Chapter 37: Considering CAQDAS: Using and Choosing Software
Kate Stewart INTRODUCTION A now widely used part of the researcher’s toolkit and an ever popular topic for research training courses, Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software packages (CAQDAS) refer to ‘a wide range of packages . . . concerned with taking a qualitative approach to qualitative data’ (Lewins and Silver, 2009, p. 3). This chapter introduces some of the issues researchers should consider when both deciding whether to use a CAQDAS package in their research project, and then if necessary in deciding between the available packages. Much of this advice is informed by my experiences providing support and training to researchers over the past 15 years, as well as the available literature. Computer analysis tools for qualitative methods developed somewhat behind the development of quantitative analysis packages, which had emerged in the 1960s and 1970s with fully featured statistical packages being available on microcomputers from the 1980s. Rudimentary qualitative mainframe programs performing simple tasks such as word frequency counts and experiments using qualitative data on the new quantitative packages were used in a small number of projects in the mid 1980s and it was towards the end of that decade that the first versions of dedicated qualitative packages such as Ethnograph, Qualpro and TAP appeared, with a rapid growth in the number of available packages following. As important as the technological developments during this time was the growing social acceptance of software options that were originally met with suspicion (Fielding and Lee, 1998). Contemporary packages are, like the computers we use them...
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