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CAQDAS Comparison

CAQDAS Comparison / Searches

Most so-called qualitative research benefits from the effective searching of (textual) data. Ideally, CAQDAS should be able to search both codes and text using the following search types:

NVivo's search functions, which owe much to earlier NUD*IST releases, no longer beat the competition "hands down" (Weitzman and Miles 1995: 248), but NVivo still is the only program that allows for fuzzy searches. ATLAS.ti offers sophisticated GREP searches, which have supported UNIX users since the early 1970s.

None of the search tools for text, however, are as versatile as the ones the freeware InfoRapid Search&Replace, which processes a wide variety of text formats from plain text to Adobe Acrobat files, offers. Especially in conjunction with the fuzzy searches of SimFuz,1 another freeware, this little helper application, which also features an add-on data file management system (InfoRapid Cardfile), offers a viable alternative for methodologies — such as some brands of Discourse Analysis — that do not require any coding of data.

Below table overviews the search capabilities of all programs.

  Boolean Searches Proximity Searches Placeholder Searches Fuzzy Searches Search Combinations
ATLAS.ti 5.0 text: no;
codes: and, or, not
codes only: various GREP commands no flexible, but only with respect to codes
HyperRESEARCH 2.6 text: no;
codes: and, or, not
no searches for codes are combinable
Kwalitan 5.09 and, or, not2 no no no through iterative filters
MAXqda 2 Text:
and, or
Codes: and, or, not
text & codes:
fixed unit (paragraphs)
no no very limited
N6 Text:

Codes: and, or, not
codes only: various multiple placeholders no flexible, but some limitations apply
NVivo 2 and, or, not both text and codes; flexible multiple placeholders basic flexible, but some limitations apply
QDA Miner 1.0.15 text only: and, or, not codes only: various standard wildcards and character ranges no any combination
Qualrus and, or, not requires use of scripting language requires use of scripting language no limited to one Boolean operator
TAMS 2.50b5
Non-CAQDAS benchmark programs
InfoRapid Search&Replace 3.1e and, or, not highly customizable multiple placeholders no any
Transana 1.22

Weitzman, Eben A. and , Matthew B. Miles. 1995. Computer Programs for Qualitative Data Analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

1 The (now defunct) freeware SimFuz (Download 131K) performs sophisticated fuzzy searches on text, HTML, and older Word™ files.

2 Searches in Kwalitan are implemented through filters.

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