Newsletter 2014-5

Dear fellow coders,

On behalf of everyone at ATLAS.ti, I wish you very happy holidays and a happy and healthy New Year!

I hope all of you can look back on a great year. For us, 2014 was extremely successful because we brought you powerful new tools to round out your workbench for qualitative research: With our new ATLAS.ti apps for your iPads and Android smart phones, you are now fully equipped to work while on the go. And I know that a great many of you welcomed the first ATLAS.ti for Mac version that we published this fall with open arms.

2015 promises to be another good year: We have more technical innovations in store for you and already look forward to connecting with you at our second international ATLAS.ti User Conference in Berlin. Mark August 26-28 in your calendars! Initial information and the Call for Papers is already available at We will have more detailed information for you in the next issue of INSIDE ATLAS.ti.

In the meantime, please have a look at today's feature article: Ricardo Contreras writes about quotations and shares tips on how you can use them in clever ways to greatly enhance the potential of your analysis project.

Kind regards,

Jörg Hecker
Director of Business Operations


Free Webinars

The new schedule for our free webinars on ATLAS.ti 7 Windows and ATLAS.ti for Mac OS X is available. As always, webinars are held several times every month to suit your schedule. Sign up for free if you want to get an introduction to the concepts and functions of the program. Our webinars are available in English and Spanish.

To check dates and times and to register, go to

Premium Trainings

Please check the latest premium training schedule, including an Advanced Webinar, Face-to-Face Seminars, and Introductory Courses in ATLAS.ti Windows and Mac in Spanish Language.

Upcoming Advanced Webinars

ATLAS.ti Windows

February 16, 17 and 18 (10:00am-12:00pm EST each day)

Instructor: Susanne Friese

To register, go to

Please direct all booking questions to [email protected].

Upcoming Face-to-Face Seminars

  • January 16. Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA. The Odum Institute at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
  • January 29 and 30. Portland, Oregon, USA.
  • February 4. Hannover, Germany (German language).
  • February 26 and 27. Washington, DC, USA.

To register, go to

If interested in the Chapel Hill course, contact Paul Mihas at [email protected].

For more information on these courses, please send an email to [email protected]

Upcoming Introductory Courses in SPANISH LANGUAGE


Enero 7, 8 y 9 (6:00pm-8:00pm CET each day)

Instructor: Neringa Kalpokaite

Note: Horario de Madrid.

Language: In Spanish / en Español


Febrero 17, 18 y 19 (6:00pm-8:00pm CET each day)

Instructor: Neringa Kalpokaite

Note: Horario de Madrid.

Language: In Spanish / en Español

Mac OS X

Marzo 3, 4 y 5 (6:00pm-8:00pm CET each day)

Instructor: Neringa Kalpokaite

Note: Horario de Madrid.

Language: In Spanish / en Español

To register, go to

Please direct all booking questions to [email protected].

ATLAS.ti Supports Leadership and Advocacy Center LEAD

ATLAS.ti GmbH is proud to support the Mercator Capacity Building Center for Leadership and Advocacy (LEAD) in conducting studies on topics such as leadership among complexity and uncertainty, or even future of diplomacy.

The Mercator Capacity Building Center for Leadership and Advocacy (LEAD) is a non-profit organization based in Berlin that supports leaders in take responsibility for the common good with training programs and master classes . The studies of LEAD are created multi-methodological and aim at the research of the changing role of leadership in an increasingly interconnected, globalized and digital world.

As a leading program for the analysis of qualitative data, ATLAS.ti will play an important role in the implementation of these studies. Using our software, qualitative interviews are systematically analyzed and prepared for further cooperation with the international partners of LEAD.

"Of course, through our global work with scientific institutions and companies we know very well how urgent rethinking is, especially at the leadership level of companies, governments and administrations. If we can make a small contribution to this important process, we will be extremely happy to do that." says ATLAS.ti CEO, Thomas Muhr, underlining the company's commitment to support LEAD in responsible and public benefit guidance.

Best Practices

Quotations in ATLAS.ti: Independent, Versatile and Powerful. Enhancing the Descriptive Basis of Qualitative Data Analysis

by Ricardo B. Contreras, PhD

Ricardo is an applied anthropologist with research interests in migration and health. He is the Director of Training & Partnership Development at ATLAS.ti. He also holds an adjunct research professor position at East Carolina University in the United States.

Quotations can be considered to be the very basic component of an analysis project with ATLAS.ti. They can be a segment from an interview, a statement from an academic article, a clip from a video, a location in Google Earth, or a segment in an image. They are, in other words, the raw data as well as the voice of the participant. But quotations can be very dynamic in ATLAS.ti, allowing for a number of different activities: they can be described in as much detailed as you want, they can be renamed in order to best summarize the meaning behind them, they can be linked to each other through meanings in order to describe the logic of the discourse, they can be connected to codes in an effort to conceptualize what participants are saying, and they can be connected to memos in an effort to link interpretation to the evidence. In this article I will explain how much can be done with quotations and I will show that working with them effectively can significantly expand the potential of an analysis project beyond the traditional coding process.

I will start by defining quotations as independent objects of the analysis project and discuss the advantages of reflecting upon them using " memos " in ATLAS.ti. Next, I will propose that renaming and commenting quotations can facilitate the understanding of the source of information. Then, I will discuss hyperlinking and its applications and provide additional reflections and conclusions.

Quotations as Independent Objects

In ATLAS.ti, quotations are independent objects (see Silver and Lewins 2014: 62). This means that they can be created as individual elements without any technical requirements that might force them to be associated with other elements of the analysis project. In practical terms, the quotations do not have to be created through a coding process. Quotations created without connections are called "free quotations." To be clear, they can be connected to codes or memos as they are created, or they can be connected later on. But it is the researcher who will decide whether or not and when to do that. This gives the analyst the freedom to explore a document with an open mind and without rushing into conceptualization and data reduction processes. The figures below show free quotations in the Windows and the Mac versions of ATLAS.ti.

Free quotations in ATLAS.t 7 Windows (left) and Mac (right).

Writing reflections and illustrating them through quotations

When segmenting the sources of information without immediately coding them, it may make sense to consider writing about the process and about the initial impressions that result from reading the documents. Memos are the ideal space for doing that. In ATLAS.ti, memos are spaces for reflection, for making sense, for integrating, for producing a text representing the researcher ' s understanding of the problem. A good memo in which the researcher reflects upon the reading of the document and upon the free quotations that have been created can constitute a useful step toward making sense.

For instance, a memo could state the following (note this is a fictitious example):

"I have read the first couple of pages of interview 1. At this point, the main point behind what the interviewee is saying is not clear to me. Thus, I prefer not to code yet. The interviewee seems to be discussing in a rather imprecise way the history of health reform in the country. There are two ideas that come up: the role of politics in shaping access to services and the way in which health bureaucracy has transformed itself through the years. I will postpone coding until I have a better understanding of this. Quotations X and Y illustrate this well."

These memos can be linked to quotations as a way of illustrating their content. The screenshots below show memos linked to quotations in the Windows and Mac versions of ATLAS.ti.

Memos linked to quotations in ATLAS.ti Windows (left) and Mac (right).

These connections can be visualized in network views. Configuring the whole can help to show how the different elements that make up an analysis project come together. See the screenshots below.

Memos and quotations in network views in ATLAS.ti Windows (left) and Mac (right)

Quotations can be renamed and commented

Quotations can be renamed and commented. That provides an opportunity to reflect upon the essence of a quotation's content and translate that reflection into a name that synthesizes its meaning and a comment that explains or situates it within its larger context. All this facilitates a description of the source of information and is important since "description provides the foundation upon which qualitative inquiry rests" (Wolcott 2009: 27). Below I will discuss the benefits of renaming and commenting quotations.

Renaming quotations

The names of text quotations in ATLAS.ti Windows are given by their first 30 characters (Friese 2014: 38) and in ATLAS.ti Mac by the first 40 characters. This means that the quotation name may not give enough information to capture the essence of its content. This can be a limitation especially when looking at quotations in network views. While it is possible to insert the entire text of the quotation into the network view in ATLAS.ti Windows, doing so may not be practical (especially when working with a large amount of them). In that case, a clearly descriptive name that easily conveys the essence of the quotation content can help tremendously. At the same time, renaming a quotation forces the researcher to take an in-depth look at the content of the segment, allowing for additional reflection. (ATLAS.ti researcher Nicholas Woolf (2014) discusses renaming quotations as the first step in what in grounded theory refers to "initial coding." Here, however, I do not attempt to place the process of creating free quotations and renaming them within any particular methodological framework; rather, I take more of a pragmatic approach.)

See below an example of a renamed quotation:

A renamed quotation.

Commenting quotations

Quotations can also be commented. That is, something can be written about quotations in order to further develop the understanding of their content. For example, the researcher can write a simple note highlighting its importance (e. g., "This is important!"), a note describing the emotional context of what is being said (e. g., "The person is crying when talking about this."), a note paraphrasing the quotation itself, or one providing context (e. g., "The person is referring to this right after stating her opinion about the politics of health reform. Let ' s keep an eye on this.") Regardless of the specifics, writing comments on quotations forces the researcher to go a step farther in the process of describing and understanding the content of the source of information. Doing this can enrich the qualitative data analysis process.

See below a screenshot showing a renamed and commented quotation in ATLAS.ti 7 Windows and Mac.

A renamed and commented quotation in ATLAS.ti 7 Windows (left) and Mac (right).

Quotations can be related to each other semantically

In ATLAS.ti, hyperlinks are the semantic relationship that can be established between quotations (see Friese 2014: 256). Silver and Lewins (2014: 62) state that hyperlinks can represent rhetoric structures. For example, one statement is contradicting another statement. Hyperlinking allows the researcher to advance in the process of making sense by proposing models of how units of the sources of information (i.e., quotations) relate to each other. These models can vary in terms of how descriptive or interpretative they are.

Through hyperlinking, the researcher can open up new avenues of understanding or go deeper into exploring how study participants represent the phenomenon that is being studied. Importantly, hyperlinking does not need or depend on coding. From that point of view, hyperlinking can accompany data segmentation, writing reflections in the form of memos, and renaming and commenting quotations.

See below two quotations hyperlinked on ATLAS.ti 7 Windows (top) and Mac (bottom).

Two quotations hyperlinked through the "expand" relation in ATLAS.ti 7 Windows (top) and Mac (bottom)


In closing, I would like to encourage all users of ATLAS.ti to take advantage of the fact that quotations are independent and flexible objects in ATLAS.ti. By postponing coding a little, the researcher can use the steps described above to construct a solid descriptive basis upon which to build analysis and interpretation of the data. These steps may include creating free quotations, writing about them in memos, linking those memos to quotations for illustration purposes, making an effort to synthesize the main idea behind quotations by renaming them, writing descriptive notes in quotation comments, and hyperlinking them.

It is a good idea to do all of this in an integrated manner so that one process complements the other. Indeed, these processes can also be integrated with coding. Taken together, all of these steps will certainly facilitate a deep understanding of the data and will contribute to enhancing the potential for a good analysis process. I wish you much success in your work with ATLAS.ti.

References & Further Reading

  • Friese, Susanne. (2014). Qualitative Data Analysis with ATLAS.ti (2nd ed.). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • Silver, Christina, & Lewins, Ann. (2014). Using Software in Qualitative Research: A Step-by-Step Guide (2nd ed.). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • Wolcott, Harry F. (2009). Writing Up Qualitative Research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
  • Woolf, Nicholas. (2014, March 26). Using Quotation Names for Coding: An Illustration From Grounded Theory. The ATLAS.ti Research Blog. Retrieved from

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