To avoid bias, view analyzed data from a distance until you see a larger picture and understand how this picture relates to your study’s central questions.
Similar research may help you make sense of repeating ideas and larger themes. For example, you might identify underlying factors that explain the themes you have observed and then construct a logical chain of evidence. You might also describe an adaptive or maladaptive process that captures the behavior of respondents. If there are respondents who do not follow the usual pattern, it may be important to understand why. Qualitative researchers need to be flexible.
Interpreting qualitative data can be subjective, so verify your conclusions. Review your data repeatedly to check that your conclusions are grounded in what was said. Look at independent evidence from other sources and use other methods, such as surveys, focus groups, or experiments, to verify your conclusions. To improve the study's reliability and validity, show your results to some of the interviewees and ask them if you have accurately recorded what they meant.
Berkowitz, S. (1997). Analyzing Qualitative Data. In J. Frechtling, L. Sharp, and Westat (Eds.), User-Friendly Handbook for Mixed Method Evaluations (Chapter 4). Retrieved June 21, 2006 from National Science Foundation, Directorate of Education and Human Resources Web site: http://www.ehr.nsf.gov/EHR/REC/pubs/NSF97-153/CHAP_4.HTM
Bogdan R. B. & Biklin, S. K. (1998). Qualitative Research for Education: An Introduction to Theory and Methods, Third Edition. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Seidel, J. V. (1998). Qualitative Data Analysis. Retrieved June 21, 2006 from: http://www.qualisresearch.com/QDA.htm