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Working with Data - Using MAXQDA's TextPortraits 

What does it mean when you look at a TextPortrait?

A TextPortrait is a visual coding of one person's transcript. It may include all possible codes or just codes you have activated. For this study, at first I activated codes in the following categories: work that respondents reported (a) women did on their own (coded in yellow color), (b) men did on their own (blue), and (c) couples did together (red). Later, I reran the TextPortraits adding a fourth category: references to other people helping out (grey).


It is important to understand what you are seeing when you look at a TextPortrait.  A TextPortrait is read from left to right, top to bottom, just like reading text. If you read Nancy's TextPortrait below, you will see that there are 6 different segments--the portrait starts off with yellow (referring to work that she did on her own), then moves to blue (her husband did something on his own), then to red (they did something together), back to yellow and so on.  Do not make the assumption that because there are only 6 segments that can be clearly seen in the portrait that Nancy only made 6 references to wedding work in her interview. This portrait actually represents 11 coded segments. Thus, it is important to remember that a TextPortrait does not necessarily indicate where all coded segments begin or end.


TextPortraits 1


Similarly, with Fred's TextPortrait below, we see only 3 separate segments, but it actually represents 8 comments (4- work he did on his own, 5- work he and his wife did together).


TextPortraits 2

The importance of including "other help"- Fred (traditional)


It is important to choose your codes carefully when creating TextPortraits. When I first ran TextPortraits for my study, I only choose the first three categories of work (mentioned above). However, looking at a couple of these TextPortraits, I was quite confused. For example, I had characterized Fred and his wife as traditional, meaning he had very little involvement in planning the wedding, but when I ran his first TextPortrait (seen below again, on the left), it looked like his wife had done very little work on her own. I realized that I was missing an important part of the picture--references to other people helping out. When I reran the TextPortrait with this fourth category (in grey), it looked quite different (right picture), and now, Fred's involvement made more sense.


TextPortraits 3

Similarly, look at the following two TextPortraits for Nancy (categorized as transitional).  The one on the left only includes the three categories, whereas the one on the right includes other people's involvement. You will be missing out on an important part of the picture if you don't activate all relevant codes for your TextPortrait.


TextPortraits 4


Comparing the TextPortraits (featuring "Rose")


Qualitative software programs are great for assisting with you analysis, but note: You still have to interpret the data, the program doesn't do this for you! Consider all the ways in which you can look at your data. For example, not all work that takes place needs to happen in front of the computer or directly with the software program. In this picture below, I took my analysis to the floor. For each couple, I printed out a page that included four TextPortraits (two for the bride, two for the groom--the two version mentioned above) and a paragraph description of each couple's wedding experience. I placed these 14 sheets to the floor and analysed them, thinking about my couple categorizations. Having them on the floor helped me to compare couples with each other, keeping the big picture in mind rather than just focusing on one individual or couple at a time.


Note: If you are working with data on the floor (table, etc.), be mindful of you children or pets who may want to "help out"!


TextPortraits Rose