Suggestions for coding qualitative data for quantitative anaylses

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    I am trying to plan my dissertation methods and am not sure which software package to use or how to best go about it. I would like to transform open-ended qualitative responses (about 1000 paragraph length, qualitative responses) into quantitative codes to then analyze quantitatively in SPSS. Based on theory, I have a coding scheme in mind for how to code the qualitative data. Currently, based on this theory, I have 12 separate categories for codes. One way I have been thinking about trying to code the data is to try to code a particular construct/category as either absent (0), somewhat present (1), or present (2). I have been reading about different software packages and am not clear a) which package is best for my purposes? b) how I would go about using the software to accomplish this goal. My department owns a copy of Nvivo 8. I was also considering MAXqda?

    I would greatly appreciate any help/suggestions.

    thank you.

    Johnny Saldana


    I’m not sure which CAQDAS software package to recommend, but please do check out my publication for some initial guidance, “The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers” (Johnny Saldana; London: Sage, 2009). Check the entry for “Magnitude Coding.” Depending on what you’re coding, some of the other types of methods profiled in the book may be appropriate for your study. Best wishes with your dissertation.

    Johnny Saldana

    Rick Lavin

    As a result of reading this thread, I bought a copy of “The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers”. Excellent book; thanks for letting us know about it.

    Rick Lavin

    “Using Software in Qualitative Research” is a well-known book that might help. But I find that, good though the book was, I ended up still being unable to decide what software package to go with. And, even though it’s only two years old, it feels rather out-of-date already. Another book that I’ve ordered but has yet to arrive is Qualitative Research Design for Software Users. It looks like it might be a great complement to the Saldana book, giving guidance on managing the whole process, while The Coding Manual gives more in-depth coverage on coding.

    Whereas it’s pretty easy to find comparative reviews of word-processing software, no-one seems to do them for CAQDAS packages. I’m leaning towards Atlas.ti for fairly superficial reasons: the website is attractive and well-maintained, and I get the impression that help is easily available; and there still seems to be a general feeling that it, along with NVivo, is in the “Big Two” of CAQDAS software.

    James Gab

    QDA Miner is a good qualitative analysis tool:

    There is also QDA Miner Lite a free version of QDA Miner: . They released version 1.2  a few weeks ago.



      sorry I’ve only just seen your msg. I would recommend both Johnny Saldana’s book and the now venerable Miles, Matthew B., & Huberman, A. Michael. (1994) Qualitative data analysis: a sourcebook of new methods (2 edn.). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. pp. 102-9 as helping with what you want to do.

    You don’t need to use software to do the coding you want to do, but with 1,000 plus responses, that might be a wise thing to do, mainly as a way of data management. In addition you will have text search and data mining tools that might help you with your coding, given that you have a pretty clear, a priori concepts that you are using.

    Any of the major programs, NVivo, Atlas.ti, MAXQDA, QDA Miner will do this job and they all have powerful text searching tools. They can all output coding results as files (e.g. csv) that can be imported into a stats package for you to analyse the quantitative variable(s) you have produced. I assume you have some other (biographical/demographic ?) data on the cases that you can use with the new variables. QDA MIner is particulary well integrated with the sister products SimStat, a statistical data analysis tool, and WordStat, a quantitative content analysis and text mining module. But you may already have a stats program like SPSS and you can use that with the new variable data from the other programs. If your dept already has NVivo that will work fine and that may be the cheapest option for you. N.B. NVivo is now in version 10 but v. 8 will do all that you need.


    PS Christina Silver and Ann Lewins are working on a new edition of their “Using Software in Qualitative Research”. Not sure when it’s due out.

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