What is QDA Software – using software for qualitative data analysis
Qualitative social research relies on various methods for systematizing, organizing, and analyzing qualitative data. Today, researchers increasingly make use of computer software for their qualitative data analysis (QDA).
This type of software is referred to as QDA software. MAXQDA is one of the pioneer software programs in this field: the first version of MAXQDA was released as early as 1989!
QDA software serves to provide insights into qualitative data sets
without suggesting interpretations. Based on a content analysis, the researcher can draw conclusions about the respective object of research (e.g. interview data).
Software tools for qualitative data and text analysis allow for easy sorting, structuring, and analyzing of large amounts of text or other data and facilitate the management of the resulting interpretations and evaluations.
In MAXQDA, this can be done by sorting materials into groups, using a hierarchical coding system, defining variables, and assigning colors and weights to text segments. Easy access of analysis results and a variety of visual tools are further advantages of MAXQDA.
QDA software is used in many academic fields, such as sociology, psychology, political science, medicine, and educational science, and it is also a popular tool for businesses and market researchers.
In addition to the traditional use of textual data in the social sciences, there is a trend toward the inclusion and analysis of image files as well as of audio and video materials. Therefore, state-of-the-art QDA software ideally supports the analysis of texts as well as of media files (images, videos, audio recordings) and other types of documents.
The software should also allow for various methodological approaches, such as qualitative content analysis, Grounded Theory, discourse analysis, group discussions, and case or field studies. While QDA software, in general, does not itself suggest or require a specific method of qualitative data analysis, it provides a broad choice of tools to facilitate a profound, systematic analysis of the abovementioned types of media, regardless of the chosen method of analysis.
MAXQDA relies on traditional methods of analysis, such as those used in Grounded Theory, qualitative content analysis, and discourse analysis. The program’s central elements are the systematic assignment (“coding”) of text segments to major themes (“codes”) and the possibility to make notes of references, ideas, etc. directly in the text (“memos”).