CAQDAS at a Crossroads: Choices, Controversies and Challenges

  • Christina Silver
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 621)


The field of Computer Assisted Qualitative Data AnalysiS (CAQDAS) is characterised by choices, controversies and challenges. This chapter first briefly outlines the history of the field and discusses choices between and within programs. It goes on to discuss persisting controversies around the appropriateness of using technology for qualitative data analysis. It then outlines challenges arising from these choices and controversies. The chapter concludes by discussing how the Five-Level QDA™ method, a CAQDAS pedagogy that transcends methodologies, software programs and teaching modes, addresses one of the key challenges: how to appropriately enable researchers with varied needs to harness CAQDAS packages powerfully.


Five-Level QDA™ method CAQDAS packages 


  1. 1.
    Woolf, N.: Analytic strategies and analytic tactics. In: ATLAS.ti, Fostering Dialog on Qualitative Methods, Technische UniversitätBerlin. Berlin: Universitätsverlag der TU Berlin (2013). Retrieved from
  2. 2.
    Silver, C., Woolf, N.: From guided-instruction to facilitation of learning: the development of Five-Level QDA as a CAQDAS pedagogy that explicates the practices of expert users. Int. J. Soc. Res. Methodol. 18, 527–543 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Woolf, N., Silver, C.: Qualitative analysis using ATLAS.ti/MAXQDA/NVivo: The Five-Level QDA Method. Routledge, London. in pressGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Fielding, N.G., Lee, R.M.: Computer Analysis and Qualitative Research. Sage, London (1998)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Davidson, J., Gregorio, S.: Qualitative research and technology: in the midst of a revolution. In: Denzin, N.K, Lincoln, Y. (eds.) Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research, pp. 627–644. Sage Publications (2011)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Silver, C., Lewins, A.: Using Software in Qualitative Research: A Step-by-Step Guide. Sage Publications, London (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Tesch, R.: Qualitative Research: Analysis Types and Software Tools. Falmer Pr, New York (1990)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Weitzman, E., Miles, M.: Computer Programs for Qualitative Data Analysis: A Software Source Book. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, California (1995)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    di Gregorio, S.: Using web 2.0 tools for qualitative analysis: an exploration. In: International Conference on System Sciences, pp. 1–10 (2010)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Denzin, N., Lincoln, Y.: Introduction: the discipline and practice of qualitative research. In: Denzin, N., Lincoln, Y. (eds.) The Landscape of Qualitative Research, pp. 1–46. Sage, Thousand Oaks (2003)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Denzin, N., Lincoln, Y.: Introduction: the discipline and practice of qualitative research. In: Denzin, N., Lincoln, Y. (eds.) The Landscape of Qualitative Research, pp. 1–44. Sage, Thousand Oaks (2008)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Silver, C., Rivers, C.: The CAQDAS postgraduate learning model: an interplay between methodological awareness, analytic adeptness and technological proficiency. Int. J. Soc. Res. Methodol. 19, 593–609 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Salmona, M., Kaczynski, D.: Don’t blame the software: using qualitative data analysis software successfully in doctoral research. Forum Qual. Soc. Res. 17 (2016). Art. 11Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    White, M.J., Judd, M.D., Poliandri, S.: Illumination with a Dim Bulb? What do social scientists learn by employing qualitative data analysis software (QDAS) in the service of multi-method designs? Sociol. Methodol. 42, 43–76 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Woods, M., Paulus, T., Atkins, D.P., Macklin, R.: Advancing qualitative research using qualitative data analysis software (QDAS)? Reviewing potential versus practice in published studies using ATLAS.ti and NVivo, 1994–2013. Soc. Sci. Comput. Rev. 34, 597–617 (2015). doi: 10.1177/0894439315596311 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Gibbs, G.R.: Count: developing STEM skills in qualitative research methods teaching and learning (2014)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Prensky, M.: Digital Narratives, Digital Immigrants Part 1. Horizon 9, 1–6 (2011)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Paulus, T., Lester, J., Dempster, P.: Digital Tools for Qualitative Research (2013)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Bazeley, P., Jackson, K.: Qualitative Data Analysis with NVivo. SAGE, London (2013)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Seidel, J. V: Qualitative data analysis (1998).
  21. 21.
    Jackson, K., Paulus, T., Woolf, N.: The walking dead: unsubstantiated critiques of qualitative data analysis software (QDAS) and our failure to put them to rest. Qual. Rep. forthcomingGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Jackson, K.: Determinism vs. constructivism: the polarizing discourse regarding digital tools for qualitative research and how it threatens our scholarship. In: The International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, Urbana-Champaign,Illinois as part of the Digital Tools for Qualitative Research SIG (2016). Paper #4 in the Critical PlenaryGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    di Gregorio, S., Davidson, J.: Qualitative Research Design for Software Users. Open University Press, Maidenhead (2008)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Silver, C., Bulloch, S.L.: CAQDAS at a crossroads: affordances of technology in an online environment. In: Fielding, N., Lee, R., Blank, G. (eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Online Research Methods. Sage Publications, London (2017)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Davidson, J., Jacobs, C.: The implications of qualitative - research software for doctoral work considering the individual and institutional context. Qual. Res. J. 8, 73–80 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Johnston, L.: Software and method: reflections on teaching and using QSR NVivo in doctoral research. Int. J. Soc. Res. Methodol. 9, 379–391 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Kuckartz, U.: Realizing Mixed Methods Approaches with MAXQDA (2012)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Richards, T., Richards, L.: Using computers in qualitative research. In: Denzin, N., Lincoln, Y. (eds.) Handbook of Qualitative Researchtive, pp. 445–462. Sage, Thousand Oaks (1994)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Paulus, T.M., Bennett, A.M.: “I have a love–hate relationship with ATLAS.ti”TM: integrating qualitative data analysis software into a graduate research methods course. Int. J. Res. Method Educ. 40, 1–17 (2015)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Bourque, C.J., Bourdon, S.: Multidisciplinary graduate training in social research methodology and computer-assisted qualitative data analysis: a hands-on/hands-off course design. J. Furth. High. Educ. 9486, 1–17 (2016)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Leitch, J., Oktay, J., Meehan, B.: A dual instructional model for computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software integrating faculty member and specialized instructor: implementation, reflections, and recommendations. Qual. Soc. Work. (2015)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Carvajal, D.: The Artisan’s tools. Critical issues when teaching and learning CAQDAS. Forum Qual. Sozialforsch. Res. 3 (2002)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Walsh, M.: Teaching qualitative analysis using QSR NVivo 1. Qual. Rep. 8, 251–256 (2003)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Este, D., Sieppert, J., Barsky, A.: Teaching and learning qualitative research with and without qualitative data analysis software. J. Res. Comput. Educ. 31, 17 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Blank, G.: Teaching qualitative data analysis to graduate students. Soc. Sci. Comput. Rev. 22, 187–196 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Kaczynski, D., Kelly, M.: Curriculum development for teaching qualitative data analysis online. In: Proceedings of QualIT2004: International Conference on Qualitative Research in IT & IT in Qualitative Research, p. 9 (2004)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Davidson, J., Jacobs, C., Siccama, C., Donohoe, K., Hardy Gallagher, S., Robertson, S.: Teaching qualitative data analysis software (QDAS) in a virtual environment: team curriculum development of an NVivo training workshop. In: Fourth International Congress on Qualitative Inquiry, pp. 1–14 (2008)Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Onwuegbuzie, A.J., Leech, N.L., Slate, J.R., Stark, M., Sharma, B., Frels, R., Harris, K., Combs, J.P.: An exemplar for teaching and learning qualitative research. Qual. Rport. 17, 646–647 (2012)Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Jackson, K.: Blending technology and methodology. A shift towards creative instruction of qualitative methods with NVivo. Qual. Res. J. 15 (2003)Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Evers, J.C.: Developments around QDAS: Reflecting on QDAS technicalities from a user perspective in conjunction with developers. Special Issue of The Qualitative Report, edited by Trena Paulus, Jeanine Evers & Franciska de Jong. (forthcoming)Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Luttwak, E.N.: Strategy: The Logic of Peace and War, 2nd edn. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (2001)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CAQDAS Networking Project Department of SociologyUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK
  2. 2.Qualitative Data Analysis ServicesGillinghamUK

Personalised recommendations