Department of Sociology

CAQDAS potential using the Five-Level QDA® method

Date • Time

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - 09:30 to 13:00


High Leigh Conference Centre


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This free half day seminar discusses the principles of Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis (CAQDAS) and how to harness their tools powerfully.

The first session introduces the range of potential affordances of CAQDAS packages for qualitative and mixed-methods research and outlines a pedagogy for harnessing their tools powerfully. The developmental, methodological and practical applications of CAQDAS are first discussed. Next, framed around the analytic activities of integration, organization, exploration, reflection and interrogation (Silver & Lewins, 2014), the potential for CAQDAS packages to be used throughout a research project, from start to finish, will be outlined. Finally, the Five-Level QDA® method, a CAQDAS pedagogy that spans methodologies, software products and teaching modes (Silver &Woolf, 2018) will be presented. The Five-Level QDA method unpacks the unconscious practices of expert CAQDAS users in order to enable researchers to develop the expertise they need for their analysis quickly. The importance of distinguishing between analytic strategies and analytic tactics and learning the skill of translating between the two is discussed, and the implementation of Five-Level QDA through the use of Analytic Planning Worksheets will be described.

The second session discusses CAQDAS use in practice, providing examples of projects implemented in CAQDAS packages using the Five-Level QDA method. Case-study examples are used to demonstrate the implementation of the Five-Level QDA method for different methodologies in three different CAQDAS packages. Firstly, an in-depth literature review undertaken to identify gaps in knowledge and formulate a research problem, is illustrated using NVivo. Secondly, a theory-testing critical discourse analysis of political speeches, is illustrated using MAXQDA. Finally, an inductive thematic analysis of participant generated visual diaries and narrative interviews, is illustrated using ATLAS.ti. These examples show in concrete terms how to plan, implement and document a computer-assisted analysis systematically whilst staying true to the iterative and emergent nature of qualitative research, whatever the methodology or software used.

Course overview

  • Principles of using CAQDAS packages
  • Principles of the Five-Level QDA method
  • llustrations of harnessing CAQDAS tools for different analytic tasks

Course leader

Dr Christina Silver is the manager of the CAQDAS Networking Project and has been working with and teaching a range of CAQDAS packages for many years. She is co-author with Ann Lewins of Using software in qualitative research: a step-by-step guide, and The Five-Level QDA method, with Nicholas Woolf.


Level of study

Entry (no or almost no prior knowledge).



This course is free.


Preparatory reading

There is no required preparatory reading for this seminar, but participants may like to look at the following before attending to get the most out of the sessions.

For an overview of the common functionality of CAQDAS packages and review of different programs please see our related resources.

For an overview of the Five-Level QDA method:

  • read about how the Five-Level QDA method came about in Silver & Woolf (2015)
    From guided instruction to facilitation of learning: The development of Five-level QDA as a CAQDAS pedagogy that explicates the practices of expert users. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 18(5)
  • read a brief overview of the Five-Level QDA method in the blogpost “What is Five-Level QDA all about?”
  • for a fuller account see our post on the Digital Tools for Social Research blog

Registered participants will receive a 20% discount for one of the books about using either ATLAS.ti, MAXQDA or NVivo for qualitative analysis using the Five-Level QDA method. Please indicate which book you are interested in when registering.