Chapter 7 The ROCK vocabulary

In the plethora of qualitative approaches, many different terms exist and often partially overlap. The ROCK standard uses the terms listed below.

attribute
A property or characteristic of a case, for example demographic variables such as interviewee age, gender, education level. Attributes can also be characteristics of case types that are not persons, such as interview venue (an attribute can be e.g. whether it was crowded or not) or interviewer (an attribute can be e.g. the interviewer’s age).
case
A data provider or context. In interview studies, a case is usually a specific person. Assigning utterances to cases is a means to efficiently associate attributes to many utterances in one go. Cases can also be used to associate other information to many utterances, such as the interviewer, the place where an interview took place, or the time of day. Examples of cases are “participant 4” to identify a person, “14:00” to identify the time of an interview, “meeting room B” to identify the location of an interview.
code
A brief identifier applied to a fragment. Such a code usually represents a concept. Codes can vary from simple descriptions, for example to denote that the coded fragment concerns a topic such as “leisure activities”, to complex constructs, for example to denote that the coded fragment likely espresses psychological aspects that fall within the definition of a construct called “perceived autonomy”.
code tree
The hierarchy of codes used to code one or more sources (also called coding structure).
fragment
A part of a source (one or more consecutive characters, such as one or more words, sentences, or paragraphs).
identifier
A unique character sequence that uniquely identifies something. For example, a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is an identifier (commonly for a website); a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is an identifier (commonly for a scientific article); and an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is an identifier (commonly for a book). The ROCK implements a way to generate and specify identifiers for utterances and a way to add other identifiers to a source, such as for cases.
section
A delimited fragment of a source.
section break
A sequence of characters that represents a section delimiter. In other words, section breaks split up sources into sections. The ROCK standard allows parallel use of multiple types of section breaks: for example, one type of section break can indicate paragraph breaks, whereas another type of section break can indicate where an interviewer asks a new question, and yet another type can indicate where there is a turn of talk between participants in a discussion.
source
A plain text file that describes or captures a bit of reality. The most common sources in research with humans (e.g. anthropology and psychology) are interview transcripts, but sources can also be internet content, archive materials, meeting minutes, descriptions of photographs, or timestamped descriptions of video material.
utterance
The shortest codable fragment of a source. In the ROCK, these are by default delimited by line breaks (“\n”), and utterances will usually correspond to sentences.
YAML
YAML is a standard for encoding data in plain text files in a way that is easily readable by humans. The ROCK standard uses the YAML standard for specifications of attributes as well as deductive code structures. YAML is a recursive acronym that stands for “YAML Ain’t Markup Language”, and is technically a JSON (Javascript Serial Object Notation) superset, which means that all JSON is valid YAML.