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Tip of the Month: Helpful Features to Analyze (Online) Interviews with MAXQDA 2020, Step-by-Step

MAXQDA is the perfect software to help you transcribe, organize, analyze, visualize, and publish your interview data! This article will help introduce you to several helpful MAXQDA 2020 functions step-by-step, which will make your data gathering and analysis journey more efficient and fun than ever before.

Don’t worry if your analysis process might be different than what is described here – each project is different and MAXQDA has a comprehensive range of functions options so that you can customize your analysis to fit the needs of your research project. The functions we describe here are just examples to get you started, but if you want to see praxis examples, you can also find several real-world examples of research projects where interviews were analyzed, right here in the MAXQDA Research Blog.

Step 1: Import and Organization of Your Interviews

Transcription of interviews with MAXQDA

Take a look at your data – how did you conduct your interviews? Did you write the answers down with a pen and paper? Or did you type while listening? Or maybe you used a voice recorder or a camera in the field? Today, the use of remote interview techniques is more important than ever. Are you going to be conducting your evidence-gathering over the phone or video calls for your project? No problem! Simply record the audio or video calls – MAXQDA can help you organize all kinds of data! The data import is easy and quick. Simply open MAXQDA, create a new project and drag and drop your interview data into your “Document System” window

Tip: Have a lot of audio/video data that you haven’t transcribed yet? You can transcribe directly in MAXQDA – even using a foot pedal! Watch this comprehensive but short video tutorial on how to transcribe with MAXQDA 2020, free on the MAXQDA YouTube channel before continuing. 

You can even code videos and audio files directly without/before transcribing, add memos to the whole file (or to a specific time position), add weight scores to the coded segment, and much more. You can also read the excellent transcription chapter in the MAXQDA User Manual or check out this article on how to analyze video data with MAXQDA here:

Analyze Video Files

1.1: Importing and Organizing Interview Transcripts

Aside from drag-and-drop, you can also use the Import tab in the main ribbon menu, click on the icon for your data type, and select the files in the dialog window that opens. For texts, click on the leftmost icon called, “Texts, PDFs, Tables” in the Import tab. Alternatively, you can now import your transcripts from transcription services, such as AmberScript, TEMI, Trint, f4, f5transkript, Transana,, and more directly into the MAXQDA 2020 as well. You can even import the transcript with timestamps so that you can go back and listen to the original data at any time with just one click

Tip: Are you conducting (online) focus group discussions? You can import focus group transcripts directly into MAXQDA, whereby the speech contributions and pre-coding work are automatically recognized. Online focus groups can be carried out, for example, with, a platform for online qualitative research. The exports from Kernwert and then be imported into MAXQDA using the Structured Text import option.

Next, you can organize your interviews into the document groups, which you can think about like folders on your computer. To create a new document group, click the folder with a “plus” symbol icon in the “Document System” window’s toolbar. You can rename the folder with a right-click and then drag and drop your interviews into the folder. Some ideas to organize your interviews could be by location, time, topic, or category, but that is completely up to you and can always be changed later if needed.

1.2: Importing and Organizing Handwritten Interview Notes

A lot of interviews take place on-the-go in the field or in situations where an audio recording device would be impractical due to background noise, for example. If you have handwritten interview notes, there’s no need to type up your notes if you don’t want to or don’t have time to. Simply scan them or take photos of them with your phone and import that image or PDF directly into MAXQDA!

Importing and Organizing Interview Transcripts

Importing and Organizing Handwritten Interview Notes (an example from research by Aivaras Jefanovas)

Step 2: Coding Your Interviews

A great advantage of transcribing directly with an all-in-one analysis tool like MAXQDA is that you can begin coding your data, adding memos, and paraphrasing while you transcribe, making sure that you get all of your first ideas down right when they come to you. During the transcription, you can also use the “Automatic Speaker Change” function to clearly define who is speaking and then autocode them with the Lexical Search later. For example, you could autocode the sentences from the moderator as “questions” and sentences from the speakers as “answers”.

Analyze interviews with MAXQDA:Create new groups of codes

Create new groups of codes to identify facts in field notes (an example from the research of Ruijie Peng)

Ok, now let’s take a look at how to code your interviews with MAXQDA. Assigning a piece of your text, image, or audio/video file a category is what we call “coding”. You can create, organize, make hierarchies, assign colors, and manage your codes in MAXQDA’s “Code System” window (see the left half of the screenshot above). What codes you create and how you organize them will depend on your research question and goals. Even how you code will depend on your own analysis technique.

For example, you can create codes ahead of time and then assign a code to a text segment via drag-and-drop, or you can code in-vivo as you are reading your interview transcript, creating codes directly from the individual words or phrases said in the interview. Or you can use MAXQDA’s Open Coding Mode, which is especially helpful for methodological approaches, such as Grounded Theory.

If you have a lot of data to get through, we also recommend creating a Quick List of your most selected codes, which will save you time if you have a large Code Tree and need to process your data quickly. Simply right-click a code and select Add code to…> Code Favorites. After you have added the first code, the code favorites window will appear. You can then continue to add more codes to the list in the same fashion: right-click on the code and select Add code to code favorites. Make sure to take a look at the MAXQDA Online Manual to see all your options:

Further Ways of Coding with MAXQDA

Step 3: Deepen your Interview Analysis

As mentioned above, while you are transcribing and coding (researchers often conduct two or more rounds of coding), it is helpful to continuously add your thoughts and remarks to your data. In MAXQDA, two great tools to help you are the Memo and Paraphrase functions.

  • Memos are like post-it notes that can be attached everywhere in the project: Documents, Document Groups, Document Sets, Codes, Code Sets, text, video or audio segments, etc. There are also free memos that are not attached to anything and just can be created to express your thoughts about the project. Keep track of your ideas, the reasoning behind the steps you are taking, and new insights that develop organically through the analysis process using MAXQDA’s memos functions.

    You can organize your memos in whichever way works best for you, but it is advisable to add a heading and explaination of which segment of data they are referring to. By taking a few extra minutes to organize your memos, you will save a lot more time during the later stages of coding and reporting. Luckily, MAXQDA automates several steps for you so that you don’t need to handwrite and layout your notes with cards or post-its any longer!
Tip: MAXQDA 2020 has several new memo-focused features and functions, including the Memo Manager! MAXQDA’s Memo Manager is the perfect workspace for you to create and manage all memos of the project (including free memos). 
  • Paraphrases help you summarize particular segments of the text with your own words. They can be used for the text interpretation within the qualitative data analysis or simply to shorten or to rephrase some sections of the text. To start working with the paraphrases simply activate MAXQDA’s Paraphrase Mode by clicking the Paraphrase icon in the Analysis tab, or by pressing Ctrl+Shift+P (Windows) or cmd+Shift+P (Mac).

    Then, using the Paraphrases Matrix, you can compare cases or groups in a table view. This comparison is an excellent tool to help you quickly condense a large amount of data into an easy-to-read overview where only the most important information you need at that time in your analysis is displayed.
How to Analyze Interviews with MAXQDA 2020

Step 4: Visualization

Next, we recommend exploring MAXQDA’s visualization options, not only for your empirical evidence but for all parts of your project, including your literature and coding work as well. Visualizing is an excellent way to create an overview of both of your data and of your data analysis for yourself and for presentations. Everything you create using MAXQDA’s Visual Tools can be exported as an image that you can add directly to your paper, poster, or PowerPoint – perfect for virtual presentation as well!

MAXQDA has numerous features and functions, including MAXMaps, a comprehensive concept map-maker that has just been optimized with the release of MAXQDA 2020 – perfect for theory-building and “visual thinking”! You can find all of MAXQDA’s Visual Tools in the main ribbon menu tab of the same name. Here are three of MAXQDA’s Visual Tools that we frequently see used by researchers conducting interview analysis:

Analyze interviews with MAXQDA:Document Portrait of an interview
  • Word Cloud: is used to visualize the most common words in a text and is very good for the text presentation. This feature is mostly useful for the direct analysis of the data and is especially helpful for semantic analysis, for example, or for getting quick insights into the most-frequently mentioned themes in your interviews. 
  • Document Portrait: shows all coded segments of the document based on the sequence and colors of the codes. This tool helps you identify the frequency and the order of the codes at just one glance. For example, if I want to reflect on the response lengths between participants, this is what the interview with the autocoded “questions” and “responses” looks like (see screenshot right):
  • Code Matrix Browser: visualize the codes, but this time you can pick several documents and compare them with each other. Generally, this tool helps you to answer the question: which code occurs more frequently in which document?

Step 5: Create a Report of Your Interview Analysis

When it’s time to publish, MAXQDA is here to help you present your data. Whether you’re exporting the codebook to share your code definitions (your thinking/reasoning behind on your codes and categories) with your thesis supervisor, archiving your data for the European Union’s new re-use regulations, or creating a report in your own corporate design, MAXQDA is here to help. You can find all the options in MAXQDA’s Reports tab.

Let’s take a look at an amazing tool called the Smart Publisher, MAXQDA’s powerful report generator. It is extremely easy to use so that in just a few moments you will have a Word document neatly presenting the results of your coding – including title page and table of contents.

Analyze interviews with MAXQDA: Smart Publisher report

Extract from a Smart Publisher report

Just go to the Reports tab and then click on the “Smart Publisher” icon. Now choose in the dialog menu, which codes should be included in the report. In the next dialog window, you design your report with the help of some settings. You choose the title and the image for the first page, header and/or footer, order of the coded segments and the source information that you want to include in your report. Then all that is left to do is to click “ok” – and your report is done!

What’s next?

Are you a student currently conducting or about to conduct research with MAXQDA? This year’s #ResearchforChange Grant has just been announced and we are awarding three students and/or Ph.D. candidates an $850 research mobility scholarship, MAXQDA Analytics Pro Student license, 2 online training sessions conducted by a Professional MAXQDA Trainers, and more!

#ResearchforChange Grant

We are proud to present this year’s topic: sustainability and sustainable development, which we presented in cooperation with our partner NGO this year, the Global Nature Fund (GNF)!  You can find further information about the grant, the GNF, and the application process on the MAXQDA Research Grants website. We look forward to receiving your #ResearchforChange Grant application by May 27th, 2020!

Tip: are you having a hard time writing a grant application? We have some recommendations, tips and tricks on how to write grant applications for research with MAXQDA, right here in the MAXQDA Research Blog.


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