Atlas.ti making sense of research data in policy analysis
ATLAS.ti-The Qualitative Data Analysis SoftwareMaking Sense of Research Data in Policy AnalysisJörg Hecker | ATLAS.ti GmbH . May 2011.
Agenda01. Applications 05. Is team work possible?02. Central concept: the Hermeneutic Unit (HU) 06. How can data be exported?03. Project Elements: primary documents quotations codes memos families networks04. What kinds of questions to ask?Jörg Hecker | ATLAS.ti GmbH . May 2011.
Applications in Policy Research• It can be used in any research phase of the policy cycle, such as needs assessments, social impact assessments, and process/formative/outcome evaluations.• It assists researchers in the process of identifying and making sense of people‘s points of view and perspectives on issues.• It allows for rich analysis of complex studies involving different sources of information.• It allows for the study of single cases as well as for comparative studies across cases.• It provides evidence to support decision-making processes.• The researcher is always in control: methodological freedom (from hypothesis-testing to grounded theory).Jörg Hecker | ATLAS.ti GmbH . May 2011.
Central Concept: Hermeneutic Unit (HU)• This is your project• Container that holdsthe sources of informationand all of the analyticalwork done around them.Picture: All data sources (TextImage. Video..) Jörg Hecker | ATLAS.ti GmbH . May 2011.
Project elements: Primary Documents• Sources of information to be analyzed (no limit in terms of quantity).• Triangulate different methods of data collection, such as: – Structured, semi-structured, and unstructured interviews – Focus groups – Surveys with open-ended questions – Field notes from observations – Archival sources: institutional records, websites, e-mails, blogs, etc. – Literature reviews – Drawing and pictures• Accepts documents in different formats: – Text: Word, RTF, PDF, TXT – Survey in Excel – Audio – Video – Image – Google Earth Jörg Hecker | ATLAS.ti GmbH . May 2011.
Project elements: Quotations• Segments of data that the researcher selects according to research interests.• Quotations can be as short as a single character and as long as the entire primary document.• Quotations are always shown within their larger context.• The content of Quotations can be exported as Rich Text and HTML files. Jörg Hecker | ATLAS.ti GmbH . May 2011.
Project elements: Codes• Concepts that can either derive fromexternal frameworks of reference oremerge from the text.•Codes can be grouped according to sharedconceptual characteristics (eg., all codesthat respond to specific topic).• Codes can be linked to quotations by theresearcher or automatically by the system(auto-coding).• Codes can be commented (operationaldefinitions).• All codes can easily be accessed via theCode Manager. Jörg Hecker | ATLAS.ti GmbH . May 2011.
Project elements: Memos • Spaces for reflection. • This is where the analyst brings together what has been discovered, described, and analyzed. • Memos can be linked to quotations, codes, and other memos. •A good memo (or a good system of memos) can become the basis for the research report.Jörg Hecker | ATLAS.ti GmbH . May 2011.
Project elements: Families• The Project Elements can be groupedaccording to shared characteristics.• Primary document families: groupdocuments according to specificattributes, such as demographic (e.g.,age, gender, ethnicity), sites (e.g.,Belfast, London, Berlin), and waves ofdata collection (e.g, first wave, secondwave). Thus, the researcher can explorethe data looking for similarities anddifferences across groups.• Code families: group codes according toshared conceptual characteristics, such ascodes representing the point of view ofthe participant, codes related to a specificresearch objective, codes that represent agiven hypothesis. Thus, the researcher canexplore the data looking for similaritiesand differences across conceptual groups.• Memo families: group memos accordingto shared characteristics, such as memosexploring the findings related to a givenresearch objective or hypothesis, memosreflecting upon the method of analysis, ormemos analyzing the literature.Jörg Hecker | ATLAS.ti GmbH . May 2011.
Project elements: Network Views• Graphical representationsshowing linkages betweenobjects of the HU (likeconceptual maps).• Networks are given by defaultby the system (weak linknetworks) *•Networks can be semantic(strong link networks), such asthose connecting codes througha given meaning (e.g., is part of,is a, is associated with)**Jörg Hecker | ATLAS.ti GmbH . May 2011.
What kinds of questions to ask? • What themes are found in the data? • What themes are more/less relevant from a quantitative perspective? • What is the qualitative relevance of themes? Does it vary accross cases, participants, or waves of data collection? • Whenever study participants talk about Theme X, what else are they talking about? • What is the context within which participants talk about Theme X? •What do participants say about Theme X AND/OR Theme Y? Any variation across cases, participants, or waves of data collection? •How does the literature/theory inform the study‘s findings? • Is there enough evidence in the data to support a given hypothesis? • How do data from archival research inform/complement primary data?Jörg Hecker | ATLAS.ti GmbH . May 2011.
Is team work possible?• Each team member can be incharge of coding a specific set ofprimary documents.• Each team member can be incharge of exploring a specificconceptual domain.• No limit in terms of the numberof people working in differentaspects of the analysis in a teamsetting.• Need for strong coordinationand transparency incollaboration.• Inter-rater reliability can becalculated using CAT (StewardShulman)Jörg Hecker | ATLAS.ti GmbH . May 2011.
How can data be exported?• XML• HTML• SPSS• Excel• Rich TextFormat (RTF)• PDF• Graphic formatsJörg Hecker | ATLAS.ti GmbH . May 2011.
Presented at the 2nd Europeanconference on Qualitative Research forPolicy Making, 26 -27 May 2011, Belfast For more information Please visit: http://www.merlien.orgJörg Hecker | ATLAS.ti GmbH . May 2011.