Today we had a workshop with PhD student, Katerina Gorkovenko, exploring affinity mapping.

We took the transcripts of our interviews with first year students about photography and broke down the interviews so we could gain insights. This involved highlighting quotes in the transcripts which we believed were important and gave us an insight into thinking of our interviewee.

Team post-it notes sorted

In groups, we began sorting these quotes (written on post-it notes) into general categories, narrowing and rearranging constantly until we believed we had suitable groups. Our headings included ‘attitudes’, ‘reasons for taking photographs’ and ‘physicality’.  We then amalgamated our post-its with every other team in the class, again we saw headings and groups of post-its morph and grow as we worked and discussed. Finally, we were able to distinguish several overarching themes such as ‘opinion’, ‘access’ and ‘reasons for photography’.

Class post-its sorted

Thanks to this exercise I can see how affinity mapping can be effectively used to sort large volumes of qualitative data. It can take a while but means that everybody gets a say in which pieces of information are important and so this results in very non-bias sorting and hopefully a non-bias outcome.