Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis (CAQDAS) networking project

Support for users of Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis packages

These online materials have been developed as part of the Qualitative innovations in CAQDAS (QUIC) project, funded by the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM).

This website provides a range of resources for researchers using software to support the process of qualitative data analysis. Although there is some discussion in places about methodological approaches and analytic strategies in the support section, we generally assume that researchers come to this website with an idea of how they will go about analysing their data. 

If, however, you need more advice on qualitative data analysis please visit our sister project, Online QDA which has been designed specifically to address common problems in using qualitative data analysis methods. This site provides comprehensive introductory information and links to other methodologically specific resources. For more information on our relationship with the Online QDA project please see Online QDA in the collaboration section

We have no commercial links to any software developer or supplier enabling us to provide independent advice about software. Information about the support materials, including the rationale behind their development and the kinds of user we have in mind when designing them can be found below.

  1. Choosing software: information to assist in making an informed decision between software packages
  2. Planning for the use of software: information about factors to consider when planning for the use of software in different types of qualitative research project
  3. Team-based research: information about planning for and using CAQDAS packages in team-based projects
  4. Analytic tasks and software tools: information and discussion about using qualitative software tools to support certain qualitative analytic tasks
  5. Analysing survey data: comparative information about using CAQDAS packages to analyse open-ended questions to survey data
  6. Analysing audiovisual data in CAQDAS packages : general information about preparing and using audiovisual data in CAQDAS packages
  7. Integrating geographical data: discussion and support for integrating geographical data and analyses using CAQDAS packages

Please also see our resources pages for further information, and the working papers page, where many materials can be downloaded as stand-alone pdf files.

About the QUIC online materials

QUIC’s training and capacity building online materials concern the use of software to support qualitative research in various methodological and practical settings. We aim to provide ideas about how you may creatively manipulate software for your own needs rather than to promote an ‘ideal’ way of using any software package or tool. The development of these materials was based on the common issues and problems researchers encounter in using CAQDAS packages which we have come across in our work with researchers and software users since the inception of the CAQDAS networking project in 1994. We also tracked the way researchers learn about and use different CAQDAS packages to inform this work. See the working papers section for more info on our longitudinal user-tracking project or find out more about the history and remit of the CAQDAS networking project and QUIC.

The online materials developed by QUIC are split into two main types: the ‘generic’ and the ‘innovative’. Where relevant they are comparative, helping you to make informed choices between packages for practical or methodological reasons.

Generic materials

These materials are aimed primarily at researchers and students who are new to the use of CAQDAS packages. They do not assume any prior qualitative data analysis experience, although they will be useful to those who are making the switch from manual methods to the use of customised software. The development of these materials draw upon common questions which the CAQDAS networking project routinely receive and on data we are collecting from a longitudinal project tracking researchers’ use of software. Generic materials focus on choosing softwareplanning how to use the software most effectively and selecting tools for analytical and practical purposes.

Methodologically innovative materials

These materials are aimed primarily at experienced qualitative researchers and software users and/or those working in the areas of mixed methods research, qualitative geography or visual data analysis. A basic understanding of CAQDAS packages is assumed, although these materials may also be useful to those who have not used customised software previously, but who are interested in finding out more about technological and methodological advancements in qualitative research. Methodologically innovative materials focus on ways of undertaking mixed method analysis, analysing different forms of visual data and using geo-referencing tools in CAQDAS software packages.

Formats of QUIC online materials

We provide a range of online materials for different purposes including the following:

  1. Flow-chart style overviews
  2. Tabular and textual comparisons
  3. Pdf documents
  4. Exemplars
  5. Video descriptions and explanations

Where there are outside websites and resources which provide additional related information we provide links.

What we do not provide

We do not promote any particular software

We have no commercial ties with any software producer or company. We do not consider there to be a ‘best’ CAQDAS package and we do not advocate the use of particular products. All our materials are developed out of our research work and experience of teaching and working with researchers using CAQDAS packages since 1994. For more information about the history and remit of the CAQDAS networking project and QUIC see the about us page.

We do not advocate a ‘best’ or ‘ideal’ way of doing things

We do not consider there to be a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way of using a tool for a particular purpose and do not advocate ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions to methodological or practical issues. There are often several ways in which a task could be effectively achieved and it may be a point of style or comfort in established ways of working which determine how you proceed. However, there may be things about how the software works which are useful to know at the outset so that you can make efficient use of the tool and avoid common difficulties. Where we consider a particular way of proceeding as being the most efficient we will state this.

We do not teach you ‘how to do qualitative data analysis’

Neither in our training events, nor in our online materials, do we aim to teach ‘how to do qualitative data analysis’ per se. Some of our materials do have a strong methodological component however, and we also point you to further sources of information about qualitative methodologies and analytic tasks where appropriate. There are a multitude of methodological approaches to qualitative data analysis (QDA) and software tools can be used in different ways to support those needs effectively. If you are new to QDA visit the Introduction to qualitative data analysis part of the Online QDA website for general information and starting points.

We do not provide step-by-step instructions for basic procedures in our online materials

Our online materials are not intended as step-by-step instructions for using any software in its entirety. This sort of support can be accessed from various places, including the relevant software developer websites and user-forums, software help menus, some books and websites and in the documentation provided if you attend a software-specific training course. Throughout our online materials we point you at relevant additional resources where we have found them to be particularly useful. In places we do provide step-by-step procedures where we are addressing particular methodological or practical tasks.

Feedback

We always welcome feedback concerning the relevance and usefulness of our resources. Many of the materials we provide are the direct result of repeated requests from students and qualitative researchers so if you have downloaded any of the materials above please email us with your comments.