Another look at Qualitative data analysis for Mac users: Dedoose
Technically I’m not meant to be looking at data analysis right now: it’s writing month, and the last thing I need to be doing is getting lost in data. However, the Qualitative Data Analysis Software for Mac – A Brief Look post that I wrote last September is still getting a huge amount of traffic every day, and I thought it was time to write a quick update.
What’s changed? Lots. I recently discovered a tool called Dedoose. Like the other tools that I’ve come to rely upon (Zotero for managing references, Scrivener for writing) it’s not an incremental upgrade that adds bells and whistles to an existing product. I like things that are built with a researcher’s workflow in mind, instead of a list of features that you need to work around. It’s also browser-based, so can be used from almost any computer with an internet connection.
The main advantages that I can see are:
- Cross-platform (so I can use it on my Mac without needing to buy and install Windows and Parallels or VMware Fusion! That already saves me a few hundred dollars)
- Online data storage, so I can access and work on the project from any computer, and have online backups available if my computer crashes.
- I’m hopeful about it having a more intuitive interface than NVivo 9, as a shallow learning curve was one of their design goals
- For projects involving multiple people (i.e. most things except a PhD), it’s a product built around collaborative tools, rather than bolting them onto an existing product
- Lots of visualisation tools (which can also export to various formats). I think visually, and that will help me to understand what’s going on within and between my different case studies.
- Licensed by the month, and at competitive rates with other options on the market.
For me, the downsides are:
- Storing my project data online will require an ethics variation form, as my current ethics approval requires me to store digital copies on RMIT servers. However, Dedoose uses encrypted storage so the variation should be a fairly straightforward bit of paperwork.
- Requires an internet connection. My home internet has been increasingly flakey over the last few months, and I don’t like my productivity tied to whether Virgin Broadband has decided to work that day.
- Less support available in the university. It has two black marks against it in an RMIT context: it’s new, and it’s not NVivo. There’s a very established NVivo community here, and a lot of organisational resistance to change. However, there seems to be a lot of online support, so I can teach myself how to use it.
- No local copy of the project, but you can export your data whenever it’s needed.
I think that a PhD project is a good place to start trialling it, as I don’t need to convince a group of co-workers to give it a shot. There’s a 30-day free trial available, and I’ll see how I go from there. If it works well, I’ll look into using it for collaborative projects later on. I’ll keep you posted.
Have you tried it out? Any experiences to report, or things I should look out for?