Qualitative Research - starting new DTP2 DB, suggestions?

I’ve loved using DT for organizing PDFs, notes about my reading, class notes, etc. I’m now starting to investigate software for analyzing qualitative data. All of them seem to suck in unique ways. Before I commit myself to what seems the least objectionable software for analyzing qualitative data, I’d like to see if I can manage this (or parts of it) in DTP2.

I’ve done a few searches in the forum and read a discussion or two, but haven’t come across many recent usage descriptions. If you’re using DTP2 (or even DTP) for organizing your qualitative data, what’s your set up and habits?

Here’s what I have and how I’d be able to view it in an ideal world:
I have video along with audio of the same session that I made for a backup in case the audio on the video failed. I have back channel IRC discussions that were happening concurrently with the video (which I can manage in any format I want - txt, rtf, html, etc.) I then have my own notes. I need to write an analysis and a transcript, code/tag parts of it, etc. Ideally there would be something that would let me read/listen/watch/write/tag all at the same time. Actually it would be great to even split audio/video into smaller files too without going to another app. So, barring my discovering this magic piece of software (designed just for the way I think), what parts of this have you managed (or think can be managed) with DPT2?

Maybe if I could get my routine down to DTP2, quicktime and BBedit, I’d be happy and not bother with any new software.


I don’t have much real experience with computer-assisted QR, particularly with transcribing, coding, and analyzing interviews and the like. But, I’m not sure that DT would be the most efficient means as a front end for those sorts of tasks. For example, there’s no automation of coding and coding categories, which is one of the things that makes computer assistance so helpful with QDA.

Though DT is very good at making connections across discrete bits of text, I’m not certain it would be the most robust, or rather the most transparent in delivering the type of results that QDA uses for grounded theory.

I’ve played with it only a little, but I wonder if you could include something like http://tamsys.sourceforge.net/ into your workflow-- a free Mac QDA-- the for transcribing, coding, and analysis. The files produced there are txt files, which you could also import into DT to allow DT to do the things it does really well.

That looks interesting. I’ll give it a try. Thank you for pointing it out.

I think my primary concern is a view that lets me see all the files that I’ve determined are related to each other - and then the ability to access their content, as well as edit, through the same window. DTP will let me do all that with text - or it will as soon as we can mark up PDFs (I think that’s being added?). For doing qualitative research, right now, I primarily want something that will help my brain process everything and let me define relationships. I’m not so interested in something that will crunch through text to find suggested relationships. I do like the insights I get using DTP and I use the “see also” frequently with my text-based DTP DB. However, for the data I have right now I need to do the organizing. It’s difficult because my files are all sorts of media and it seems that software packages in general specialize in organizing one type of medium.

The more the general public gets into having so much of their lives in digital format, the more I think they’ll be a call for apps that will let them organize and access a variety of media through one UI. Add the ability to automatically discover linguistically related texts and don’t you pretty much have what most software for qualitative research includes now? (Maybe I’m missing something?)

I imagine that you can organize your data types together in the file tree of DT, which is very good at allowing both structured and un-structured approaches to data/connections between data. You can “store” your notes, quicktime files, audio files together in groups, nested groups, etc. and tag/use comment metadata to link them together in various ways for certain.

I think, though, that from the coding/analysis perspective, apps designed specifically for that task will be more powerful. With the search features of DT2.0 (boolean modifiers), you would be able to group together files that shared codes by searching for said code. It would be ponderous, I imagine, if you wanted to analyze for complex combinations of codes.

All that said, my plan in the near future is to integrate a QDA program into my DT workflow to try to get the best out of the tools available.

You didn’t actually mention which CAQDAS packages you’ve tried out and in what ways they were unsatisfactory. I’m sure several of us would be interested in your findings.

I haven’t tried many yet. Before spending more money on software (and possibly vmware+windows), I thought I would see if I could use what I have. I am on a number of listservs where software for qualitative research is discussed, so I’m familiar with the big names.

I downloaded Transana and was quickly frustrated. It’s difficult to try a product when it’s crippleware. I could never be sure if I didn’t understand it or if a feature was missing or intentionally disabled. I don’t think disabling features is a good way to let people explore your software. They would have to already understand how it works to figure out what it can do for them.

I’ve downloaded Tamsys but haven’t had a chance to play with it yet.

For what my very limited experience is worth, it looks to me as if atlas.ti, MAXQDA, and TAMS Analyser are the 3 worth taking a serious look at. As mentioned above, TAMS is free and built for the Mac; the others are expensive ($5-600 academic) and Windows only. QDA Miner looks intriguing but very expensive.

@rabourn The best option is Atlas.ti (atlasti.com/). It is very expensive for a single-user license, so see if your uni or institution has a license agreement.

michaelnau, thanks for the advice. Could you tell us a bit more about atlas.ti and why you find it the best?

I was kind of aghast at the price of Atlas.ti. But, I’m curious as well what it does that other competing options don’t.