First of all let me begin by saying that I think my brain works in a similar way to a computer. You throw a problem at it and, if it is capable, it spits back a solution. If it cannot work out the solution, all you get back is an indescribable error noise and a completely blank screen/face. Therefore, I find qualitative data analysis extremely difficult to complete myself and I dip my hat to anyone that manages it because to my mind, qualitative data has no set-in-stone answers. And this completely messes with my brain!
Qualitative data seems, to me, to be much more difficult than quantitative data analysis. I think this because it is a method that is completely dependent on the skills of the researcher. Instead of simply learning which buttons to push on a computer to complete an ANOVA, for example, a qualitative researcher needs to train and refine their skills in order to analyze data. This link http://www.simplypsychology.org/qualitative-quantitative.html goes a way to explain the difficulties psychologists can encounter with qualitative data. Because so much of the analysis relies on the skill of the experimenter, it is often argued that the results are very subjective and the same data can be interpreted in different ways by different researchers. This can be thought to make qualitative data unscientific. The analysis of this type of information tend to take a very long time, and for this reason, there are usually far fewer people studied in a qualitative experiment. This makes it harder to generalize the findings to the rest of the population as the sample is much smaller (as stated by this link http://www.mondofacto.com/study-skills/research/how-to-start-research-at-university/02.html).
For me, qualitative data is more of an art form, slightly subjective but most people can appreciate the end result, which is more often than not a beautiful piece of work. Obviously that being said, science does need to produce results that are as true as possible to the world. However, qualitative data also has huge advantages that I think are sometimes overlooked. Qualitative data looks at participants in a huge amount of detail and creates an openness that can sometimes be stifled in quantitative research. This in-depth enquiry into individuals experiences can be hugely beneficial in the early stages of theories especially, as because they have no hypothesis, they avoid pre-judgements of the data. Here is a link that discusses the positives and negatives of qualitative research http://www.learnhigher.ac.uk/analysethis/main/qualitative1.html.
To my mind, qualitative data analysis treats human beings as wholes and tries gain a deep understanding of behaviour.. rather than asking participants to push a button, like a mouse, every time they see a dot on a screen. And yet, quantitative data is hugely important also so perhaps a mixture of the both types of data is the best solution. This full understanding of human behaviour is something I believe is vital to the development of psychology as a science.
I just might leave other psychologists to do it while I hide behind my calculator and SPSS…