Team Reflections: Where Qualitative Research Can Take You

QDA Team sitting by couches

The Qualitative Data Archivist Team supports Innovation Hub projects using qualitative research skills, with each team member taking away something different from their experience. The 2023-2024 team reflects on how their dynamic workload fosters collaboration and how this can also lead to personal growth. 

Written by the Innovation Hub Qualitative Data Archivist Team


The Qualitative Data Archivist (QDA) Team plays a supportive role to all design research teams at the Innovation Hub. This means that we assist other teams with various tasks throughout the design research process, particularly data collection and analysis. Our team is expected to be flexible and collaborative due to the diverse responsibilities of this workload. However, the value of our work is not just about the success of each research project. Throughout these projects, we had the opportunity to learn and practice multiple skills relevant to design research, allowing each of our team members to gain a tailored learning experience. 

Applying qualitative research skills to other disciplines 

Magnifying glass inspecting people

While some members of the QDA team are experienced qualitative researchers, many are beginners in the field. All of us have learned valuable skills for qualitative data handling and began to see how we could apply to it to our own fields of study: 

Katrina: Working as a Qualitative Data Archivist, this position allowed me to discover the differences between archives in different disciplines, especially when comparing my experiences in the Innovation Hub with those at other archives like UTARMS. Furthermore, since I regularly use archival sources for my research papers as a history student, having these skills and experiences has been especially useful. 

Ivy: As a master’s student specializing in user experience design, I can apply the qualitative analysis skill I learned at the iHub to the user data analysis process in the UX field. I hope the design research we did will help provide students with a more user-friendly environment to study and enjoy their university life. 

Star: I found that the biggest difference between handling qualitative and quantitative data is emotions—emotions contained within paragraphs of words, delivering the interviewee’s feelings and needs. I spent most of my undergrad time trying to interpret the meanings behind the cold, hard numbers in quantitative research… there is no better way to improve one’s storytelling and summary skills than coding the massive lists of iHub excerpts. 

With varying levels of experience at the beginning of the term, our team learned new ways to apply these skills by working with each other. After a year’s worth of qualitative coding and data management, each member gained more insight into how qualitative research skills could be transferred from academic to career contexts. 

Collaboration and Leadership Across Teams 

three interconnected circles with people inside

The variety of tasks within our team made it the perfect setting to foster peer-to-peer learning and leadership skills. Team members might switch between being a team player or leading tasks because it is such a dynamic team:  

Star: I love QDA’s work style as a team—it feels like building and connecting many tiny wheels that are necessary for the functioning of the entire iHub. During our co-work sections, it’s both exciting and eye-opening to contribute and exchange thoughts on a diverse range of ongoing projects.  Supporting all the projects is about tackling random problems that different project teams encounter each week, and I am thrilled about every new task assigned to me.  

Yunika: A valuable experience for the QDA team is the workplace skills we learn. For example, on multiple occasions, our team led other teams at the Innovation Hub through the qualitative data software, Dedoose. These opportunities allowed us to develop our leadership and teaching skills. I feel I have learned and grown so much since joining the team and look forward to continuing to develop new skills. 

Ruth: As team lead, I facilitate the QDA’s collaboration with iHub projects, communicating with other teams and directing my own team’s attention to wherever support is needed the most. What I enjoyed most this year was seeing which challenge a given team member would find the most exciting. Everyone is different and takes something different away from their role. Whether it’s transcript cleaning, qualitative coding, or report writing, everyone finds their niche and projects to always get their work done. 

Our team spread opportunities amongst all team members equally, and everyone reached out to what resonated with them the most. This team setting meant that learning new things felt less intimidating and we could learn more about our strengths and interests. Whether we were interested in developing qualitative research skills, gaining insight into the design research process, or learning everyday leadership skills, each of us made the most out of our time on the team. 

Embrace Every Learning Opportunity  

Book with shape above

The QDA team was a place where we could challenge ourselves and gain career experience, while still feeling safe when making mistakes. Although we faced unique difficulties with being flexible and collaborative, we also found even greater rewards associated with taking on the challenge.  

Every QDA team member took something valuable from their experience at the Innovation Hub, highlighting the benefits of challenging yourself in a new research role. The flexibility and diversity of tasks in these roles may have been intimidating, but it gave us the opportunity to learn many new things. We learned how to apply our qualitative research experience to future career goals. Or, how we can use this learning environment to incubate our own leadership styles.  

Although all members joined the team from different places, the Innovation Hub was a place where we could all meet in the middle. When given the opportunity to do something brand new, we encourage readers to think about the things you could learn, not what you don’t know. The ability to embrace what is new and unfamiliar may be your biggest learning opportunity yet.  


Headshot of Ruth

Ruth Rodrigues, Qualitative Data Archivist Team Lead, Master of Education, Social Justice Education  

Ivy smiling against a white background.

Ivy Cao, Qualitative Data Archivist, Master of Information, User Experience Design

Star smiling against a white background.

Star Li, Qualitative Data Archivist, Honours Bachelor of Science, Economics & Statistics

Yunika smiling in a selfie.

Yunika Zhiqing Liu, Qualitative Data Archivist, Honours Bachelor of Science, Psychology, Physiology, Criminology  

Katrina outdoors in front of leaves.

Katrina Sze Ching Soong, Qualitative Data Archivist, Honours Bachelor of Arts, English, Philosophy, History

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