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Progam with QDA Qualitative Data Analysis features? Coding/tagging blocks of text?

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Posted by Alexander Deliyannis
Aug 14, 2012 at 08:34 AM


Peter wrote:
>this might interest you (cords or no cords):

Excellent discussion; an anthropological case study in itself :-)

“The problem with Evernote is that you are limited to tagging at the note level. With Atlas.ti or NVIVO you can tag individual words if you are so inclined. They are an order of magnitude more flexible than Evernote.” I think this describes quite well the importance of “entities” (to use Bill/MadAboutDana’s term) in information management. I’d say that most of the software we talk about here works at a much higher level—whole texts for 2/3 pane info managers, paragraphs for outliners.

So it seems that if you want to do QDA, you should probably resort to QDA software.

By the way, the eval.org GDA S/W resource mentioned somewhere in the discussion by Jeremy Trombley does not work, but this one does http://www.eval.org/Resources/QDA.asp


Posted by Peter
Aug 14, 2012 at 09:22 AM


Alexander Deliyannis wrote:
I’d say
>that most of the software we talk about here works at a much higher level—whole texts
>for 2/3 pane info managers, paragraphs for outliners.

This is a very important distinction! The question of outlining levels often gets blurred or forgotten when discussing “outliners” more generally. This forum could be improved perhaps if we kept that distinction in mind. For instance, Daniel Wessel on his blog makes an important distinction between “content” and “structure” outlining, using the comparison between Circus Ponies Notebook and Scrivener: http://www.organizingcreativity.com/2012/02/outliner-in-scrivener-vs-outliner-in-cpn-structure-scrivener-vs-content-cpn-outlines/

Both of these “levels” are important in my (qualitative) analysis and writing and one measure of a good app (for me) is one that allows working across these levels. QDA software, in my opinion, has traditionally done the “content” better but we’re seeing some interesting convergence with apps like Tinderbox and DevonThink (I think).


Posted by yooj
Aug 14, 2012 at 05:32 PM


As a lawyer, QDA is appealing to analyze documents and evidence in preparation for witness examinations and legal argument. Transcripts, statements, and audio and video recordings, and images can be excerpted by source, and individual fact, and issue; and then filtered on these fields. Casemap is the standard for this analysis. This thread caused me to look at QDA software as an alternative. I am evaluating, for free, Dedoose, a Java QDA app. Aspects are superior to Casemap. Notably, it is much more visual. Color is used well, and excerpts instantly and can be viewed in clear, coded context. Multi-media support is valuable. Java is less than ideal, but for me, so is Casemap’s native Windows platform, which I run virtualized on OS X, my platform of choice. The deal breaker presently for Dedoose is poor PDF support. Imported PDFs apparently are barely supported. I could not excerpt from standard OCRed scanned PDFs. Instead of importing PDFs, Dedoose users are advised by Dedoose to convert PDFs to RTF or .doc format. Some of the other QDA applications indicate full PDF support. I have not tried them yet.

Devonthink is appealing for case analysis, too. I’ve used it for storage and recall for years. One requirement for expanding its use to replace Casemap is that I have so far been unable to create a script to excerpt from PDFs with a link-back reference to the original PDF and its page number. There is a standard contextual (right click) option for copying a page link, but it’s burdensome to use it for each clipping. There is also a script for annotating a PDF, but it works only for whole PDFs, not excerpts of them. Another awkward limitation is obtaining intersection of tags, or of groups. Smart searches or smart groups permit intersection searches; and the tag view does. Neither is ideal, however. Smart searches are not meant to be and cannot be created rapidly ad hoc. The smart search smart folders create clutter until deleted. And the tag view is awkward to use for intersection searches because it contains tags from the whole database. Finding the group-specific tags which are needed in the sea of database-wide tags, especially when one is under stress such as in a trial, is problematic. Nesting tags does not help because the database view seems to be only flat, even if the tags are nested in Devonthink’s tag/group browser pane. Finally, printing is inadequate. To print multiple files, one must combine the files into one file. I have been unable to select multiple files and then simply issue one print command to print them.


Posted by Peter
Aug 15, 2012 at 06:51 AM


Thank you for this sobering review yooj. Very helpful!

I am not a lawyer and was unaware of both Casemap and Dedoose. They both sound interesting but I note the issues you raise. I just had a quick look Dedoose. Another drawback is that it is cloud-based which is a problem (for me) when working with sensitive information. This goes against the ethical review guidelines that I must follow for some of my work.

I recognize your frustration with PDF incorporation. Atlas.ti finally managed to get this working about a year ago. However I find that it generally slows with bigger projects. I also find A7 a disappointing upgrade, nothing really new over A6 and clumsy on the whole, now that I’ve switched to a Mac. I’m curious of anyone has comparative experience with other QDA software.

Do you know Mindjet’s program? I think it’s called Mind Manager. I don’t know it yet but it looks like a mind mapper on steroids that might have something to offer above and beyond basic mind mapping.

Your review of DT is also helpful, especially since I am just starting to learn it. I’ve tried to find some real-world screencasts of how people use it but so far I’ve only found one (from 2009): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH2L6WSA0UY. If you felt so inclined to upload a screencast of your use of DT I would certainly be interested! An easy free app to create screencasts is Jing. (I’ve proposed this now to a few people but so far no one has bitten!)

I am also interesting in finding better ways to annotate/tag PDFs. I have yet to explore Sente - DT or other such combinations. BibDesk might also have something to offer:
http://www.organognosi.com/category/bibdesk/. Here is a screencast of someone using Bibdesk and Skim together (both free apps) for annotation: http://jenniferclaro.wordpress.com/2011/08/12/a-simple-academic-workflow/. It looks pretty slick but BibDesk is designed to work with LaTeX apparently, which I know nothing about. I’m not sure how much of an issue this posses when working with Word, Scrivener, for instance.


Posted by kalkito
Aug 15, 2012 at 10:16 AM


Peter, I’m using AtlasTi 6 for some time and I was thinking in upgrading to A7. Do you really feel it’s not worth the 75eur upgrade price?
Do some of the users know maxqda?


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