Qualitative semi-structured interviews: Video Tutorial

  In the first of a new series of video tutorials on qualitative methodology, we are going over some practical tips on semi-structured interviews for qualitative research, and creating interview guides:       The blog posts referenced in the video are:   10 tips for semi structured qualitative interviewing   Semi-structured Interview Guides for qualitative interviews   Recording good audio for qualitative

How to use qualitative analysis software (QDAS) for data management

  A research project is often a big logistical undertaking, qualitative or otherwise. Through literature reviews, developing research questions, grant applications and funding, ethics/IRBs, managing co-researchers and supervisors, recruitment, collecting data from respondents, research journals, analysing data and writing up findings, there are a myriad of steps. Each will generate their own documents, data and processes that need to be

Quirkos 2.1 launches with support for new exchange standard!

  Today we are launching a free update for Quirkos which adds support for the new QDA-XML standard which is released publicly today for the first time. This will allow users to bring their coded project data from one qualitative software package to another, with support eventually promised from ATLAS.ti, Dedoose, f4analyse, MAXQDA, Nvivo, Transana and QDA Miner. Essentially this means that in the next year you will be able to bring your

Qualitative case study research

A good researcher knows that everything happens in context. It’s not just in social science, but a fundamental principle in physics – every reaction is caused by something. In studying people, communities and behaviour, we need to consider the embedded world in which they live. In qualitative research this is always an important part of the research, but it also provides a difficult methodological question: how much of the context

10 new things in Quirkos 2.0!

This week we are releasing the first major update for Quirkos, Version 2! A huge thanks to all our beta testers who have been putting the new version to the test for the last few months, and sharing their suggestions for improvements.   While there is a lot more to come in the next year, here are 10 new things that make Quirkos more powerful and more intuitive.     1.       The new User

Quirkos 2 Scottish Homelands Tour

  In the run-up to the release of Quirkos 2.0, we are running a series of workshops in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh in October.   These are all interactive bring a laptop sessions, where participants can bring their own laptops and data, or use example data sets and follow along. We'll show all the basics of creating projects, bringing in text data, creating and managing codes, and exploring and exporting coded data. They are all

10 alternative qualitative methods

At the National Council for Research Methods ‘Research Methods Festival’ last month, Steve Wright (from the University of Lancaster) mentioned in his talk the frustrations he has with students that do the bog-standard ’12 semi-structured interviews’ methodology for their qualitative research projects. This prompted a lot of discussion and empathy over lunch, with many tutors lamenting how students weren’t

What is qualitative observation?

  Essentially, observation is a type of, or more likely, a part of ethnography. In ethnography, anthropologists (people who study people) turn their observations of people, cultures and organisations into written field notes (a bit like a research diary). While some of this may be reflexive (the participants own thoughts and feelings) most focuses on the activities and interactions of the people being studied.   There are broadly two

Seeking the greatest common divisor in qualitative coding

  This post is based on a talk I gave at ICQI 2018, which itself leads on from a talk from last year on the Entomologies of qualitative coding. Good qualitative data is rich, and detailed - a fertile medium for understanding and interpreting the world. But the detail of the data comes at a price, usually qualitative data sources are lengthy, and are about a lot of different things. You don't just ask a single question that can be

Quantitative vs. qualitative research

So this much is obvious: quantitative research uses numbers and statistics to draw conclusions about large populations. You count something that is countable, and process results across the sample.   Qualitative methods are more elusive: however in general they revolve around collecting data from people about an experience. This could be how they used a service, how they felt about something, and could be verbal or written. But it is

Qualitative analysis software for monitoring and evaluation

  Developing systems for the monitoring and evaluation of services, interventions and programmes (or programs to use the American English spelling) is a particular skill that requires great flexibility. As each intervention to be investigated is different, and the aims of the project and funders and service users vary, evaluations have to draw on a diverse toolkit of methods. Qualitative methods are often an important part of this

Qualitative analysis software

Qualitative Analysis Software Articles on using and learning Qualitative Analysis Software in general, and Quirkos in particular. Also known as CAQDAS software or QDA software tools.     General qualitative software articles Starting a qualitative research thesis, and choosing a CAQDAS package For those about to embark on a qualitative Masters or PhD thesis, we salute you! More and more post-graduate students are using qualitative

Qualitative coding and analysis

Articles on the analysis and coding of qualitative data   Qualitative analysis What is qualitative analysis? How do you actually analyse qualitative data? How do you turn the results from your research into findings that can answer your research questions? Analysing qualitative data requires drawing meaning from it... Making the leap from qualitative coding to analysis So you spend weeks or months coding all your qualitative data.

Qualitative methods blog posts

Articles on qualitative methods     This series aims to introduce qualitative methods and some of the main approaches in collecting qualitative data.     Why qualitative research? There are lies, damn lies, and statistics It's easy to knock statistics for being misleading, or even misused to support spurious findings. In fact, there seems to be a growing backlash at the... What is a Qualitative approach The benefit of

Managing coding frameworks in Quirkos

If you are doing inductive coding or grounded theory, your coding framework can get complex, quickly. If you have hundreds of codes, they can become difficult to mangage which can slow down your coding - the part of your analysis you want as efficient and effective as possible so you can focus on identifying bigger trends.   Fortunately, this is what qualitative analysis software is best at - and whether you are using Nvivo, Atlas.ti or

Integrating policy analysis into your qualitative research

  It’s easy to get seduced by the excitement of primary data collection, and plan your qualitative research around methods that give you rich data from face-to-face contact with participants. But some research questions may be better illustrated or even mostly answered by analysis of existing documents.   This ‘desk-based’ research often doesn’t seem as fun, but can provide a very important wider context that

Word clouds and word frequency analysis in qualitative data

  What’s this blog post about? Well, it’s visualised in the graphic above!   In the latest update for Quirkos, we have added a new and much requested feature, word clouds! I'm sure you've used these pretty tools before, they show a random display of all the words in a source of text, where the size of each word is proportional to the number of times it has been counted in the text. There are several free online tools that

Quirkos v1.5 is here

  We are happy to announce the immediate availability of Quirkos version 1.5! As always, this update is a free upgrade for everyone who has ever brought a licence of Quirkos, so download now and enjoy the new features and improvements.   Here’s a summary of the main improvements in this release:   Project Merge You can now bring together multiple projects in Quirkos, merge sources, Quirks and coding from many authors at

Archaeologies of coding qualitative data

  In the last blog post I referenced a workshop session at the International Conference of Qualitative Inquiry entitled the ‘Archaeology of Coding’. Personally I interpreted archaeology of qualitative analysis as being a process of revisiting and examining an older project. Much of the interpretation in the conference panel was around revisiting and iterating coding within a single analytical attempt, and this is very

Teaching Qualitative Methods via Social Media

  This blog now has nearly 120 posts about all different kinds of qualitative methods, and has grown to hosting thousands of visitors a month. There are lots of other great qualitative blogs around, including Margaret Roller’s Research Design Review and the Digital Tools for Qualitative Research group and the newly relaunched Qual Page. But these are only one part of the online qualitative landscape, and there are an increasing

Writing qualitative research papers

We’ve actually talked about communicating qualitative research and data to the public before, but never covered writing journal articles based on qualitative research. This can often seem daunting, as the prospect of converting dense, information rich studies into a fairly brief and tightly structured paper takes a lot of work and refinement. However, we’ve got some tips below that should help demystify the process, and let you

Quirkos v1.4.1 is now available for Linux

  A little later than our Windows and Mac version, we are happy to announce that we have just released Quirkos 1.4.1 for Linux. There are some major changes to the way we release and package our Linux version, so we want to provide some technical details of these, and installation instructions. Previously our releases had a binary-based and distro independent installer. However, this was based on 32 bit libraries to provide backwards

What next? Making the leap from coding to analysis

  So you spend weeks or months coding all your qualitative data. Maybe you even did it multiple times, using different frameworks and research paradigms. You've followed our introduction guides and everything is neatly (or fairly neatly) organised and inter-related, and you can generate huge reports of all your coding work. Good job! But what happens now?   It's a question asked by lot of qualitative researchers: after all this

Making the most of bad qualitative data

  A cardinal rule of most research projects is things don’t always go to plan. Qualitative data collection is no difference, and the variability in approaches and respondents means that there is always the potential for things to go awry. However, the typical small sample sizes can make even one or two frustrating responses difficult to stomach, since they can represent such a high proportion of the whole data set. Sometimes

Practice projects and learning qualitative data analysis software

  Coding and analysing qualitative data is not only a time consuming, it’s a difficult interpretive exercise which, like learning a musical instrument, gets much better with practice. However, lots of students starting their first major qualitative or mixed method research project will benefit from completing a smaller project first, rather than starting by trying to learn a giant symphony. This will allow them to get used to

How Quirkos can change the way you look at your qualitative data

We always get a lot of inquiries in December from departments and projects who are thinking of spending some left-over money at the end of the financial year on a few Quirkos licences. A great early Christmas present for yourself the team! It’s also a good long term investment, since our licences don’t expire and can be used year after year. They are transferable to new computers, and we’ve committed to provide free updates

Snapshot data and longitudinal qualitative studies

In the last blog post, we looked at creating archives of qualitative data that can be used by other researchers (or yourself in the future) for secondary analysis. In that article I postulated that secondary data analysis could make collecting new data a rarer, and expensive event. However, some (including Dr Susanne Friese) pointed out that as the social world is always changing, there is a constant need to collect new data. I totally agree

Archiving qualitative data: will secondary analysis become the norm?

  Last month, Quirkos was invited to a one day workshop in New York on archiving qualitative data. The event was hosted by Syracuse University, and you can read a short summary of the event here. This links neatly into the KWALON led initiative to create a common standard for interchange of coded data between qualitative software packages. The eventual aim is to develop a standardised file format for qualitative data, which not only

Stepping back from coding software and reading qualitative data

There is a lot of concern that qualitative analysis software distances people from their data. Some say that it encourages reductive behaviour, prevents deep reading of the data, and leads to a very quantified type of qualitative analysis (eg Savin-Baden and Major 2013).   I generally don’t agree with these statements, and other qualitative bloggers such as Christina Silver and Kristi Jackson have written responses to critics of

Problems with quantitative polling, and answers from qualitative data

  The results of the US elections this week show a surprising trend: modern quantitative polling keeps failing to predict the outcome of major elections.   In the UK this is nothing new, in both the 2015 general election and the EU referendum polling failed to predict the outcome. In 2015 the polls suggested very close levels of support for Labour and the Conservative party but on the night the Conservatives won a significant

Tips for running effective focus groups

In the last blog article I looked at some of the justifications for choosing focus groups as a method in qualitative research. This week, we will focus on some practical tips to make sure that focus groups run smoothly, and to ensure you get good engagement from your participants.   1. Make sure you have a helper! It’s very difficult to run focus groups on your own. If you are wanting to layout the room, greet people, deal with

Considering and planning for qualitative focus groups

  This is the first in a two-part series on focus groups. This week, we are looking at some of the  why you might consider using them in a research project, and questions to make sure they are well integrated into your research strategy. Next week we will look at some practical tips for effectively running and facilitating a successful session. Focus groups have been used as a research method since the 1950s, but were not as common

Circles and feedback loops in qualitative research

The best qualitative research forms an iterative loop, examining, and then re-examining. There are multiple reads of data, multiple layers of coding, and hopefully, constantly improving theory and insight into the underlying lived world. During the research process it is best to try to be in a constant state of feedback with your data, and theory. During your literature review, you may have several cycles through the published literature, with

Triangulation in qualitative research

  Triangles are my favourite shape,   Three points where two lines meet                                                                            alt-J   Qualitative methods are sometimes criticised as being subjective, based on single,

100 blog articles on qualitative research!

  Since our regular series of articles started nearly three years ago, we have clocked up 100 blog posts on a wide variety of topics in qualitative research and analysis! These are mainly short overviews, aimed at students, newcomers and those looking to refresh their practice. However, they are all referenced with links to full-text academic articles should you need more depth. Some articles also cover practical tips that don't get into

Thinking About Me: Reflexivity in science and qualitative research

Reflexivity is a process (and it should be a continuing process) of reflecting on how the researcher could be influencing a research project. In a traditional positivist research paradigm, the researcher attempts to be a neutral influence on  research. They make rational and logical interpretations, and assume a ‘null hypothesis’, in which they expect all experiments to have no effect, and have no pre-defined concept of what

The importance of keeping open-ended qualitative responses in surveys

I once had a very interesting conversation at a MRS event with a market researcher from a major media company. He told me that they were increasingly ‘costing-out’ the qualitative open-ended questions from customer surveys because they were too expensive and time consuming to analyse. Increasingly they were replacing open-ended questions with a series of Likert scale questions which could be automatically and statistically

Analytical memos and notes in qualitative data analysis and coding

There is a lot more to qualitative coding than just deciding which sections of text belong in which theme. It is a continuing, iterative and often subjective process, which can take weeks or even months. During this time, it’s almost essential to be recording your thoughts, reflecting on the process, and keeping yourself writing and thinking about the bigger picture. Writing doesn’t start after the analysis process, in qualitative

Starting a qualitative research thesis, and choosing a CAQDAS package

  For those about to embark on a qualitative Masters or PhD thesis, we salute you!   More and more post-graduate students are using qualitative methods in their research projects, or adopting mixed-method data collection and using a small amount of qualitative data which needs to be combined with quantitative data. So this year, how can students decide the best approach for the analysis of their data, and can CAQDAS or QDA software

Qualitative coding with the head and the heart

  In the analysis of qualitative data, it can be easy to fall in the habit of creating either very descriptive, or very general theoretical codes. It’s often a good idea to take a step back, and examine your coding framework, challenging yourself to look at the data in a fresh way. There are some more suggestions for how to do this in a blog post article about turning coding strategies on their head. But while in Delhi recently to

Reaching saturation point in qualitative research

  A common question from newcomers to qualitative research is, what’s the right sample size? How many people do I need to have in my project to get a good answer for my research questions? For research based on quantitative data, there is usually a definitive answer: you can decide ahead of time what sample size is needed to gain a significant result for a particular test or method.   This post is hosted by Quirkos, simple and

Tips for managing mixed method and participant data in Quirkos and CAQDAS software

  Even if you are working with pure qualitative data, like interview transcripts, focus groups, diaries, research diaries or ethnography, you will probably also have some categorical data about your respondents. This might include demographic data, your own reflexive notes, context about the interview or circumstances around the data collection. This discrete or even quantitative data can be very useful in organising your data sources

What actually is Grounded Theory? A brief introduction

  “It’s where you make up as you go along!”   For a lot of students, Grounded Theory is used to describe a qualitative analytical method, where you create a coding framework on the fly, from interesting topics that emerge from the data. However, that's not really accurate. There is a lot more to it, and a myriad of different approaches. Basically, grounded theory aims to create a new theory of interpreting the

Merging and splitting themes in qualitative analysis

To merge or to split qualitative codes, that is the question…   One of the most asked questions when designing a qualitative coding structure is ‘How many codes should I have?’. It’s easy to start out a project thinking that just a few themes will cover the research questions, but sooner or later qualitative analysis tends towards ballooning thematic structure, and before you’ve even started you might have a

In vivo coding and revealing life from the text

Following on from the last blog post on creating weird and wonderful categories to code your qualitative data, I want to talk about an often overlooked way of creating coding topics – using direct quotes from participants to name codes or topics. This is sometimes called “in vivo” coding, from the Latin ‘in life’ and not to be confused with the ubiquitous qualitative analysis software ‘Nvivo’ which

Turning qualitative coding on its head

For the first time in ages I attended a workshop on qualitative methods, run by the wonderful Johnny Saldaña. Developing software has become a full time (and then some) occupation for me, which means I have little scope for my own professional development as a qualitative researcher. This session was not only a welcome change, but also an eye-opening critique to the way that many in the room (myself included) approach coding

7 things we learned from ICQI 2016

  I was lucky enough to attend the ICQI 2016 conference last week in Champaign at the University of Illinois. We managed to speak to a lot of people about using Quirkos, but there were hundreds of other talks, and here are some pointers from just a few of them!     1. Qualitative research is like being at high school Johnny Saldaña’s keynote described (with cutting accuracy) the research cliques that people tend to

Top 10 qualitative research blog posts

We've now got more than 70 posts on the official Quirkos blog, on lots of different aspects of qualitative research and using Quirkos in different fields. But it's now getting a bit difficult to navigate, so I wanted to do a quick recap with the 10 most popular articles, based on the number of hits over the last two years.   Tools for critical appraisal of qualitative research A review of tools that can be used to assess the quality of

Participant diaries for qualitative research

  I’ve written a little about this before, but I really love participant diaries! In qualitative research, you are often trying to understand the lives, experiences and motivations of other people. Through methods like interviews and focus groups, you can get a one-off insight into people’s own descriptions of themselves. If you want to measure change over a period, you need to schedule a series of meetings, and each of which

Sharing qualitative research data from Quirkos

Once you’ve coded, explored and analysed your qualitative data, it’s time to share it with the world. For students, the first step will be supervisors, for researchers it might be peers or the wider research community, and for market research firms, it will be their clients. Regardless of who the end user of your research is, Quirkos offers a lot of different ways to get your hard earned coding out into the real world.   Share

Tools for critical appraisal of qualitative research

I've mentioned before how the general public are very quantitatively literate: we are used to dealing with news containing graphs, percentages, growth rates, and big numbers, and they are common enough that people rarely have trouble engaging with them.   In many fields of studies this is also true for researchers and those who use evidence professionally. They become accustomed to p-values, common statistical tests, and plot charts. Lots

Developing and populating a qualitative coding framework in Quirkos

  In previous blog articles I’ve looked at some of the methodological considerations in developing a coding framework. This article looks at top-down or bottom-up approaches, whether you start with large overarching themes (a-priori) and break them down, or begin with smaller more simple themes, and gradually impose meanings and connections in an inductive approach. There’s a need in this series of articles to talk about the

Transcribing your own qualitative data

In a previous blog article I talked about some of the practicalities and costs involved in using a professional transcribing service to turn your beautifully recorded qualitative interviews and focus groups into text data ready for analysis. However, hiring a transcriber is expensive, and is often beyond the means of most post-graduate researchers.   There are also serious advantages to doing the transcription yourself that make a better

Sampling considerations in qualitative research

  Two weeks ago I talked about the importance of developing a recruitment strategy when designing a research project. This week we will do a brief overview of sampling for qualitative research, but it is a huge and complicated issue. There’s a great chapter ‘Designing and Selecting Samples’ in the book Qualitative Research Practice (Ritchie et al 2013) which goes over many of these methods in detail.   Your research

Qualitative evidence for SANDS Lothians

Charities and third sector organisations are often sitting on lots of very useful qualitative evidence, and I have already written a short blot post article on some common sources of data that can support funding applications, evaluations and impact assessments. We wanted to do a ‘qualitative case study’: to work with one local charity to explore what qualitative evidence they already had, what they could collect, and use Quirkos to

Designing a semi-structured interview guide for qualitative interviews

  Interviews are a frequently used research method in qualitative studies. You will see dozens of papers that state something like “We conducted n in-depth semi-structured interviews with key informants”. But what exactly does this mean? What exactly counts as in-depth? How structured are semi-structured interviews?   This post is hosted by Quirkos, simple and affordable software for qualitative analysis. Download a 1

An early spring update on Quirkos for 2016

  About this time last year, I posted an update on Quirkos development for the next year. Even though February continues to be cold and largely snow-drop free in Scotland, why not make it a tradition?!   It’s really amazing how much Quirkos has grown over the last 18 months since our first release. We now have hundreds of users in more than 50 universities across the world. The best part of this is that we now get much more

Delivering qualitative market insights with Quirkos

  To build a well-designed, well-thought-out, and ultimately useful product, today’s technology companies must gain a deep understanding of the working mentality of people who will use that product. For Melody Truckload, a Los Angeles tech company focused on app-based freight logistics, this means intense market research and a focus on training sales agents as researchers.   Kody Kinzie, director of Melody’s special

Using properties to describe your qualitative data sources

In Quirkos, the qualitative data you bring into the project is grouped as 'sources'. Each source might be something like an interview transcript, a news article, your own notes and memos, or even journal articles. Since it can be any source of text data, you can have a project that includes a large number of different types of source, which can be useful when putting your research together. This means that you can code things like your research

Starting out in Qualitative Analysis

  When people are doing their first qualitative analysis project using software, it’s difficult to know where to begin. I get a lot of e-mails from people who want some advice in planning out what they will actually DO in the software, and how that will help them. I am happy to help out individually, because everyone’s project is different. However, here are a few pointers which cover the basics and can help demystify the

Qualitative evidence for evaluations and impact assessments

For the last few months we have been working with SANDS Lothians, a local charity offering help and support for families who have lost a baby in miscarriage, stillbirth or soon after birth. They offer amazing services, including counselling, peer discussion groups and advice to health professionals, which can help ease the pain and isolation of a difficult journey.   We helped them put together a compilation of qualitative evidence in

Quirkos 1.3 is released!

We are proud to announce a significant update for Quirkos, that adds significant new features, improves performance, and provides a fresh new look. Major changes include: PDF import Greater ability to work with Levels to group and explore themes Improved performance when working with large projects New report generation and styling Ability to copy and paste quotes directly from search and hierarchy views Improved CSV export New

The CAQDAS jigsaw: integrating with workflows

  I’m increasingly seeing qualitative research software as being the middle piece of a jigsaw puzzle that has three stages: collection, coding/exploring, and communication. These steps are not always clear cut, and generally there should be a fluid link between them. But the process, and enacting of these steps is often quite distinct, and the more I think about the ‘typical’ workflow for qualitative analysis, the more I

Participatory Qualitative Analysis

  Engaging participants in the research process can be a valuable and insightful endeavour, leading to researchers addressing the right issues, and asking the right questions. Many funding boards in the UK (especially in health) make engaging with members of the public, or targets of the research a requirement in publicly funded research.   While there are similar obligations to provide dissemination and research outputs that are

Engaging qualitative research with a quantitative audience.

  The last two blog post articles were based on a talk I was invited to give at ‘Mind the Gap’, a conference organised by MDH RSA at the University of Sheffield. You can find the slides here, but they are not very text heavy, so don’t read well without audio!   The two talks which preceded me, by Professors Glynis Cousin and John Sandars, echoed quite a few of the themes. Professor Cousin spoke persuasively about

Our hyper-connected qualitative world

  We live in a world of deep qualitative data.   It’s often proposed that we are very quantitatively literate. We are exposed to numbers and statistics frequently in news reports, at work, when driving, with fitness apps etc. So we are actually pretty good at understanding things like percentages, fractions, and making sense of them quickly. It’s a good reason why people like to see graphs and numerical summaries of data

Structuring unstructured data

  The terms ‘unstructured data’ and ‘qualitative data’ are often used interchangeably, but unstructured data is becoming more commonly associated with data mining and big data approaches to text analytics. Here the comparison is drawn with databases of data where we have a defined field and known value and the loosely structured (especially to a computer) world of language, discussion and comment. A qualitative

How to set up a free online mixed methods survey

It’s quick and easy to set up an on-line survey to collect feedback or research data in a digital format that means you can quickly get straight to analysing the data. Unfortunately, most packages like SurveyMonkey, SurveyGizmo and Kwiksurveys, while all compatible with Quirkos, require a paying subscription before you can actually export any of your data and analyse it.   However, there are two great free platforms we recommend that

Bringing survey data and mixed-method research into Quirkos

  Later today we are releasing a small update for Quirkos, which adds an important feature users have been requesting: the ability to quickly bring in quantitative and qualitative data from any spreadsheet, or online survey tool such as SurveyMonkey or LimeSurvey.   Now, users can bring in mixed-method data in one click, with the ability to analyse and compare qualitative and quantitative data together. If you have a survey with

Qualitative evaluations: methods, data and analysis

Evaluating programmes and projects are an essential part of the feedback loop that should lead to better services. In fact, programmes should be designed with evaluations in mind, to make sure that there are defined and measurable outcomes.   While most evaluations generally include numerical analysis, qualitative data is often used along-side the quantitative, to show richness of project impact, and put a human voice in the process.

Qualitative research on the Scottish Referendum using Quirkos

  We've now put up the summary report for our qualitative research project on the Scottish Referendum, which we analysed using Quirkos. You can download the PDF of the 10 page report from the link above, I hope you find something interesting in there! The full title is "Overview of a qualitative study on the impact of the 2014 referendum for Scottish independence in Edinburgh, and views of the political process" and here's the summary

6 meta-categories for qualitative coding and analysis

When doing analysis and coding in a qualitative research project, it is easy to become completely focused on the thematic framework, and deciding what a section of text is about. However, qualitative analysis software is a useful tool for organising more than just the topics in the text, they can also be used for deeper contextual and meta-level analysis of the coding and data. Because you can pretty much record and categorise anything you

Free materials for qualitative workshops

  We are running more and more workshops helping people learn qualitative analysis and Quirkos. I always feel that the best way to learn is by doing, and the best way to remember is through play. To this end, we have created two sources of qualitative data that anyone can download and use (with any package) to learn how to use software for qualitative data analysis.   These can be found at the workshops folder. There are two different

Upgrade from paper with Quirkos

Having been round many market research firms in the last few months, the most striking things is the piles of paper, or at least in the neater offices - shelves of paper! When we talk to small market research firms about their analysis process, many are doing most of their research by printing out data and transcripts, and coding them with coloured highlighters. Some are adamant that this is the way that works best for them, but others are a

The dangers of data mining for text

There is an interesting new article out, which looks at some of the commonly used algorithms in data mining, and finds that they are generally not very accurate, or even reproducible.   Specifically, the study by Lancichinetti et al. (2015) looks at automated topic classification using the commonly used latent Dirichlet allocation algorithm (LDA), a machine learning process which uses a probabilistic approach to categorise and filter large

Is qualitative data analysis fracturing?

Having been to several international conferences on qualitative research recently, there has been a lot of discussion about the future of qualitative research, and the changes happening in the discipline and society as a whole. A lot of people have been saying that acceptance for qualitative research is growing in general: not only are there a large number of well-established specialist journals, but mainstream publications are accepting more

Paper vs. computer assisted qualitative analysis

I recently read a great paper by Rettie et al. (2008) which, although based on a small sample size, found that only 9% of UK market research organisations doing qualitative research were using software to help with qualitative analysis.   At first this sounds very low, but it holds true with my own limited experiences with market research firms, and also with academic researchers. The first formal training courses I attended on Qualitative

Analysing text using qualitative software

I'm really happy to see that the talks from the University of Surrey CAQDAS 2014 are now up online (that's 'Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software' to you and me). It was a great conference about the current state of software for qualitative analysis, but for me the most interesting talks were from experienced software trainers, about how people actually were using packages in practice. There were many important findings being

Touching Text

Presenting Quirkos at the CAQDAS 2014 conference this month was the first major public demonstration of Quirkos, and what we are trying to do. It’s fair to say it made quite a splash! But getting to this stage has been part of a long process from an idea that came about many years ago. Like many geeks on the internet, I’d been amazed by the work done by Jeff Han and colleagues at the University of New York on cheap, multi-touch

Top-down or bottom-up qualitative coding?

In framework analysis, sometimes described as a top-down or 'a-priori' approach, the researcher decides on the topics of interest they will look for before they start the analysis, usually based on a theory they are looking to test. In inductive coding the researcher takes a more bottom-up approach, starting with the data and a blank-sheet, noting themes as the read through the text.   Obviously, many researchers take a pragmatic approach,

Quirkos is coming...

  Quirkos is intended to be a big step forward for qualitative research. The central idea is to make text analysis so easy, that anyone can do it. That includes people who don't know what qualitative analysis is, or that it could help them to better understand their world. This could be a council or hospital trust wanting to better understand the needs of people that use their services, or a team developing a new product, wanting feedback

An overview of qualitative methods

There are a lot of different ways to collect qualitative data, and this article just provides a brief summary of some of the main methods used in qualitative research. Each one is an art in its own right, with various different techniques, definitions, approaches and proponents. More on each one will follow in later articles, and it’s worth remembering that these need to be paired with the right questions, sampling, and analysis to get

Blog Archive

  Quirkos qualitative blog archive   This is an archive (up-to May 2019) of articles on qualitative analysis, data and software from our blog:   Qualitative semi-structured interviews: Video Tutorial   In the first of a new series of video tutorials on qualitative methodology, we are going over some practical tips on semi-structured interviews for qualitative research, and creating interview