Atlas.ti for quality in qualitative research : a CAQDAS project

16 February 2008

In this paper, I discuss a variety of theoretical and conceptual dimensions of Atlas.ti (Muhr, 1994, 1997a, 1997b). I draw on my own Atlas.ti experiences, and discuss advantages and disadvantages of using computer aided qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS) (Lee and Fielding 1995). How can the quality of a research project be enhanced and how will the end product be affected? These are some questions I intend to answer. Firstly, I will introduce Atlas.ti for qualitative data analysis. Secondly, I discuss how Atlas.ti, focusing on some coding procedures, (cf. Miles and Huberman 1994, and Dey 1993) supports a grounded theory approach for data analysis. Thirdly, I explain the VISE principles, visualisation, integration, serendipity and exploration as the main strategic modes of operation that may enhance the quality in the data analysis. Atlas.ti is a powerful workbench for qualitative data analysis, particular for large sections of text, visual and audio data. This software offers support to the researcher during the data analysis process. Texts are analised and interpreted using coding and annotating activities. It provides a comprehensive overview of the research project, the Hermeneutic Unit, and facilitates immediate search and retrieval functions. Atlas.ti also has a network building feature, which allows one to visually connect selected texts, memos, and codes by means of diagrams.