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Include Subcodes in Retrieval

A hierarchical system of codes can be constructed with MAXQDA. The program offers an easy way to make use of the hierarchical structure.


Imagine you have defined the following codes:

  • Success criteria [parent code without coded segments]
    • ecologically
    • economically
    • socially
  • Ideal projection [parent code without coded segments]
    • ecologically
    • economically
    • socially

If you now want to assemble all the coded document locations that have been assigned a subcode of "success criteria" as well as any subcode of "ideal projection", you could use the Complex Coding Query to search for all possible overlaps of two subcodes. This approach would, however, be very cumbersome, especially if you are dealing with still deeper code hierarchies or a large number of subcodes.

Including subcodes in a code search

MAXQDA offers the convenient option including subcodes in a coding query. To do this, select the Include subcodes option in the local settings of the “Retrieved Segments” window. In the example, it would be sufficient to only activate the two upper codes and choose the Include subcodes option. Now all subcodes of the two activated codes are taken into account in the search for overlaps.

The “Include subcodes” option in the context menu of the “Retrieved Segments” window

Whether the subcodes are included in the code search or not can be recognized in the context menu of the “Retrieved Segments” window (by the marked or unmarked checkbox). It is also shown in the status bar, whether or not the subcodes (or “code children”) are included. If there is a checkmark on the symbol, the subcodes are included.

Subcode inclusion shown in the status bar
Tip: You can also select the option directly in the status bar by clicking on the icon – this acts as a switch and changes the setting.

Include subcodes in the simple Coding Query

The option for subcodes also applies to the simple coding query: in this case it’s sufficient to activate a parent code in order to automatically display the coded segments of its non-activated subcodes in the “Retrieved Segments” window.

But, as described, the search function's full potential can be seen in the Complex Coding Query, in which several codes are combined with one another.

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