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Managing the Data and Working with the Data Using MAXQDA 2007

My data management system

I follow the same system for all my research projects, it helps me find files easily. Note that I put numbers (e.g., 00, 01, etc.) at the start of most folder names--this allows me to keep my folders in the order I want, as compared to an alphabetical order that computer systems automatically do but which may not make intuitive sense for me. When assistants work on a projects, they have their own folders in which they can save their work. Their folders are titled with their first names (e.g., "Jennifer" , "Nancy"). 


Screenshot 1


The MAXQDA interface

When the MAXQDA program is first opened up, four windows are shown (up to three of these may be closed if desired).

The upper left quadrant, called the Document System, shows the files (in this case, transcripts) that have been imported into the program. In the following screen shot, the upper part of the Document System window shows the final 10 of 28 transcripts that have been analysed for the wedding work project. In the lower part of this window, you will see a heading called "Sets". This a more advanced part of the program in which certain groups of documents (transcripts, in this situation) can be saved to analyze later. In this example, you will see a set called "traditional couples". I also had sets for "transitional couples" and for "egalitarian couples", which were the other couple categories I was analyzing. The sets are created from MAXQDA's Attributes table (described below), which is used for descriptive coding.

The upper right quadrant is the Text Browser. In this window, one document (again, in this case, a transcript) can be opened up at a time to be coded. In this example, Scott (interview 19) is open, and the coding is assigned to the left of the text. MAXQDA allows for an infinite number of colors to be used with coding. You will see several types of colors used for coding in this example: yellow, blue, and red. Using colors can help organize your codes and help you find them more easily in your Code System window (to be discussed next). Code patterns can also be examined, if you have used different colors for your codes, and this is described in the TextPortraits section. 

The lower right quadrant shows your list of codes, called the Code System. One advantage of MAXQDA is that you can see your codes at the same time as you are looking at the document you are coding (not all qualitative software programs allow you to do this).

Finally, the bottom right quadrant is called the Retrieved Segments window. This is a very helpful window that I use for the constant comparison technique--comparing multiple indicators for specific codes to see if each of the indicators are reflecting the same phenomenon (if not, I revise the coding, for example, deleting coded segments or moving them to another code). To use this window, you must do two things: (a) activate the code you want to look at (note: more than one code can be activated) and (b) activate the file(s) in which you want to look at the code(s). Note: When a code or document is activated, its name turns red. In this example, I am looking at the code "making final decisions or discussing" (you'll see it in red in the Code System window), and I am looking at this code for traditional couples (seen in red color in the "traditional couples" set in the Document system).


Screenshot 2


The attributes table

This table is used for descriptive coding--the assignment of information to documents. Some information can be entered early in an analysis, such as identifying which transcripts are from brides or grooms. Attributes are also created during analysis, such as the assignment of couples into the three couple categories: traditional, transitional, and egalitarian. Descriptive coding is used to ask further questions of the coding, such as what kind of patterns arise only for traditional couples, transitional couples, or egalitarian couples, or what type of patterns arise for grooms versus brides. As previously stated, the Attributes table can be used to save "sets" of various documents, which are then shown in the Document System window.


Screenshot 3


The code matrix browser

This option provides an easy-to-understand overview of the presence or amount of coding within each document. The default is to examine all the codes for all documents, but similar to the Retrieved Segments window, you can analyze certain codes and documents that have been activated. In the following screenshot, you will see that I activated transcripts only for the six women in traditional couples, looking at various kinds of wedding work carried out by them, shown on the left.  The yellow coding represents work done by women, the blue coding refers to work that mend did on their own wedding. The dots show what transcripts were coded for a particular code. In this example, only Jennifer and Sandra said they sent wedding invitations out, whereas Carolyn was the only woman in this group of six who reported that her husband, alone, was responsible for getting his clothing. Another option is available in the code matrix browser to show the number of times, rather than the presence, a code has appeared in a document.


Screenshot 4