The Pro and Cons of Qualitative Data Analysis Software

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Today the use of technology has become embedded into our daily lives. Most of western civilization has access to a piece of technology at any given point of time. In recent years, technology has started to play a significant role in the area of research. Quantitative research was quickly adapted and aided by technology due to the use of number variables, but the same was not true for qualitative research. In recent years, qualitative research was revolutionized by Qualitative Data Analysis (QDA) software. Although, QDA software has a great deal of positive aspect, there are drawbacks in the utilization. The use of QDA software can have a great impact on ones qualitative research. Because of the text base results of qualitative research it can be difficult for a researcher to break down or code the information and sort through all of his or her findings in a timely manner. QDA software allows for the researcher to code the text based data electronically which allow the data to be manipulated quickly. Dr. Vaishali Patel, and Dr. Anne Riley (2007) also found that QDA software increased the speed of their research and allowed for a more thorough examination of their research. Another advantage to using QDA software is the added ability to look at data analytically. QDA software is able to sort data into groups or queries which assists in looking a research data in different ways. In an article written by Seija Mahlamaki-Kultanen (2003), she finds that her students who used QDA software thought that the analytical data compiled by QDA software was more accessible than manipulating the data by hand. These findings further supports the positive impact that QDA software has on qualitative research. Although there are many positive aspects to using QDA software, there are some negative consequences or draw backs to using this type of software. QDA software can have some impact on the researchers experience. This phenomena could interfere with the results of the research. One draw back called tactile-digital divide, which means learning to work on a personal computer instead of paper, could make research more difficult for some (Gilbert, 2002). In a study conducted by Linda Gilbert (2002), she found that researchers had a difficult time making the transition from using paper. She also found that this phenomena usually occurs when an individual first make the transition to using QDA software, and that the symptoms seem to go away after some time has passed.

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