MAXMaps allows you to visualize connections. MAXMaps is primarily intended to graphically represent the different elements of MAXQDA (codes, documents, memos, coded segments) visually on a workspace, a so-called map, and to put them in relation to one another. It is also possible to create maps that are not related to the MAXQDA project.
MAXMaps can be used for different purposes:
- Maps can help to explore and organize data. They allow you to develop your ideas and to communicate them to your research team.
- Maps can also be a valuable tool for scientific explanation and can help to visualize complex relationships and theories. For instance, you can create tables and worksheets to gain a better perspective of the different elements within a project.
- MAXMaps can also be used for presentations and lectures. The different layers of a map may be displayed in arbitrary order; thus, a variety of different options for designing presentations are available.
With MAXMaps, it is possible to display:
- The relationships between different codes and categories.
- An overview of different facts and phenomena within the research field.
- The different memos belonging to a document or a group of documents.
- The results of a Grounded Theory study.
- The context or important facts of the research, e.g. photographs of locations or persons.
- A graphical overview of the research methods used.
- A research timeline.
- The research design and characteristics of the sample.
MAXMaps can also have different functions for researchers. You can, for instance, use MAXMaps to organize and manage your code system. Or you can link codes, text, and memos in a hypothetical order to then further test the relationships in a second step.
MAXMAps offers multiple automatic templates to support the creation of maps for different scenarios, e.g. to visualize the relationship of different cases.
MAXMaps is not merely a graphics tool that works with icons and symbols, though. All the elements used in a map are interactive, meaning they are connected to the MAXQDA project. This makes an icon that symbolizes a text document not only a passive icon, but allows you to double-click on the icon to open the document in MAXQDA’s “Document Browser.” Then you can read and browse through the document. The same is true for memos. As soon as you click on the memo symbol, the memo appears and can be read or even modified. In the case of symbols for coded segments, one click displays the segment, which allows you to examine and compare different segments of your map.
MAXMaps allows you to define connections and relationships as you choose. These connections may be hypothetical — they do not even have to be consistent in logic while you are designing the maps because you are always free to make changes. As a result, you can “play” with different models and relationships. For example, a code “attitude” may appear as a condition of another code “behavior” in Map A and as the result of the code “behavior” in Map B. Constructing, testing, and modifying different models is a an important aspect of analysis, thus making it counterproductive to be consistent with links and relationships right from the beginning.
MAXMaps not only allows you to define links and relationships, it also offers a way to make links and relationships that have already been implemented in your project visible. Examples are memos that have been assigned to a document: MAXMaps can import all the connected memos automatically. These memos are displayed as symbols and you can open and check them. The same is true for codes: If you have imported a code in your map, all the memos linked to this particular code can also be imported automatically. Moreover, you can search and insert all of the codes overlapping with a code on your map and automatically connect them to the code.
These features do not establish new links or new relationships, but they allow for completely new perspectives to your data. Connections that have likely been hidden in listings or tables can now come to the foreground. New views and relationships become visually apparent and much easier to understand. The connections between different elements of the diagram are not restricted to hierarchical relationships as with the “Code System” in MAXQDA. In MAXMaps, relationships can be represented in a more complex way, for instance as networks or any other type of model.
This visual method of data display is supported by the variety and flexibility that characterizes MAXMaps. All elements used in a map may be designed individually. Codes, memos, and texts are not always displayed with the same symbols and colors. You can select different symbols, colors, fonts, and sizes, or even import your own symbols unique to each element of your map. All labels, images, and symbols can be managed individually. You can also import your own photographs, icons, or clip art.