Qualitatve Software in Research

What is Qualitatve Software for Research

Starting in the early 90’s with ATLAS.ti, there is now a range of such software and, in response to demand, developers are still adding new features and functions that researchers need to understand.

The diversity of software means that there is a need for standards for storing and exchanging qualitative data and analyzes, a demand that currently only ATLAS.ti is addressing though its support for universal and flexible export formats (XML).

Nevertheless, there is still much debate about the degree to which qualitative software-based research can itself produce qualitative data analysis or merely assist with its development by human researchers. At the same time there is now evidence of analytic developments made possible by the use of new technology.

The dual impact of new technology both on what kinds of data can be collected and recorded and on what kinds of data analysis it makes possible has continued to the present day. In the 21st century, the use of new technology still raises issues like what should be analyzed, how it should be analyzed and in what ways the knowledge and understanding gained are different and more or less well founded than those gained in more traditional ways. Most researchers recognize that in most cases, qualitative software research / CAQDAS usually affects both.

Qualitative software-based research use facilitates the rigor of methodology and the transparency of research method as manifested in one’s audit trail that in essence constitutes research that is accountable, innovative and effective.

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As society transforms and is transformed by new technology, so there are new ways in which qualitative researchers collect and analyze data and new forms of data to collect.

This includes, along with traditional textual data, predominantly significant bodies of multimedia data. The spread of video and photographic technology means that images can be used both as sources of data and as tools for data collection. The digital form much audio and video data now takes makes possible new ways of creating, processing and analyzing such data through qualitative software-based research.

The parallel growth of the Internet also makes available new ways of collecting qualitative data and new settings in which to collect it. However, such developments raise issues about the way researchers collect, process and publish data and how they produce high quality analyzes. Arguably, qualitative software-based research is the answer. Digital technology has also meant that new ways of analyzing data through computer assisted qualitative data analysis (qualitative software-based research or QACDAS) are now possible.

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