Product Tutorial

Write about your emerging inferences along with supporting evidence in ATLAS.ti Web

As qualitative researchers, the onus is on us to keep an audit trail of our analytic actions, the inferences we develop as part of our analysis, and importantly, the evidence for those inferences. With ATLAS.ti Web, you can easily insert relevant segments from your data as you write about your emerging inferences and analytic findings.
Amir Michalovich
Instructor, Training & Partnership Development
  1. Developing your analysis
  2. So how is it done?

Developing your analysis

A new ATLAS.ti Web feature has been developed to support analysis and emerging inferences – the “Insert quotation” button. It can be accessed in any MEMO or DOCUMENT that we create and is very easy to use. What does this button do? It allows us to attach a QUOTATION, a segment of textual data in ATLAS.ti Web, to the MEMO or DOCUMENT we are drafting, right where we need to (you guessed it – right beside the inference/s we are writing about!)

Figure 1: QUOTATION attached to a research journal MEMO using the “Insert quotation” button

In the example above, I was referring to a QUOTATION from a survey respondent in my research journal MEMO in preparation for writing some inferences related to that QUOTATION. Because I added the QUOTATION using the “Insert quotation” button, when I return to the MEMO in a week or two, I will be able to refresh my memory not only about the inferences I previously developed but also about the data that I used in order to substantiate them. You may have noticed that ATLAS.ti Web also included a link to the document from which the QUOTATION came, to streamline my ability to navigate to the original context of the QUOTATION. This QUOTATION in the MEMO alongside the inferences I developed from it is the audit trail that will help me keep track of the emerging ideas, directions, and evidence that informed my analysis.

So how is it done?

Typically, when we review our data, we may come across a QUOTATION that seems interesting or strikes a chord with us; we may not fully understand why, but if we learned anything from our education in qualitative data analysis, we know we should write about it, sooner rather than later. In ATLAS.ti Web, we can create a MEMO or a DOCUMENT to put our thoughts in writing. So how do we bring that QUOTATION into our MEMO or DOCUMENT? First, we need to make sure we have a Code Distribution Report that keeps track of all QUOTATIONS; we would want to pull the QUOTATION of interest from that report.
In order to create the report, we can quickly click on the Reports button on the lefthand side of the screen, click on Create report, and choose Code Distribution. In general, we could create one report for each question or category of interest in our research.

Figure 2: Creating a Code Distribution Report
Figure 3: A Code Distribution Report

After the report is created (see Figure 3), we are good to go: we can go to our MEMO or DOCUMENT to put our thoughts in writing and bring the QUOTATION that sparked our thinking as relevant supporting evidence (Figures 4, 5, 6, 7). A quick tip: when you identify a QUOTATION that sparks your interest in writing potential inferences about, create a Code Distribution Report to filter for the CODES of that quotation; not only will this report make it easier to dynamically keep track of your findings as your analysis evolves, but this will also allow you to quickly search for and find it among the other QUOTATIONS (Figure 7). Alternatively, if you remember a few words from your QUOTATION of interest, you can quickly search for and find it among the other QUOTATIONS.
To insert a QUOTATION into the MEMO or DOCUMENT, we need to click on the + button right next to a given line (Figure 4, bottom left corner)

Figure 4: The + button

Once we clicked on the + button, we need to choose the button “Insert quotation” (Figure 5):

Figure 5: Insert quotation button

The next step would be to click on the appropriate Code Distribution Report (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Choosing the appropriate Code Distribution Report

Once we identify the QUOTATION of interest (we can quickly search for it by pressing Ctrl+F using keywords or text we remember that it includes), we just need to check the box next to it and click on “Add 1 quotation”, as shown in Figure 7 (we can always choose more than one quotation to bring into the MEMO/DOCUMENT).

Figure 7: Choosing and adding the quotation(s)

That’s it! The QUOTATION has been added, as shown in Figure 1. We are one step closer to building our audit trail. This audit trail will help us remember and describe our analytic process (because we will forget!), and it will also help us communicate to various stakeholders in our project how we were able to reduce the volume of unstructured qualitative data to a neat list of findings. In other words, we can use this feature both to document our analysis and communicate it to others.
By the way, keep in mind that you can always connect evidence from your data with arguments or claims made in previous literature using this feature as well (see Figure 8 below).

Figure 8: Connecting quotations from data with quotations from literature within a memo

Enjoy your qualitative data analysis with ATLAS.ti Web!