There are some free tools available for QDA. Free tools sometimes have fewer features and less-sophisticated interfaces than their paid counterparts that are developed by a for-profit company. In most cases, free and open-source programs are created and maintained by an individual or small group doing this work in addition to their main job.
In addition to QDA software, some researchers will make use of other types of software for analyzing qualitative data, such as comments in a word processing document or structuring data in an Excel spreadsheet, as these are more widely available.
There are many licensed (use requires a paid fee) programs for QDA. Most vendors offer a free trial period to let you test out the software before you purchase a license. Vendors will also usually offer a much reduced rate for current students.
The list of programs here is not exhaustive, but includes those programs that I've seen used among the campus community.
QDA software has traditionally been installed on individual computers with collaboration made possible by merging files after each researcher has conducted coding (or some other analysis strategy).
In recent years, there has been a growing number of tools made available online. These tools allow research teams to collaborate in real-time using data stored online. This processes raises questions about data security however. You must ensure that the storing the data on a server owned by a software vendor is allowed within the guidelines of your IRB and agreements with any research participants.
The table below shows some of the major features that researchers will use when deciding which QDA software may be most useful for their research. Want to talk more about options for QDA software. Please schedule an appointment or contact me via email.
|Free?||Student license?||Multimedia data||Survey data||Automatic coding||Real-time collaboration|
|Atlas.ti (Desktop)||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No - merge only|
|MAXQDA||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No - merge only|
|NVivo||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No - merge only|
Definitions for each characteristic: