Qualitative Coding Examples

Real-world examples of process, values and in vivo coding

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Reviewers: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | May 2024

Examples of qualitative data coding

We’ve spoken about qualitative coding approaches and techniques quite extensively, but this is one of those topics that can feel a little conceptual and fluffy at times. So, in this post, we’ll walk through some practical examples of textual data that’s been coded using various techniques, including process, values and in vivo coding.

Qualitative Coding 101

Before we jump into examples of various qualitative coding techniques, it’s useful to quickly define what exactly we mean by “qualitative coding”.

Simply put, qualitative coding is the process of systematically assigning labels (codes) to segments of qualitative data (usually text). These codes capture key concepts, ideas, or patterns within the data. By organising and categorising the data in this way, we lay the foundation for qualitative analysis (for example, thematic analysis or content analysis). So, coding is an essential foundational step in the analysis process.

At a high level, coding can be approached inductively (bottom up), deductively (top down) or abductively (a hybrid approach). In the video below, we unpack and explain these three approaches in simple terms.

Process Coding Example

With process coding, the focus is on actions and behaviours. This coding technique helps us understand not just what people say, but how they interact and behave, providing deeper insights into their experiences.

Let’s look at an example of how a transcript could be coded using process coding.


Can you describe a typical day at your job?


Sure! I usually start my day by checking emails. After that, I have a team meeting where we discuss our goals for the day. Once the meeting is over, I work on my tasks, which often involves coordinating with different departments. Around lunchtime, I take a break and then continue with my work, usually focusing on completing projects or attending additional meetings. Before I leave, I review my work and plan for the next day.

For this extract, we might code as follows:

Example of process coding

As you can see, each code represents a distinct action or process the interviewee engages in during a typical workday. Therefore, this coding approach could be very useful for research aims and questions that involve understanding the workflow and identifying patterns in the interviewee’s activities.

Qualitative Coding By Experts

Example: Values Coding

As the name suggests, values coding involves identifying and coding the values, beliefs, and attitudes expressed by participants. This coding technique can help us understand the underlying principles and motivations guiding participants’ behaviours and decisions.

Let’s look at a practical example.


What motivates you to stay in your current job?


A few things. I find a lot of satisfaction in helping my team grow and succeed. Seeing their progress and knowing I contributed to their development is incredibly rewarding. I also value the flexibility my job offers, which allows me to balance my work and personal life.

The company’s commitment to innovation and continuous improvement aligns with my personal belief in always striving to be better. Oh, and I also appreciate the strong sense of community and support among my colleagues; it really makes coming to work every day a positive experience.

As you can see, this extract is rich in values, attitudes, and beliefs, making it ideal for values coding. In this case, we might code as follows:

Example of values coding

Based on these codes, we can identify the interviewee’s core values to better understand what drives their job satisfaction and motivation. Therefore, this coding technique would be particularly useful for research aims that focused on these factors.

Need a helping hand?

See how Grad Coach can help you...

Example: In Vivo Coding

In vivo coding (not to be confused with NVivo, the software package) involves using the exact words or phrases from the participants as codes. Using this technique ensures that the participants’ voices and perspectives are directly reflected in the analysis, which can be especially important when working with a multicultural sample.

Let’s look at a practical example.


How do you handle challenges at work?


Well, when a challenge arises, I first try to stay calm! It’s important not to panic. I then take a step back and analyze the situation. I often find it helpful to discuss the problem with my colleagues to get different perspectives.

Sometimes, just talking about it gives me new ideas. Once I have a plan, I focus on one step at a time to resolve the issue.

With in vivo coding, we’d use the exact language of the interviewee to capture key concepts. Here’s what that might look like:

In vivo coding example

As you can see in this example, in vivo coding allows us to capture the authentic language and insights of employees, providing a rich understanding of their experiences and approaches to overcoming challenges in the workplace. This could be particularly useful for studies where the research aims and questions involve understanding coping techniques in the workplace.

How to fast-track your coding

If you want to fast-track your qualitative coding (or just make sure it’s 100% on point), check out our premium coding service, where our team of PhD-qualified experts code your data for you. 

Qualitative Coding By Experts
Share This