Protocol analysis and
Repertory grid analysis
The qualitative-quantitative divide
In this chapter, we will be looking at some specific techniques which also come under the heading of 'qualitative analysis' – although, as we will see, some of them blur that distinction a little. We begin by looking at protocol analysis, which is an approach used widely in cognitive psychology and some other areas. From there we will go on to look at repertory grid analysis, which is a widely used technique which manages to combine qualitative and quantitative approaches. The third method we will be looking at is vignette analysis, which we touched on in Chapter 8, but which should really be categorised as a qualitative technique. These approaches to qualitative analysis all raise questions about the nature of qualitative research, and in particular the hard and fast distinction between qualitative and quantitative techniques. So, in the final part of this chapter, as a conclusion to our discussion of qualitative analyses, we will look at some of the challenges to the qualitativequantitative distinction, and see how it is not nearly as clear-cut as it appears on the surface.
Protocol analysis is another form of qualitative analysis which is used in conjunction with established psychological theory, and in hypothetico-deductive research. It has its origins in informationprocessing theory, which looks at the way that the human mind works in terms of how it deals with information – both incoming information and the information which has already been stored in memory.