Software and Qualitative Analysis

9. Software

Types and Functions of Software for QDA

This is a rough sorting of available software into types. There is naturally quite a bit of overlap among categories, with individual programs having functions that would seem to belong to more than one type. However, it is possible to focus on the “heart and soul” of a program: what it mainly is intended for. This categorization scheme was first presented in Weitzman and Miles (1995). Since then, the landscape has changed somewhat, both in terms of what programs do, and in terms of what kinds of programs qualitative researchers are using. Some of the categories, like "code-and-retrieve" software, are virtually empty at this point. Others, like "textbase managers," appear to be rarely used by qualitative researchers. Most of the interest, and virtually all of the recent literature on the use of these programs, has focused on one category, "code-based theory builders." Nonetheless, qualitative researchers often find themselves faced with unique challenges—unusual datasets, novel analytic needs—and a knowledge of the range of options remains useful. These categories are illustrated with examples of programs that fit them at the time of this writing:

  • Text Retrievers;
  • Textbase Managers;
  • Code and Retrieve;
  • Code-based Theory Builders; and
  • Conceptual Network Builders.
See Section 12. Resources for a list of available links.
Weitzman, E. A. and Miles, M. B.  (1995). Computer programs for qualitative data analysis:  A software sourcebook. Thousand Oaks: Sage.