Qualitative Researcher, 13 pp 7-10

Computer software is increasingly used to assist in the analysis of ‘qualitative’, particularly ethnographic, data. It is widely agreed to help in organising and controlling data. It is claimed by some to increase the researcher’s closeness to the data (Lewins and Silver, 2005), though others say the opposite (MacMillan, 2005). This paper gives an outsider’s, non-expert view on the use of computer assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS). It is based upon an investigation into the possible use of the software for the author’s own research (Ness 2009; 2010; 2011). This combined textual, archival, interview and ethnographic data, and used methods of analysis drawing on iterative grounded theory and critical discourse analysis (Fairclough 1989; Green et al 2009). The particular CAQDAS programs investigated were NVivo and Atlas.ti. A brief review of the literature was also conducted, with particular emphasis on the use of CAQDAS for discourse analysis.