Qualitative research and analysis is often used in disciplines including Psychology and the Social Sciences. Qualitative research methods include interviews, ethnographies, focus groups, analyzing text and speech, etc. If you’re writing a dissertation that draws on qualitative research, it’s likely that you may need to use computer software to assist in the interpretation and analysis of your data. Qualitative analysis software can help you code, retrieve, map, link, and search your research data. It can help you organize it, map it, and make sense of it. But with all of the different qualitative analysis software options out there, how do you choose the one that’s most appropriate for your dissertation?
NVivo is one of the most commonly used tools for qualitative data analysis. It’s available for purchase for Windows and Mac operating systems. NVivo for students ranges in price from $60-$120, depending on your operating system and the package that you choose. NVivo allows you to order transcrips of audio and video files, sync data from mobile devices using Evernote, code text, and import data from SurveyMonkey and social media. It also integrates with bibliography management software like Endnote an Zotero. NVivo allows you to display your findings using visualization tools including charts and maps. And all of the conclusions and visualizations that you create in NVivo can be easily exported as web pages or pasted into reports.
ATLAS.ti is available for Windows, Mac, iPad, and Android. Student licenses range from $35-$99. In ATLAS.ti, you can work with multiple documents at once, and create links between sections of different documents. The program also offers very power tools for working with video an audio, allowing you to code in minute detail by zooming in on frames and audio waves. ATLAS.ti also includes a range of query and search functions that let you navigate your data efficiently. Like NVivo, ATLAS.ti allows you to create charts and other kinds of visualizations, and also allows you to use Google Earth data to create geographic data maps. You can easily export your data from ATLAS.ti, and access projects across your mobile devices.
In addition to software like NVivo or ATLAS.ti, there are a number of web-based qualitative data analysis tools available. One of these is Dedoose, which is available for $10.95 a month. Because it is web-based, you can access your data anywhere that you have an internet connection, and you can share work with colleagues if you are doing a collaborative project. Like other qualitative data analysis tools, it allows you to code and transcribe text and other media, but with the added convenience of cloud access.
DiscoverText is another cloud-based option. It offers a range of tools for classifying, coding, filtering, mining, and analyzing textual data. It also allows you to import text from email or social media. Paid (starting at $24/month) and free versions of DiscoverText are available.
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