A technical note to myself here, but may help others as well. When I imported .mp3 files from my Olympus Digital Voice recorder WS-831 to my PC it was no longer possible to play the files. The solution is to go to Windows Explorer and change the extension of the file from filename.MP3 (MP in capitals) to filename.mp3 (mp in small letters). Then they should play on the PC. They can also then be imported into other applications (e.g. audacity) without any problems.
A while back I wrote a short post about WEFT QDA, a free research package for qualitative data analysis. I was postive about it because, alough quite basic, was very user friendly. As I am undertaking a short evaluation project at present I thought I would revisit it. I spotted from the website that it has not been updated since 2006 and was optimised for Windows XP. When I wrote that ‘review’ I was running Windows XP on my work computer. I haven’t done much qualitative stuff recently so until today I had not tried it since I upgraded to Windows 7 at work. I could not get it to work. The author is no longer working on it, and I (for one) do not have the expertise to do anything with the source code. This is one of the hazards of free software of course!
My research led me to try out AQUAD 7 (Analysis of Qualitative Data). On the up side this is a very powerful piece of software, which can be used in the analysis of pictures and sound files as well as text and enables linkages, keyword hierarchies and some basic statistical functions (e.g. Chi-square). If that wasn’t enough there even seems to be some compatibility with the free statistics software “R”. On the downside this is definitely not a piece of software you can install and get working right away. The 200 page manual is compulsory reading to get started though the authors have provided some demonstration files which are useful. I’m still trying to get to grasp with the different file types which can be used to create lists of codes and metacodes. I haven’t found it particularly intuitive, but it has so much functionality I’m going to stick with it.
In conclusion this is definitely a piece of software worth exploring if you are looking for free qualitative data analysis software. The most striking thing about the manual is the way it explains the software by reference to theoretical frameworks from the qualitative research literature, something I can’t say I’ve seen in a software manual before. The software was originally developed in German, and there are odd places where translation has not taken place. For the most part the German only appears when you do something wrong!
I'm please to report that the findings of our survey of 1000+ school pupils and their teachers is now online. It also contains case studies of the status of languages within selected schools throught the UK.
John Canning, Angela Gallagher-Brett, Fabio Tartarini and Heather McGuinness (2010) Routes into Languages: Report on teacher and pupil attitude surveys (Southampton, Routes into Languages). Available from the Routes website.
Weft QDA is an open-source free software package for qualitative research. Although I’ve doing qualitative research for a number of years this is the first time I have used software for analysing qualitative data. The expense of commercial analysis packages (£500+) has always been a deterrent for me and Weft QDA is first such package I’ve used. In this sense, I am not able to compare Weft QDA to better known commercial packages such as NVivo. In fact the Weft QDA website does outline the limitations of the package and when a commercial alternative will be necessary (e.g. when formatting is important).
I’ve been using the package to analyse the qualitative open answer data from this year’s non-specialist language learner survey. I found the programme very intuitive and easy to use. It did crash a couple of times so I quickly learnt the importance of regular saving! However, if like me you are new to using software for qualitative analysis then it is worth checking this out.