Open Source Qualitative Software

So you have a wealth of qualitative data, and need to find the perfect program for analysis. Unfortunately, many qualitative software options can be hard on the wallet. Remember that the IRA lab provides access to both NVivo and ATLAS.ti. However, there are also open- source alternatives to consider. See below for a list and brief overview!

1. Coding Analysis Toolkit (CAT; http://cat.texifter.com/)

Description:

CAT is a free service of the Qualitative Data Analysis Program (QDAP), and hosted by the University Center for Social and Urban Research, at the University of Pittsburgh, and QDAP-UMass, in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. CAT was the 2008 winner of the "Best Research Software" award from the organized section on Information Technology & Politics in the American Political Science Association.

Features:

Efficiently code raw text data sets, Annotate coding with shared memos, Manage team coding permissions via the Web, Create unlimited collaborator sub-accounts, Assign multiple coders to specific tasks, Easily measure inter-rater reliability, Adjudicate valid & invalid coder decisions, Report validity by dataset, code or coder, Export coding in RTF, CSV or XML format, Archive or share completed projects

Platform:

Web-Based

Strengths: Seems easy to learn, very straightforward Video tutorial and online help; Help Wiki Can import multiple file types: plain text, HTML, CAT XML, Merged ATLAS.ti coding

Weaknesses:

Data stored on University (Pittsburgh) Seem to only be able to code entire paragraphs (Can’t choose sentences) Visualizations are limited Does not support rich text (bold, italic, color)

2. Weft QDA (http://www.pressure.to/qda/ )

Description:

WeftQDA is an easy-to-use tool to assist in the analysis of textual data such as interview transcripts, written texts and field notes.

Features:

Import documents from plain text or pdf, ‘code-and-retrieve’ document text with different categories, attach and update memos to categories and documents, free text search and Boolean queries, coding statistics and simple cross-tabulations, export text and numbers for browsing and further analysis, single-file project format (*.qdp)
Platform:

Windows Linux, Unix Strengths: Easy and intuitive design

Weaknesses:

Only allows for use of text documents (No audio, video, etc) Only supports plain text (no bold, italic, color, etc) Visualizations still not as advanced as NVivo, but better than CAT No longer in development/ no support Other Comments: Doesn’t offer live support, but there is an in-depth user manual

3. Text Analysis Markup System (TAMS; http://tamsys.sourceforge.net)

Description:

TAMS is a convention for identifying themes in texts (web pages, interviews, field notes). TAMS Analyzer is a program that works with TAMS to let you assign ethnographic codes to passages of a text just by selecting the relevant text and double clicking the name of the code on a list. It then allows you to extract, analyze, and save coded information. The Mac version also includes full support for transcription (back space, insert time code, jump to time code, etc.) when working with data on sound files.

Features:

PDF coding and analysis support, image (jpg, etc) coding and analysis support, improved layout for video coding and analysis, new icon set, code creation and code set creation done straight on workbench, code set grouping of results, code set creation through marking records, etc.

Platform:

Mac OS X Linux, Unix

Strengths:

Can handle both text and audio files (Mac)

Other Comments: Has support AND demonstration videos available online  

Other Resources:

For a thorough comparison of qualitative software, including both open-source and paid programs, visit http://www.restore.ac.uk/lboro/research/software/caqdas_comparison.php. This site compares various programs across price, operating system, functionality, etc.

 

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