Qualitative analysis looks into the behavior of people though examination of a multitude of artifacts and utterances. Data analyzed typically include a huge variety of formats and typically consist of interviews (stored in audio, video, or written records) or questionnaires. The desired information is extracted from the collected data with various techniques and analyzed for trends and other features.
This leads to quantitative analyses of the data, such as statistical analysis. This approach is used in several fields of study including nursing, medicine, education, business, and the social sciences and humanities. This list is not exhaustive, as qualitative research is used in many disciplines.
It is possible to undertake the mechanical process using qualitative analysis software which can save a lot of time. There are many dedicated qualitative analysis programs of various kinds available to social researchers that can be used for a variety of different tasks. For example, software could locate particular words or phrases; make lists of words and put them into alphabetical order; insert key words or comments; count occurrences of words or phrases or attach numeric codes.
Some analysis software will retrieve text, some will analyze text and some will help to build theory. Although a computer can undertake these mechanical processes, it cannot think about, judge or interpret qualitative data.
Processing vast amounts of data, coding your original data sources, keeping track of interrelations, and even visualizing their importance in your coding scheme is best accomplished by using dedicated qualitative analysis software. ATLAS.ti is arguably the most powerful of the available qualitative analysis software packages today.
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While the use of a full-blown qualitative analysis software package may not be considered feasible in some cases (e.g., to code only a few interviews), the use of such research software gives the researchers the opportunity to play around with their data and familiarize themselves with the package sufficiently to be able to code confidently. And let’s not forget that even if qualitative data analysis is considered time-consuming, so is the analysis of quantitative data. Coding, a crucial stage of qualitative data analysis, is much less tedious and time-consuming when carried out with the aid of a qualitative analysis software package. And although it may need considerable time to get acquainted with an excellent qualitative analysis software package to code qualitative data electronically, this effort usually more than pays off in the long run.
Dedicated research software like ATLAS.ti help the researcher to catalog, penetrate and analyze the data generated in a given research project.