Analyze your qualitative data online with ATLAS.ti Web. This new, fully web-based version of the software was designed by technology experts who understand the needs of qualitative researchers, resulting in a flexible tool with an intuitive interface that is easy to use. ATLAS.ti is dedicated to meeting all your qualitative data analysis needs, so new features are continuously being incorporated. In this best practice article, we will present some of the newest updates to ATLAS.ti Web, and we will show how you can take advantage of ATLAS.ti Web for your qualitative research projects.
The margin area shows all the work you have done on any document, so you can easily see which segments of data have been saved as quotations, which codes are associated to each quotation, who created each quotation and coding, and more. The margin area is a classic feature across all versions of ATLAS.ti, because it provides a comfortable overview of the data analysis, and it mimics the traditional manner of working with pen-and-paper and jotting down ideas in the margin area of the paper. ATLAS.ti aims to facilitate your qualitative data analysis, which is why it was always built with the goal of making it as easy to use as possible, so that you do not have to spend time learning how to use the software but rather can focus right on analyzing your data.
You can select any segment of data that captures your interest or may help you answer your research question, and you can save these data segments as quotations. You can create as many quotations as you want, and each quotation can be of any size you wish (from just one word to full pages of text). The power of the analysis always remains in your hands. Now you can easily see the length of each quotation that you created from the margin area, so you can comfortably examine the sizes of quotations and any overlapping quotations (see Figure 1).
One of the crucial advantages of working in ATLAS.ti Web is that you can both analyze and edit your documents right in the software. You may find yourself analyzing transcriptions from recorded interviews or focus group discussions, but it is normal to also find typos in the transcript, or perhaps you need to anonymize your transcripts and remove any identifying information regarding your participant(s). With ATLAS.ti Web, you can make any of these changes in any moment by enabling the edit mode. Just click on the padlock icon in the upper right-hand corner of your opened document to enable editing mode (see Figure 2). With the newest updates in ATLAS.ti Web, you can simultaneously edit and code your textual data, permitting a smoother workflow than ever before. Just click and type to edit text, and you can change the format and structure by simply hovering your mouse over the highlighted text (see Figure 3).
As you analyze your data and create codes, it may become difficult to keep track of all the codes. You may decide to group together codes according to their overarching theme or category, or perhaps you want to organize your codes according to their different types (such as attribute codes, action codes, in vivo codes, and so on). ATLAS.ti is purposefully designed to be a “blank slate” that can be adapted to just about any qualitative methodology. There are a plethora of codings methods and strategies, so you can choose the approach that is most appropriate for your study and research question. You can easily organize your codes in ATLAS.ti by assigning a color to each code. With the new updates to ATLAS.ti Web, you can choose from even more color options to distinguish your different codes. To change a code’s color, just go to the codes overview page and click on the color circle next to the code’s name (see Figure 4).
When it comes to organizing your list of codes, grouping and coloring codes can be a great way to establish overarching themes or categories. However, it may also happen that you realize you have multiple codes that are very similar, or perhaps duplicate codes were accidentally created. This is a normal part of qualitative data analysis, and that is why ATLAS.ti also makes it very easy to re-organize your code list as you continue refining your analysis. You can now merge codes together into one single code, so you can easily bring similar codes together under one code or get rid of duplicate codes. At first, you may think that you could simply delete these kinds of codes; however, if you delete a code, you will also lose the connection that code held with all its associated quotations. To avoid this issue and having to go back to the data and redo the coding, ATLAS.ti offers the option to simply merge codes: that way, the codes are combined together, including all their associated quotations and any written comments. To merge any codes together, go to the codes overview page, select the codes by ticking the boxes to the left of each code name, and select the “Merge codes” button at the bottom of the page (see Figure 5). Re-organize your list of codes as you prefer to tell the story of your data analysis.
You can merge as many codes as you would like at the same time. Upon clicking on the “Merge codes” button, you can enter the new code name you would like to use, the comment of this new code (this is a great space to write the definition of that code), and you can choose a color for your new, merged code.
ATLAS.ti Web already offers a sophisticated quotation explorer with which you can query your data by applying different filter rules (for more information, you can read our article on ATLAS.ti Web’s quotation explorer by clicking here. In addition to this, you can now easily see all the quotations associated to any code by clicking on that code from the codes overview page (see Figure 7). ATLAS.ti Web will then show you all of the associated quotations (including the document each quotation comes from as well as any comments you may have written on the quotations). Thus, you can see how many quotations are associated to each code by looking at the “groundedness” of each code (displayed on the right-hand side of each code in the codes overview page), and you can comfortably view those quotations just by clicking on the code.
This article outlined some of the newest features of ATLAS.ti Web, including the interactive margin area, effortless transition between editing and analyzing any document, changing colors of codes, viewing associated quotations of any code, and merging codes. New features are continuously being incorporated in ATLAS.ti Web to make your qualitative data analysis journey as easy as possible. If there is ever anything that you wish you could do in ATLAS.ti Web, please feel free to share your suggestions and ideas in the ATLAS.ti Web feature roadmap: portal.productboard.com/atlasti