Coding Open Ended Questions


Can anyone tell me where I would begin if I wanted to code some open ended questions?

People tell me it's easy, but I don't know; where or how to begin...

Any help is appreciated.


First, you need to determine what you're trying to get out of the data. Why do you need to use an open-ended question instead of a more traditional one?

Then you have to be very specific about which parts of the question you will operationalize. I would also suggest using a software program too if possible, because it will reduce your level of human error.
Let's say your open ended question was to a physician about a recent pharmaceutical detailing by a sales representative:

Question: "In your most recent detail with a sales rep from Company X, what do you remember the most regarding Drug Y?"

Response: "I remember the representative talking about the efficacy of Drug Y on pain symptoms."

There are 2 key points to that physician's response: Efficacy and pain symptoms.

For your codebook you could have "10" denote any time the respondant mentions efficacy and "20" any time "pain" is mentioned.

After data collection, you could run frequencies, etc. on that field to see how many times efficacy/pain/other topics are mentioned.