Saturday, February 14, 2009
I can tell that the course has been wonderful to me in terms of gaining more practical perspectives of doing qualitative research. Since my knowledge on qualitative research is still very limited, many of the things covered in class were new, yet helpful to me. Believe or not, this course has been perfect for my needs and all of the assignments were very helpful.
I am glad that I had a chance to learn about CAQDAS through this course. I only had a very vague idea of what CAQDAS was until I started working on Assignment 4. Working on Assignment 4 helped me to get exposed to different CAQDAS packages and see their own advantages and disadvantages. CAQDAS is a still very new research tool to me, and I have not used any of the CAQDAS packages yet. I am looking forward to learning more about them and hope that I will be able to use it for the grant research I am involved in soon.
The research tools that I have found the most helpful are bibliographic managers. Building reference lists is one of the things I often do as a research assistant, and I always felt that this task was time-consuming and bothersome. Actually, I used a trial version of Endnote a year ago, but did not find it effective. Now I guess that I did not know how to use it effectively. Through this course, I was introduced to one of the bibliographic managers, Zotero for the first time. One of the features I really like about Zotero is that it enables me to export my bibliography directly into my word document. I am still learning how to use this tool now, but trying to build my reference lists for my candidacy exam (which I will be taking next spring quarter) with this tool. (I really wish I had known this earlier!)
The information on creating a blog was also very useful. It was my first time building my own blog with blogger and it was real fun to post things on it although I had a bit of trouble uploading an audio file on it. It was great that one of the classmates shared good information on “Switch” for posting audio files. A year ago I took a course where I learned how to make an educational website with Dreamweaver. Compared to creating a website on my own, I have found using Blog much more effective, espceically time-wise.
Overall, this course has stimulated my interest in qualitative research and its practical aspects of it. I really appreciate having been informed of so many wonderful digital tools for research throughout the course; the course has surely helped me update my tech/reserach knowledge and skills. Thank you a lot, Lauren!!!
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
ATLAS.ti (version-5.0 RC2)
-Operating system –greater machine with Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP, 256 MB or more RAM, and 45 MB hard drive space
-It offers a manual, Quick Tour for Beginners that provides the basic training.
-Interface languages –English, German
-It is useful for discourse analysis and ethnography. However, it may not be effective for mixed method research.
- Visualization: largely through offering the network view, but also by enabling the indexing of pictures and other graphical objects;
- Integration: all primary documents, codes, memos, quotations, etc., are kept within one 'hermeneutic unit' - the focus of analysis, which may be a set of interviews on a topic, the open question responses from a questionnaire survey, a set of organizational documents, or whatever.
- Serendipity: standing for '...an intuitive approach to data', that is the ability to browse primary documents, quotations, codes, etc., all within the same unit and thereby happening upon relationships that one may not have seen previously.
- Exploration: 'Through an exploratory, yet systematic approach to your data as opposed to a more "bureaucratic" handling of data it is assumed that especially your theory building, constructive activities will greatly benefit.'
ATLAS.ti 5.0 imports Microsoft Word and Works, Windows Write, and WordPerfect files, along with ASCII or ANSI text files, and files saved as rtf-format; Microsoft Excel and Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets; Microsoft PowerPoint; HTML; sound files (*.au, *.snd, *.mp3, *.wav formats); video files (*.avi, *.mpg, *.mov, *.qt, *.wmv); and many graphics file formats (the list of importable file formats depends on the Media Control Interface drivers installed on your computer).
4. Handling multimedia data
ATLAS.ti handles multimedia data in a way that is useful for the analysis of this kind of data, as they allow for the coding of video and audio sequences. The features available are:
linking to multimedia files; coding parts of pictures; coding/transcribing of video/audio data, but inconvenient Window handling; and handlings of compressed files that are supported by Windows configuration.
5. Various search types available
- Simple searches retrieve text strings and/or codes from data. Frequently, the search results can be displayed in their context.
- Boolean searches offer various combinations of searches using the Boolean operators AND, OR/XOR, and NOT across various sections of codes or texts. (codes: AND, OR, NOT)
- Placeholder searches allow you to use placeholders for certain characters, e.g. numerals, paragraph marks, etc., in text searches.
- Proximity searches are similar to Boolean searches. These searches allow you to retrieve combinations of two or more text strings and/or codes, which occur in a definable proximity to each other. (codes only)
- Combination searches allow you to combine any of the above searches with Boolean operators. (flexible, but with respect to codes)
6. Coding is easily done in ATLAS.ti. As with earlier versions of ATLAS.ti, codes, memos, hyperlinks, and even networks can be created on the fly and associated with elements of the text as small as individual letters, words, phrases, and sentences, right up to the HU itself.
The coding features that ATLAS ti offers are:
- In vivo coding
In vivo coding means to assign the text that is to be coded to a code, whose label is the text itself. While this is a very efficient method for coding, there might be theoretical consideration to use this option cautiously.
- Contextual coding
After searching your data for certain text and/or codes, you might jump to your finds and code them in context.
- Automatic coding (very slow)
It allows you to perform text and/or code searches and assign a code to the search results.
It allows you to store search patterns in so-called "supercodes." This way, any new or changed data added to a project will be automatically coded through these codes.
It allows to define variables, in which document-wide attributes (such as the gender of a person interviewed, or the edit oral desk for a newspaper article) can be stored.
- Coding of multimedia
It also allows you to apply codes to sequences of certain video and audio files.
- Annotation of codings
It allows you to annotate your codes in a variety of ways.
- Free Memos
Memos are not really codes but little bits of comments that can be attached to data or codes in a way that resembles Post-It™ notes on hardcopies.
7. Variable diagrams
ATLAS.ti allows for the visualization of theoretical models among variables/codes in diagrams. It offers the by far most flexible model editor, which allows you to customize the types of linkages between codes. It is also the only editor that actually links the codes among each other via hyperlinks.
8. Statistical functions (but Atlas ti does not have built-in statistical functions)
A couple of CAQDAS functions might be particularly useful for the integration of quantitative methods into qualitative research:
- Word counts, in particularly when combined with lemmatizations (word stemming), might reveal useful hints for potential keyword codes.
- Most importantly, the export of data, such as code frequencies across documents, enables statistical analyses with the appropriate external software.