Christine Silver, expert in computer assisted qualitative data analysis software, explains the ATLAS.ti quotation level as follows:
"When you create a quotation, you’re marking a segment of data that can later be retrieved and reviewed. You might know, right at that point how and why it’s interesting or meaningful, in which case you can immediately capture that – by re-naming it, commenting on it, coding it, linking it to e.g. another quotation, or a memo. If you don’t yet know, you can just create the quotation, and come back and think about it later, perhaps when you have a better overview of the data set in its entirety and are ready to conceptualise meaning in relation to your research objectives."
"One of my favourite things about ATLAS.ti is that quotations can be visualised and worked with in a graphical window, i.e., the ATLAS.ti networks. The content of quotations can be seen within the network, and quotations can be linked, commented upon, and coded in that visual space. This is very useful if you like to work visually or are used to analysing qualitative data manually with highlighters, white-boards, post-it notes etc. Networks can also be used as visual interrogation spaces – for example to review quotations which have more than one code attached, which is very powerful. Everything you do in the network is connected throughout the ATLAS.ti project."
The ATLAS.ti quotation level offers an extra layer of analysis. In ATLAS.ti you are not required to immediately code your data as in most other CAQDAS software. You can first go through your data and set quotations, summarize the quotations in the quotation name and write an interpretation in the comment field. See Working with Quotations. This is useful for many interpretive analysis approach for the process of developing concepts. Once you have ideas for concepts you can begin to code your idea.
This prevents you from falling into the coding trap, i.e. generating too many codes. Codes that can be applied to only one or two segments in your data are not very useful. Code names should be sufficiently abstract so that you can apply them to more than just a few quotations.
If you find yourself generating 1000 or more codes, take a look what you can do with quotations instead. Based on that develop codes on a more abstract level allowing you to build a well-rounded code system.