ATLAS.ti for Qualitative Research: Autocoding

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

Autocoding - A not-so-lazy Tool

Auto-Coding works like a text search to find word instances except it allows you to code those occurances and set specifications as to what and how much to code.  Auto-Coding can also help you quickly code strings of words related to a certain concept in the text.  You can entirely automate the process with your preselections or semi-automate it, running the search function and reviewing the results before making a decision of whether or not to code.

Auto Coding Dialog Box

You can get to the Auto Coding Dialog box in a variety of ways:

The "Code" Tab:

Codes --> Coding --> Auto Coding

The Vertical Bar:

Auto Coding

Once selected, you have some options as to what you wish to search for/

Auto Coding Dialog

Near the top of the box, you select which code you want to use.  You can use codes you already have, or you can use a new one.  

Enter a word in the "Search Expression Box" to search for instances of it across your PDs.  You can also create search swarms discussed in the Category Search Section.  

Near the right hand side, you have the option to set "Case Sensitive," "Use GREP" ( described in the GREP Search Section) and "Confirm Always," which is the option to either fully automate the process or have the program check in with you for each found instance of your search term.

The "Scope of Search" options let you select the range of your PDs to search: either the selected PD, all your PDs, or a certain PD Family, if you have created families.

The next option to set is the size of the quotation.  This is mostly personal preference relating to how you have been coding passages throughout the project.  You may find it helpful to go broad during the Auto Coding process and then go back and review afterward to fine-tune the length of the   quote

Fully Automatic

Fully Automatic coding allows you to set specifications before running the search and then lets you sit back while the program codes for you.

Below, you can see that I want all instances of the word "metadata" in the currently open PD to be coded as "Metadata," the code selected in the dropdown.  Notice I have selected "Single Hard Return" for the quotation match.  It may be good practice to code more than usual in a fully autocoding search because of the fact that you won't be prompted to review the quote segment prior to the program coding your set instance. You can always go back and shorten or broaden the quote's length.  

Fully Automatic


The Semi-Auto Coding option will prompt you after the program finds an instance of your search expression.  It will highlight the passage of the PD in which the instance occurs and ask whether you want to 'code it,' 'skip it,' or 'stop.'  All you have to do is check off the box "Confirm always" before you run the program to have the semi-auto option.

Semi Automatic

As you can see above, I wanted the program to find instances of "challenges" in the selected PD to match the sentence surrounding it.  The program checks back with you to see whether you want to code that selected passage or skip it and move on to the next occurance.

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