ATLAS.ti is a powerful data analysis and management tool that, on its most basic level, functions kind of like a highlighter. When you are reading, highlighting things that strike you as interesting or writing notes to yourself is often good analytical technique. So if ATLAS is essentially just a highlighter, why use it? Well, imagine if you could highlight and take notes in a variety of books, articles, sound bites, videos, aggregate all those markings and make them searchable, create charts to visualize ideas, export reports in a variety of formats and keep all of your stuff organized while you make connections and advance your research.
Simply put, qualitative research is analyzing words rather than numbers, numbers being the meat and potatoes of quantitative research. Put another way, qualitative research investigates the why and how rather than just the what, where, and when. For example, if a researcher has interviewed 100 people and has transcripts of those interviews, he or she can look for patterns in the responses from the interviewees to try and gain a deeper understanding of that population's perceptions of the questions that were asked. ATLAS.ti helps to organize your analysis and make connections within your analysis, as well as making the process of evaluating resources and material much simpler.
If you are performing a study using qualitative methods encompassing a large amount of data, a tool such as ATLAS.ti can make your life much easier. The data management capabilities of software such as ATLAS can really help move your research forward.