Coding in the Quotation Network: Bridging the Gap Between Fragmentation and Integration
Author: Ricardo B. Contreras
In this article I will look at a procedure not many ATLAS.ti users know: coding in the network view. That is, when the linkage between the codes and the quotations is done inside of a network view rather than on the document margin. There might be occasions when coding in this way may be preferable over the traditional way of coding on the margin area. For example, when coding graphic quotations, I like to have the quotation in a network view and simply drag and drop the codes from the list into it.
When coding in a network, you focus your attention on the quotation itself and on the different linkages that you have created in relation to that quotation. Coding in this way may provide you a systemic view of the quotation in relation to other elements, which allows you to see linkages beyond the immediate space surrounding the quotation. This can be extremely useful, especially if you agree with me that an ultimate goal of any process of qualitative analysis is to build a holistic representation of the research subject.
However, by coding in the network you may miss the benefit of seeing the text/image/audio or video surrounding the quotation, a clear benefit of coding on the document margin. But this can be compensated by placing the network window side-by-side with the actual document. In this way, you would still be able to see the quotation context while focusing your attention on the linkages between elements in the network.
See figure 1 below and watch this video tutorial, which demonstrates how to place the network and the document side-by-side in both versions of the program.
The procedures to code in the network view are slightly different between ATLAS.ti Windows and Mac.
Create a network and code inside of it in ATLAS.ti Mac
Create a new network–>
Insert the quotation into the network–>
Select the codes of your preference from the Navigator and drag and drop them into the network–>
In the network, select the codes and drag and drop the red circle onto the quotation
The quotation has been coded!
See below figure 2 and watch this video tutorial.
Create a network and code inside of it in ATLAS.ti 7 Windows
In ATLAS.ti 7 Windows, coding in a network view can be done the same way as in the Mac version of the program, although the procedures vary a little bit.
You first have to insert a quotation into a network view. To do this, there are two options: a) you can create a new network view and insert the quotation into it or b) you can open the network view of a quotation.
Option A. To create a new network view and insert the quotation into it
New Network View–>
Give a name to the network view–>
Place the network view next to the side panel (or the Quotation Manager)–>
Drag and drop the quotation(s) into the network view
Alternatively, after naming the network view, place it next to a document and drag and drop a quotation from there. See the figure 3 below.
Option B. Open the network view of a quotation
In ATLAS.ti 7 Windows, different from the Mac version of the program, it is possible to open the network view of any element of the project (e.g., a document, a quotation and a code). This can be done from the object manager and from the margin area.
To open network view from the Quotation Manager, do this:
Open the Quotation Manager–>
Select the quotation of your choice (only one)–>
Right-click on the quotation–>
Select ‘Open Network View’
See figure 4 below.
To open the quotation network view from the margin area, do this:
Place the cursor on the quotation on the margin (or on the quotation selection)–>
Right-click on the quotation bar on the margin (or on the quotation selection)–>
Select ‘Open Network View’.
See figure 5 below.
After the network view has been created and the quotation has been inserted into it, you can proceed to add codes and link them to the quotation. Do as follows:
Open the quotation network view–>
Place it side-by-side the side panel or the Code Manager–>
Drag and drop the codes of your preference into the network view–>
Proceed to link the codes to the quotation.
See the figure 6 below. Also, watch this video tutorial, which demonstrates how to create the quotation network view in ATLAS.ti 7 Windows and how to code inside of it.
I have learned that there is the tendency among new users of ATLAS.ti to overemphasize the importance of coding. Qualitative data analysis with the software involves much more than coding. All of the different tools, when used in an intertwined manner, enrich the process of analysis and allow for the necessary balancing between fragmentation and integration of the data. Although I agree that we do need to fragment through coding to capture the essence of the information and to generalize beyond a specific unit of the discourse, we also need to integrate in order to move towards a holistic representation of the phenomenon under study (see this blog article).
Coding in a network helps to bridge the gap between fragmentation and integration. It provides the opportunity to code by not losing sight of the linkages between the quotation and other elements of the project, beyond the immediate quotation surroundings. However, and importantly, the decision as to whether or not to code in a network, when to do it, and how many linkages should be included, must respond to practical needs. Like many procedures in ATLAS.ti, you will only code in this way if doing so helps you in analysis. You are the judge.
Note: To learn about networks in ATLAS.ti Mac, read starting on page 61 of the manual (download from here) and/or watch this video tutorial. To learn about networks in ATLAS.ti 7 Windows, read starting on page 280 of the manual (download from here) and/or watch this video tutorial.