Qualitative research software like ATLAS.ti helps people to manage, shape and make sense of unstructured information. It will not do the thinking for the user but provides a sophisticated workspace that enables him/her to work through their information.
With purpose-built research tools for classifying, sorting and arranging information, qualitative research software gives researchers more time for data analysis of their materials, identify themes, glean insight and develop meaningful conclusions.
What is qualitative research?
Qualitative research is a method of inquiry appropriated in many different academic disciplines, traditionally in the social sciences, but also in market research and further contexts. Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior. The qualitative method investigates the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, when. Hence, smaller but focused samples are more often needed, rather than large samples.
Qualitative methods produce information only on the particular cases studied, and any more general conclusions are only hypotheses (informative guesses). Quantitative research methods can be used to verify which of such hypotheses are true.
The phrase ‘qualitative research’ was until the 1970s used only to refer to a discipline of anthropology or sociology. During the 1970s and 1980s qualitative research began to be used in other disciplines, and became a significant type of research in the fields of education studies, social work studies, women’s studies, disability studies, information studies, management studies, nursing service studies, political science, psychology, communication studies, and many other fields. Qualitative research occurred in the consumer products industry during this period, with researchers investigating new consumer products and product positioning/advertising opportunities. The earliest consumer research pioneers including Gene Reilly of The Gene Reilly Group in Darien, CT, Jerry Schoenfeld of Gerald Schoenfeld and Partners in Tarrytown, NY and Martin Calle of Calle and Company, Greenwich, CT, also Peter Cooper in London, England, and Hugh Mackay in Mission, Australia. There continued to be disagreement about the proper place of qualitative versus quantitative research. In the late 1980s and 1990s after a spate of criticisms from the quantitative side, new methods of qualitative research evolved, to address the perceived problems with reliability and imprecise modes of data analysis. During this same decade, there was a slowdown in traditional media advertising spending, so there was heightened interest in making research related to advertising more effective.
In the last thirty years the acceptance of qualitative research by journal publishers and editors has been growing. Prior to that time many mainstream journals were prone to publish research articles based upon the natural sciences and which featured quantitative analysis.
This increasing acceptance and popularity of qualitative research finally lead to a desire of technical support when working on extensive data material. Professional analysis software like Atlas.ti nowadays gives researchers several tools and functions to easily work with all form of unsorted data such as interviews, audio or even video data