About Dr. Uta-Kristina Meyer
This tip of the months comes from Dr. Uta-Kristina Meyer, who is an educational scientist and teaches at the University of Marburg, Germany. She started using MAXQDA to manage excerpts during her college education and has kept this system up all the way through to the completion of her PhD thesis about family counseling of children of divorced parents.
When you are writing a paper, a report or a thesis you often have to manage a lot of excerpts from your different literature sources. I had accumulated a lot of excerpts over a long period of time and needed a system that allowed me to keep track of the content of all of my sources and also of important quotes that I might want to use when writing my report.
I found that if I used MAXQDA to manage my excerpts I had an easy way to store and find all the information I collected – especially in the process of summarizing scientific article in excerpts.
Managing Excerpts in MAXQDA – An Example
The following example illustrates one possible way to manage excerpts with MAXQDA: The first step is to summarize several sources each to a single document. This can either be done by creating a new document and typing the summary right in MAXQDA or by writing the excerpts in a Word document and importing these documents to MAXQDA later.
The names of the documents in the Document System are the names of the articles or books I summarized, including author and year. This guarantees a sound overview over all my excerpts and allows me to search for a specific source by author name or title. Sometimes I use the option to create a document memo to communicate relevant information with myself: „Is this document important? Do I need it? Do I understand it?“.
In case I am working with a great number of documents I often create themed document groups to keep them organized. My code system is inspired directly by the chapters of my final report, with a code for each chapter. When I read through my excerpts I code each information in the text with the appropriate code(s) of the chapter that I need to use this information in.
Retrieve Information and Start Writing
When I am ready to start writing my report, I activate all of the relevant documents and successively my codes one by one. The Retrieved Segments window then shows me all the information I have gathered and coded for every single chapter I want to write.
Now I simply start using all of the information that is shown in the Retrieved Segments window to write my chapter. If I have been thoroughly enough when writing my excerpts, I can even use some of the segments by copying and pasting them into my paper, thus saving time.
An added advantage of managing excerpts this way is that if I ever work on a similar topic again, I can just add new excerpts to my existing MAXQDA project and still have all of my work and knowledge from my past paper easily accessible.
If I want to bring the text segments in the Retrieved Segments window in a certain order I change the weight score for the segments. This can be done by right clicking on one of the yellow source information cards or inside the overview of coded segments windows.