Analysis of qualitative data is a process which novice researchers must learn as they progress, and which experienced researchers must negotiate and adapt to suit the study they are undertaking and the data they are collected. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how researchers can use sensemaking to diagnose and explain phenomena in ordinary situations, and how it can be added as an analysis and interpretation tool in their toolkit. This paper describes the use of sensemaking employed as a tool for diagnosis of the processes which take place when a manager encounters perceived declining performance in an older volunteer. It outlines how the “What is going on here?” reaction to surprise or interruption of her analysis stimulated researcher sensemaking , as patterns detected among anomalous data led to deeper data interpretation , and an important finding relating to the phenomenon under investigation. Evidence is presented which demonstrates the value of employing sensemaking as a diagnostic tool in qualitative analysis and interpretation.


Sensemaking, Data analysis, Manager Sensemaking, Volunteers, Ageing


The authors would like to thank the original reviewers and Karen Wilson Scott (editor) for the invaluable feedback and guidance we have received in the development of this article.

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