Applying Constant Comparative and Discourse Analyses to Virtual Worlds Research

Peter Leong, Samuel R. H. Joseph, Rachel Boulay


This paper presents the basics of the constant comparative analysis and discourse analysis methods to research in virtual worlds.  Our data sources include video recordings of in-world class interactions; artifacts and documents such as students’ blog, and asynchronous discussion postings.  For data analysis, we use the constant comparative method as a tool for inductive analysis, and discourse analysis as a tool to discover patterns in discursive practices. The constant comparative method was originally developed for the use in grounded theory methodology, but is now more widely applied as a method of analysis in qualitative research. It requires the researcher to take one piece of data and compare it to all other pieces of data that are either similar or different, gradually identifying the salient differences. In contrast, discourse analysis examines the way in which sentences are combined in larger linguistic units, such as conversational exchanges or written texts. The critical analysis of discourse helps us extend and specify themes generated during constant comparative analysis.


constant comparative analysis; discourse analysis; virtual world research

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