Qualitative Research Methods & Methodology

Analysis is more than coding

Although one important feature in ATLAS.ti is the coding function, also at ATLAS.ti we whole-heartedly support the statement that “Analysis is more than coding”. Software is simply a tool that supports the data analysis process by helping you to find what you are looking for, to retrieve data in all kinds of ways, to help you think and to work with your data. What ATLAS.ti cannot help you with is to decide on the overall approach that you want to use for your analysis. Should it be an inductive approach, a deductive approach, or a mixture of both? Do you want to combine elements of qualitative and quantitative data analysis?

A. About method and methodology

According to the academic literature, it should be your research question that is guiding this decision. In theory this is and should be so. In practice, choices are often more pragmatic and not everyone is educated in the application of the whole range of methodologies that are out there. Furthermore, not everyone who has the need for analyzing qualitative data is conducting an academic research project that requires more thorough thinking regarding knowledge generation. A simple analysis of themes and quick access to the data by themes is all that is needed. The question which theoretical research tradition one should follow, and subsequently which methodology and method to choose is not so important. Some researchers just want to apply methods, i.e. certain techniques and procedures that guide them in gathering and analyzing data related to their research questions and hypothesis.

Methodology as compared to the term ‘methods’ refers to the strategy, the plan and action, the process or design lying behind the choice and use of a particular method. Furthermore, there is a theoretical perspective, a philosophical stance that informs a methodology grounding its logic and criteria (cf.Crotty, 1998). Given this definition, positivism, symbolic interactionism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, interpretivismor critical theory, are theoretical perspectives. Survey research, ethnography, Grounded Theory (GT) and discourse analysis are methodologies. Analysis methods derived from these various frameworks are statistical procedures, theme identification, constant comparison, document analysis, content analysis, or cognitive mapping. GT may also be classified as method, if understood and used as a series of procedures.

If you may wonder what type of techniques and procedures for analyzing qualitative data have been described, here are a few:

  • close reading of a text, becoming immersed in the data, reading and re-reading a text, taking notes, reflecting on the data and writing down interpretations
  • sequential text interpretation, taking a closer look at only a few text or data passages, engaging in thought experiments and developing possible story lines considering different contexts, discussing possible data interpretations with a group of other researchers and coming to an agreement after intense discussions. Conclusions are reached through discursive validation
  • An analysis of embodied lived experience before empirical data are collected via self-inspection and reflection of own experience. This is considered necessary as all empirical data are regarded as being reductions and objectifications
  • Coding: Coding in qualitative research means to assign a word or a phrase that summarizes a section of language-based or visual data. It can capture whatever is salient, the essence of what is in the section or it can be an evocative attribute. Coding has become a popular method with the spread of Grounded Theory methodology. It is however also used as a method to structure and organize data outside the Grounded Theory framework. See for example the Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers by Saldana (2009)

What can be derived from the above is that they are many different methods to analyze qualitative data and coding is only one of them. This is related to the variousphilosophical traditions and methodological frameworksbehind. The analysis of embodied lived experience for instance is rooted in phenomenology and phenomenologists forego coding of data all together. Researchers following the interpretivist paradigm where the above listed sequential analyses techniques belong to even perceive coding as an abhorrent incompatible act for data analysis. Thus, properly informedproponents of these traditions would even state: ‘analysis is not coding’. And for them CAQDAS packages like ATLAS.ti do not help them in pursuing their particular form of analysis. What we will however see later, researchers from these traditions still use ATLAS.ti as a tool for data management. It helps them to manage, sort through and organize their data corpus.

B. Coding as method for analysis

If you decide that coding is an appropriate method to approach the analysis of your data, there is still a lot to learn. If you never cooked a meal before, being provided with all the pots and pans necessary and the ingredients like meat, vegetable, eggs, cheese, spices etc., your first meal very likely will not receive three stars – even if you took a class in how to operate the stove and other electrical appliances; how to prepare a sauce and theoretically know how to prepare a tender steak.

Embarking on your first journey of analyzing data with the support of CAQDAS is very similar. Technically speaking, coding means to attach a label to a selected data segment. This is something you learn very quickly like operating a stove. But when is a code just a descriptive label, a category, a sub code, a dimension or a theoretical code? Software is not able to tell you or makes such decisions for you. You either have a good teacher at your side, with whom you can discuss your ongoing analysis, or you learn yourself via experience and with time through a process of trial and error what works and what does not work – like finally managing to prepare your first perfect steak.

In both cases, you will learn to appreciate the software features that allow you to retrieve and to review data, to modify boundaries of coded segments, to rename, to merge or to split codes, to provide spaces forwriting, spaces for you to reflect on the data, spaces to “play” with the data, to rearrange it in different ways, to visualize them – these are all features that support the analysis process and that help the user to immerse in the data, trying to grasps its meaning. The process of developing a good code system is already more than coding in the technical sense of just attaching a label to a data segment. Furthermore, having coded the data is not the end of the analysis process. After coding, the data is prepared for further analysisand exploration. ATLAS.ti for instance offers 14 different operators (Boolean, semantic and proximity operators) to query the data. Frequently used tools are the code-cooccurence explorer and the codes-PD table for the purpose of cross-case comparisons. Results can be saved in various forms as a basis for new queries, for instance supporting researchers in identifying types and typologies in the data.

Thus, analysis is more than coding and still largely dependent on the person sitting in front of the computer using thesoftware tool.Let me end this section with a quote from the ATLAS.ti manual:

When Iasked Anselm Strauss back in 1996 to contribute a foreword to the manual of the first version of ATLAS.ti, I was extremely happy heagreed. As I have no idea how his attitude and his decision would betoday, I decided not to include the original foreword, except for thefollowing quotation which, I promise, will remain true for some time tocome:

“… the program author makes no claims whatever to havingproduced a program that will perform miracles for your research –you still have to have the ideas and the gifts to do exceptionalresearch.”

Thomas Muhr, Scientific Software Development, Berlin:

C. Analysis approaches and the suitability for CAQDAS based analysis

In the next section an overview of various analysis approaches is provided.

Your will find pointers whether CAQDAS is a useful choice and where researchers have used it for data organization and management only. References to studies that employed ATLAS.ti are also included.

The list is adapted from online QDA ( http://onlineqda.hud.ac.uk/methodologies.php) and sorted in alphabetical order.

1. Action Research

Action research consists of a family of research methodologies. The focus is a social problem, rather than the theoretical interests of a scientist. It is a reflective process of progressive problem solving led by individuals working with others in teams, as part of a “community of practice”. The aim is to promote change by engaging participants in a process of sharing knowledge.It contains among other elements also components of field research. Types of data include interviews, focus groups, observation, participant observation, participant-written cases and accounts. CAQDAS is used as a tool for organizing and sorting data through coding. ATLAS.ti was for example used by Stratton (2008) in a project on improving communication between the Civil Justice System in Canada and the Public.

Further readings:

Dick, B.  (2000) A beginner’s guide to action research [On line].  Available at

Schwandt, A. Thomas (1997). Qualitative Inquiry: A dictionary of terms. London: Sage.

Schön, David (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. Basic Books.

Torbert, William. R. (2001). The practice of action inquiry, in P. Reason and H. Bradbury (eds), Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice. London: Sage, pp. 250-260.

Studies where ATLAS.ti was employed as a tool:

Billingsley, Barbara, Lowe, Diana and Stratton, Mary (2006).Civil Justice System and the Public Learning from Experiences to find Practices that Work. May 2006. CJSP Report. Available online: http://cfcj-fcjc.org/docs/2006/cjsp-learning-en.pdf

Stratton, Mary (2008).  Action Research: Teaching and Learning in Motion. CUEXPO 2008 Paper. http://cfcj-fcjc.org/docs/2008/cjsp-cuexpo-en.pdf

2. Biographical Research / Life History Research

Biographical research is an approach to research which elicits and analyses a person’s biography or life history. It consists of an extended, written account or narrative of a person’s life. Life History and biographical research is today often used interchangeably. Data are collected in form of narrative interviews.Of interest is the entire life story in terms of its genesis and how it is constructed in the present. The steps of data analysis involve thematic analysis, the reconstruction of the life history, a microanalysis of individual text segments, contrastive comparisons and the development of types and contrasting comparison of several cases. Rosenthal (2004) proposes a combination of methods to analyze biographical data. These are: objective hermeneutics (Oevermann et al. (1979, 1987), narrative analysis (Schütze, 1983) and themantic field analysis  (Fischer and Kohli, 1987). ATLAS.ti was for example used by Patrizi (2005) in a biographical study on Domestic Violence, Dictatorship and Democracy in Chile. Also Unger (2009), a student of Schütze, works with ATLAS.ti to support particular parts of the analysis process. Another example is the study by Gouthro (2009).

Further readings:

Roberts, Brian (2001). Biographical Research.Open University Press.

Rosenthal, Gabriele (2004) ‘Biographical Research’, in C. Seale, G. Gobo, J. F. Gubrium and D. Silverman (eds), Qualitative Research Practice. London: Sage. pp. 48–64.

Oevermann, Ulrich; Allert, Tilman, Konau, Elisabeth and Jürgen Krambeck (1987). Structures of meaning and objective Hermeneutics. In: Volker Meja, Dieter Misgeld and MicoStehr (eds.) Modern German sociology. (European Perspectives: a Series in Social Thought and Cultural Ctiticism). New York: Columbia University Press, S. 436–447.

Oevermann, Ulrich et al. (1979). Die Methodologie einer objektiven Hermeneutik und ihre allgemeine forschungslogische Bedeutung in den Sozialwissenschaften, in Hans-Georg Soeffner (ed.), Interpretative Verfahren in den Sozial- und Textwissenschaften. Stuttgart: Metzler, pp. 352 – 434.

Schütze, Fritz (1983). Biographieforschung und narrative Interviews, Neue Praxis, 3: 283-93.

Fischer, Wolfram and Kohli, Martin (1987). Biographieforschung, in  W. Voges (ed.) Methoden der Biographie- und Lebenslaufforschung.Opladen: Lekse + Budrich, pp. 25 – 50.

Studies where ATLAS.ti was employed as a tool:

Gouthro, P.A. (2009) Life Histories of Canadian Women as Active Citizens: Implications for Policies and Practices in Adult Education. The Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 21(2), 19-36.

Patrizi, Patrizia (2005). Deviant Action and Self-Narration: A Qualitative Survey through ATLAS.ti. Journal of the Theory of Social Behaviour, Vol 25 (2), 171 -188.

Unger, Tim (2009). Anschluss verpasst? Plädoyer für eine berufsbildungstheoretische Aufarbeitung der biografieorientierten Bildungsforschung, in Karin Büchter, Jens Klusmeyerand Martin Kipp (eds.), Selbstverständnis der Disziplin Berufs- und Wirtschaftspädagogik, bwp@ Ausgabe Nr. 16 | Juni 2009 Available online: http://www.bwpat.de/ausgabe16/unger_bwpat16.pdf

3. Case Studies

A case study is based on an in-depth investigation of a single individual, group, or event to explore causation. in order to find underlying principles. It may involve the collection of both qualitative and quantitative like documents, archival records, interviews, direct observation, participant-observation, physical artifacts. Several analytic strategies for case studies have been described like placing the evidence in a matrix of categories, pattern matching, statistical procedures, and also coding has been proposed as a way to approach analysis. An example where ATLAS.ti is used to store, organize and analyze case study data is the CPLS DATABASE. It is a collection of ethnographic case studies of literacy practice in various marginalized cultural communities.  The kinds of data assigned to an ATLAS.ti project file include the researchers’ field notes, interview transcripts, interview protocols, photos of environmental texts found in the communities under study (e.g., signs, books, advertisements, magazines, etc.), scanned artifacts collected during the conduct of the field work (e.g., newspapers, flyers, memos), official documents, and all other collected data such as the demographic information of participants and video recordings. See: http://www.cpls.educ.ubc.ca/content/db.html.  Another example where ATLAS.ti has been employed for case study research is the thesis by Isabelle Kern (2004).

Further readings:

Miles, M., Huberman, M. & Saldaña, J. (2014). Qualitative data analysis: A methods source book. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Runkel, P. (1990). Casting nets and testing specimens: Two grand methods of psychology. New York: Praeger.

.Stake, R. (1995).The art of case research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Yin, Robert K. (2009).Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Fourth Edition.SAGE Publications.

Studies where ATLAS.ti was employed as a tool:

CPLS DATABASE: http://www.cpls.educ.ubc.ca/content/db.html

Kern, Isabelle (2004). Knowledge Management from Case Studies with ATLAS.ti. Available online: http://atlasti.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/kern-2004-knowledge-management-from-case-studies-with-atlas-ti.pdf

4. Conversational Analysis

Conversational Analysis or CA is the study of naturally occurring talk-in-interaction, both verbal and non-verbal, in order to discover how we produce an orderly social world. It does not refer to context or motive unless they are explicitly deployed in the talk itself. The method was inspired bythe ethnomethodology of Harold Garfinkel and further developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s by the sociologist Harvey Sacks. Today CA is an established method used in sociology, anthropology, linguistics, speech-communication and psychology. Typically data are subjected to afine-grained sequential analysis based on a sophisticated form of transcription. In addition to sequential analysis, coding approaches have also been used in recent years for identifying recurrent themes. The use of coding in conversational analysis however is questioned as an appropriate form of analysis by some. Thus, ATLAS.ti would not be a natural choice when embarking on a fine grained CA analysis of score transcripts. I can become a useful additional tool if you look beyond the code-and-retrieve features of ATLAS.ti (see for example Konopásek (2008).

Further readings:

Sacks, Harvey (1992).Lectures on Conversation. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Ten Have, Paul (1999): Doing Conversation Analysis. A Practical Guide, Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Studies where ATLAS.ti was employed as a tool:

Konopásek, Zdeněk (2008). Making Thinking Visible with Atlas.ti: Computer Assisted Qualitative Analysis as Textual Practices [62 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(2), Art. 12, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0802124.

5. Discourse Analysis / Critical Discourse Analysis

Discourse Analysis (DA) and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) both encompass a number of approaches to study the world, society, events and psyche as they are produced in the use of language, discourse, writing, talk, conversation or communicative events. It is generally agreed upon that any explicit method in discourse studies, the humanities and social sciences may be used in CDA research, as long as it is able to adequately and relevantly produce insights into the way discourse reproduces (or resists) social and political inequality. Thus, the data collection can be comprised of a number of different data formats. A coding approach and the use of CAQDAS is a possible analysis choice. An example is provided by Graffigna and Bosio (2006). They used ATLAS.ti for an analysis of online focus groups within a discourse analytical approach.

Further readings:

Fairglough, Norman (2003). Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research. (2003). London: Routledge.

Fairclough, Norman; Clive Holes (1995).Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language. Longman.

Studies where ATLAS.ti was employed as a tool:

Graffigna, Guendalina and Bosio, A. C. (2006). The Influence of Setting on Findings Produced in Qualitative Health Research: A Comparison between Face-to-Face and Online Discussion Groups about HIV/AIDS. International Journal of Qualitative Methods 5 (3), article 5. http://www.ualberta.ca/~iiqm/backissues/5_3/PDF/graffigna.pdf


6. Ethnography

Ethnography is a multi-method qualitative approachthat studies people in their naturally occurring settings. The purpose is to provide a detailed, in-depth description of everyday life and practice.An ethnographic understanding is developed through close exploration of several sources like participant observation, observation, interviews, documents, newspapers, magazine articles or artifacts. The results of an ethnographic study are summaries of observed activities, typifications or the identification of patterns and regularities. An example where ATLAS.ti was used for analysis is a study by Hernández and René (2009) and the online ethnography of Greschke (2007). ATLAS.ti and other CAQDA packages are also mentioned as appropriate tools for analysing ethnographic data by Fielding (2007).

Further readings:

Brewer, John d. (2001).Ethnography. Buckingham. Open University Press.

Fielding, Nigel (2007). Computer applications in qualitative research. In: Handbook of Ethnography. Atkinson, Paul; Coffey, Amanda, Delamont, Sara, Lofland, John and Lofland, Lyn (eds.). London: Sage

Studies where ATLAS.ti was employed as a tool:

Greschke, Heike Mónika (2007). Bin ich drin? – Methodologische Reflektionen zur ethnografischen Forschung in einem plurilokalen, computervermittelten Feld [45 Absätze]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 8(3), Art. 32, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0703321

Hernández, Luna and René, Jesús (2009). Photo-ethnography by People Living in Poverty Near the Northern Border of Mexico [35 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 10(2), Art. 35, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0902353

Weil, Joyce (2014). ATLAS.ti Blog. Using ATLAS.ti for Coding Ethnographic and Policy Data. Available online: https://atlastiblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/using-atlas-ti-for-coding-ethnographic-and-policy-data/

7. Ethnomethodology

The founder of Ethnomethodology Harold Garfinkel (1967, 2002) developed this methodto better understand the social order people use in making sense of the world through. As data sources he uses accounts and descriptions of day-to-day experiences. The aim is to discover the methods and rules of social action that people use in their everyday life. The focus is on how-question, rather than why-question as underlying motives are not of interest. Ethnomethodologists conduct their studies in a variety of ways focusing on naturally occurring data. Central is the immersion in the situation being studied. They reject anything that looks like interview data. Important for an ethnomethodological analysis is self-reflection and the inspectability of data, thus the reader of an ethnomethodological study should be able to inspect the original data as means to evaluate any claim made by the analyst. Steps in the process of data analysis include coding by type of discourse, counting frequencies of types of discourses, selecting the main types and checking for deviant cases. According to Fielding (2001), CAQDAS is well suited to support the ethnomethodologist in conducting all of these tasks can.

Further readings:

Coulon, Alain (1995). Ethnomethodology. London: Sage.

Francis, David and Stephen Hester. (2004). An invitation to Ethnomethodology. Language, Society and Interaction. London: Sage

Garfinkel, Harold (2002). Ethnomethodology’s Program. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.

Ten Have, Paul (2004). Understanding qualitative research and ethnomethodology.  London: Sage.

Studies where ATLAS.ti was employed as a tool:

Fielding, Nigel (2001). Computer Applications in Qualitative Research, in Paul A. Atkinson, Paul A.; Coffey, Amanda Jane, Delamont, Sara, Lofland, Johnk, Lofland, Lyn (eds), Handbook for Ethnography. London: Sage.

8. Field Research

Field Research examines the personal meanings of individuals’ experiences and actions in the context of their social and cultural environment. Its methodological roots are in phenomenology, social interactionism and ethnographyadapted by business studies and marketing research, but also used in other disciplines like medical research.  The investigation is carried out in the naturalistic environment where the phenomenon occurs. Methods of data collection include participant observation, depth interviews, group interviews and projective techniques. Analysis procedures consist of description, ordering or coding of data and displaying summaries of the data. Nia Parson (2005) for example used field research methodology and ATLAS.ti in her dissertation study: Gendered Suffering and Social Transformations: Domestic Violence, Dictatorship and Democracy in Chile.

Further readings:

Bailay, Carol A. (2006, 2ed).A guide to qualitative field research.Pine FrogePress

Studies where ATLAS.ti was employed as a tool:

Parson, Nia (2005). Gendered Suffering and Social Transformations: Domestic Violence, Dictatorship and Democracy in Chile, 2005, Unpublished. http://smu.edu/anthro/smu_anthro/FacultyPages/Parson_Page.htm

9. Focus Groups

A focus group is a form of group interviewmainly used in marketing research. The aim is to inquire about people’s perceptions, opinions, beliefs and attitudes towards a product, a service, a concept, an advertisement or packaging idea. The interview form is called focus group because the participants are‘focused’ on a given topic and are selected based on whether they have something to say about the topic. Krueger & Casey (2000) describe the analysis cutting, pasting, sorting, arranging and rearranging data through comparing and contrasting the relevant information; thus a classical code & retrieve approach and they recommend the use of CAQDAS for the analysis process. An example where ATLAS.ti was used for an analysis of focus group is the study by Walsh et al (2008).

Further readings:

Krueger R. A. and Casey, M. A. (2000) Focus Groups: A Practical Guide for Applied Research, 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Merton, Robert K. (1987). The focused interview and the focus group – continuities and discontinuities.Public Opinions Quarterly, 51, 550 -556.

Merton, Robert K., Fiske, M. and P. L. Kendall (1956).The focused interview.A manual of problems and procedures. Glencoe, III.: The Free Press.

Studies where ATLAS.ti was employed as a tool:

Walsh, Tasanee R., Irwin, Debra E.,  Meier, AnderaVarni W., James,  and DeWalt, Darren A. (2008). The use of focus groups in the development of the PROMIS Pediatrics Item Bank.Qual Life Res. 2008 June; 17(5): 725–735.  Available online: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2424212/

10. Frame Analysis

Frame Analysis has generally been attributed to the work of Erving Goffman and his 1974 book: Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience. This approach tries to explain social phenomena in terms of the everyday use of schemes or frames like beliefs, images or symbols. The number of such frames available to people in making sense of their environment is limited by the particular society they live in. Frame Analysis is largely used in social movement theory, policy studies and health research. When it comes to analyzing the data, a quantitative and a qualitative approach has been suggested. In quantitative studies the keyword approach is used extracting frames by means of hierarchical cluster or factor analysis. The software VBPro for example has especificallybeen developed for such procedures. Frames may however also be discovered via a qualitative coding approach.

Further readings:

Goffmann, Erving (1986). Frame Analysis: Propaganda Plays of the Woman Suffrage Movement: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. Northeastern Univ Press.

Koenig, Thomas (2004). Routinizing Frame Analysis through the Use of CAQDAS. Available online: http://www.restore.ac.uk/lboro/research/methods/routinizing_frame_analysis_RC33.pdf

Studies where ATLAS.ti was employed as a tool:

Trenz, Hans-Jörg. 2004. Media Coverage on European Governance: Exploring the European Public Sphere in National Quality Newspapers. European Journal of Communication 19 (3) 291-319.

11. Grounded Theory

Grounded Theory (GT) is an inductive form of qualitative research that was first introduced by Glaser and Strauss(1967). It is a research approach in which the theory is developed from the data, rather than the other way around.Data collection and analysis are consciously combined, and initial data analysis is used to shape continuing data collection. Strauss in disagreement with Glaser developed the approach further providing a more pragmatic and systematic descriptions of analytic steps, like the four different phases of coding: open, axial, selective and theoretical coding. Sociological research has been greatly influenced by Grounded Theory and the method of coding based constant comparison and the theoretical sampling strategy is widely accepted. In recent years, further variations of the grounded theory methodology have emerged. For example Kathy Charmaz introduced a constructivist version and Clarke discusses GT after the postmodern turn. As coding is central for a grounded theory analysis, CAQDAS is well suited to support such an analytic approach, apart maybe for the Glaser version of GT. Glaser rubbish the use of tape recording and transcription as he considers it a superfluous activity not aiding the process of conceptualizing. Consequently he advises against the use of software. There are plenty of studies where ATLAS.ti has been used for a Grounded Theory analysis. See a few examples below.

Further readings:

Charmaz, Kathy (2006). Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis. London: Sage.

Clarke, Adele E. (2005). Situational Analysis: Grounded Theory After the Postmodern Turn. London: Sage.

Glaser, Barney G. und Strauss, Anselm L. (1967). Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research.

Glaser, Barney G. (1998). Doing GroundedTheory.Issues and Discussions. Mill Valley, Ca.: Sociology Press.

Glaser, Barney G. (1992). Basics of Grounded Theory Analysis: Emerging vs. Forcing. Sociology Press.

Strauss, Anselm L. (1987). Qualitative Analysis for Social Scientists.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (dt. 1991, Grundlagen qualitativer Sozialforschung. München: Fink).

Strauss, Anselm L. and Corbin, Juliet (1998, 2ed). Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory. London: Sage.

Strübing, Jörg und Bernt Schmettler (2004, Eds.). Methodologien interpretative Sozialforschung. Klassische Grundlagentexte. UTB.

Studies where ATLAS.ti was employed as a tool:

Burden, Johann and Roodt, Gert (2007).Grounded theory and its application in a recent study on organizational redesign.Some reflections and guidelines. Journal of Human Resource Management, 5 (3), 11 – 18.

Cisneros Puebla, César A. (2000).Qualitative Sozialforschung in Mexiko [33 Absätze]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 1(1), Art. 2, Available online: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs000128

Fernández, Walter D. S. The grounded theory method and case study data in IS research: issues and design. Available online: http://press.anu.edu.au//info_systems/part-ch05.pdf

Pandit, Naresh R. (1996). The Creation of Theory: A Recent Application of the Grounded Theory Method. The Qualitative Report, Volume 2, Number 4, December, 1996. Available online: http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR2-4/pandit.html

12. Hermeneutic

As a theory of interpretation, the hermeneutic tradition stretches all the way back to ancient Greek philosophy. In the middle ages and the Renaissance, hermeneutics emerges as a method to identify the meaning and intent of Biblical scripture. Today hermeneutics is also used as a strategy to address a broad range of research questions like interpreting human practices,events, and situations. The analytic aim is to understand „the other“.  Researchers bring their personal conviction to the analysis, but they need to be open for revision. In the process of collecting data, a tentative understanding is developed which is then tested against reality. Further understanding is gained if discrepancies between the current interpretation and the new data are recognized. Thus, the process of understanding is characterized by constant revisions. The researcher’s concept of the whole is corrected as each interpretation is compared against the parts of the text. This is referred to as the hermeneutic cycle. Flick (1994) demonstrates how this can be implemented when working with ATLAS.ti.

Further readings:

McNaab, David E. (2004). Research Methods for Political Science: Quantitative and Qualitative Methods. M.E. Sharpe.

Ramberg, Bjørn and Gjesdal, Kristin (2009). In Edward N. Zalta (ed.): The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Summer 2009 Edition. http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2009/entries/hermeneutics/

vonZweck, Claudia, Paterson, Margo and Wendy Pentland (2008). The Use of Hermeneutics in a Mixed Methods Design. The Qualitative Report Volume 13 Number 1 March 2008 116-134. http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR13-1/vonzweck.pdf

Wallach, Harald (2009, 2. ed). Psychologie – Wissenschaftstheorie, philosophische Grundlagen und Geschichte: Ein Lehrbuch. Kohlhammer.

Studies where ATLAS.ti was employed as a tool:

Flick, Uwe (1994). Hermeneuten-Zirkel am PC – Erfahrungen mit ATLAS/ti aus einem Lehr-Forschungsprojekt, in Boehm, Andreas, Mengel, Andreas, Muhr, Thomas (eds), Texte verstehen : Konzepte, Methoden, Werkzeuge. S. 349-358. Gesellschaft für Angewandte Informationswissenschaft (GAIK) e.V.; Konstanz: Univ.-Verl. Konstanz, 1994. Available online: http://www.ssoar.info/ssoar/View/?resid=1450

13. Life World Analysis

The term originally comes from phenomenological sociology, where it refers to the familiar world of everyday life.In analyzing lifeworlds, one attempts to draw out the individual structures within it. A lifeworld can be understood as a physical environment even though the various inhabitants do not necessarily attribute the same meaning to the same space.Cats and people for example may inhabit the same physical environment but live in different lifeworlds as cupboards, window sills, and spaces underneath chairs have different significances for both of them. The aim is the reconstruction of the various subjective perspectives. In order to achieve this, a number of data typesare employed like document analysis, interviews, standardized surveys or observant participation. The latter means that the researcher goes into the social “field” and tries to get as close as possible to the linguistic and habitual customs of the people examined. Not surprisingly, a hermeneutic approach of analysis is chosen. When the need arises, this is combined with codification procedures and thus, CAQDAS is a possible choice to support the process of data analysis.

Further readings:

Eberle, Thomas S. (2010). The The Phenomenological Life-World Analysis and the Methodology of the Social Sciences. Human Studies, Volume 33, Issue 2-3, pp 123-139.

Eberle, Thomas S. (2014). Methodological Implicationsof Phenomenological Life-World Analysis. Available online: https://www.alexandria.unisg.ch/export/DL/228892.pdf

Hitzler, Roland und Eberle , Thomas S. (2000):Phänomenologische Lebensweltanalyse. http://www.hitzler-soziologie.de/pdf/hitzler_2000b.pdf

Pfadenhauer, Michaela (2005). Ethnography of Scenes.Towards a Sociological Life-world Analysis of (Post-traditional) Community-building [31 paragraphs].Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(3), Art. 43, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0503430

Studies where ATLAS.ti was employed as a tool:

Oberkircher, Lisa and Hornidge, Anna-Katharina (2011).“Water Is Life”—Farmer Rationales and Water Saving in Khorezm, Uzbekistan: A Lifeworld Analysis. Rural Sociology 76(3), 2011, pp. 394–421. Available online: http://crossroads-asia.de/fileadmin/user_upload/publications/Pub_Netzwerkmitglieder/Oberkircher_Hornidge2011_Water_is_life.pdf

14. Narrative Research

Narrative research is about stories of life experiences. Study participants are asked in long interviews to give a detailed account of them and their story rather than to answer a predetermined list of questions. Other forms of data include life histories, journals, diaries, memoirs, autobiographies and biographies. The aim of the analysis is to gain insights into a person’s understanding of the meaning ofevents in their lives.After transcription, narratives may be coded according to categories deemed theoretically important by the researcher (Riesman, 1993). Another approach is a formal sequential analysis with the purpose of identifying recurrent and regular forms which are then related to specific modes of biographical experiences. This however is sometimes also combined with a coding approach (for example Bamberg, 2007; Pöhl, 1998). An example where ATLAs.ti is used is the research by De Gregorio (2009) on narrating crime.

Narrative analysis can however also be conducted using quantitative methods (QNA).  The aim of QNA is to turn words into numbers. This is achieved via coding the “story grammar” made up of coding categories – the objects of the grammar. By computing word frequencies of coding categories, words are then turned intonumbers (cf. Franzosi, 2010).

Further readings:

Boje, David M. (2001). Narrative Methods for Organizational and Communication Research (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2001), 83, 98.

Franzosi, Roberto (2010).Quantitative Narrative Analysis.Sage Publications.

Mitchell, M. and M Egudo, M. (2003).A Review of Narrative Methodology.DSTO Systems Sciences Laboratory , Edinburgh South Australia. Available online: http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/css506/506%20readings/review%20of%20narritive%20methodology%20australian%20gov.pdf

Polkinghorne, Donald E. (1995). Narrative Configuration in Qualitative Analysis. Qualitative Studies in Education, Vol. 8, Issue 2

Riessman, C. K., 1993. “Narrative Analysis” (Newbury Park: Sage Publications).

Schütze, Fritz (1983). Biographieforschung und narrative Interviews, Neue Praxis, 3: 283-93.

Schütze, Fritz (1981). Prozessstrukturen des Lebensablaufs. In Joachim Matthes, Arno Pfeifenberger, & Manfred Stosberg (Eds.), Biographie in handlungswissenschaftlicher Perspektive (pp.67-156). Nürnberg: Verlag der Nürnberger Forschungsvereinigung e. V.

Studies where ATLAS.ti was employed as a tool:

De Gregorio, Eugenio (2009). Narrating a crime: Contexts and accounts on deviant actions. International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches, Vol. 3 (2), 191-202.

Franzosi, Roberto; Doyle, Sophie; MeClelland, Laura; Putnam, Caddie and Civari, Stefanie (2013).Quantitative Narrative Analysis Software Options Compared: PC-ACE andCAQDAS(ATLAS.ti, MAXqda, and NVivo). Available online: https://www.academia.edu/1505378/Quantitative_Narrative_Analysis._Software_Options_Compared_PC-ACE_and_CAQDAS_ATLAS.ti_MAXqda_and_NVIVO_

15. Objective Hermeneutics

Objective Hermeneutics was developed by Oeverman, a German scholar and former student of Habermas. It is a method of interpreting textual dataproviding an explicit, rule-governed procedure. The aim is to go beyond subjective meanings detecting the objective connotation, the so called latent sense structure behind the data. Similar as in ethnomethodology, personal motives and intentions are not important.

The analysis follows a strict sequential pattern and is usually conducted by a group of researchers, the “interpretation circle”. Beginning with a first sequence, e.g. the opening sentence, different story lines are developed and discussed by the team of researchers. The story lines can beviewed as preliminary hypotheses that in the process of analysiscan be falsified when inspecting more of the empirical data.The method is very time-consuming and thus only feasible with small amounts of text. Coding procedures are explicitly banned. Proponents of this tradition argue that the development of a coding system cannot represent social reality appropriately. The process of coding would even deplete the theoretical appraisal of empirical phenomena. Thus, objective hermeneutics is clearly not a methodological approach that can or should be supported by ATLAS.ti.

Further readings:

Oevermann, Ulrich; Allert, Tilman, Konau, Elisabeth and Jürgen Krambeck (1987). Structures of meaning and objective Hermeneutics. In: Volker Meja, Dieter Misgeld and MicoStehr (eds.) Modern German sociology. (European Perspectives: a Series in Social Thought and Cultural Ctiticism). New York: Columbia University Press, S. 436–447.

Oevermann, Ulrich et al. (1979). Die Methodologie einer objektiven Hermeneutik und ihre allgemeine forschungslogische Bedeutung in den Sozialwissenschaften, in Hans-Georg Soeffner (ed.), Interpretative Verfahren in den Sozial- und Textwissenschaften. Stuttgart: Metzler, pp. 352 – 434.

Reichertz, Jo (2004) ‘Objective Hermeneutics and Hermeneutic Sociology of Knowledge’, in U. Flick, E. v. Kardorff and I. Steinke (eds), A Companion to Qualitative Research. London: Sage. pp. 290-295.

Wernet, Andreas (2000). Einführung in die Interpretationstechnik der Objektiven Hermeneutik. Opladen: Leske + Budrich.

Wernet, Andreas (2014). Hermeneutics and Objective Hermeneutics. In: Flick, Uwe (ed.). The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Data Analysis, pp. 234-246.

16. Phenomenology

Phenomenology is a research methodology which has its roots in philosophy focusing on the lived experience of individuals. Phenomenological researchersare interested in the nature or meaning of something, their questions are about essence and not about appearance.Comparable to hermeneutical analysis, the researcher tries to enter into the other person’s perspective and experience. In addition there is strong emphasis on the researcher’s personal experience ofthe research process itself. A constant question is: How does this affect me as researcher? Data are collected through a variety of means: observation, interviews, focus groups, diaries, videotape and written descriptions by subjects. During the process of analysis, the researcher reflects upon his or her own preconceptions about the data grasping the experiential world of the research participant. Transcripts are coded in considerable detail, with the focus shifting back and forth from the point of views of the participant to the researcher’s interpretation of the meaning of these. Analysis is largely inductive and ‘bottom-up’ andnot guided by a priori formulated hypotheses. A discussion on the use of ATLAS.ti for descriptive phenomenological research can be found here: What’s your experience been with qualitative descriptive phenomenological research when coding and sorting with ATLAS.ti:


Further readings:

Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. Newbury Park, California: Sage.

Reid, K., Flowers, P. & Larkin, M. (2005) Exploring lived experience: An introduction to Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The Psychologist, 18:1, 20-23.

vanManen, M. (Ed.). (2002). Writing in the dark: Phenomenological studies in interpretive inquiry. London, ON.:Althouse Press.

vanManen, M. (2004). Phenomenology of Practice.Phenomenology & Practice, Volume 1 (2007), No. 1, pp. 11 – 30. Available online: http://www.maxvanmanen.com/files/2011/04/2007-Phenomenology-of-Practice.pdf

Studies where ATLAS.ti was employed as a tool:

Burg, Carol. “Phenomenological Data Analysis” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Seventh International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champain Illini Union, Urbana, IL. Abstract: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/4/9/2/2/6/p492266_index.html?phpsessid=10f4e1dc2a5c7cc0e73dd70e7b994aff

Cheng, Fung Kei (2014).Utilising Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software in Buddhist Canonical Analysis.ATLAS.ti blog. Available online: http://atlastiblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/13/utilising-computer-assisted-qualitative-data-analysis-software-in-buddhist-canonical-analysis/

Rosedale, Mary, Lisanby, Sarah H. and Malaspina, Dolores (2009).The Structure of the Lived Experience for Persons Having Undergone rTMS for Depression Treatment. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, Vol. 15, No. 5, 333-337.

17. Phenomenography

Phenomenography is a fairly new qualitative research method developed in the mid to late 1970s. It has primarily been a tool for educational research. Its roots are in Sweden at the University of Gothenburg. Today there are also strong communities in Britain and Australia. The focus is on the experience of a phenomenon rather than on the phenomenon per se. The aim is to investigate the differing ways in which people experience, perceive, apprehend, understand, and conceptualize various phenomena.  A phenomenographic analysis seeks a “description, analysis, and understanding of … experiences” (Marton, 1981, p. 180). The focus is on variation in both the perceptions of the phenomenon as experienced by the actor and in the “ways of seeing something”, as experienced and described by the researcher. The various perceptions which emerge from the data are collected and sorted into ‘categories ofdescription’ . Thus, the use of CAQDAS appears to be a feasible tool for phenomenographic analysis as well as put into practice by Boon, Johnston and Webber (2007). They used ATLAS.ti to analyze faculty’s conceptions of information literacy within a phenomenographical research framework.

Further readings:

Åkerlind, G. (2005). Variation and commonality in phenomenographic research methods. Higher Education Research & Development, 24(4), 321-334.

Marton, F. (1981).Phenomenography – describing conceptions of the world around us. Instructional Science, 10(1981), 177-200.

Marton, F. (1986).Phenomenography – A research approach investigating different understandings of reality. Journal of Thought, 21(2), 28-49.

Uljens, M. (1996).On the philosophical foundation of phenomenography. In G. Dall’Alba& B. Hasselgren (Ed.), Reflections on Phenomenography (pp. 105–130). Goteborg: ActaUniversitatisGothenburgensis.

Studies where ATLAS.ti was employed as a tool:

Bergman, Esther M; Bruin,Anique;  Herrle, Andreas;  Verheijen, Inge; Albert JJA Scherpbier, Albert, and van der Vleuten, Cees (2013). Students’ perceptions of anatomy across the undergraduate problem-based learning medical curriculum: a phenomenographical study.  BMC Medical Education, 13:152. Available online: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6920/13/152

Boon, Stuart and Johnston, Bill and Webber, Sheila (2007) Aphenomenographic study of English faculty’s conceptions of information literacy.Journal of Documentation, 63 (2).204 -228.