Book reviews

Book review: Silver, C. & Lewins, A. (2014). Using Software in Qualitative Research – a step-by-step guide. Second edition. London: Sage.

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    This book is focused on theoretical background for Computer Assisted Qualitative Data AnalysiS (CAQDAS) and its practical implementation for processing qualitative and mixed data. The historical development of the idea for CAQDAS is also presented.

    The different chapters of the book deal with representing some theoretical frameworks for qualitative research and data analysis (Chapter 1); describing three case studies used to illustrate computer processing of qualitative data (Chapter 2);software summaries for Atlas.ti, Dedoose, HyperRESEARCH, MAXQDA, Nvivo, QDA Miner, and Transana (Chapter 3); preparation of qualitative and mixed data for computer processing (Chapter 4); some different approaches for organizing and processing qualitative data with the mentioned software, including hyperlinking (Chapters 5, 6); qualitative coding and working with coded data (Chapters 7, 8, and 9); linking and interpretation by writing (chapter 10); mapping ideas (Chapter 11); organizing data (Chapter 12); quality control and visualising results (Chapter 13); and choosing the most appropriate software (Chapter 14).

    This book is supported by a companion website that contains the colour illustrations from the book, sample data from three case studies described in the book and software guides for Atlas.ti, Dedoose, HyperRESEARCH, MAXQDA, Nvivo, QDA Miner, and Transana.

    The possibilities of all enumerated software packages for qualitative and mixed data organization, processing and interpretation are discussed and compared to each other.

    This book is recommendable for all researchers and practitioners in different scientific fields – psychology, sociology, literature, etc. – for all who deal with qualitative and mixed methods for data processing, interpretation and presentation. 

    Wilma Garvin

    Could you be more specific about the advantages and disadvantages of the different software packages that the book covers? Also what do the authors suggest regarding coding?

    Many thanks,



    Concerning the advantages and disadvantages of the different software packages, one could read for example that Dedoose is more focused on mixed method data integration and analysis (p.65); MAXQDA also permits mixed method analysis (p.69); Atlas.ti processes text, images, audio, video files, as wll as linking and coding. It permits Excel and pdf files to be imported, as well as some other file formats. It also permits the output results to be exported as Excel and SPSS files (pp. 62-63). NVivo could import data from EndNote, Mendelay… (p.71). QDA miner uses data files in textual formats, and some image formats. It could manage large projects of thousands of documents. It possesses unique pattern matching tools compared to the other packages (to retrieve some similar segments to an example of text selected by the user, which can then be coded or to group similar sentences or paragraphs into clusters). Transana analyses video, audio data and still images. In brief, the differences between the packages concern the type of data that could be processed, the way of organizing and processing data, the compatibility with some other software packages and even operational systems. There are a lot of illustrations and examples in the book that try to describe the possibilities of each software package.

    The author suggests that coding is not the unique option and linking documents could also be used. Qualitative coding is relating some segments of data as being an example of a more general idea or category, so coding contributes to organising, ordering data. CAQDAS packages store data files and also create links between data segments and the codes for them. The author suggests not only inductive and deductive approaches to coding and data analysis, but also abduction (combination between them – deriving from a theory and building a theory). The three cases examples given in the book illustrate author’s idea with real text and visual data. 

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