As I read more papers - which provide enticing references to yet more papers - I wonder about keeping track of the bigger picture and indexing what I am seeing. So far I have used the mind mapping software MindManager, together with EndNote for referencing. Very good tools, but not enough to hold my thinking together.
In thinking about how best to process the qualitative data that I will collect in the future, I've been wondering about using a CAQDAS package such as Atlas.ti or NVivo (possibly the former as it is used by my university). I understand that any package requires a certain amount of investment to simply set it up and I would still need to define my coding scheme (after all it cannot do everything!). But the more I look into them, the more attractive they look: I see that these packages can be used to manage one's portfolio of sources (docs, pdf, images, video) and for building up a literature review and citation index.
So is the investment in such a tool worth it (I mean in terms of effort as, for example, Atlas.ti offer a competitive price for students) and will it really help me? Do other PhD students have experience of using these tools to support their research?
Would love to hear comments from users, good or bad.
About my research
My research was set in the context of the European Commission’s eTwinning initiative and it looked specifically at the use of eTwinning Learning Events (non-formal learning). It examined how the community influences the development of teachers’ competence in online collaboration and discourse, and it considered the contribution of social aspects and online moderation.
I am very grateful to my supervisor, Dr. Julie-Ann Sime from Lancaster University, and to my eTwinning soulmate, Tiina Sarisalmi, for their invaluable support. And to my examiners, Prof. Marilyn Leask from the University of Bedfordshire and Dr. Don Passey from the University of Lancaster, for their valuable advice.