Increasing rigour in inclusive disability research methods: a systematic technique for accessible data analysis

Professor Sally Robinson1, Professor Karen Fisher2, Prof Anne Graham3, Dr Kate Neale3, Ms Jaimsie Speeding3, Prof Kelley Johnson2, Dr Ed Hall4

1Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, 2UNSW Sydney, Sydney, Australia, 3Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia, 4University of Dundee, Dundee, Scotland

People with intellectual disability are increasingly involved in conducting research about their lives. However, finding accessible ways to conduct rigorous data analysis remains challenging for inclusive research teams.

Our research was about working relationships between young people with intellectual disability and paid support workers. To be accessible to young people with intellectual disability who were involved in analysing data from the project fieldwork, our team adapted Neale’s (2016) iterative categorisation process.

This systematic technique for analysing qualitative data scaffolded their participation into the analysis of the fieldwork data in a transparent and measurable way. It allowed us to thematically analyse, confirm and moderate coding. It also provided a structure for the research to hold the advice from the lived experience of the young people but not conflate it with the project data.

Using this qualitative data analysis method is a transparent and achievable way for inclusive research teams to demonstrate an accessible analytical approach. This may be helpful in adding depth and rigour to the developing field.


Sally Robinson is Professor of Disability and Community Inclusion at Flinders University. She leads the ARC Linkage project ‘Relationships and Recognition’. In this paper, the team talks about using accessible processes for data analysis.

Karen Fisher researches social services in Australia and China, including disability and mental health community services; inclusive research and evaluation methodology; and social policy process.