QDA Software

QDA Software
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A solid (and recent) overview is available via my chapter in Deborah Padgett's book The Qualitative Research Experience (revised edition from Thompson/Brooks Cole, 2004, pp. 189-210).  Covers use and the user's experience; also includes an extensive listing of software resources of many kinds (including content analysis which is not the main focus of this page).

Those with deep interest in qualitative data analysis using computer software should examine E. Weitzman and M. Miles' Computer Programs for Qualitative Data Analysis: A Software Sourcebook published by Sage in 1995 (with a new edition in progress). Updates to software make the product-specific information limited, but you can get a fine overview of the territory from this fine and thorough volume. 

A brief overview to widely used software and issues regarding their use is found in:  Drisko, J. W.  (1998).  Using Qualitative Data Analysis Software:  Merits and Hazards. Computers in Human Services, 15(1), 1-19.

Susanne Friese, a developer of the Ethnograph and now a developer and trainer on ATLAS.ti, has great information on qualitative data analysis software online. 

Christine Barry compares ATLAS.ti and NUD*IST in a (1996) paper from Sociological Research Online, reporting her own experiences with both products.  (Dated now, versions of both products more capable.)

Udo Kelle's edited volume, Computer-aided qualitative data analysis:  Theory, Methods and Practice (Sage, 1995) is also very solid (though product details are now dated the conceptual base is useful).

The Software Packages:

All these software packages are all available from the developers directly.  Demo versions of most are available for download, or on CD at small cost.


Thomas Muhr has a site with several links connected to his ATLAS.ti qualitative data analysis software. Version 5 is very user friendly and flexible. Allows coding and annotation of text, images, and many formats of audio and video, and html pages.  Has a network mapping feature for visual display. Solid search features.  Alas, there is no Mac version, though ATLAS.ti will run on Macs using virtual PC software.  You can download and try-put the demo program (about 6 megabytes in size) to get a feel for the product. A student version costs $175, a single educational version of ATLAS.ti costs $470, higher ($950) for non-educational users

The URL to download the trial version of ATLAS.ti is http://www.atlasti.de   You may wish to click on the "English" button at upper right for en English language version of the site, and then follow the links to download the trial version on the left side of the screen.

Dr. Muhr runs an active forum/discussion group about ATLAS.ti which included related issues on qualitative methods, training, and such issues as network mapping. 

A great Spanish language overview of ATLAS.ti was created by Jesus B. Bermejo.  Other resources are offered in Spanish at www.azande.org -- a qualitative research consulting group.


nVivo, version 7 allows editing of documents as you code (which most programs do not) and well as font colors (via rich text format file format).  It is Windows only, no Mac version.  You can download a trial version from the QSR site.  A student version is of NVivo 7 is $200, a single educational version is $400.  Allows linking to external documents for audio and video; movable screen windows are also of interest.

NVivo Merge is a separate fee software product that allows you to merge the yield of qualitative data analyses done separately using NVivo (version 1.2 or higher). 

Thomas and Lyn Richards have a very informative site connected to their NUDIST and nVivo qualitative data analysis software packages.


NUDIST has been pretty much absorbed by QSR's newer product, nVivio.  Appears to be no longer supported despite a large user base.


Max QDA (formerly WinMax) was developed by Udo Kuckartz who is associated with the Free University of Berlin.  Allows formatting of text within the software, unlike other products which use static ASCII versions of texts to "locate" text segments, codes, etc. Offers hierarchical coding structures within windows.  Very Flexible but text only.  (WinMax is moving toward use of XML formatted text which should allow inclusion of images, display features like blinking, and audio.  ATLAS.ti is also moving to this format for future versions.)  Windows only.  The student version is $190, the educational version $445 and the standard version $745.


The HyperRESEARCH concept was developed by Sharlene Hesse-Biber, with the user interface and programming by T. Scott Kinder and Paul R. Dupuis.  Can be used with text, images, and audio and video (though there are more limited file formats than with ATLAS.ti). .  Macintosh and Windows versions.  Has unique Hypothesis testing features, solid search features.  Code lists (but not all associated work) can be shared among team users.  $370.

The Ethnograph

The Ethnograph was developed by John Seidel, Susanne Friese & D. Christopher Leonard.  One of the first QDA programs.  Allows direct transfer of text from any word processor format to the program.  Solid code and retrieve features.  Available from Qualis Research  Student version $200, educational $295. 


C-I-Said (apparently developed from the older Code-a-Text) is a multimedia system was developed by Alan Cartwright an English psychotherapist.  This program was the first to directly link codes and other elements to text and sound without transcription:  The original audio (or video) is always available at any time in a project. The Code-A-Text Transcription System provides facilities for recording and transcribing audio files.  Windows only.  $99 all users.

QDA Miner

QDA Miner by Provalis Research is a new package offering fine visual tools for exploring complex data sets.  The package seems to fit well with template approaches.  It is intended to integrate with quantitative content analysis packages as well (such as WordStat).

AnSWR - A Database-oriented Program (Very different from those above)

The Centers for Disease Control offers AnSWR, a free text-only QDA tool.  It does text coding and has strong inter-rater features which link it to quantitative work.  It is designed to manage answers to structured questionnaires for epidemiological use - quite distinct from the products described above that are for unstructured text analysis.  It also allows multiple researchers to merge their work, a feature that is otherwise unique to ATLAS.ti as far as I know (though nVivio has a separate merge program at extra cost).  AnSWR uses a data base to log codes and related texts.  It's free but a bit limited.  For Win 9x, NT, ME and XP only, no Windows 3.1 or Mac versions.  Installation involves several steps and some large downloads but is not a big deal if you are comfortable downloading programs from the Internet and installing them.  (Free.)

begun April 1997; last update 10/4/06

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