QDA Evaluation Plan

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QDA Evaluation

This page is for faculty who are looking at Qualitative Data Analysis programs. If this is something of interest to you, contact Linda Gilbert (see User:Lgilbert) and ask to join in! It's okay to jump in late.

The Plan - Overview

We will be looking at trial versions of NVivo and MaxQDA. If you're interested in others, chlet us know now!

The demos are 30-day trial versions, so the goal is to take those 30 days to examine both, using real data if possible.

Week of Feb. 21, 2011 (target date, Feb. 25)

  • Install demo programs. We can do that together or individually.
  • Talk about what that you need to accomplish with the software. Identify potential tasks to evaluate related functionality.
  • Review/create draft evaluation criteria (I can provide a starting point, but need input based on your needs)
  • Identify initial goals/tasks for evaluation, to be begun after demos are installed (ex: import an existing data file; do some coding; examine coding; make a report.)

Week of Feb. 28, 2011:

  • Learning time! Demos scheduled for March 3 and 4.

Week of March 7, 2011 (probably March 10 or 11 - Th or Fri)

  • Check in, what do you think so far, troubleshooting...(optional, but I find a mid-point check-in is usually helpful).

(March 14-20 - Spring Break)

  • We had to plan around this. No official tasks, but if you want to use it to explore or catch up, it's a good opportunity.

March 21/22, 2011

  • Final check in; make sure work-to-date is exported in usable format (see comment below).
  • Decision-making - what to use, what to recommend to Faculty Tech Committee and OET

March 25, 2011

  • Demos expire

Why We're Doing This

Two groups have been awarded seed grants for research, and their awards included funds for qualitative data analysis software. They are collaborating on selecting a software package that both can use, so they can support one another in learning and using the programs. (Plus, they are being good stewards of scarce resources: it costs the college less to buy licenses in multiples than individually.)

OET and the Faculty Technology Committee have been wanting to organize a faculty review of available software. We would like a faculty recommendation for one program that we can officially support at the college. If funds are available, we'd like to purchase several licenses that faculty engaged in research can use. (Note italics! We do our best.)

We would welcome additional participation in this review process. Though we can't promise that participants will have software at the end of it, they will have the opportunity to become familiar with alternatives and possibly to expand their qualitative data analysis skills.

Next Steps

Feb. 25: Install Demo Programs

You can download the demo programs at:

  • Important: SAVE the installation files (instead of choosing to "run" them from the website). Be sure to "run as administrator" when you install.

If you need help, contact Linda Gilbert.

March 3 and 4: Demos

Overview of NVivo at 3:00 on Thursday March 3. Overview of MaxQDA at 11:00 on Friday, March 4. Contact Linda Gilbert for more info.

If you're just dying to get started with them, you can start looking at the tutorials. See links below. Things to focus on

  • Mechanics: How the data can best be prepared prior to introducing it to the program. For example, in NVivo, if you have interviews, setting your documents up with styles will allow you to use the program to divide out questions easily and automatically
  • Applying the tools: Think about how you might use the tools to approach YOUR data. What would you do if you were doing your analysis manually? How can the software leverage those tasks? (I have books on general qualitative research if you need help with that.)

MaxQDA Online tutorials http://www.maxqda.com/service/tutorials

NVivo 9 - online tutorials http://www.qsrinternational.com/support_tutorials.aspx?productid=20

NVivo 9 "E-demo" (free, but registration required) http://www.qsrinternational.com/training-and-events_calendar_listing.aspx?eventtypeid=3

March 21: Check-in

Meet 3:30 (see meeting invitation or contact Linda) to discuss experiences to date.

March 25: FINAL Check-in

Meeting in A1100. If you can't make it, send any comments to Linda in advance! (Demo programs are expiring for main testing group.)

Possible Tasks

  • Import interview transcripts
  • Import audio files and play - perhaps code
  • Code transcripts
  • Examine coded sections
  • Write memos about codes/documents
  • Conduct text search
  • Examine reporting capabilities

Other Comments

A note about the concern "what if my data is in the program we don't choose...": MaxQDA has a free "reader" program, and I own a full copy of NVivo. So, even if there's some mechanical work to be revisited, the intellectual work will not be lost.


The consensus of the faculty members who worked with the QDA programs we were evaluating was that they preferred NVivo. MaxQDA has a nice interface, but NVivo had additional functionality that they thought was important (easier to code audio files, etc.). Here's what one participant said: "At this point, I feel I have seen enough of the two programs to say that I would prefer to use NVivo... I feel fairly confident in this choice because I initially was working more with MaxQDA, and so at first felt more comfortable with that."

Based on their recommendation, OET purchased a 10 "seat" license for NVivo. The license format allows 10 users at any time, but the users can change over time.

Licenses were distributed to the seed grant recipients and to others requesting it. (If you need NVivo, put in a HelpDesk request. If all licenses are in use, we can ask people who have it if they are actually using it and re-check the license out if not.)

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