Methodological Tool or Methodology? Beyond Instrumentality and Efficiency with Qualitative Data Analysis Software

Pengfei Zhao, Peiwei Li, Karen Ross, Barbara Dennis


Qualitative data analysis software (QDAS) has become increasingly popular among researchers. However, very few discussions have developed regarding the effect of QDAS on the validity of qualitative data analysis. It is a pressing issue, especially because the recent proliferation of conceptualizations of validity has challenged, and to some degree undermined, the taken-for-granted connection between the methodologically neutral understanding of validity and QDAS. This article suggests an alternative framework for examining the relationship between validity and the use of QDAS. Shifting the analytic focus from instrumentality and efficiency of QDAS to the research practice itself, we propose that qualitative researchers should formulate a "reflective space" at the intersection of their methodological approach, the built-in validity structure of QDAS and the specific research context, in order to make deliberative and reflective methodological decisions. We illustrate this new framework through discussion of a collaborative action research project.



qualitative data analysis software (QDAS); validity; methodological decision-making; reflection; technology; collaboration; Dedoose; inter-rater reliability

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Copyright (c) 2016 Pengfei Zhao, Peiwei Li, Karen Ross, Barbara Dennis

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