Our data collection includes major UK government-sponsored surveys, cross-national surveys, longitudinal studies, UK census data, international aggregate, business data, and qualitative data.
The tabs below also highlight data collections useful for students.
You can use qualitative data to give you an in-depth, “thick” description of people’s everyday lives, including their behaviour, beliefs, and emotions.
Qualitative data can be coded, then analysed using techniques like thematic analysis or discourse analysis. You can also use software such as Atlas.ti, NVivo, Quirkos, or Transana, which code and analyse parts of text, audio or images.
The catalogue pages on Discover have a ‘data list’ which describes each participant, their basic demographic details (metadata), and how the data was collected (e.g. interview, essay, focus group, etc.). These data lists are extremely helpful in finding and sorting qualitative data.
Find out more
Our qualitative data collections cover a wide range of topics.
Here are some suggestions for interesting and easy-to-use datasets for those new to qualitative data:
Mothers and Daughters: Accounts of Health in the Grandmother Generations, 1945-1978: This study, comprising of 46, one-to-one interviews, explores the beliefs and attitudes to health and medical care, and in particular how these ideas are transmitted through families. Participants were asked about their health, childhood diseases, nutrition, dental care, immunisations, views on doctors and the introduction of the NHS.
Doing Youth Justice: Analysing Risk and Need Assessments in Youth Justice Practice, 2004-2005: This study combines two different kinds of qualitative data – focus groups and interviews – to investigate how youth justice practitioners assess the risks and needs of young lawbreakers. It also explored how young people themselves engaged in these processes.
You can see more commonly used qualitative and mixed data by looking through our collection of key data.
Writing a dissertation with qualitative data
Our guide on ‘reusing qualitative data’ shows you the steps for starting your own research project using qualitative data. The guide has:
descriptions of five different approaches to reusing qualitative data
examples of reuse projects using qualitative data
This guide is intended for anyone looking to reuse qualitative data. The bottom of the page also gives a short list of further reading on conducting your own reuse project using qualitative data.
Searching for qualitative data
QualiBank is an online tool for browsing, searching and citing the content of selected qualitative data collections held at the UK Data Service.
Explore a collection in QualiBank, such as:
• Adultery: An Analysis of Love and Betrayal
• School Leavers Study
• Women Wartime Workers
• Morale and Home Intelligence Reports, 1941-1949
• Mass Observation: Belonging
• The Edwardians
Other useful guides
Qualitative data is diverse, innovative, and can include basically anything that is not numerical in nature. Interviews are a fairly common method of choice, however there are a number of ways to conduct an interview. Likewise, there are a lot of sources of qualitative data beyond interviewing. See these guides for information on methods of collecting qualitative data:
• Interview methods
• Non-interview methods
The UK Data Service also holds a resource, Pioneers of Qualitative Research, which features interviews with significant researchers discussing the development of qualitative methods as a tool for social scientists.