Friday, March 23, 2012

Software for Qualitative Data Analysis

I am on a half day course on software for Qualitative Data Analysis (QDA) to supervise research. Recommended as an overview of what software is available is the CAQDAS project at University of Surrey. It is decades since I worked with statistical analysis software (actually SAS) and then it was very quantitative (numbers). The workshop is concentrating on NVivo from QSR International. This could be useful for my studies in education and how to supervise research on-line. Rival produces are MAXQDA.

Of particular interest to me is Transana, a low cost product for analysis of video and audio:
Transana lets the user analyze and manage your data, transcribe it, identify analytically interesting clips, assign keywords to clips, arrange and rearrange clips, create complex collections of interrelated clips, explore relationships between applied keywords, and share your analysis with colleagues. The goal is to find a new way to focus on the data, and manage large collections of video and audio files and clips. ...

From: Transana,Wikipedia, 2012.
An interesting point was that whatever the software used, the researcher still needs to know what the software is doing and be able to show that what comes out is consistent with the data put in. At a technical level NVivo is developed using the Rational Unified Process (RUP).

It occurred to me that as QDA is mostly about labeling items and finding relationships between then]m, this might be used for the analysis and making of student assignments. This could not only look a what is in the assignments of one student but relationships between them and other works. This could look at how students have done group work (or if they have been plagiarizing).

The workshop got on to some often overlooked practical and ethical issues. Research data may contain information about people which needs to be protected. The software may contain encryption to help with this. Before storing the data in "The Cloud" work out where it is actually stored and if this is sufficiently secure (ANU is building its own ANU Cloud Storage). Removable storage devices can be a problem, particularly flash drives, which are easily lost (can be secured with a lanyard).

One point is that using software can assist with supervision. The supervisor can look at what the student has been doing and when they did it.

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