QHR2014 and Victoria, BC

It's been a busy month, starting with our public launch, and including our first international conference, Qualitative Health Research 2014, hosted by the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology at the University of Alberta.

The conference created a great environment to present and discuss qualitative work, in a very supportive and productive atmosphere. I also presented research from the EEiC project with Ghazala Mir as part of a larger symposium on organisational ethnography, and the slides are now up on ResearchGate.

There was lots of interest in Quirkos, especially from educators looking to introduce Qualitative research to beginners, and those wanting to include respondents in the analysis process, for end-to-end participatory research.

This last approach linked in with an engaging and challenging keynote by Dr Margarete Sandelowski, who talked about what she called 'member-checking', something I usually refer to as 'participant validation'. This is essentially the process of getting respondents to the research project to look through and validate outputs, which could be either themes, transcripts, conclusions, or reports. Dr Sandelowski raised many good points about the methodological issues that this can have for a research project. For example, she was concerned that participants could later change their minds about how they perceived events, retract permission for their data to be included, not understand conceptual frameworks being proposed by academics, or be overwhelmed or upset by seeing transcripts of interviews. There was unfortunately very little advice offered for overcoming these hurdles, a point raised in the question and answer session.

Personally, I think that qualitative research is always an ongoing dialogue between researcher and participants, and if participants change their minds about their opinions, or no longer want certain statements to be included, this is a 'no-brainer' situation - those statements are removed. I would never consider this to be a moral conflict - that data cannot be included, no argument. I have had many situations where participants have wanted certain sections of their interviews not to be included in the research, even when annonomised, sometimes because they felt a risk to their privacy or career. Sure, it was sad to have interesting bits of data removed from the project, but that was the right of the participant, and I would never considered including it anyway!

Secondly, as my colleague Dr Ghazala Mir pointed out, it is the responsibility of researchers to explain the theories and models used in the research in a way that participants can understand. Ultimately, impactful research must eventually explain itself to a general public audience, and participant engagement can be a great way to test and trial this.

I believe that the more research is a collaboration with participants the better, both methodologically and ethnically. I also think that consent should be part of a continuous dialogue, not just a one-off event. This will inevitably raise issues during the study, but these are not insurmountable obstacles, but considerations that can be anticipated, and time set aside for dealing with. For myself this is the key to being more inclusive, producing better results, and moving away from the narrow positivist approach so often associated with purely quantitative inquiry.

Quirkos is launched!


It's finally here!

From today, anyone can download the full 1.0 release version of Quirkos for Windows or Mac OS X! Versions for Linux and Android will be appearing later in the month, but since Windows and Mac account for most of our users, we didn't want people to wait any more.

Everyone can use the full version for free for one month, with no restrictions. At the end of the 30 day trial period, you'll need to order a licence to keep using Quirkos, which you can either do by raising a purchase order with us, or by placing a immediate credit/debit card payment on the website, which will get you a licence code e-mailed to you in just a few minutes.

I really want to thank everyone who has provided feedback, suggestions and critique over the last 14 months, Quirkos wouldn't be half as good as it is now without all that input. And it's really exciting to share it with everyone now, and to hear about exciting research projects people are already putting together around Quirkos. Watch this space for some great case studies in the next few months!


Announcing Pricing for Quirkos

At the moment, (touch wood!) everything is in place for a launch next week, which is a really exciting place to be after many years of effort. From that day, anyone can download Quirkos, try it free for a month, and then buy a licence if it helps them in their work. We've set up the infrastructure so that people can either place purchase orders through their finance department, or make a direct sale through the website by credit or debit card. We can then provide a licence code immediately, and users can unlock Quirkos and use it without any time limit. We don’t want to tie people into contracts or recurring payments; the licence will not expire, and will entitle you to any future updates for that version.


The interest we’ve had from users over the past few months has been overwhelming, and we want to have a flexible price structure that is appropriate for lots of different groups. One of my key aims has been to systematically remove the barriers to doing qualitative research – and price is a big hurdle at the moment. I’ve had conversations with so many people who have taken one look at the licence costs of the major qualitative analysis packages, and walked away. To really open up qualitative research for everyone, that needs to change. Our licence will cost roughly half that of our competitors', and we will offer a range of discounts for teams from different backgrounds.


First of all, we think Quirkos will be great for students, not just at a PhD level, but also at Masters or Undergraduate level, when there isn’t always the time to spend learning other qualitative research software. So, we are starting the student licence at £35 (roughly €45, US$60), so that people at all stages of learning can get started with qualitative research.


For professional academics and people working in the charity sectors, we will heavily discount the licence cost to £180 (€230 / $290). Already we have had beta-testers in the NHS and local government, and users in government institutions or NGOs, can get a licence for just £320 (€400 / $516).


Finally, the full licence for commercial use will be £390 (€490 / $620) and comes with our highest level of customer support. Everyone will be able to access regularly updated discussion forums and on-line learning materials, and professional users will also have access to personal e-mail support with a rapid response rate.


We really want to encourage a new generation of qualitative researchers and we think we’ve set a fair price that makes access easy, while allowing us to continue to add new features, and provide a strong level of support. Then you can focus on your data and findings, and not just the tools that help you get results.


(These are initial indicative prices, subject to change, and currency rates, local sales tax or VAT may lead to some variation in these numbers)