Saturday, February 26, 2011

Istanbul: Qualitative Computing Conference: Day 2 Session 1 presentations

2/25/11: Istanbul: Day 2 notes

Suzanna Friese “Taking you on the Journey of Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis”

She used a Prezi presentation…wow, first one at this conference.

She is proposing a method of computer-assisted analysis…this is a contrast to text books that focus on methods without any reference to technology. She believes that computer grounded analysis can be a method in and of itself.

People are overwhelmed by the features of a computer program for QR and they are actually happy to have you tell them. She has developed this process over time. Writing the book made the method more precise and real to her. The book will be released by Sage soon.

Stages of her method:

1. Getting ready: Setting up a project—[This is what Silvana and I have described as representing the research design in the software.] She shows how you set up the project in its truncated top-level form of the E-project (my term)

2. The landscape and the journey; she shows a drawing from one of her children.

3. Navigating: NCT—Noticing things; Collecting Things; Thinking about Things—a model drawn from John Sidell (whom she worked with at Oregon State University—this fact I learned as we travelled in the taxi to the conference…a very nice opportunity to get to know her after all the years I’ve seen her name.

4. Playing the Puzzle:

Then she describes how these stages translate into computer programs for qualitative research . I really like the connection to Sidell…it adds a wonderful link to the early years of CAQDAS, but also a rich sense of qualitative research.

She goes back to work more deeply into the stages, showing examples from Atlas-ti, which is the tool she is working with for the book.

She talks about the coding issues she has encountered in training; heavy coders, light coders…abstract codes vs concrete codes; issues of generating codes vs developing trees/clusters/structures . Review of the coding list—sorting, structuring the materials. Where do you feel that there is saturation—“you feel that point”.

1. Developing sub-categories; categories and sub-categories; “When you teach someone the skills to code…technically they have the skills to create categories and sub-categories,” but as we all know this isn’t a leap everyone can make. She shows how you could take notes and begin to see clusters working by hand. She leaves the main category empty and then subsumes categories with content underneath it. She talks about coding on within the sub-categories…and saving the things that don’t seem to fit into the main category area until you know what to do with it, that is remanded to the sub-categories.

2. She talks about the “code swamp” . She shows another children’s picture of a swamp—it looks like the game Candy Land. It’s a very real feeling. What are the dangers? One is mixing codes. Keep the categories distinct. Let the computer do the sorting and finding.

3. Structured landscape: she shows the original child’s drawing of a landscape with defined areas imposed by a program…now you have a developed code list.

4. Benches of Reflection—back to the children’s drawings where she has now circled the benches the child included. This is an opportunity to talk about memos. Codes are containers of one sort—memos are containers of another sort. Codes focus on quotes. Memos focus on ideas. There are many kinds of idea memos—how you name them depends upon you; research questions, team memos, analysis memos. She walks through a research question memo that she had developed.

5. Tools for Exploration; analysis tools. The material is now coded…now you can go into it. She shows examples of queries.

6. Visualizing Relations—are tools for exploration…but also are used to represent what you have. [I really like the Atlas-ti visuals…the networks are very compelling].

7. Finally she imposes a graphic map on top of the child’s landscape, showing the different ways you can get to the idea/destination that you have identified.

She overviews the entire process that she has described. I think for many here who are new to QDAS, this is very valuable information, and a good reminder for us all.

2. “CAQDAS—Is a free software approach possible” Vincenzo D’Andrea, Stefano De Paoli, National University of Ireland and Lorenzo Ruzzens and Maurizio Teli, Univ of Trento, Italy

“QDA-UniTN” is the name of their project .

At their university didn’t have licenses for the major CAQDAS packages, and they needed an alternative. They also had needs they didn’t feel current CAQDAS could meet.

Current trends

-distributed collaboration

-web-based platform

-multiplatform, open/multi data standards

Type of data:

-offline and online: is there a difference anymore? They were concerned that they had lots of data but didn’t spent as much time with analysis as collection. Online data is now a critical feature for most projects…it is not less valuable than that gathered face-to-face.

Their goals:

-move to open source and away from proprietary licenses; this is important to avoid transposing items later

-to foster group collaboration for data analysis

-to reduce cost

-to support “technological ecumenism” giving more choice to the user

[I am intrigued by this but I am worried—is this going to go the direction of people who tried to demonstrate that QDAS could be done with MS Word products?...I listen on…]

History of the Project:

2 depts; sociology and computer science with interest in science and technology studies, info systems, internet research and social informatics

-their students collaborated (6 students; 150 hours each)

-in 2007 they attempted to integrate with existing system—WeftQDA

-2008—they did a feasibility study for a new system

-2009-used cases and and he did a methodological thesis

-2010; created a prototype and presented the project

The Pros:

-packaged tools require work arounds; you don’t have flexibility; you can’t add on

-you can work offline [this part I didn’t quite understand]


-privacy issues/security issues

-lack of trust

-resistance to change

Conclusions: don’t want to compete, but want to promote a new way of thinking about QDAS. He mentions other tools “DiscoverText, dedoose, a.nnotate, and he suggests creating your own toolbox. This is a new era. This wil be the new way of working.

I think he is on the right track. I think mash-ups have great potential. It’s a good radical view but presented in a very old presentation package.  I just wish he had shown us the actual tool. 

Finally he shows us an example of Scrapbook, an add-on for FireFox, that can do QDA like things.

He talks about the future of what they have created…may be called “QDA Libre”, considering launching as a business model.

“A Mixed-method Analysis of the Impact of the Economic Crisis on Neighborhoods: The Case of Turkey” presented by N. Banu kavakli Birdal of Bogazici University with Bruce Rankin of Koc University, Isik Aytac of Bogazici University and Burcin Eraslan of Koc University.

This was a presentation made at the 2009 ASA meeting in Boston. This is a representation of the project, and the presenter’s first experience with CAQDAS—in which she re-analyzed the material. She worked in Nvivo 9 (she was trained in NVivo 8), she realizes now how she could have used the package.

In 2001 there was a drastic economic crisis in Turkey…she shows facts that demonstrate the pain…Lira loses by 40%, real wages halved, etc. REALLY BAD!

This study examines the impact of the crisis on urban neighborhoods; social problems, coping strategies. What happened to these neighborhoods? How did they change? They worked with a sample of 201 urban neighborhoods from around Turkey.

Qualitative: In-depth Interview

Quantitative: Household Survey and Neighborhood Survey (Neighborhood Chair—they have all statistics and demographic information about the neighborhood)

“Work and Family Life Under Siege Project”

She describes the study methodology with clarity—the study conducted April to Feb 2004.

Then she described the background literature on economics and neighborhoods.

-socially-organized neighborhoods vs disadvantaged neighborhoods …what features constitute one and not the other

Their question: Were neighborhood networks of social support stretched too thin to provide help to needy families? Is the vitality of the neighborhood being eroded by the economic conditions and its aftermath?

Quantitative results: Neighborhood problems increased on several fronts since the economic crisis.

[The presenter seems nervous presenting in English, but she is doing a very good job. I wish I could say—you are doing fine! Don’t worry! You really know your stuff. It’s a very solid study.]

Qualitative Analysis:

Open-Ended Questions (5 questions at the end of the close-ended questionnaires)…

Asked the Muhtars (neighborhood chairs) to provide information about the effect of the crisis…and the personal experiences of the muhtars.

GREAT she shows a Wordle! This is word count of the Muhtar responses related to what happened to the families in crisis. RED words: poverty, pep, unemployment—these are the largest, most used words.

How did the families cope with the project: words include: savings, loans, debt, etc.

She talks about the ways she didn’t use the tool well…the problems with setting up things correctly and using attributes/autocoding etc. efficiently.

She talks about how hearing the presenters caused her to reconsider her methods and to think of why the wordle is valuable. She felt the wordle confirms what she learned from reading and re-reading the data. Understanding outliers/skewed results have different meaning in quantitative and qualitative data.

Showed an NVivo model; models the coding categories: two major areas are social problems and coping.

She is discussing really good thick content…and showing how the results were reached. She talks about the relationships between ideas like poverty and un-employment. The Muhtars drew these conclusions. They saw marital problems, divorce, and rising crime as also tied to un-employment…that was at the heart of everything.

She is mixing straight text (a la powerpoint) with NVivo made slides. Does QDAS promote visualization as representation? Without QDAS these presentations would nothing visual. Digital technologies, cameras, computers alone—did not lead to visual illustrations.

She describes the coping strategies that were used…and she describes the places that were not as affected and why these neighborhoods did better. One interesting example—Adana, Cehan—the earthquake of 1998, a huge catastrophe…the earthquake had already destroyed the area…the economic crisis added to it, but it wasn’t at the heart.


? Muhtars—they are elected officials. She only spoke to the neighborhood survey. Did the Muhtar’s present the quantitative data to you or did they speak to their interpretation?

-Muhtar’s keep records, but they don’t save them. They are not published data. They keep them handwritten themselves.

-?’s…why don’t they publish the data? It has started in Istanbul, but not in other communities.

-?: the theoretical studies you relied on were from foreign sources, were their Turkish sources? Studies by Turkish scholars? How did this affect your thinking. The Muhtar system is deeply socially embedded. What is the Turkish people’s perspective on the issues of poverty and unemployment—how is this at play when the Muhtar is interviewed? Did it make a difference that you were Turkish making this study.

There is a debate here—that the study was actually about the effect of the crisis on the people in the neighborhoods…what do people say about the affect on the people.

Do open interviews help you to interpret the other data? Open-ended questions helped you to understand the mechanism.

Question/issue for Suzanne:

-is this really a method? A qualitative research method? What is the effect of learning the technology like this to their understanding of qualitative research? Can QDAS be the starting point for qualitative research?

Question for 2nd presenter; What were some of the methodological problems you found?

-he responds with the basic issues that we’ve documented in many places.

General photos from the conference:

No comments: