As I approach the dissertation phase of my doctoral program, I’m particularly interested in research methods and the software I may need to analyze data. Of course, I’ve taken statistics courses and used SPSS for my quantitative data analysis. However, it looks like my own dissertation research will require qualitative methods and a different kind of software for data analysis.
Last year in Qualitative Research Methods, Dr. Judi Harris introduced our class to a (somewhat) new Web-based application called Dedoose. Although there are other proprietary packages, such as Atlas.ti, NVivo, and QDA Miner, to name a few, Dedoose has some features that make it extremely attractive for newcomers to qualitative research. First and foremost — especially for graduate students — is the price structure followed closely by its flexibility as a Web-based tool. And, as Dedoose has matured, even seasoned qualitative researchers will find it meeting their needs because of tools such as video analysis.
Dedoose Lets You Upload, Highlight, and Code Your Transcripts
On its most basic level, Dedoose allows a researcher to upload transcripts, highlight excerpts, and code them with user-defined terms. The highlighting and code levels appear in different colors to help researchers understand the data at a glance. Yet Dedoose also allows for uploading and analysis of video, systematic inter-rater reliability testing, and quantitative and mixed methods analysis. And projects can be analyzed by an entire team of researchers just by adding new members to the account.
Although some readers will be more familiar with different qualitative analysis software, the winner by far in W&M’s School of Education is NVivo. The full license, however, is expensive, and for graduate students or other newcomers to qualitative research the price can be somewhat off-putting. And, as of this writing, there is no campus license for qualitative software as there is for SPSS. So, as good as NVivo may be, its price may discourage experimentation with qualitative analysis.
Dedoose’s Subscription Service is Convenient and Cost-Effective
However, Dedoose is subscribed to rather than purchased, and the beauty of it all is that Dedoose charges only for the months the user actually logs in. If time goes by without any activity, the account remains dormant — yet untouched and undeleted — for up to two years. So, if I take a class this semester, pay for Dedoose’s services through May, and then run away to Bora Bora for three months, my data is protected, my credit card is not charged, and my project can resume in September when I return refreshed and ready to excerpt, code, and filter. And if, while in Bora Bora, I feel the need to log in to my account, I can do so from any computer with Internet access.
I’m sure the other tried and true proprietary applications have their benefits, and I may use one or more of them in the coming months and years. However, I have to say that from my own experience I’ve found Dedoose to be easy to use, well structured, and affordable. And when I had a support issue, I received a response within one day from Dr. Eli Lieber himself. Anyone contemplating qualitative research who has not yet committed to a particular software should definitely visit the web site and take a few of the video tutorials. You may find that NVivo is still the best choice; but I’ll bet Dedoose will give it a run for its money!