1 Zulkizuru

Examples Of Axial Coding Using A Essay

.pdf version of this page

This review is in the form of an abbreviated set of directions for initial coding and analysis. There are many ways to accomplish both actions. This approach assumes you are using interview data. For a more detailed treatment of these and related analysis concepts, click here.

Interview Data (Identifying & Coding Themes)

Open coding

At this first level of coding, you are looking for distinct concepts and categories in the data, which will form the basic units of your analysis. In other words, you are breaking down the data into first level concepts, or master headings, and second-level categories, or subheadings.

Researchers often use highlights to distinguish concepts and categories. For example, if interviewees consistently talk about teaching methods, each time an interviewee mentions teaching methods, or something related to a teaching method, you would use the same color highlight. Teaching methods would become a concept, and other things related (types, etc.) would become categories – all highlighted the same color. Use different colored highlights to distinguish each broad concept and category. What you should have at the end of this stage are transcripts with 3-5 different colors in lots of highlighted text. Transfer these into a brief outline, with concepts being main headings and categories being subheadings.

Axial coding

In open coding, you were focused primarily on the text to define concepts and categories. In axial coding, you are using your concepts and categories while re-reading the text to 1. Confirm that your concepts and categories accurately represent interview responses and, 2. Explore how your concepts and categories are related. To examine the latter, you might ask, What conditions caused or influenced concepts and categories? What is/was the social/political context? or What are the associated effects or consequences?

For example, if one of your concepts is Adaptive Teaching, and two of your categories are tutoring and group projects, an axial code might be a phrase like “our principal encourages different teaching methods.” This discusses the context of the concept and/or categories, and suggests that you may need a new category labeled “supportive environment.” Axial coding is merely a more directed approach at looking at the data, to help make sure that you have identified all important aspects. Have your highlights ready for revision/addition.

Create a table

Transfer final concepts and categories into a data table, such as this one (Aulls, 2004). Note how the researcher listed the major categories, then explained them after the table. This is a very effective way to organize results and/or discussion in a research paper. Here is an excellent comprehensive guide (think desk reference) to creating data displays for qualitative research.

Note: Be patient. This appears to be a quick process, but it should not be. After you are satisfied with your coding procedures, I suggest submitting your table to an expert for review, or perhaps even one of the participants (if interviewing) to promote validity.

Like this:


If you’re in a research methods course, you might be studying qualitative methods and have heard of grounded theory. If you’re interested in performing a grounded theory approach to data analysis (or sharing a fresh example with your class), this blog post is for you.

Or, you might be reading this because I mentioned in my research-in-brief article in Public Relations Review that a list of open codes, properties, and examples of participants’ words from my study about Millennial practitioners are available on my blog (that would be this blog post).

One of the challenges of understanding the grounded theory approach to data analysis results from the abstract nature of the explanation:

Open coding: Basically, you read through your data several times and then start to create tentative labels for chunks of data that summarize what you see happening (not based on existing theory – just based on the meaning that emerges from the data). Record examples of participants’ words and establish properties of each code (see my charts below).

Axial coding: Axial coding consists of identifying relationships among the open codes. What are the connections among the codes? This will be easier to understand when you see the last chart of this blog post.

Selective coding: Figure out the core variable that includes all of the data. Then reread the transcripts and selectively code any data that relates to the core variable you identified. Again, this is easier to understand through the last chart of this blog post.

The study I’m using as an example is about relationship building with the Millennial generation of practitioners who work at PR agencies. The data came from asynchronous online discussions (via Focus Forums) with 50 participants and emailed data from one participant.

Research question one: How do Millennial practitioners who work at public relations agencies describe their generation of public relations practitioners?

Open codes for RQ 1

Open codePropertiesExamples of participants’ words
Wanting experiential learningSeeking credentials
Feeling ambitious
Seeking excitement
Being eager
Seeking experience
Hungry for responsibility
Want to be the next big thing
Ready to roll
Always looking for a new thrill
Grow quickly
Learn things on our own
Pioneering social media and easily adapting to changeBeing comfortable with social media
Wanting to lead
Creating and embracing new ideas
Not being afraid of technology
Being fresh
Creating and accepting new ideas
Embracing a rapid fire speed
Being creative
Feeling entitled due to unique qualifications, as compared to previous generationsComing equipped with a public relations education and several internshipsMostly PR majors instead of majoring in other fields
Being educated in public relations
Starting jobs with several internships under the belt
Having a great foundation from majors and internships
Craving immediate feedback and being motivated by feeling appreciatedDesiring attention
Wanting to impress
Wanting a mentor
Want to feel valued and appreciated
Want to be recognized
Want feedback
Want to be rewarded for good work
Advocating a
work-life balance
Seeking personal fulfillment
Recharging by enjoying a rich personal life
Being raised to believe they could have it all
Don’t want to work our lives away
Want to have room for a life outside of work
Raised to expect excellence in our personal lives
Possessing the personal skills and characteristics neededGetting along well with people
Being intelligent
Valuing ethics
Friendly, sociable
Motivated by friendships at work
Smart, clever, sharp

Research question two: What can be learned about cultivating a long-term relationship with Millennial public relations agency employees based on their own perspectives?

Open codes for RQ 2

Open codePropertiesExamples of participants’ words
Being groomedBeing mentored
Getting to work on new accounts
Getting to have face time with the client
Being included in discussions about personal long-term goals and organization’s long-term goals
Getting funding for graduate school and skills workshops
Trained to specialize in a needed area
Assigned to new accounts
Included in new business planning
Involved in conversations about the long-term outlook of the department
Meeting about long-term goals and incentive packages
Sent to professional development sessions
Paid for graduate school
Face time with the client
Constantly learningHaving intriguing work
Developing professional skills
Intriguing work
Constantly learning, training
Receiving verbal encouragement and making observationsFeeling appreciated
Noticing low turnover and receiving messages about growing the company from within
Asked if I’m happy
Talk about the future
Get regular reviews
Constant congratulations
Get messages about growing the company from within
Very little turnover
Being cared for as a whole personCaring about personal well being by both the organization and senior management
Encouraging and enabling a healthy personal life
Personal development fund
Lacking a personal touch (negative evidence)
[Senior exec.] like a second mother
Long hours, low pay (negative evidence)
Working in a good environmentWorking in an organic culture
Feeling like they fit in
Working with great people
Agreeing with the organization’s philosophy and values
Personality of the office
If I fit in
Open and honest communication
I love the environment
Wonderful people
We don’t have titles. My old large agency put so much emphasis on titles and I think it hindered work quality
The organization isn’t as dynamic as other employers (negative evidence)
Having interests and preferences accommodatedGetting to choose projects, dress and hoursGet to choose my accounts
Get to wear jeans
Flexible hours

Research question three: What irritates or upsets Millennials when receiving feedback on their work?

Open codes for RQ 3

Open codePropertiesExamples of participants’ words
Getting called outDetesting verbal vomit and being ridiculed
Feeling discouraged
Getting ripped apart
Chewed out
Thrown under the bus
Negative tactics don’t motivate us
Not being heardHaving work changed, which results in their voice not being heard
Working so hard makes this frustrating
Believing they don’t have power to say anything
You slave away and they’ve completely changed what you’ve done
My art was changed, which I worked really hard on
People are always going to change what you do. Always!
Co-worker presented my ideas as her own; no way to address those issues
Mind reading and expectations for a miracle workerBelieving they have a combination of vague instructions and specific expectations, some of which areunrealisticVague instructions
Having to mind read
Inadequate explanation
I’m not a miracle worker

Axial codes and selective code based on the open codes

Open codesAxial codesSelective code
Wanting experiential learning; constantly learning; working in a good environment;pioneering social media and easily adapting to change; feeling entitled due to unique qualifications, as compared to previous generations; possessing the personal skills and characteristics needed; being groomedBelieving they are ready to be set loose on accountsWanting to make a difference
Craving immediate feedback and being motivated by feeling appreciated; detesting getting called out; receiving verbal encouragement and making observationsSeeking external validation
Mind reading and expectations for a miracle worker;getting called out; not being heardSilently blaming employers for failures
Advocating a work-life balance; being cared for as a whole person; accommodating interests and preferencesWanting a meaningful experience at work and outside of work

For more information on grounded theory, I recommend Kathy Charmaz’s “Constructive Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Data Analysis.”

If you’re interested in reading the summary of my study, you can find it here, or you can email me for the full-length study at tgallica@uncc.edu.

Happy researching!

Like this:



Posted in Academic Study Summary | Tagged agency, axial coding, data analysis, grounded theory, Millennial, open coding, properties, public relations review, qualitative, relationship, selective coding, tables | 14 Comments

Leave a Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *