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!