Introduction by OpenMethods guest editor (Leire Leguina):
This blog, curated by Andreas W. Müller from Halle University, provides an insight on qualitative data analysis (QDA) techniques to conduct research in the field of Digital Humanities. The field is currently dominated by quantitative research methods, and is still lacking digital analysis derived from qualitative approaches. The author implies that QDA is a not a method, but a set of techniques that can be used with different analysis methods, for instance Content Analysis or Discourse Analysis. He also outlines how QDA deals with qualitative data combined with qualitative analysis, being both elements fundamental.
The blog goes beyond QDA and advocates for Mixed Methods: the qualitative approach can be integrated with a quantitative analysis in order to validate the results achieved in a research project. And it provides substantial information on QDA research software such as MAXQDA, ATLAS.ti and NVivo (the three major -although commercial- software programs) that will help scholars and researchers to categorize data segments and to analyze and visualize the results. At this point it’s worth noting that the open-source freeware AQUAD and CATMA could be an alternative to these tools, since they provide the same basic functionality; they all are Qualitative Data Analysis Softwares.
Finally, Met-hodos compiles an extensive bibliography on QDA, particularly helpful to deepen into new methodological approaches to set forth research questions.
In a nutshell Qualitative Data Analysis is all about structuring unstructured data, be it text, images, audio or video, by manually assigning tags, categories or “codes” to segments of data. This helps finding relevant segments again and allows to quantify (count) them.