Qualitative Social Research for Rural Development Studies

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1 Qualitative Social Research for Rural Development Studies Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS): Applications Universität Hohenheim Inst. 490A 1

2 Outline Day 12 Principles of Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software The example of ATLAS.ti Primary documents and Hermeneutic units Textual level: Memos, quotes, codes Conceptual level: Networks 2

3 Principles of Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS) Computers are able to help with all kinds of ordering, structuring, retrieving and visualizing tasks Computers are incapable of comprehending the meaning of words and sentences CAQDAS can be helpful in creating order out of masses of field notes, interviews and documents visualizing the network of concepts and relationships keeping systematic track of the developing theory beginning with the very first data and their preliminary coding, documenting all intermediary steps and ending with the final report Source: Legewie in Strauss and Corbin

4 Structure of CAQDAS CAQDAS usually has a textual level (working mainly with texts & documents) and a conceptual level (working mainly with concepts) Textual-level research activities include segmenting primary data sources into quotations, adding comments to respective passages, and coding selected text materials. Conceptual-level work allows you to connect selected passages, memos and codes into diagrams that depict complex relationships. On the conceptual level you can construct concepts and theories based on relationships between codes, text passages and memos. Source: Strauss and Corbin 1998, ATLAS.ti User s Guide

5 ATLAS.ti as an example of CAQDAS ATLAS.ti is designed for Visual Qualitative Data Analysis and Knowledge Management a commercial software for individual and group applications based on ideas and terminology of grounded theory Around ATLAS.ti you find a community of practice a software company ( a mailing list consulting agencies that sell training courses for ATLAS.ti Source: Compiled by Friederichsen

6 Primary documents Primary documents can be Text in txt, rtf and most doc-formats, don t use tables Audio (mp3) Video (mpeg) Graphic data (gif, jpg) Primary documents should be stored in a separate folder Access, add and change order of primary documents in Primary document manager Source: Compiled by Friederichsen

7 Hermeneutic Units The Hermeneutic Unit provides the data structure for each project in ATLAS.ti. Everything that is relevant to a particular project (e.g. a research topic) is part of the HU and resides in the electronic environment. For instance, the primary documents representing the data sources, quotations, codes and memos used for developing concepts, conceptual linkages (networks) are all part of one Hermeneutic Unit. Your first ATLAS.ti work starts with the creation of a Hermeneutic Unit as an electronic and analytical platform for all other procedures. Source: Adapted from ATLAS.ti User s Guide

8 Memos Memoing serves to document ideas that emerge while doing analysis should begin as soon as field data come in is about relationships between codes/concepts, not about people or events Quotes Quotes can be free quotations or linked to a code Access to quotes -> free quotes by clicking on quotation manager -> linked quotes by clicking on codes Source: Compiled by Friederichsen

9 Codes Codes are labels or tags connected to segments of data Codes should be as short and concise as possible Coding is one step of analysis and can help you to improve conceptual thinking with data to generate first ideas and emerging concepts to explore abstract relations between codes (conceptual ordering) to reduce data along thematic lines Source: Compiled by Friederichsen

10 Codes After having coded your data you can retrieve thematically relevant data quickly - from different settings & times of the research process - in the original context compare cases - search for co-occurrence patterns go a step further towards the conceptual level of data analysis Source: partly adopted from Friederichsen

11 Networks ATLAS.ti uses networks to help represent and explore conceptual structures (conceptual ordering) Conceptual ordering -> Establish logical relationships between codes -> Build code families Networks are depicted in ATLAS.ti in the form of a two-dimensional layout of labeled nodes and links. Networks resemble the way human memory and thought is structured (mind mapping). Source: ATLAS.ti User Guide, Friederichsen

12 Remember: No computer program can analyze qualitative data; it may only help you in structuring and systematizing your interpretation and analysis the program author makes no claims whatever to having produced a program that will perform miracles for your research you still have to have the ideas and the gifts to do exceptional research. Anselm Strauss, cited in the Atlas.ti Manual Source: Adapted from Friederichsen

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