UBC Graduate Research

Public Consultation Data Analysis : A Review of Qualitative Data Analysis Methods in Planning and Engagement Solmundson, Maureen


This project is part of the UBC SEEDS Sustainability program and is in partnership with UBC’s Campus and Community Planning (C+CP) department. The project seeks to advance the ability of C+CP staff to analyze community feedback and report back on what they heard through public consultation in a more robust and meaningful way. To accomplish this, the project consisted of three parts: background research, informant interviews and a document analysis of consultation summary reports from various organizations. Thirteen informants were interviewed and ten consultation summary reports were reviewed, along with two C+CP documents. The report is organized around four key insights that emerged from the document review and informant interviews. These include: 1. Data analysis is just one part of the process. How you design the engagement, the questions asked, and what you do with the data is more important. 2. It’s not just about numbers, but the overall meaning. 3. Engagement by its very nature is biased and that is okay. Be upfront about who participated in the process and who did not. 4. Building trust and being accountable are essential. Integrated throughout the key findings sections are general ‘tips and tricks’ for all engagement professionals. C+CP is doing many of these already and can choose what to glean from these tips, if relevant. The findings revealed that C+CP is already doing many of the ‘best practices’ identified by other engagement professionals. A major limitation of this research was that there is a gap in the academic literature related to public opinion polling data analysis (related to qualitative data) methodologies. Another limitation was that informant interviews were conducted with experts working in non-academic settings. A recommendation of this report is to conduct further research with academic institutions and academic researchers on this topic. Coupled with this research, academic informants interviews could help C+CP improve their data analysis. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International