Despite the affinity between qualitative research and non-text visual information, the range and application of creative visualizations used to give depth and dimension to qualitative research reports is limited. Thoughtfully designed visualizations, including those which emphasize color, have myriad advantages, including the ability to compress information into an easily understood summary. The purpose of this paper is to describe a new method, developed by the first author, suitable for capturing temporal aspects of conversations and word volume for presentation in an engaging visual way. This method uses the widely available software program Microsoft Excel, in conjunction with R, an open source/open access software environment for statistical computing and graphics, to transform typed transcripts from individual interview research into a specific type of volume graph known as a stream graph. This “how to” paper describes the process and illustrates results from interview research with eight U.S. public school teachers conducted to discuss mental health resources for students. The stream graph approach provides qualitative researchers another tool for visualizing the rich contextual data collected during interviews.


qualitative research, data visualization, interview visualization, stream graph, interview research

Author Bio(s)

Emily S. Nelson is a postdoctoral scholar at Case Western Reserve University. She received her PhD from Kent State University. Her research goals are to improve the readability and comprehension of data through visualizations and to more equitably include underrepresented voices in health research. Her research interests include education, mental health, and community health. Please direct correspondence to: emilynelson515@gmail.com.

Sheryl L. Chatfield is associate professor of public health at Kent State University and the co-coordinator of the Kent State graduate certificate in qualitative research. She received her PhD from the University of Mississippi and concurrently completed the graduate certificate in qualitative research at Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Chatfield is very interested in use of visual expressions to share results from qualitative and mixed methods research. Please direct correspondence to: schatfi1@kent.edu.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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