Choosing the appropriate software to facilitate qualitative or mixed methods analysis is an important part of planning any research project. There are a range of options available, collectively known as Computer Assisted Qualitative Data AnalysiS (CAQDAS) packages. However, it is not always easy to visualise exactly what a package offers when exploring it for the first time yourself. Equally when asking someone else for their opinion, it is not always easy to know what questions you should be asking.
Some researchers choose the package that is already in situ – usually as a result of their institution holding a site licence - and make good use of it. But if you have a choice about what to purchase for your research project, you may be in some uncertainty about how to proceed. You may have basic understanding about what a CAQDAS package can help you do. The differences between packages can appear subtle, but they may be significant for particular types of project.
Most CAQDAS packages are excellent products so what are the criteria for making an informed choice?
The CAQDAS Networking Project website provides a range of materials that highlight important considerations in the decision-making process. These can be found at this url : http://www.surrey.ac.uk/sociology/research/researchcentres/caqdas/support/choosing/index.htm
This seminar builds on this information, discussing the issues in more detail. The range of products are described and compared, their methodological benefits and weaknesses appraised, and their practical utility illustrated using data from a range of research studies.
The seminar is structured in such a way as to foster discussion and debate and participants are encouraged to come along with questions to generate discussion during the seminar about their project and its requirements.
Participants are not expected to have a working knowledge of any CAQDAS package, but some may have experience of one or more. Participants with a clear conception of their methodology and analytic needs will find the seminar of particular use in subsequently making an informed choice. Participants are encouraged to read the materials available on the CAQDAS Networking Project website before attending and to come with relevant questions concerning their own project and analytic needs (see url above).
This seminar will outline the main considerations in making an informed choice between software packages. At the end, participants will either have a clear idea as to which package will be most appropriate for their needs, or as a minimum, will have narrowed the choices down to a considered short-list, to be further investigated.
Within the time limits of the seminar and the interests of participants - discussion and demonstration will cover the following software programmes : ATLAS.ti, Dedoose, HyperRESEARCH, MAXQDA, NVivo, Transana, Quirkos and QDA Miner.
Please note: this seminar is not designed to give you the skills required to use any software package independently - but you will get an idea of the major functionalities and characteristics of each. Software training in individual packages is provided by the CAQDAS Networking Project separately – for further information and booking instructions see : http://www.surrey.ac.uk/sociology/research/researchcentres/caqdas/trainingandevents/index.htm
Speaker: Christina Silver, PhD. CAQDAS Networking Project
Christina Silver, PhD, is Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK where she leads the training and capacity-building activities of the CAQDAS Networking Project http://www.surrey.ac.uk/sociology/research/researchcentres/caqdas/ The project provides information, advice and training in a range of software packages designed to facilitate the analysis of qualitative and mixed data. Christina also co-directs the department's Day Courses in Social Research programme http://www.surrey.ac.uk/sociology/study/daycourses/index.htm which provides qualitative and quantitative methods training, and is co-founder of Qualitative Data Analysis Services (QDAS) http://www.qdaservices.co.uk/ which provides customised consultancy services for individuals and groups engaged in data analysis.
Christina's particular interests relate to the relationship between technology and methodology and the teaching of computer-assisted analysis. She has experience in using many different CAQDAS packages (including ATLAS.ti, MAXQDA, NVivo, Transana and QDA Miner) for a range of project types, across academic disciplines, and in applied, government and commercial contexts. Over the past 20 years Christina has trained and supported thousands of researchers around the world, focussing on harnessing CAQDAS powerfully, whatever the methodology. Recent publications include the following:
Silver C, & Woolf, N (2015) “From guided instruction to facilitation of learning: The development of Five-level QDA as a CAQDAS pedagogy that explicates the practices of expert users” International Journal of Social Research Methodology, Vol 18, Iss 5
Silver C, Rivers, C . “The CAQDAS Postgraduate Learning Model: an interplay between methodological awareness, analytic adeptness and technological proficiency”, International Journal of Social Research Methods, published online, September 2015
Silver C. & Lewins A (2014) Using Software in Qualitative Research: A Step-by-Step Guide, 2nd Edition. Sage Publications, London. Freely available step-by-step handouts for using different CAQDAS packages are available on the companion website.