Re: [xmca] REquest for evalu of software

From: DES <david_eddy_spicer who-is-at>
Date: Thu Jan 24 2008 - 14:12:02 PST

Thanks, Ellen, for this comprehensive view into your use of ATLAS. I've
used it in related ways and found the Network View features especially
helpful for visualizing relationships and allowing for a different sort
of playing around than is available with my pre-computer methods of
sorting and scattering across the floor and walls (although I still do
need to go back to that, too).

There are some really good online resources for comparing different
strengths/weaknesses of qual software. A good place to start is the
CAQDAS (computer-assisted qualitative data analysis) networking project
at Surrey headed by Ann Lewins.

Over the years, they've done a series of comparisons, the most recent of
which can be had here:

This led to the recent publication (2007) of a useful book that's a good
complement to the ATLAS.ti user's guide:
Ann Lewins & Christina Silver, Using Software in Qualitative Research :
A Step-by-Step Guide, Sage Publications, London

A tutorial site<Online QDA, at Huddersfield U. that's an offshoot of the
networking project is here:
The site has links to several other very useful websites.

If you really want to go spelunking, take a look at the above site's
resources section.


Ellen Scully-Russ wrote:
> Helena,
> I am currently using Atlasti for my dissertation study. I have never used
> EnVivo so I cannot comment on it. I will start with what I find useful
> about Atlas and then share some its limitations from my point of view.
> I have used to it conduct several literature reviews - I linked journal
> articles, chapters from e-books, and notes from other readings. So it was
> helpful in the creation of my conceptual framework for my study - and many
> of the codes I will use to analyze my data already reside inside the
> program.
> I have just completed data collection and most of it has been linked to
> program. My data consists of transcripts from 15 in-depth interviews of 2
> -3 hours in length, one media product - ranging from videos, articles,
> web-sites, brochures - shared by each of the participants, field notes from
> 25 meetings and events I attended, transcripts from 10 expert interviews,
> and excepts from my research journal. So you can see, the tool allows
> access to a variety of document types and media formats. It is enormously
> versatile in that way.
> I am now working to align the conceptual codes from my lit review with what
> I think I learned through my field work and data collection. The software
> is very useful in this process for it allows me to track any changes I make
> to the coding scheme and to document my rationale. I can eliminate, add,
> and combine codes and write and link a memo on those changes - everything is
> in one place. I find the memo feature very helpful - it resides inside the
> program and can be linked a number of objects inside the program (codes,
> quotes, documents). What is most helpful about this is that I do not have
> to interface with other software - like word - in order to journal a
> thought or document a change. This aids with multi-tasking and minimizes
> the risk that something important may get lost.
> Perhaps the strongest features though are those that aid in the analysis
> itself, which I must admit, I am still learning. If you use the
> relationship features (found in code manager), which I strongly suggest you
> do - it can tell you at a quick glance not only the frequency of your use of
> a particular code, but the density of the code - or the number of other
> codes it is related to. This feature is very helpful as I begin to think
> about the relationships between codes which I find particularly difficult to
> do if I am just looking at the number of times I used a code. In addition,
> codes can be grouped into families and then mapped using the embedded mind
> map which aids in the testing of different conceptual frameworks and
> hypothesis. Finally, one feature I have not used yet, but am anxious to try
> out is the one that allows you to track the relationship between the codes
> inside each transcript. For example, you can probe for patterns in when
> codes appear inside the data. Do certain codes appear in conjunction with
> other codes - pointing to a relationship that should be explored.
> I also understand that you can set it up so that several people can access
> the program facilitating the work of study teams.
> Many of my colleagues do not like qual research software because they say
> that they need to 'see' and 'touch' their data - and to manipulate in their
> own way in order to understand it. I can appreciate their point of view,
> but I find that Atlas actually facilitates this process once one gets
> familiar with 'how it works'. So like any new tool, there is an learning
> curve so one must decide whether it is worth the investment of time to set
> it up and struggle through the problems that will inevitable occur when
> trying something new. I found that by using it to conduct several lit
> review, and making many mistakes that I struggled to correct - before I took
> the risk of using it on a 'high stakes' endeavor like the analysis of
> dissertation data - gave me more confidence to use it now. A little
> background on me - I am a 'mid-career' student so I did not grow up using
> computers. I am not fearful of computers, I use one every day in my work.
> But I have never advanced beyond the level of an average user of the
> software I have access to. If you and your team are younger and more
> computer 'savvy' than I, you may find it less challenging to adapt.
> One final observation in this regard. The manual is very dense - I find
> myself having to go back and re-read many of the sections prior to using
> certain features because I have difficulty understanding both the task that
> they are explaining as well as the instructions on how to perform the task.
> I think it is because it was originally written in German by German software
> engineers and so I think I may get lost in translation. But the good news
> is that their tech support is very responsive - they respond to emails
> within one business day and I have found their advise to be helpful. Also I
> think there is an online community you can tap into for more help if you
> have the time to do so.
> Best of luck
> Ellen Scully-Russ
> Doctoral Candidate
> Columbia University, Teachers College
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of Worthen, Helena Harlow
> Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2008 1:45 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [xmca] REquest for evalu of software
> Hello:
> Does anyone on this list have experience with either Atlasti or EnVivo for
> the purpose of analyzing transcribed interviews? We may or may not decide to
> buy one of these. There will be 40-50 interviews are about an hour long,
> structured by about 15 questions.
> Thanks -- Helena
> Helena Worthen, Clinical Associate Professor
> Labor Education Program, Institute of Labor & Industrial Relations
> University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
> 504 E. Armory, Room 227
> Champaign, IL 61821
> Phone: 217-244-4095
> _______________________________________________
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Received on Thu Jan 24 14:15 PST 2008

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