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Qualitative Research & Tools

Find tutorials about conducting Qualitative research, including resources on methodologies and software.

Conversion

Comparisons

Note the date of these sites, as software changes frequently!

Software Independence

All the major Qualitative software packages have implemented an exchange file format allowing you to transfer your project from one software to another. We highly recommend using a software that supports the project exchange format OR that is open-source. 

  • Project Exchange  -  Allows the entire project to be converted from one software to another. Do NOT expect that that complex projects or those using special features of a software will be transferred as desired. You can expect the transferred project to include all documents and any straightforward coding. 
    • Supported by: ATLAS.ti, Dedoose, Leipzig Corpus Miner, MAXQDA, NVivo, QDA Miner, Quirkos, Transana
  • Codebook Exchange - Allows the codebook to be transferred from one software to another.
    • Supported by: the above plus f4analyse, HyerRESEARCH

Popular Software

Primary Full-Feature Software Packages

  • Atlas.ti - Originally designed for Grounded theory analysis, Atlas.ti excels at memos and other tools for theory building. It also has network tools and a companion online version. Recent versions have greatly improved labeling and added features that were standard for it's competators. 
  • MAXQDA - Although newer than others, MAXQDA takes advantage of this with many colors, emoji's, and on-the-fly filtering. The interface tends to be more cluttered and redundant, but an identical interface across platforms, regular improvements, and free course licenses and read-only access to projects make it an attractive option. 
  • NVivo - A streamlined and familiar interface and support for a variety of data types and organizational structures make NVivo a good all-around choice for any project. But, annotations and memos are less integrated than they should be, and the Mac version has both fewer features and a different file type (hindering collaboration). Those, combined with the increasingly restrictive and expensive licensing, has many looking elsewhere. 

Good Alternatives

Free/Open Source

  • Taguette - Simple, but pleasant web interface supporting just basic code-and-retrieve. Supports sensitive data with a local or server install, or use their free server. 
  • Qualcoder - Python-based with an installer for Windows only (must run from source on Mac). More full-featured than other free options, including colors, cases, and right click menus (see a video demonstration). Accepts Word documents, pdfs, images, and video, Takes a bit of work to get started, but easy to use once learned. 
  • TAMS Analyzer - (MAC only) A long-available option that was recently updated. It only accepts PDF, TXT, JPG, and RTF files (which Word can save as). It visibly tags text with the codes and allows for basic code and retrieve.
  • QCoder - R package with some point-and-click options (must install R first). Best for those already using R for quantitative needs and desiring some mixed methods options. 

Convenient

  • Excel or Google Sheets or Calc - Any spreadsheet program can do basic code and retrieve using the filter and pivot table functions which all of them have. See this video on Qualitative Analysis Using Excel (TrixieMay Racer)
  • Quirkos - with student licenses $21 for 3 months with cloud storage. Non-standard but colorful and simplistic interface. Best for shorter documents. 

Online: These make it easier to collaborate with others and offer per-month pricing, (~$10-20/month), good for shorter projects

  • Atlas.ti Cloud - Slick and colorful, but not full-featured, this is a great software for first-time users with uncomplicated needs. 
  • Dedoose - Designed for mixed methods projects with fewer but more complex codes (allows ratings), this full-featured online software is a solid choice in some circumstances, especially distributed groups with somewhat complex projects, or those that would benefit from monthly pricing. 
  • Delve - Designed for interview or focus group transcripts, it is slick and easy-to-use with some advanced features such as participant descriptors. See education pricing

Windows-Only

  • QDA Miner - An older interface and no Mac support hinder this otherwise-solid and full-featured software. A FREE lite-version for basic features and the suite of additional software may make it worth a look, though, if your computer is compatible.

Other Options

These do not seem to have any advantages over the above at this time, unless simplicity is the primary goal or a perpetual license (for $75-200) is desired.

  • f4analyse - Evolved from transcription software. Available for Linux. Very simple coding and clean interface.
  • HyperRESEARCH - Mac-like multi-window interface. Easy to code and does not require a powerful computer. Demo mode for small projects.
  • transana  - Evolved from transcription software. Particularly good for media files.