Interview with Dr. Majid Ghasemy, Certified ATLAS.ti Professional Senior Trainer: Creative Applications of ATLAS.ti

September 27, 2018

In this issue of ATLAS.ti case studies, we interview Dr. Majid Ghasemy, a Senior Lecturer and Global Higher Education Network (GHEN) coordinator at the National Higher Education Research Institute (IPPTN), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). Dr. Ghasemy is also a Certified ATLAS.ti Professional Senior Trainer, and today he is sharing some creative applications of ATLAS.ti with our community.

 

Thank you for your time. Why did you become interested in ATLAS.ti?

I think, ATLAS.ti, with its advanced analytic tools, has made qualitative data analysis much easier and more convenient. In other words, researchers, with different backgrounds and specialty areas, can employ it to run multiple data-level and/or theoretical level analyses such as thematic analysis, content analysis, relationship analysis, etc. It can simply handle, manage, and analyze a wide scope of data types. In fact, the ability of the software to build a bridge between qualitative and quantitative data makes it a perfect choice to analyze the data more deeply and precisely. Furthermore, other non-analytic features of the software such as its user-friendly interface and the possibility of installation of the software on windows-based and Mac devices create a significant value for the users. Notably, a strong and efficient support team to support users, accessibility to a huge amount of learning materials, and teamworking feature of the software are a few other value creating points that cannot be neglected. However, ATLAS.ti is more than an analytic tool that can be employed only by the researchers in research studies. Today, I am going to share my experiences with the community in terms of using ATLAS.ti in different-in-nature projects namely a large-scale qualitative inquiry project, an academic task project, and a personal learning project. The message that I want to communicate here is that creativeness in using the software matters the most and ATLAS.ti, with its advanced features, can simplify different types of projects as an effective tool.

 

It’s great to see ATLAS.ti being used in such a variety of projects. How might you use ATLAS.ti in a large-scale qualitative enquiry project?

Normally when people talk about large-scale studies, they focus on quantitative research projects through which a big volume of data are collected, analyzed, and interpreted. Nevertheless, one may conduct a large-scale qualitative enquiry and analyze the data through a qualitative approach. As an example, Ghasemy et al. (2018) conducted a research focusing on identifying the main issues in Malaysian higher education environment namely work priorities, values, challenges and solutions to these challenges. To this aim, 4 open-ended questions were developed asking the respondents to state (and/or elaborate) 10 priorities, values, challenges, and solutions from their own viewpoints. A number of 225 completed surveys were collected containing nearly 5000 records of information. Next, the data were analyzed using ATLAS.ti software package. The results of the analysis indicated that the collected data can be summarized into 4246 quotations coded by 112 codes which were categorized into five main categories namely academic core activities, change & leadership, management, relationships, and work values. This study can be viewed as large-scale qualitative inquiry through which ATLAS.ti was employed to analyze a considerably big amount of data.

Figure 1. Application of ATLAS.ti in a large-scale qualitative research study.

 

How could you use ATLAS.ti in academic task project, such as developing a curriculum?

Recently, as a member of the committee for the curriculum development of a mixed-method program called “Master of Higher Education Studies” at Malaysian National Higher Education Research Institute (IPPTN), I was asked to focus on one of the courses under this program named “Seminar 2: Policy, Governance, and Leadership in Higher Education”. I started this project and in the middle of the way, the idea came to my mind to complete the project using ATLAS.ti just because I was already familiar with the software and its advanced features, especially with respect to creating networks. The first step was to collect references relevant to the topics of the course which was supposed to be delivered to the students in 13 weeks. This step was followed by exporting the list of references from my Endnote and importing them into my ATLAS.ti. Then, each reference was coded by the titles of the topics. For example, if reference A was relevant to topic X and Y, the reference was coded with the codes X and Y. Then all the 13 codes (the 13 topics to be delivered in 13 weeks) were added and linked together in a network on the ground of their relevancy to each other. In fact, rather than presenting the topics and references in tabular format which is seen as a common practice, ATLAS.ti helped me present this information in a way that was more interesting and understandable. Figure 2 shows the topic titles and how they are related to each other to form the entire course.

 

Figure 2. Curriculum development using ATLAS.ti

 

What about a personal learning project, how could ATLAS.ti help?

Believe it or not, I have been using MS Windows since the release of Windows 3.1. This simply means that I am quite old now. In actual fact, at those times I was young and handsome and now, I am just handsome. Anyhow, I never had the chance to learn other operating systems. Honestly speaking, I have always been afraid of other devices (particularly Apple products) as well since I could not communicate with them well. However, recently I was given a MacBook Pro and was asked to use it in my running projects. I accepted this generous offer from my office and told myself that there is no point in escaping from learning a new operating system anymore. Hence, as usual, I started watching YouTube videos to learn basics of macOS High Sierra which is the latest Mac operating system. But I found it a bit difficult as I had to write down the explanations of the instructors somewhere which was a hassle. In addition to that, there were some advertisements and info about the sponsoring companies which had sponsored those video productions and I really did not need that info. Then, suddenly the idea came to my mind to hit a few birds with one stone. I decided to learn macOS High Sierra through working with ATLAS.ti Mac and creating an ATLAS.ti project focusing on this matter to share it with my friends as well. Therefore, what I did as the next step was to install ATLAS.ti Mac, select some good videos, add them into ATLAS.ti, create quotations within them and code each quotation with the titles of the skills and tips that were being instructed by the instructors in videos. The project has just been started and so far, I have managed to create a lot of quotations each of which focuses on one or a few features of macOS High Sierra. Figure 3 shows that so far 67 codes have been created in this project and each of them has one or a few relevant video quotations link to it. Note that I can be contacted through [email protected] and can share a link with you to download the project in case you need a good source for learning macOS.


Do you have any final thoughts or concluding remarks?

In this short interview, I wanted to stress the fact that ATLAS.ti can be considered as a good solution in handling different types of projects. The important issue that must be highlighted here is that the users of the software should always think about how ATLAS.ti can assist them in performing their jobs well and effectively. In fact, one can do the best job by looking at the software creatively.

 

Contact Dr. Majid Ghasemy

 

You can contact Dr. Majid Ghasemy by writing to [email protected]

His profile can be seen here: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7439-217X

 

Cited reference:
Ghasemy, M., Hussin, S., Megat Daud, M. A. K., Md Nor, M., Ghavifekr, S., & Kenayathulla, H. B. (2018). Issues in Malaysian higher education: A quantitative representation of the top five priorities, values, challenges, and solutions from the viewpoints of academic leaders. SAGE Open, 8(1), 1-15. doi:10.1177/2158244018755839

 

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