ATLAS.ti for Qualitative Research: Open Coding

This guide describes how to use the Atlas.ti, a software program, for qualitative research management and analysis

Cracking the Code

Coding is what you will be doing when analyzing your PDs.  Coding is an interpretive process, meant to capture the essence or central theme of a portion of your data.  In ATLAS.ti, coding is kind of like highlighting a book passage, except you get to name that code and assign it to similar concepts in the PDs in your HU.  What this does is link passages together under the same code.  It is important to note that there is no "right way" to code in that the unique way that you will be analyzing the data may differ from the way, say, a social anthropologist would analyze the data (unless, of course, you are a social anthropologist, but you get the point).  

Creating Free Quotations

One of your options for coding is to start simply by highlighting pieces of the text, called quotations, that are of interest to you. You can highlight these quotations, and then come back later to code them. If you want to do this, start by highlighting the part of the document you want to save as a quotation, right click, and choose Create Free Quotation.

Once you have saved a section of the text as a quotation, a gray bar will show up next to it on the right side of the screen. When you want to actually code the quotation, right click on the gray bar, choose Coding, and then choose how you want to code in the code menu.

Open Coding

The most common way to start coding is by using open coding. In open coding, you assign codes as you scan the document and then go back through the codes later in the process to standardize them.

To begin open coding, select the section of the document (the quotation) that you want to code. Then, right click, choose Coding from the menu that opens, and choose Enter Code Names

Then, a dialogue box will open. Enter the name of the code and then press save.

Then, you will see the code pop up next to the quotation you selected.

Removing codes

If you want to remove a code from a particular quotation, you can click on the code on in the right pane, right click, and choose Unlink.


Merging codes

You may decide after your first round of open coding that you want to merge some codes together to combine similar ideas under one code. You can do this by right clicking on the code you want to merge, choosing Merge Codes, and then selecting the code that you want to merge into in the next menu.

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