Need advice ... which software package do you find better for analysing qual data (i.e. interviews)?
Also ... has anybody done training courses in either of the above (UK based - and if your uni doesn't offer training)? If so, where can I get info from?
Hello, BB. As far as I'm aware NUDIST is a much older iteration of what is now NVIVO 8. I am using NVIVO 8 to analyse qualitative interviews and I find it quite straightforward to use. I partly learned how to use it by attending a course at my university. However, I didn't find the course particularly helpful and so, really, I've learned how to use it with a couple of training books and some spare time - that's the best way in my opinion really. There's also a really helpful tutorial featured in the programme. There are alternative you can consider, such as Atlas.ti, also.
Have a look at the NVIVO qualitative project book, by Pat Bazely and Lynn Richards, if you'd like to learn how to use it. It doesn't take that long. Hope I'm not going off at a stance now, but the biggest danger with using software like NVIVO is that it is easy to lose your methodological approach and just do things the NVIVO way - pure atheoretical content analysis (that may be what you want though).
I used Nvivo 7 to analyse my interview transcripts, although I tended to use a mixture of Nvivo and plain old Word documents/pen and paper. I found it really helpful for coding my transcripts as they were around 12+ pages of text each and I couldn't see a better way of doing an initial 'sort out' of what looked interesting/useful for my data chapters. Having said that, I ended up with over 90 codes and it can get confusing unless you are very comfortable working with the programme (personally, I find it easier to periodically print hard copies of documents and go back to pen and paper techniques).
My main reasons for choosing Nvivo were that it is offered free by my university (other friends used Atlas.ti which is a similar programme, but they had to pay for it themselves) and because I was able to pick it up on my own when there were no training courses available. I eventually managed to go on a training course run by the Staff Development Unit because it is not offered to students - perhaps you could ask your supervisor if he/she knows of any courses running?
As to the methodological side, I agree that it is possible to be sucked into a software mindset and lose the 'connection' with the raw data. There have been a few instances while writing my data chapters when I have rediscovered relevant quotations which were 'lost' because they didn't fit in with my original choices of codes. There isn't much published literature on the pros and cons of using qualitative software - although I can dig out the references I've got if you're interested.
Hope this helps!
Thank you for your responses - they are very helpful. I've actually completed my PhD (I used the 'paper and pen' method throughout when I was going through the zillion pages of interview transcripts that I had), but am now working on a larger project and wouldn't mind learning how to use a qual software package just to store/code the data (of course, I know I'll end up resorting to the 'paper and pen' method though!).
Also, after doing a quick google search, I realised that NVivo8 incoporates what used to be NUDIST (doh!).
I'll defo get in touch with my staff development/training department and find out about whether they run courses (even if I don't use it - it's all experience and handy to know how to use these things I suppose).
Once again, THANKS!
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