Diagrams and Relational Maps: The Use of Graphic Elicitation Techniques with Interviewing for Data Collection, Analysis, and Display

Andrea J. Copeland, Denise E. Agosto


Graphic elicitation techniques, which ask research participants to provide visual data representing personal understandings of concepts, experiences, beliefs, or behaviors, can be especially useful in helping participants to express complex or abstract ideas or opinions. The benefits and drawbacks of using graphic elicitation techniques for data collection, data analysis, and data display in qualitative research studies are analyzed using examples from a research study that employed data matrices and relational maps in conjunction with semi-structured interviews. Results from this analysis demonstrate that the use of these combined techniques for data collection facilitates triangulation and helps to establish internal consistency of data, thereby increasing the trustworthiness of the interpretation of that data and lending support to validity and reliability claims. Findings support the notion that graphic elicitation techniques can be highly useful in qualitative research studies at the data collection, the data analysis, and the data reporting stages. For example, this study found that graphic elicitation techniques are especially useful for eliciting data related to emotions and emotional experiences.

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