Understanding participants’ perspectives in qualitative research is contingent on unravelling the essential meaning of their speech. When data are collected in native language and translated into English language, the underlying sociocultural meaning of participants’ speech can be missed. This paper discusses a new contextual coding approach and illustrates its application in research. The technique was used in a phenomenological study in Pakistan and a mixed methods study in Europe. Contextual coding entails a preliminary coding stage involving data reading in native language, choosing socially and culturally relevant words and phrases, and developing preliminary codes. The concluding coding stage focuses on creating a sociocultural query list, seeking answers through discussions among multilingual individuals, and finding a common language for code description. Contextual coding can enable researchers to understand sociocultural meaning of their data at an early stage, rather than waiting at the later stage of theme development to contextualize the findings.


data coding, qualitative research, research methods, cross-cultural research, multi-lingual research, contextual coding

Author Bio(s)

Ahtisham Younas is an Assistant Professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. Please direct correspondence to ay6133@mun.ca or ahtishamyounas66@gmail.com.

Angela Cuoco is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Biomedicine and Prevention at the University of Rome "Tor Vergata," Italy.

Ercole Vellone is an Associate Professor of Nursing in the Department of Biomedicine and Prevention at the University of Rome "Tor Vergata," Italy.

Sergi Fàbregues is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Education at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain.

Elsa Lucia Escalante Barrios is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at the Universidad del Norte, Colombia.

Angela Durante is an Assistant Professor in the Pre-Departmental Unit of Nursing at the Universidad de La Rioja, Spain.

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