revisiting one’s own, or another’s data introduces interesting complexities once a lapse of time is included into analysis. New or developed theories and collaborations, as well as awareness of changing contexts add new dimensions to archived data, thereby ensuring its longevity and continued relevance.
Looking for ways to share and to work through the implications of qualitative data re-use, Timescapes project teams together with members of the Steering committee and other interested researchers looked for ways to develop ideas collectively and to make significant and substantive contributions to this new and fast developing research area. In what follows below we highlight key Timescapes Collective activities
Collective Secondary Analysis activities included workshops and seminars, some internal to the programme and others open to the research community generally. All offered opportunities to explore and develop knowledge and skills in the re-use of archived data. These included the following topics:
- Embedding secondary analysis into project design.
- Ethical issues for secondary analysis.
- Temporality as an analytical tool.
- Cross generational and life course analysis.
- Generating strategies for the re-use of archived data.
- Developing secondary analysis strategies with established longitudinal data sets using mixed methods.
- The secondary analysis of fieldnotes and ephemera relating to specific projects.
- The secondary analysis of archived photographs and visual images.
Some activities included the entire Timescapes Programme, for example a Secondary Analysis Residential held at the Open University, 27-28 May 2008 drew on data from all seven projects to explore the primary/secondary analysis divide, using common questions and strategies for dissemination.
Others activities included paired meetings between individual projects when data was shared and new questions generated. An example was a joint meeting at the University of Cardiff when members of The Oldest Generation the Men as Fathers project discussed fatherhood, remembered and experienced.
Related secondary analysis projects
A number of research projects have adopted the use of secondary analysis research methods. Growing up with Chronic Illness (GUCI) is an example of one such project.
Dr Janet Heaton, University of Exeter in Devon, England
The research will add to a growing number of studies in the UK and internationally that have begun to explore young people’s and young adults’ experiences of growing up with a chronic illness.
Previous work has not focused explicitly on young adults’ sense of mastery of their condition and how this has been shaped by, and shapes, their personal experience of a chronic illness and how it was medically managed while they were growing up.
Investigation of this issue – and how young adults describe their experiences and give advice to others with a long-term condition – is important because it will provide a better understanding of what it means to them to successfully manage a long-term condition while growing up, what helped them achieve this, and how they can potentially help others by sharing their experiential knowledge with them.
Data from The Oldest Generation project was used by Ruth Sheldon as part of a programme of work exploring policy relating to ageing in the UK by the Institute of Public Policy Research (ippr).
Sarah Baker has documented her experience of conducting secondary analysis of data from the Siblings and Friends project.