Qualitative analysis is an art?

I found this lovely quote (below) in a very good book on art and design research, Visualizing Research by Gray and Malin (2004). I’ve been reading a few of these types of books and this one was, for me, the most helpful, probably because it was targeted at higher degree art research students. It was also very practical. Most of the others (Sullivan, Art Practice as Research, 2005;Carter, Material Thinking, 2004; Bolt, Art Beyond Representation, 2004) were aimed at a more general art research audience and were more theoretical in their approach. See what you think. Is qualitative analysis an art?

“Qualitative research is to a large degree an art. The question of its validity does not depend on replicable outcomes. It depends on the employment of a data ‘reduction’ process that leads to a result that others can accept as representing the data. The result of the analysis is, in fact, a representation in the same sense that an artist can, with a few strokes of the pen, create an image of a face that we would recognise if we saw the original in a crowd. The details are lacking , but a good ‘reduction’ not only selects and emphasises the essential features, it retains the vividness of the personality in the rendition of the face. In the same way a successful qualitative data reduction, while removing us from the freshness of the original, presents us instead with an image that we can grasp as the ‘essence’, where we otherwise would have been flooded with detail and left with hardly a perception of the phenomena at all.”
From Tesch, R. Qualitative research :  analysis types and software tools. New York :  Falmer Press,  1990, p.304. Quoted in Gray,C. & Malins, J. Visualizing Research: A guide to the research process in art and design, Aldershot:Ashgate, 2004, p130.

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