1 Explore – Smartphone-based Activities: Put your investigative skills to the test with these quick interactive activities. Dig deeper into key concepts and understand how they might relate to your own research project via guided website searches and online discussion questions.

15.1 Exploring QDAS packages

Get started

  • Go to the CAQDAS networking project site and choose three to five software packages from their list explore. I recommend choosing at least one of the three followings because they are somewhat archetypical and very widely used programs: ATLAS.TI, NIVIVO, MAXQDA.
  • Use the links on the page or your preferred search engine to go to the software’s website. Search for their intro videos to get a first idea of the look and feel of the software.
  • Further, explore the websites, keeping your eye out for the “sales pitches” or use cases that the makers of the software present.

Guiding questions:

  • Evaluate: What do the programs you’ve explored have in common? Are there any limitations to your own research that you see? Are there any features that caught your interest or that got you excited?
  • Reflect: How do software companies ‘pitch’ their product? Given what you’ve learned about qualitative analysis so far: Which promises are you sceptical of? Which promises could be problematic for researchers who are under time pressure and professional pressure?

Take this exercise further – by using QDAS

  • Take screenshots of some of the QDAS webpages, and import them into a QDAS package. For example, you could take screenshots of pages that “pitch” the use of the software; or you could take screenshots of the images of researchers and research situations used on the web pages.
  • In the QDAS package you’re using/testing, apply codes to annotate the screenshots. But before you do this, be sure you have a question you want to answer to guide your exploration. Start with one single question so that this exploration does not become overwhelming. You can come up with your own, or use one of these as a starting point:
  • What kinds of promises are made on the website?
  • According to the websites, what ‘problems’ related to qualitative analysis (and publication) does the software address, or even resolve?
  • How are QDAS producers depicting (via images) or describing (via text) ‘good’ or ‘successful’ analysis?
  • After your first coding sweep: Identify two tropes, themes, or recurring statements (image or text) that you see across the different websites that connect to the question you chose. Create a memo for each trope/theme/type of statement. In that memo, describe the trope/theme/type of statement in up to four sentences, and reflect upon how the content of the website may impact researchers’ perception of QDAS.
  • Optional: Share with a classmate, colleague or friend what you’ve learned.