Qual Data Analysis with Software

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Qualitative data analysis is a MethodSpace focus for April. One topic is the use of software to aid the process. In this post you will find a collection of open access articles, as well as a curated Reading List of books, chapters, articles, cases, and videos from the SAGE Research Methods library database. If you do not have access to SRM, information about a free trial is listed below. Read all posts in the series, including resources by methodology, through this link: QualDataAnalysis. By logging into MethodSpace you will automatically receive new posts by email.


Qualitative data analysis is complex. Researchers often collect large quantities of data that can include visuals or media, audio files or notes from interviews, text or artifacts. Some qualitative researchers rely on software to organize, manage, and code data. This use of technology is described as CAQDAS, Computer Assisted Qualitative Data AnalysiS.
Microsoft Office software, including Word and Excel are adapted for research uses, or researchers use specific CAQDAS software programs, such as NVivo, Atlas T.I., HyperRESEARCH and others.



Computer-assisted qualitative data analysis (CAQDAS) refers to the use of software packages to aid the management and analysis of qualitative data
such as interview transcripts and fieldnotes.

Multidisciplinary Open Access Articles about Using CAQDAS

Clipping and Coding Audio Files: A Research Method to Enable Participant Voice (Crichton & Childs, 2005)

Abstract. Qualitative researchers have long used ethnographic methods to make sense of complex human activities and experiences. Their blessing is that through them, researchers can collect a wealth of raw data. Their challenge is that they require the researcher to find patterns and organize the various themes and concepts that emerge during the analysis stage into a coherent narrative that a reader can follow. In this article, the authors introduce a technology-enhanced data collection and analysis method based on clipped audio files. They suggest not only that the use of appropriate software and hardware can help in this process but, in fact, that their use can honor the participants’ voices, retaining the original three-dimensional recording well past the data collection stage.

 Combining Approaches to Qualitative Data Analysis: Synthesising the Mechanical (CAQDAS) with the Thematic (A Voice-Centred Relational Approach) (Frost, 2008)

Abstract. In this article I discuss the challenges of managing and analysing qualitative data produced from in-depth interviews. I detail how two methods of data analysis have been combined to explore older women’s (over 35yrs) accounts of early pregnancy loss – which formed the data for the author’s PhD research. A computer assisted qualitative data analysis (CAQDAS) package, in this case NUDIST4, was a useful tool for managing the breadth of data, and permitted the initial coding in line with the objectives of a larger qualitative study. However, pertinent themes were obscured by the sheer volume of data that had been collected. In contrast, the voice relational method was of value in exploring the depth of the data, and the ways in which these women contextualised their experiences in relation to other aspects of their lived biography. Researchers new to qualitative data analysis are often concerned that CAQDAS techniques will in some way dictate how the data will be analysed. In this article I suggest that this anxiety is unfounded – as the analysis technique depends upon the researcher(s) and the theoretical perspective(s) that inform(s) the research process. I propose that CAQDAS packages are effective tools for data management, but a more theoretically informed means, such as the voice relational method, can augment the process of analysis. I suggest that it is essential that, whichever means we employ, as researchers we are explicit about how we actually do data analysis.

Ensuring Rigor in Qualitative Data Analysis: A Design Research Approach to Coding Combining NVivo With Traditional Material Methods (Maher, Hadfield, Hutchings, & de Eyto, 2018)

Abstract. Deep and insightful interactions with the data are a prerequisite for qualitative data interpretation, in particular, in the generation of grounded theory. The researcher must also employ imaginative insight as they attempt to make sense of the data and generate understanding and theory. Design research is also dependent upon the researchers’ creative interpretation of the data. To support the research process, designers surround themselves with data, both as a source of empirical information and inspiration to trigger imaginative insights. Constant interaction with the data is integral to design research methodology. This article explores a design researchers approach to qualitative data analysis, in particular, the use of traditional tools such as colored pens, paper, and sticky notes with the CAQDAS software, NVivo for analysis, and the associated implications for rigor. A design researchers’ approach which is grounded in a practice which maximizes researcher data interaction in a variety of learning modalities ensures the analysis process is rigorous and productive. Reflection on the authors’ research analysis process, combined with consultation with the literature, would suggest digital analysis software packages such as NVivo do not fully scaffold the analysis process. They do, however, provide excellent data management and retrieval facilities that support analysis and write-up. This research finds that coding using traditional tools such as colored pens, paper, and sticky notes supporting data analysis combined with digital software packages such as NVivo supporting data management offer a valid and tested analysis method for grounded theory generation. Insights developed from exploring a design researchers approach may benefit researchers from other disciplines engaged in qualitative analysis.

Incorporating Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Worldviews Through Innovative Text Analysis: An Evaluation of Indigenous Public Health Curricula(Lee, Coombe, Mahoney, Allen, & Robinson, 2018)

Abstract. In Australia, graduates of Master of Public Health (MPH) programs are expected to achieve a set of core competencies, designed to ensure they will be culturally safe practitioners when working with Indigenous communities. This study reviewed a sample of MPH programs to determine the level of integration that has been achieved since these core competencies were developed. In this article, we will focus on the innovative data analysis process used for the reviews. The reviews were undertaken by a national network of leading academics in Indigenous public health, including those from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds. As each review team consisted of different members from the network, there was a need to ensure consistency in the data analysis process across all the reviews. The researchers chose to use the Leximancer V4 qualitative software data analysis tool to enhance the validity of the study outcomes. One of the limitations found using this approach was that the Indigenous voice was underrepresented in the output from the software tool; hence, a manual thematic analysis was subsequently applied to the discussion threads, to identify themes within the findings. By combining the conceptual and thematic analysis, the research team was able to bridge the gap created by the weaknesses of the two data analysis methods and incorporate both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous worldviews to the interpretation of the findings, while maintaining consistency throughout the review process.

Rapid and Rigorous Qualitative Data Analysis: The “RADaR” Technique for Applied Research (Watkins, 2017)

Abstract. Despite the advantages of using qualitative data to advance research and practice, applied researchers agree that the most daunting task is trying to analyze the data rapidly and rigorously. This article introduces a quick and comprehensive qualitative analysis strategy called the rigorous and accelerated data reduction (RADaR) technique. The RADaR technique involves using tables and spreadsheets from general purpose, word processing software to develop all-inclusive data tables that undergo several revisions. These revisions, called “data reduction,” help produce shorter, more concise data tables. The RADaR technique converts raw, textual data into a more manageable and user-friendly format. It is rigorous because of the systematic analysis that occurs during each step of the process, and it is accelerated because the time required to review and reduce each phase of the data table becomes shorter as the user produces more condensed and concise presentations of the textual data. [Note: this article discusses use of Microsoft Word and Excel.]

SRM Reading List for CAQDAS

Find and download these sources from SAGE Research Methods. If you do not have access to SRM through your library, explore SAGE Research Methods with a free trial
( See A Primer on Getting the Most out of SAGE Research Methods to learn mode about how to navigate SRM and use Reading Lists.)

Article References

Crichton, S., & Childs, E. (2005). Clipping andcoding audio files: a research method to enable participant voice. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 4(3), 40-49. doi:10.1177/160940690500400303

Frost, J. (2008). Combining approaches to qualitative data analysis: Synthesising the mechanical (CAQDAS) with the thematic (a voice-centred relational approach). Methodological Innovations Online, 3(1), 25-37. doi:10.4256/mio.2008.0008

Lee, V., Coombe, L., Mahoney, R., Allen, C., & Robinson, P. (2018). Incorporating indigenous and non-indigenous worldviews through innovative text analysis: an evaluation of indigenous public health curricula. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 17(1), 1609406918819377. doi:10.1177/1609406918819377

Maher, C., Hadfield, M., Hutchings, M., & de Eyto, A. (2018). Ensuring rigor in qualitative data analysis: A design research approach to coding combining nvivo with traditional material methods. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 17(1), 1609406918786362. doi:10.1177/1609406918786362

Watkins, D. C. (2017). Rapid and rigorous qualitative data analysis: The “RADaR” technique for applied research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 16(1), 1609406917712131. doi:10.1177/1609406917712131

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