Using CAQDAS in the Analysis of Foundation Trust Hospitals in the National Health Service: Mustard Seed Searches as an Aid to Analytic Efficiency


  • Paul G. Dempster University of York
  • David K. Woods University of Wisconsin
  • John Wright London School of Economics and Political Science



coding, qualitative methods, CAQDAS, qualitative software, word frequency


This article reflects on the development of Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS) briefly before describing how the software can be harnessed to aid the process of research. It shows how data from a multi-user project looking at governance in UK Foundation Trust hospitals was enhanced and made clearer through the application of a specific method of gathering and coding data using a qualitative data analysis software package: Applying searches based on word frequency counts within NVivo 8 provided an initial categorisation of topics in an efficient manner allowing for a targeted examination of the overall data. This technique has been called by us the Mustard seed approach as it starts small and builds into something bigger over time.



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Author Biographies

Paul G. Dempster, University of York

Paul G. DEMPSTER is a research fellow at the University of York UK. He is a medical sociologist, with interests in mental health and thanatology, specialising in qualitative research within randomised control trials. He is currently researching a computerised cognitive behavioural therapy intervention with teenagers who have depression and developing a Social Stories manual for teachers who work with children who have autism. He has a longstanding research interest in the use of qualitative research software, its development and application in new and distinctive ways and has co-authored a text on digital tools for qualitative researchers.

David K. Woods, University of Wisconsin

David WOODS is a researcher at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His primary interest is in facilitating the analytic work of researchers, particularly those with challenging data or innovative analytic approaches. He is the lead developer of Transana, software for the transcription and qualitative analysis of video and audio data.

John Wright, London School of Economics and Political Science

John S.F. WRIGHT is a senior research fellow in the Department of Social Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His primary research interests are political ideas, political theory and regulation and governance. Currently, he is working on methodologies for health technology assessment in the European Union.




How to Cite

Dempster, P. G., Woods, D. K., & Wright, J. (2013). Using CAQDAS in the Analysis of Foundation Trust Hospitals in the National Health Service: Mustard Seed Searches as an Aid to Analytic Efficiency. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 14(2).



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