The CAQDAS Networking Project was formally established in 1994 when we first received ESRC funding. The project grew out of the first Surrey Research Methods conference in 1989 at which time Ray Lee and Nigel Fielding coined the term Computer Assisted Qualitative Data AnalysiS (CAQDAS). This conference brought together pioneers in the field and resulted in an edited volume of papers by methodologists and software developers (Fielding and Lee 1991/1993). This volume provides an historical context to the early development of software and is therefore a seminal work in the development of CAQDAS technology and its adoption by researchers.
Between 1994 and 2011 we were funded by 7 streams of ESRC funding, most recently as an ESRC National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) Node as part of the Research Methods Programme (RMP) and the Researcher Development Initiative (RDI). We are currently receiving no external funding.
Our remit is to provide information, advice, training and ongoing support in the use of a range of CAQDAS applications and we have trained over 7000 researchers and students since 1994. Non-UK based participants frequently attend our events. Our programme of awareness-raising and training events aims to reflect the broad area of methodological and technological innovation together with supporting novice users in planning a project and using software effectively for their needs. The content of our training events is informed by research and our experience of working with researchers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and using a range of qualitative methodologies.
Our mission is to encourage the independent use of CAQDAS packages. We have no commercial ties with any software developer or company and therefore provide unbiased comparisons of tools and discussion of their application in different research contexts. We encourage critical evaluation of products and the tools offered within them in order that researchers can manipulate tools to support their own ways of working and analytic approaches.
Our research concerns the use of CAQDAS packages for innovative purposes. Through the QUIC programme we are exploring technological and methodological developments in qualitative software, with a focus on three particular areas: the integration of quantitative and qualitative data; the analysis of (multi-stream) visual data and the convergence of GIS technology with qualitative software. Research in these areas is contributing to the development of new online materials to support researchers in deciding between and using CAQDAS packages effectively.