Why I Chose MAXQDA

I was recently asked about my experiences using the computer assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS) application, MAXQDA. that I used for my most recent research project while engaging in my doctoral studies at Lancaster University,

I did not initially find this software particularly easy to use, but that is not an uncommon experience as I often find most new software easy to use (I even needed support with my new Mac on more than one occasion). I got the hang of it rather quickly, and now cannot envision coding by hand any longer. I am even starting to think I can use the software to manage a literature review I have coming up . . .

What I found helpful was the way I could assign codes to pieces of text, change the wording as needed, assign multiple codes, and then view those codes across participants, making the codes and participants visible on and off as needed, to begin to see similarities (and in turn beginning the process again). I was amazed at how this helped the process of bringing meaning out of the raw data. When I have previously done this with notes in margins, or colored highlights in Word, it became a challenge to remain consistent or even to be able to manage. Making changes were then nearly out of the question.

I recall a previous module paper where I had 8 interviewees, each one 20-24 pages in length of transcribed text. I was overwhelmed with so much information, and found the lack of an easy way to navigate and manage the raw text, much less the meaning I brought to it, a hindrance to the research process itself. I decided I would not allow that to happen again, and began exploring the various CAQDAS applications. Of the various options out there, I liked MAXQDA’s colorful user interface, the commitment of their support, how they attend and support a large qualitative conference I attend, and how the student costs are very reasonable, certainly compared to the other options. I now plan to reanalyze the data from that last project using MAXQDA, and am already beginning to speculate what different and potentially richer findings await . . .

I have thought about using one of these applications several times over the years, and decided I just have to get serious about it and make the change; good decision.

Qualitative Research and Technology — In the Midst of a Revolution

This final presentation of the day is by Judith Davidson and Silvana diGregorio, both of whom I met and attended a session with last year. Judy is here presenting, and Silvana cannot attend (she is in London).

This workshop is coming out of the new 4th Edition of the Handbook of Qualitative Inquiry that is coming out later this year (go, Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln!), where there is the development from the CAQDAS (Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software) apps to the CAQDAS 2.0, which will be more Web 2.0 focus on software packages.

As there is a development of qualitative research that has developed on different continents.

Judy did an overview of the texts and software applications that have been used, and a recorded video or Silvana, who was in this way able to present to us as well, demonstrated how the Web2.0 concepts have come along and may be able to improve upon the more traditional usages of CAQDAS apps.

Judy is now sharing some sorts of apps that may help with this, including wikis, A.nnotate, tagging (del.icio.us), Everyday Lives (an ethnographic software tool for iPhones), blogs, IBM Social Research Group – Many Eyes, Word Tree (for document analysis),  and how these things will move forward.

Wonderful discussion afterward about researcher involvement and how we are at the cusp of a world of Web 2.0. While people expressed some ideas about where all this Web 2.0 work is going in the qualitative data analysis software, I reminded the participants in the session that there are only 4 (yes, FOUR!) people using the conference tag on Twitter.

Go figure.