The nature of qualitative data makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the person doing the analysis to separate himself or herself from the data. There are ways, however, to try to maintain objectivity and avoid bias with qualitative data analysis:
1. Use multiple people to code the data.
If there is some consistency between your interpretation and that of others, then it is more likely that there is some truth by agreement in your interpretations.
2. Have participants review your results.
Ask the people who provided the data whether your interpretations seem to be representative of their beliefs.
3. Verify with more data sources.
This is sometimes called triangulation. If you can find other sources of data that support your interpretations, then you can have more confidence that what you've found is legitimate.
4. Check for alternative explanations.
Consider whether there are other reasons why you obtained your data. If you can rule out or account for alternative explanations, your interpretations will be stronger.
5. Review findings with peers.
Ask others to review your conclusions. Sometimes others will see things that you missed or can identify gaps in your argument that need to be addressed. They also can provide affirmation that your conclusions are sound and reasonable given your data.