Published October 7, 2019 | Version 0.1
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The ROCK book

  • 1. Semmelweis University
  • 2. Open University of the Netherlands


This is the Reproducible Open Coding Kit book, a living Open Access book. The Reproducible Open Coding Kit, the ROCK, is a standard for qualitative research. It was developed to facilitate reproducible and open coding, enabling explicit documentation of the various analysis steps without compromising the flexibility that lends much of the qualitative research its strength.

At its core, the ROCK specifies conventions for including codes and attributes in plain text files. This standard enables coding and reading qualitative data without the requirement of any software other than a plain text file editor. Simultaneously, it allows the development of software to, for example, further process those files to support specific analyses, or to provide a graphical user interface to facilitate coding. This book will discuss two such implementations of the ROCK. The first is the `rock` R package, an R package originally developed to facilitate using the ROCK standard to support Epistemic Netwok Analyses, but since then extended to also use the ROCK for cognitive interviews and to work with decentralized construct taxonomies (DCTs). The second is iROCK, a rudimentary graphical user interface to code text files using the ROCK.

The ROCK helps qualitative researchers navigate the imperatives created by Open Science and the General Data Protection Regulation. On the one hand, because no proprietary software is required, researchers retain complete control over the data they process. This means that they do not need to enter into data processing agreements with third parties if they process identifiable data. On the other hand, if they work with anonymized data, because the data are stored in plain text files, they can easily be shared with other researchers, who can then easily re-run (or adapt and re-run) the analyses.



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