Finding Fidelity: Advancing Audiovisual Analysis Using Software


  • Christina Silver University of Surrey
  • Jennifer Patashnick Qualitative Data Analysis Services



CAQDAS, audiovisual data, ATLAS.ti, MAXqda, NVivo, Transana, DRS, qualitative analysis, visual analysis


Specialised software for the analysis of qualitative data has been in development for the last thirty years. However, its adoption is far from widespread. Additionally, qualitative research itself is evolving, from projects that utilised small, text-based data sets to those which involve the collection, management, and analysis of enormous quantities of multimedia data or data of multiple types. Software has struggled to keep up with these changes for several reasons: 1. meeting the needs of researchers is complicated by the lack of documentation and critique by those who are implementing software use and 2. audiovisual data is particularly challenging due to the multidimensionality of data and substantial variety in research project aims and output requirements. This article discusses the history of Computer Assisted Qualitative Data AnalysiS (CAQDAS) as it relates to audiovisual data, and introduces the term "fidelity" as a conceptual mechanism to match software tools and researcher needs. Currently available software tools are examined and areas found lacking are highlighted. URN:


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Author Biographies

Christina Silver, University of Surrey

Christina SILVER is the manager of the CAQDAS Networking Project, for which she has worked since 1998. The project provides information, advice and training in a range of software packages designed to facilitate the analysis of qualitative data. She leads the training and capacity building activities of the project and is involved in research conducted under the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) funded project Qualitative Innovations in CAQDAS. Christina’s particular interests relate to the relationship between technology and methodology and the integration and analysis of non textual data, using software. She is also the co-founder of Qualitative Data Analysis Services (QDAS), which provides customised training and consultancy services for individuals and groups engaged in qualitative analysis.

Jennifer Patashnick, Qualitative Data Analysis Services

Jennifer PATASHNICK served as Analysis Coordinator for Video Intervention/Prevention Assessment (VIA), an innovative project of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston, from 2000-2009. While there, she was instrumental in the development of a methodology for the software-supported management and analysis of thousands of hours of visual narratives, video produced by chronically ill children and adolescents to teach their doctors about their lives with a chronic condition. Currently, she is works with Qualitative Data Analysis Services (QDAS), providing her expertise with qualitative software and audiovisual data to researchers around the world.




How to Cite

Silver, C., & Patashnick, J. (2011). Finding Fidelity: Advancing Audiovisual Analysis Using Software. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12(1).