Computer Assisted Qualitative Data AnalysiS: An Alternative Tool for Less

If you have experience using Computer Assisted Qualitative Data AnalysiS software (CAQDAS) in your research, or are considering it, then you probably know about the biggies: NVivo, ATLAS.ti, and QDA Miner, among a host of others.  You may also be familiar with the price, which can generally be prohibitive for many researchers, especially if you are a student.  There are alternative options out there for great CAQDAS platforms that are very affordable.  Enter Dedoose.

Dedoose (as in deductive reasoning) is a relatively new platform, evolving from what was once EthnoNotes.  Designed  “for researchers, by researchers,” Dedoose is an inexpensive, web-based software platform that functions in the same basic way all CAQDAS programs function: the user imports documents, reads them, and creates “codes,” or higher level conceptual themes, and applies them to excerpts of the documents.  As the user codes their documents to identify themes, they are aggregated by the program so you can generate quantitative data to better understand where those themes exist, how they may relate to each other, as well as the potential implications of those relationships.  This is where Dedoose really shines through.  The interface is much more visual than other platforms, and the integration of quantitative data with qualitative data to generate interactive visualizations can really help the researcher see their data from a multitude of angles.

The data management aspects of all CAQDAS, including Dedoose, make these platforms great for any kind of textual analysis such as literature reviews for dissertations, as you can keep all of your insight organized, pull out and save “gold dust” quotes that you would like to highlight in your writing, as well as annotating articles.  Speaking of Data Management, Dedoose allows you to export your project so you can save a backup on your local machine.

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PROS:

1.  Very low in price: starting at ~ $13 per individual user with a gradient price reduction as you add more users.  Additional discount if you subscribe for 6 or 12 months in advance.

2.  Great documentation and intuitive user interfaces reduce any learning hurtles and will have you up and running very quickly.

3.  Because Dedoose is web-based, collaboration is much easier.

4.  Dedoose is not restricted to a certain operating system, which means Mac and Windows people can work together (QSR will be releasing a Mac version of NVivo soon).

5.  Dedoose is very visual; it tracks user usage of codes, which documents are being annotated more than others, where those codes and annotations are being used, and integrates quantitative data in tandem with your qualitative data.

CONS:

1.  Dedoose cannot import and read PDFs, which is somewhat of a nuisance.  You can convert files from PDF to either plain text or docx, but you will likely lose the nice formatting PDFs offer, making it slightly difficult to read your documents, as well as having to take the time to convert them.  ATLAS.ti and NVivo both allow for importing PDFs.

2.  Dedoose does not support GIS data or data sheets, either tab delimited or cell based (think excel file).

3.  Being web-based, Dedoose benefits from and is hampered by all the ups and downs other web-based services experience.  For example, if you don’t have an internet connection, you can’t use Dedoose.  If, for some reason, Dedoose’s servers go down, so may your project (unless you backed it up!).

4.  The file type for A/V are very limited (mp3 and wav for audio, mp4 for video).  Converting to these formats can be done fairly simply with tools such as VLC, but it takes a few minutes and is one extra thing to do.

All told, Dedoose is a great mixed-methods research tool that is probably best for those looking to analyze solely text based data, such as interviews, focus group answers, or articles from journals that have been converted to a supported file type.  They offer a free, 1 month trial period preloaded with a project so you can get an idea of how the program functions.  You can also start your own project during this trial period.

In addition to learning more about  Dedoose, the Scholarly Commons can help get you started with other qualitative data analysis software such as NVivo 10 and ATLAS.ti 6.  Either stop in anytime Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1-5 or Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10-5 or email us at sc@illinois.edu.

Visit Dedoose’s website to learn more.

 

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