While I’ve only written a little here on this blog over the last year or so, a lot has been happening behind the scenes. For those who follow me on other social media platforms, you would have seen the launch of new way of analysing data – using emoji as a coding and analytical tool. Initially, I thought is was going to simply be a fun thing to do, which it was. However I’ve been so happy to see the level of interest in this work, and also very pleased to see that so many people have already benfitted from it.

It all started as a little bit of fun with this tweet:

But grew because of the following interaction with the Dr Helen Kara:

And from that, came this work.

Serendipitously, I met Dr Lauren Gawne, one of the global emoji experts, earlier in the year, and was working with her on a linguistics project. We took the opportunity to explore and see if, and how emoji could be used as an analytical tool for non-numerical data. In this project, I examined short answer interview questions, and documented the research process by maintaining a detailed and thorough research journal.

It was a challenging exercise. Practically, we carefully considered the choice of the software to use for the analysis, and then faced challenges on how to actually code data using that software (It was NOT a simple exercise)! However, during 2022, Quirkos, another qualitative research software program, introduced emoji as an option for creating codes. It made a big difference to process, but also impacted the way emoji could be used for analysis.

Often when coding, people make lists, or use keywords. But with the addition of emoji in Quirkos, because of the way the interface works, I found that emoji could be used for storytelling, descriptions, as well as depicting relationships and patterns in a way that I have not used with words or with other forms of analytical coding. It was a game changer, and has uses for the way we can use emoji to assist in us understanding qualitative data and addressing our research question. I wrote more details about what I found here.

I ran a couple of sessions on using emoji for analysis in 2022, detailing the challenges and varity of ways it could be used. They were popular sessions, and I’m keen to run more in the future. This time, with a slight difference. Not only will I explain the challenges and potential benefits of using emoji for analysis, but I also plan on taking people through the process of actually coding using emoji. I’m also going to reduce the number of people in the session, down from 80, to ten or twelve.

If you are keen, please do complete this form, and you will be the first to know of the sessions as they become available.

And just because I’m blown away by the hype, and it’s nice to end on a postive note, here is a bit of feedback from that first workshop

“Really stimulating and thought-provoking introduction to using emoji in a research setting, and in particular for data coding. Anuja, you are so engaging and enthusiastic – your energy is contagious! I loved how real you were, your openness and honesty means that I can now understand the bumps and challenges you faced when starting to engage in emoji analysis. What I’m taking away is the importance of reflection and reflexivity – and noticing those moments of connection with the data, I’ll definitely be using the “red flag” idea from now on!”

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