Preface

ATLAS.ti 9 Quick Tour

Copyright © by ATLAS.ti Scientific Software Development GmbH, Berlin. All rights reserved.

Document version: 1.0.0.179 (03.05.2021 18:32:52)

Author: Dr. Susanne Friese

Copying or duplicating this document or any part thereof is a violation of applicable law. No part of this manual may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including, but not limited to, photocopying, without written permission from ATLAS.ti GmbH.

Trademarks: ATLAS.ti is a registered trademark of ATLAS.ti Scientific Software Development GmbH. Adobe Acrobat is a trademark of Adobe Systems Incorporated; Microsoft, Windows, Excel, and other Microsoft products referenced herein are either trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or in other countries. Google Earth is a trademark of Google, Inc. All other product names and any registered and unregistered trademarks mentioned in this document are used for identification purposes only and remain the exclusive property of their respective owners.

Please always update to the latest versions of ATLAS.ti when notified during application start.

About this Quick Tour

This Quick Tour describes the main functions of ATLAS.ti 9, so that you get a quick overview of how to use the software and get started with your analysis. If you need more detail or information about functions that are not described in this manual, you can always use the online help by pressing the F1 key.

It is not required that you read the manual sequentially from the beginning to the end. Feel free to skip sections that describe concepts you are already familiar with, jump directly to sections that describe functions you are interested in, or simply use it as a reference guide to look up information on certain key features.

The sequence of the chapters follows the steps that are necessary to start and work on an ATLAS.ti project. At first, we introduce you to the main concepts and give an overview of the main steps when analysing data with ATLAS.ti. Then we walk you through step-by-step:

  • How to create a project and add documents.
  • How to code you data.
  • How to explore your data and write memos and comments.
  • How to analyse your data and build conceptual networks.
  • How to create reports.

Some general familiarity with concepts and procedures relating to the Windows operating system and computing in general (e.g., files, folders, paths) is assumed.

This is largely a technical document. You should not expect any detailed discussion of methodological aspects of qualitative research other than cursory statements from this manual.

Useful Resources for Getting Started

To those seeking in-depth instruction on methodological aspects, the ATLAS.ti Training Center offers a full complement of dedicated ATLAS.ti training events worldwide, both through online courses and face-to-face seminars in nearly all parts of the world. Visit the ATLAS.ti Academy for more information.

ATLAS.ti Account and Licence Activation

For further information on Multi-User License Management, see our Guide for License Holders & Administrators.

Requesting a Trial Version

Go to https://my.atlasti.com/ to create an account.

Confirm your email address.

Request a trial license by clicking on Trial Desktop.

This brings you to the Cleverbridge Website.

Enter the required information and download the software.

If you do not want to download the software immediately, you can always do this later in your ATLAS.ti account. To do so, select My Applications.

The trial version can be used for 5 active days by one person on one computer within a period of 3 months.

You can initiate the purchase of a full licence from your ATLAS.ti account. After activating the licence, and the program can be used again at full capacity.

You cannot install a trial version again on the same computer.

Activating a Licence

You need to make an online connection at least once to activate your licence. Once the account it activated, you can work offline and no further online connection is required. Please note, if you are using a seat that is part of a multi-user licence, you will blog the seat if you are offline.

If you have purchased an individual license from the ATLAS.ti web shop, your license has been added to your account. The next step is to activate it.

Similarly, if you are a member of a team of users under a multi-user license, you have received a license key, an invitation code, or invitation link from the person or office that manages the license.

The ATLAS.ti License Management System allocates seats of multi-user license dynamically. This means, you are assigned the first free seat under your license. If all seats are occupied, you will be allocated the next seat that opens up.

Log in to your ATLAS.ti account.

Navigate to License Management (the default page) and enter either the license key, or the invite code that you were given by the license owner/license manager.

Click Activate License.

Start ATLAS.ti on you PC and click Check For Updated License and follow the on-screen instructions to complete a few easy steps to activate your license.

Your installation is now activated, and you can start using ATLAS.ti.

Accessing Your Account from within ATLAS.ti

On the opening screen, click on the user avatar. If you have not added a picture yet, it will show the first two letters of your account name.

User avatar

Click on Manage Account. This takes you to the login screen. Enter your log in information (email and password) to access your account.

Manage Account

Logging Out

It is important to understand that the installation of ATLAS.ti is independent of the licencing of the software. You can have ATLAS.ti installed on as many computers as you want. A single-user licence gives you the right to use it on two computers, e.g. your desktop computer at the office and your laptop at home; or your Windows computer and your Mac computer; or the Cloud version and a desktop version. If you want to use ATLAS.ti on a third computer, or if you get a new computer, make sure you log out at the computer that you do no longer want to use. If you have been invited to use a multi-user license, you will have one seat for the time when using ATLAS.ti.

There are two ways how to log out to free a seat:

Click on the user avatar in the welcome screen and click Log Out and Restart.

If you forgot to log out in ATLAS.ti, you can always access your user account via a web browser:

Go to https://login.atlasti.com/. Enter your email address and password to log in.

Select the Log Out option at the bottom left above your avatar in your ATLAS.ti account.

Manage Account

Working Off-Line

When starting ATLAS.ti, it checks whether you have a valid licence. If you know that you won't have online access for a given period, you can set your licence to off-line work for a specified period.

If you have a licence that does not expire, the maximum off-line period is four months. If you have a lease licence, the maximum period is dependent on the expiration date of your lease. This means, if your licence expires in 1 month, you cannot set the offline period to an additional 3 months.

To set your licence to off-line use, select *Options on the Welcome Screen.

Click on the ATLAS.ti icon to review your current licence settings and select a period for offline availability.

Set Offline USe

After the period expired, you need to connect to the Internet again to verify your licence.

Limited Version after Licence Expiration

Once the trial period or a time limited licence expire, the program is converted into a limited version. You can open, read and review projects, but you can only save projects that do not exceed a certain limit (see below). Thus, you can still use ATLAS.ti as a read-only version.

You cannot install a trial version again on the same computer.

Restrictions of the Limited Version

  • 10 primary documents
  • 50 quotations
  • 25 codes
  • 2 memos
  • 2 network views
  • auto backup is disabled

Introduction

ATLAS.ti is a powerful workbench for the qualitative analysis of large bodies of textual, graphical, audio, and video data. It offers a variety of tools for accomplishing the tasks associated with any systematic approach to unstructured data, i. e., data that cannot be meaningfully analyzed by formal, statistical approaches. In the course of such a qualitative analysis, ATLAS.ti helps you to explore the complex phenomena hidden in your data. For coping with the inherent complexity of the tasks and the data, ATLAS.ti offers a powerful and intuitive environment that keeps you focused on the analyzed materials. It offers tools to manage, extract, compare, explore, and reassemble meaningful pieces from large amounts of data in creative, flexible, yet systematic ways.

The VISE Principle

The main principles of the ATLAS.ti philosophy are best encapsulated by the acronym VISE, which stands for

  • Visualization
  • Immersion
  • Serendipity
  • Exploration

Visualization

The visualization component of the program means directly supports the way human beings (this includes researchers!) think, plan, and approach solutions in creative, yet systematic ways.

Tools are available to visualize complex properties and relations between the entities accumulated during the process of eliciting meaning and structure from the analyzed data.

The process is designed to keep the necessary operations close to the data to which they are applied. The visual approach of the interface keeps you focused on the data, and quite often the functions you need are just a few mouse clicks away.

Visualization

Immersion

Another fundamental design aspect of the software is to offer tools that allow you to become fully immersed in your data. No matter where you are in the software, you always have access to the source data. Reading and re-reading your data, viewing them in different ways and writing down your thoughts and ideas while you are doing it, are important aspects of the analytical process. And, it is through this engagement with the data that you develop creative insights.

Serendipity

Webster's Dictionary defines serendipity as a seeming gift for making fortunate discoveries accidentally. Other meanings are: Fortunate accidents, lucky discoveries. In the context of information systems, one should add: Finding something without having actually searched for it.

The term serendipity can be equated with an intuitive approach to data. A typical operation that relies on the serendipity effect is browsing. This information-seeking method is a genuinely human activity: When you spend a day in the local library (or on the World Wide Web), you often start with searching for particular books (or key words). But after a short while, you typically find yourself increasingly engaged in browsing through books that were not exactly what you originally had in mind - but that lead to interesting discoveries.

Examples of tools and procedures ATLAS.ti offers for exploiting the concept of serendipity are the Search & Code Tools, the Word Clouds and Lists, the Quotation Reader, the interactive margin area, or the hypertext functionality.

Exploration

Exploration is closely related to the above principles. Through an exploratory, yet systematic approach to your data (as opposed to a mere bureaucratic handling), it is assumed that especially constructive activities like theory building will be of great benefit. The entire program's concept, including the process of getting acquainted with its particular idiosyncrasies, is particularly conducive to an exploratory, discovery-oriented approach.

Areas of Application

ATLAS.ti serves as a powerful utility for qualitative analysis of textual, graphical, audio, and video data. The content or subject matter of these materials is in no way limited to any one particular field of scientific or scholarly investigation.

Its emphasis is on qualitative, rather than quantitative, analysis, i. e., determining the elements that comprise the primary data material and interpreting their meaning. A related term would be "knowledge management," which emphasizes the transformation of data into useful knowledge.

ATLAS.ti can be of great help in any field where this kind of soft data analysis is carried out. While ATLAS.ti was originally designed with the social scientist in mind, it is now being put to use in areas that we had not really anticipated. Such areas include psychology, literature, medicine, software engineering, user experience research, quality control, criminology, administration, text linguistics, stylistics, knowledge elicitation, history, geography, theology, and law, to name just some of the more prominent.

Emerging daily are numerous new fields that can also take full advantage of the program's facilities for working with graphical, audio, and video data. A few examples:

  • Anthropology: Micro-gestures, mimics, maps, geographical locations, observations, field notes
  • Architecture: Annotated floor plans
  • Art / Art History: Detailed interpretative descriptions of paintings or educational explanations of style
  • Business Administration: Analysis of interviews, reports, web pages
  • Criminology: Analysis of letters, finger prints, photographs, surveillance data
  • Geography and Cultural Geography: Analysis of maps, locations
  • Graphology: Micro comments to handwriting features.
  • Industrial Quality Assurance: Analyzing video taped user-system interaction
  • Medicine and health care practice: Analysis of X-ray images, CAT scans, microscope samples, video data of patient care, training of health personal using video data
  • Media Studies: Analysis of films, TV shows, online communities
  • Tourism: Maps, locations, visitor reviews

Many more applications from a host of academic and professional fields are the reality. The fundamental design objective in creating ATLAS.ti was to develop a tool that effectively supports the human interpreter, particularly in handling relatively large amounts of research material, notes, and associated theories.

Although ATLAS.ti facilitates many of the activities involved in qualitative data analysis and interpretation (particularly selecting, tagging data, and annotating), its purpose is not to fully automate these processes. Automatic interpretation of text cannot succeed in grasping the complexity, lack of explicitness, or contextuality of everyday or scientific knowledge. In fact, ATLAS.ti was designed to be more than a single tool---think of it as a professional workbench that provides a broad selection of effective tools for a variety of problems and tasks.

ATLAS.ti -- The Knowledge Workbench

The image of ATLAS.ti as a knowledge workbench is more than just a lively analogy. Analytical work involves tangible elements: research material requires piecework, assembly, reworking, complex layouts, and some special tools. A well-stocked workbench provides you with the necessary instruments to thoroughly analyze and evaluate, search and query your data, to capture, visualize and share your findings.

Some Basic Terms

To understand how ATLAS.ti handles data, visualize your entire project as an intelligent container that keeps track of all your data. This container is your ATLAS.ti project.

The project keeps track of the paths to your source data and stores the codes, code groups, networks, etc. that you develop during your work. Your source data files are copied and stored in a repository. The standard option is for ATLAS.ti to manage the documents for you in its internal database. If you work with larger audio or video files, they can be linked to your project to preserve disk space. All files that you assign to the project (except those externally linked) are copied, i.e., a duplicate is made for ATLAS.ti's exclusive use. Your original files remain intact and untouched in their original location.

Your source data can consist of text documents (such as interview or focus group transcripts, articles, reports, observational notes); images (photos, screen shots, diagrams),audio recordings (interviews, broadcasts, music), video clips (audiovisual material),PDF files (papers, brochures, reports), and geo data (locative data using Open Street Map).

Once your various documents are added or linked to an ATLAS.ti project, your real work can begin. Most commonly, early project stages involve coding different data sources.

Selecting interesting segments in your data and coding them is the basic activity you engage in when using ATLAS.ti, and it is the basis of everything else you will do. In practical terms, coding refers to the process of assigning categories, concepts, or codes to segments of information that are of interest to your research objectives. We have modeled this function to correspond with the time-honored practice of marking (underlining or highlighting) and annotating text passages in a book or other documents.

In its central conceptual underpinnings, ATLAS.ti has drawn deliberately from what might be called the paper and pencil paradigm. The user interface is designed accordingly, and many of its processes are based on---and thus can be better understood by---this analogy.

Because of this highly intuitive design principle, you will quickly come to appreciate the margin area as one of your most central and preferred work space---even though ATLAS.ti almost always offers a variety of ways to accomplish any given task.

General Steps when Working with ATLAS.ti

The following sequence of steps is, of course, not mandatory, but describes a common script:

Create a project, an idea container, meant to enclose your data, all your findings, codes, memos, and structures under a single name. See Creating a New Project.

Next, add documents, text, graphic, audio and video files, or geo documents to your ATLAS.ti project. See Adding Documents.

Organize your documents. See Working With Groups (see the main manual)..

Read and select text passages or identify areas in an image or select segments on the time line of an audio or video file that are of further interest, assign key words (codes), and write comments and memos that contain your thinking about the data. Build a coding system. See Working With Comments And Memos (see the main manual). and Working With Codes.

Compare data segments based on the codes you have assigned; possibly add more data files to the project. See for example Retrieving Coded Data.

Query the data based on your research questions utilizing the different tools ATLAS.ti provides. The key words to look for are: simple retrieval, complex code retrievals using the Query Tool, simple or complex retrievals in combination with variables via the scope button, applying global filters, the Code Co-occurrence Tools (tree explorer and table), the Code Document Table, data export for further statistical analysis (see Querying Data and Data Export For Further Statistical Analysis (see the main manual)..

Conceptualize your data further by building networks from the codes and other entities you have created. These networks, together with your codes and memos, form the framework for emerging theory. See Working With Networks.

Finally, compile a written report based on the memos you have written throughout the various phases of your project and the networks you have created. See Working With Comments And Memos (see the main manual). and Exporting Networks.

For additional reading about working with ATLAS.ti, see The ATLAS.ti Research Blog and The ATLAS.ti conference proceedings.

Supported File Formats

In principle, most textual, graphical, and multimedia formats are supported by ATLAS.ti. For some formats, their suitability depends on the state of your Windows system. Before deciding to use an exotic data format, you should check if this format is available and if it is sufficiently supported by your Windows system.

Textual Documents

The following file formats are supported:

FormatFile Type
MS Word.doc; .docx; .rtf
Open Office.odt
HyperText Markup Language.htm; .html
Plain text.txt
other.ooxml

Text documents can be edited in ATLAS.ti. This is useful to correct transcription errors, to change formatting, or to add missing information. When adding an empty text document to an ATLAS.ti project, you can also transcribe your data in ATLAS.ti. We however recommend using a dedicated transcription tool or use automated transcriptions. You can add transcripts with timestamps and synchronize them with the original audio or video file. For this you use Multimedia Transcripts.

Multimedia Transcripts

If you have a transcript with time marks linked to an audio or a video file, you can add the two documents to your ATLAS.ti project and view the transcript synchronized with the associated audio or video file.

If you want to work with multimedia transcripts, you first enter the audio or video file to your project. Next you load the audio or video file and add the transcript. See Working Transcripts (see the main manual). for further information.

The following timestamp formats are supported:

FormatTranscription Software
#hh:mm:ss-x#Easytranscript, f4 & f5transcript
[hh:mm:ss]Transcribe
[hh:mm:ss.xx]HyperTRANSCRIBE, Inqscribe, Transcriva
[hh:mm:ss.xxx]HyperTRANSCRIBE, Inqscribe, Transcriva
(h:mm:ss.xx)Transana
hh:mm:ssTranscriber Pro

You can also prepare your transcripts in ATLAS.ti directly by linking an empty text file to an audio or video file entering time stamps while you type the text.

PDF files (Text and Graphic)

PDF files are perfect if you need the original layout. When PDF was invented, its goal was to preserve the same layout for onscreen display and in print.

If the PDF file has annotations, they are displayed in ATLAS.ti. However, they cannot be edited.

When preparing PDFs, you need to pay attention that you prepare a text PDF file and not a graphic PDF. If you do the latter, then ATLAS.ti treats it as a graphic file and you cannot search it or retrieve text.

When scanning a text from paper, you need to use character recognition software (OCR, frequently provided with your scanner) in order to create a text PDF file. Another option is to apply character recognition in your PDF reader/writer software.

When you retrieve text from a coded PDF segment the output will be rich text. Thus, you may loose the original layout. This is due to the nature of PDF as mentioned above. It is a layout format and not meant for text processing.

Images

Supported graphic file formats are: bmp, gif, jpeg, jpg, png, tif and tiff.

Size recommendation: Digital cameras and scanners often create images with a resolution that significantly exceeds the resolution of your screen. When preparing a graphic file for use with ATLAS.ti, use image-processing software to reduce the size so that the graphics are comfortably displayed on your computer screen. ATLAS.ti does resize the images if they are too big. But this requires additional computer resources and unnecessarily uses space on your computer hard disk.

To resize and image manually, you can use the zoom function via the mouse wheel or the zoom button in ATLAS.ti.

Audio- and Video Documents

Supported audio file formats are: aac, m4a, mp3, mp4, wav.

Supported video file formats are; 3g2, 3gp, 3gp2, 3gpp, asf, avi, m4v, mov, mp4, wmv

For audio files, our recommendation is to use *.mp3 files with AAC audio, and for video files *.mp4 file with AAC audio and H.264 video. These can be played both in the Windows and in the Mac version. More information is available here.

As video files can be quite sizable, we recommend to link video files to an ATLAS.ti projects rather than to import them. See Adding Documents for further information.

Geo Documents

When you want to work with Geo data, you only need to add a new Geo Document to your ATLAS.ti project. This opens an Open Street world map.

When you click on the option Query Address, you can navigate to a specific region or location on the map. For more information, see Working With Geo Docs (see the main manual)..

Survey Data

The survey import option allows you to import data via an Excel spreadsheet (.xls or .xlsx files). Its main purpose is to support the analysis of open-ended questions. However, this option can also be used for other case-based data that can easily be prepared in form of an Excel table.

In addition to the answers to open-ended questions, data attributes (variables) can also be imported. These will be turned into document groups in ATLAS.ti. For more information, see Working With Survey Data (see the main manual)..

Reference Manager Data

In order to support doing a Literature Review with ATLAS.ti, you can import articles from reference managers. The requirement is that you are using a reference manager that can export data as Endnote XML file like Endnote, Mendeley, Zotero, or Reference Manager.

If your reference manager cannot export data in Endnote xml format, you can export data in RIS or BIB format and use the free version of Mendeley or Zotero to produce the xml output for ATLAS.ti.

See Working With Reference Manager Data. (see the main manual).

Twitter

You can collect data from Twitter searching for keywords, hashtags, users, etc. ATLAS.ti can collect tweets that are not older than one week !

You need to sign in with your own twitter account to import twitter data to ATLAS.ti. See Working With Twitter Data (see the main manual)..

Evernote

If you collect and store you data using Evernote, you can directly import files and folders from Evernote. See Bring out the best in Evernote with ATLAS.ti 8 Windows.

Supported formats are:

Evernote ExportFile Type
Evernote 2.x database.enb
Evernote exported XML data.enex
Evernote database.exb
Evernote data.reco
Evernote handwritten notes and sketches.top
Evernote for Google Androide note file.enml

Main Steps in Working with ATLAS.ti

Data and Project Management

A first important but often neglected aspect of a project is data and project management. The first step is data preparation. You find more information on supported file formats in the section Supported File Formats.

Apart from analyzing your data, you also manage digital content and it is important to know how the software does it. For detailed information, see the section on Project Management (see the main manual)..

If you work in a team, please read the following section: Team Work (see the main manual)..

Two Principal Modes of Working

There are two principal modes of working with ATLAS.ti, the data level and the conceptual level. The data level includes activities like segmentation of data files; coding text, image, audio, and video passages; and writing comments and memos. The conceptual level focuses on querying data and model-building activities such as linking codes to networks, in addition to writing some more comments and memos.

The figure below illustrates the main steps, starting with the creation of a project, adding documents, identifying interesting things in the data and coding them. Memos and comments can be written at any stage of the process, whereas there is possibly a shift from writing comments to more extensive memo writing during the later stages of the analysis. Once your data is coded, it is ready to be queried using the various analysis tools provided. The insights gained can then be visualized using the ATLAS.ti network function.

Some steps need to be taken in sequence. For instance, logic dictates that you cannot query anything or look for co-occurrences if your data has not yet been coded. But other than that there are no strict rules.

Main Workflow when working with ATLAS.ti

Data Level Work

Data-level activities include Exploring Data using word clouds and word lists, segmenting the data that you have assigned to a project into quotations (see the main manual)., adding comments to respective passages note-making/annotating (see the main manual)., linking data segments to each other called hyperlinking (see the main manual). in ATLAS.ti, and coding data segments and memos to facilitate their later retrieval. The act of comparing noteworthy segments leads to a creative conceptualization phase that involves higher-level interpretive work and theory-building.

ATLAS.ti assists you in all of these tasks and provides a comprehensive overview of your work as well as rapid search (see the main manual)., retrieval, and browsing functions.

Within ATLAS.ti, initial ideas often find expression through their assignment to a code or memo, to which similar ideas or text selections also become assigned. ATLAS.ti provides the researcher with a highly effective means for quickly retrieving all data selections and notes relevant to one idea.

Conceptual Level Work

Beyond coding and simple data retrieval, ATLAS.ti allows you to query your data in lots of different ways, combining complex code queries with variables, exploring relationships between codes and to visualize your findings using the network tool.

ATLAS.ti allows you to visually connect selected passages, memos, and codes into diagrams that graphically outline complex relations. This feature virtually transforms your text-based work space into a graphical playground where you can construct concepts and theories based on relationships between codes, data segments, or memos.

This process sometimes uncovers other relations in the data that were not obvious before and still allows you the ability to instantly revert to your notes or primary data selection. -- For more detail, see Querying Data and Working With Networks.

Creating a New Project

If you just started ATLAS.ti,

In the opening window on the left-hand side of the screen click on the button: Create New Project.
Enter a name for the project, optionally a comment, and click on Create.

If a project is already open,

click on File > New to open the backdrop. From there select Create New Project.

Create a new project

Enter a name for the project, optionally a comment, and click on Create.

Enter a name for the new project

The ATLAS.ti Interface

When you open a project, you see the ribbon on top, the project navigator on the left-hand side and the ATLAS.ti logo in the middle of the working area.

At the top of the screen, you see the title bar where the name of the current project is displayed. It also includes the Save, Undo and Redo functions on the left-hand side.

The ATLAS.ti Interface

You are probably familiar with ribbons from other contemporary Windows software that you use. A ribbon is a graphical control element in the form of a set of toolbars placed on several tabs. They are grouped by functionality rather than object types. Ribbons, in comparison, use tabs to expose different sets of controls, eliminating the need for numerous parallel toolbars. This highly improves the workflow and makes it easier for users to see which functions are available for a given context.

The ATLAS.ti Ribbon

The six core tabs in ATLAS.ti are:

  • Home
  • Search & Code
  • Analyze
  • Import & Export
  • Tools
  • Help

Depending on the function you are using, additional contextual tabs will appear. These will be highlighted by a colored box at the top of the ribbon.

The Home ribbon is the starting point for most projects. You can start here to add documents to a project, create new codes, memos and networks. You can open various navigators to be displayed in the navigation area on the left-hand side of the screen and access all entity managers.

The ATLAS.ti Home tab

The Search & Code tab allows searching through text data by different criteria like search expressions that you enter including synonyms (see the main manual)., by entities identified (see the main manual). by the software, or by sentiment (positive, negative, neutral) (see the main manual).. You can review all results before you code them.

The ATLAS.ti Search & Code tab

The Analyze tab offers a number of advanced functions to analyze your data after coding. See Querying Data.

The ATLAS.ti Analyze tab

The Import & Export ribbon offers a number of import option for specific data types:

The ATLAS.ti Import & Export tab

  • Twitter data. See Working with Twitter Data. (see the main manual).
  • Data from Evernote. See Support File Types.
  • Literature stored in reference managers like Endnotes, Medeley, etc., to support you with your literature review. See Working with Reference Manager Data. (see the main manual).
  • Survey data from Excel. See Working with Survey Data. (see the main manual).

Further you can import and export code books and document list with their groups. See Importing and Exporting Code Lists and Importing and Exporting Document Groups. (see the main manual).

If you are interested in a mixed-method approach, you can generate a SPSS syntax file for further quantitative analysis of your qualitative coding, or export a generic version in form of an Excel file for import in R, SAS or STATA. See Data Export for Further Statistical Analysis. (see the main manual).

The Tools ribbon holds tools for user management (see User Management (see the main manual).) and for cleaning up your project by finding and removing redundant codings. See Finding Redundant Codings. (see the main manual).)

The ATLAS.ti Tools ribbon

The Help ribbon ....

The Help tab

File Menu / Back Stage

Under File you find all options that concern your project, like creating a new project, open existing projects, saving and deleting projects, creating a snapshot (=copy) of your project, exporting and merging projects. See Project Management. (see the main manual).

The file menu - backstage area

Software Navigation

In the following it is explained how to work with the various entities and features in the main work space. If you want to click along, you may want to open the Children & Happiness sample project.

After you downloaded the project bundle file, import it. See Importing An Existing Project . (see the main manual).

When you open a project, the Project Explorer opens automatically on the left-hand side. From the main branches you can access documents, codes, memos, networks and all groups. If you are looking for something in particular, you can enter a search term into the search field. If you open the branches of the various entities, they will only show you items that contain the search term.

ATLAS.ti Interface

To open a branch, click on the triangle in front of each entity, or right-click and select the Expand option from the context menu.

When double-clicking a main branch, the respective manager of the selected entity type is opened. See Entity Managers. (see the main manual).

Double-click to open a manager

Under the main Documents branch, you see all documents. Below each document, you can access all quotations of a document.

Under the main Codes branch, you see the list of all codes. On the next level, you see all linked codes. For further information see Linking Nodes.

Under the main Memos branch, you see the list of all memos. On the next level, you see all linked entities, which for memos can be other memos, quotations and codes.

Under the main Networks branch, you see the list of all networks. On the next level, you see all entities that are contained in the network. If you open the branches further, you see the entities that are linked to the respective items.

Under the Groups branches, you see the list of all groups and below each group, the list of all members of the selected group.

If an entity has a comment, this is indicated by a yellow post-it note attached to the entity icon.

Project Explorer

Browsers

In addition to the Project Explorer that contains all project items, you can open browsers that only contain one entity type. Browsers are available for documents, quotations, memos and networks.

To open one of the browsers, click on the drop-down arrow of the Navigator button. As the documents and codes browsers are frequently needed, you can also launch them directly from the navigator group.

ATLAS.ti Browsers

The single entity browsers open in tabs next to the Project Explorer. Each browser also has a search field on top. This facilitates working with long lists.

Context Menus

Each item in the navigation panel has a context menu, which means a context sensitive menu opens when you right-click. Depending on the entity that you click, each context-menu will be slightly different. Common to all context menus is the Expand and Collapse option, and the option to open the Entity Manager.

Context menus in ATLAS.ti

Explorers

You can open three types of explorers in the navigation panel: the Project Explorer (see above), the Code Forest (see the main manual)., and the Code Co-occurrence Explorer (see the main manual).).

ATLAS.ti Explorers and Browsers

Closing Browsers and Explorers

To close either a browser or explorer, click on the X at the top right of the Navigation Panel.

To close all (or all but one), right-click on the drop down arrow and select the appropriate option from the context menu.

Working with Docked and Floated Windows

When you first open a manager or other windows, they will be opened in floating mode. All windows can however also be docked. Depending on what you are currently doing, you may prefer a window to be docked or floated. Once you have docked a window, ATLAS.ti will remember this as your preferred setting for the current session. This is how you do it:

Open the Code Manager by clicking the Codes button in the Home Tab.

To dock this window, click on the fourth icon from the right (left of the minimize button).

Docking a Window

To float a window , click on the drop down arrow next to the manager name and select Float.

Floating a Window

Always On Top

A floating window disappears in the background if you click outside the window. If you prefer the window to stay on top of other windows, right-click on the button at the top left of the window and select the option Always On Top.

Working With Tabs and Tab Groups

When you load documents or open managers, networks and memos, they are displayed in tabs next to each other. Depending on what you do, it is more convenient to see certain items side-by-side in different tab groups. This is how you do it.

Load for instance two documents. You do this by opening the document tree in the navigation area on the left-hand side and double-click a document.

When double-clicking on two or more documents, they are loaded into different tabs in the main work space. The tab of the currently loaded document is colored in white.

To move one of the documents into a new tab group, click on the down arrow next to the document name in the header and select New Tab Group > Right.

Move document to a new tab group

You have the option to move it into a tab group to the right, left, down or up.

This can also be done with any other items you open, be it a list of codes, a memo, or a network. You can individualize your work space as it suits your needs. An example is shown below.

Individualized Workspace

The Six Main Entity Types

There is a separate manager for each of the six entity types: Documents, Quotations, Codes, Memos, Networks, and Links. The Entity Managers allow access to the entities and provide several options and functions.

To open for instance the Document Manager, click on the Documents button in the Home tab; to open the Quotation Manager, click on the Quotations button; to open the Code Manager click on the Codes button, and so on.

An alternative way is to double-click on Documents, Codes, Memos, etc. in the Project Explorer in the navigation panel on the left.

The managers open as floating windows, but all windows can be docked as well. See Software Navigation.

Each manager contains a list of the entities it manages, and some detailed information about them. At the bottom of the list, you find a comment field in each manager and in some managers, also a preview field.

In the Document and Quotation Manager you can preview the content of either the selected document, or the selected quotation. In the Memo Manager, the memo content is shown next to the comment field.

Another common element is the filter area on the left-hand side, which can be used to quickly access and filter the elements listed in the managers via groups or codes. They allow immediate access to fundamental activities like selecting codes, groups, creating groups and smart groups, and setting local and global filters. This allows a much more effective integration into the work flow and saves a lot of mouse movements and clicks. It is also possible to run simple AND and OR queries in entity managers.

You can activate or deactivate the filter area by selecting the first option in the View tab, which is to show or hide entity groups. See View Options below.

The Split Bar

The relative size of the side panel, list, preview and comment pane can be modified by dragging the split bar between the panes. The cursor changes when the mouse moves over the split bar. You can re-size the adjacent panes by dragging the split bar to the desired position.

The Status Bar

You find a blue status bar at the bottom of the window when the Manager opens in floating mode, or at the bottom of your screen when the manager is in docked mode. It shows the number of items listed in the manager.

Searching

In the filter area and all entity lists, you find a search field.

Use the search field to search for either documents, quotations, codes or memos in the respective managers.

If you enter a search term, all objects that include the term somewhere will be shown in the list. For example, if you enter the term children in the code manager, all codes that include the word children somewhere in the code name will be shown like children: unrelated to personal happiness.

Remember to delete the search term if you want to see all items again.

Sorting and Filtering

The Entity Managers permit comfortable sorting and filtering. With a click on a column header all items are sorted in ascending or descending order based on the entries in the selected column.

Selecting Items in an Entity Manager

A single click with the left mouse button selects and highlights an item in each of the Entity Managers.

Double-clicking an item selects the entity and invokes a procedure depending on the type and state of the entity.

For multiple selections, you can use the standard Windows selection techniques using the Ctrl or Shift key.

Adding Documents

To add documents to a project:

Click on the Add Documents button in the Home tab, or click on the dialog box launcher (drop-down arrow), or drag- and-drop them from the File Manager either onto the document display area or the ribbon.

Adding Documents

If you click on "Add Documents", you can select individual files. If you want to add entire folders or link larger multimedia files (audio / video) to your project, click on the dialog box launcher and select the appropriate option.

All added or linked documents are numbered consecutively starting with D1, D2, D3 and so on.

Linking Video Files

As video files can be quite sizable, you have the option to link them to a project instead of adding them. This means they remain at their original location and are accessed from there. Preferably, these files should not be moved to a different location.

If the files need to be moved, you need to re-link the files to your project. ATLAS.ti will alert you, if there is an issue, and a file can no longer be accessed. You find a Repair Link option in the Document Manager under the Document Manager > Tools Tab (see the main manual)..

Repair Link

Sort Order of Documents

The default sort order is by name in alphabetical order. You cannot change the order of the documents by dragging them to a different position. However, it is possible to change the order of the documents by renaming and then renumbering them. See User-defined document sort order (see the main manual)..

What happens when you add documents to a project

All documents that you add to a project are copied, and the copies become internal ATLAS.ti files. This means, strictly speaking, that ATLAS.ti no longer needs the original files. However, we strongly recommend that you keep a backup copy of your original source files.

When you add documents to a project, they are stamped with a unique ID. This ID allows ATLAS.ti to detect if documents are the same when merging different projects.

When you work in a team and want to work on the same documents, it is important that one person is setting up the project and adds all documents that should be shared. The consequence of not doing is that documents of the same content are duplicated or multiplied during the process of merging projects, and you cannot bring them together. If this happens, please contact the help desk. One of our developers may be able to rescue the situation.

Size Restrictions

Theoretically, size restrictions do not play a major role due to the way ATLAS.ti handles documents. However, you should bear in mind that your computer's processing speed and storage capacity may affect the performance.

Excessively large documents can be uncomfortable to work with, even when you have an excellently equipped computer. The crucial issue is not always the file size, but rather, in the case of multimedia files, the length of playing time.

For textual documents, the number and size of embedded objects may cause extraordinarily long load times. There is a high likelihood that if a textual document loads slowly in ATLAS.ti, it would also load slowly in WORD or WordPad.

For very long texts or multimedia files, scrolling to exact positions can be cumbersome.

Please keep those issues in mind when preparing your files.

A Word about "Big Data"

Please keep in mind that the focus of ATLAS.ti is to support qualitative data analysis and to a lesser extent the analyis of qualitative data.

Big data is a buzz word nowadays, and a lot of big data often comes as text or images, hence could be considered qualitative. ATLAS.ti, however, is not suited for true big data analysis, which is not the same as qualitative data analysis.

As point of orientation, coding can be supported using the auto coding feature. However, you still need to read and correct the coding, and most coding in ATLAS.ti is done while the researcher reads the data and creates or selects and applies a code that fits.

A project is too large if you have so much data that you need to rely on a machine to do all the coding for you and you cannot read what has been coded yourself. If this is the case, ATLAS.ti might not be the right tool for you.

Working With Groups

Groups in ATLAS.ti help you to sort, organize and filter the various entities. Groups are available for documents, codes, memos, and networks.

Common to all groups are:

  • An entity can be sorted into multiple groups. For example if you sort a document into the group gender::female, it can also be sorted into other groups like location::urban, or family status::single.
  • If you click on a group in a manager, you activate a filter (see below). Then only the items that are in the selected groups are displayed.
  • You can combine groups using Boolean operators. See for example Exploring Coded Data (see the main manual)..

There are no groups for quotations, as codes already fulfil this function. Codes group quotations that have a similar meaning. Therefore instead of groups, you see the codes in the side panel of the Quotation Manager (see the main manual)..

Application of Document Groups

Often data come from different sources, locations, respondents with various demographic backgrounds etc. To facilitate the handling of the different types of data, they can be organized into document groups.

You can also use document groups for administrative purposes in team projects if different coders should code different documents. You can then create a group containing all documents for coder 1, another group containing the documents for coder 2 and so on.

Document Group Examples

Another application is the use of document groups for analytic comparisons in the Code Document Table (see the main manual)..

Group Comparisons in the Code-Document Table

Document groups can also be added to Networks (see the main manual). and you can show which codes have been applied to which group.

Document Groups in Networks

Application of Code Groups

Code groups can be used to sort and organize codes in the Code Manager. Code groups facilitate the navigation of codes in the Code Manager as local filter.

Code Groups as local filter

Code groups can be used as global filters in analysis.

Code Groups as Global Filter in Networks

Code groups can also be used in the Code Document Table (see the main manual). for case comparisons.

Code Groups in the Code-Document Table

Users often mistake code groups as a kind of higher order code, which they are not. They do however can be quite useful in building a coding system.

Working with Quotations

The ATLAS.ti Quotation Level

"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."

Interview with Christine Silver, expert in Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software).

The ATLAS.ti quotation level gives you 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. 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 also 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.

Creating Quotations in Text Documents

When you code data, quotations are created automatically. See Coding Data.You can however also create quotations without coding. To do so:

Highlight a section in your text, right click and select the option Create Free Quotation. Alternatively, you can also select the equivalent button in the ribbon.

Create Free Quoations

Once a quotation is created, you see a blue bar in the margin area and an entry in the Quotation Manager and the Document tree in the Project Explorer.

Display of quotations in the margin area

Quotation ID

Each quotation has an ID, which consists of two numbers:

  • The ID 8:1 means that the quotation was created in document 8, and it is the first quotation that was created in this document.

  • The ID 3:10 means that the quotation was created in document 3, and it is the 10th quotation that was created in this document.

Quotations are numbered in chronological and not in sequential order. If you want to change this order, see the next section:

Changing the Chronological Order of Quotations

The quotation ID numbers quotations in the chronological order when they have been created. For various reasons, at times users want the quotations to be numbered in the sequential order as they occur in the document.

When you delete quotations, the numbering is not automatically adjusted. Instead, they are gaps. Renumbering the quotations also closes those gaps.

To renumber quotations:

Open the Quotation Manager and select the Renumber Quotations option in the ribbon.

Renumber Quotations

Adding Quotation Names

Being able to name each quotation has a number of useful applications.

  • It allows you to quickly glance through your quotations in list view.
  • You can use the name field to paraphrase a quotation as required by some content analysis approaches, or to write a short summary.
  • You can use the name field for fine-grained coding (line-by-line Grounded Theory coding; initial coding in Constructive Grounded Theory, or as required by other interpretative approaches) instead of applying codes. If you already apply codes during this phase, you will end up with too many codes that are useless for further analysis. See Building a Code System.
  • Adding titles to multimedia quotations. Seee Working with Multimedia Data (see the main manual)..

To add a name to a quotation, right-click on a quotation in the margin area, the Project Explorer, the Quotation Manager or in the Quotation Reader and select Rename.

Adding a name to a text quotation in the Quotation Manager

The example below shows an example where a name was added to add titles for video quotations:

Making use of quotation names

If you select a quotation in the Quotation Manager, you see a preview of the quotation in the panel below the quotation list. This applies to all data file formats.

Resizing a Quotation

Modifying the length of a quotation is easy.

If you select a quotation, e.g. by clicking on the bar in the margin area, you see an orange dot at the beginning and at the end of the quotation. Move the start or end position to a different location depending on whether you want to shorten or lengthen the quotation. This applies to all media types.

Resizing a quotation

Coding Data

“Coding means that we attach labels to segments of data that depict what each segment is about. Through coding, we raise analytic questions about our data from […]. Coding distills data, sorts them, and gives us an analytic handle for making comparisons with other segments of data” (Charmaz, 2014:4).

Coding is the strategy that moves data from diffuse and messy text to organized ideas about what is going on” (Richards and Morse, 2013:167).

"Coding is a core function in ATLAS.ti that lets you “tell” the software where the interesting things are in your data. ... the main goal of categorizing your data is to tag things to define or organize them. In the process of categorization, we compare data segments and look for similarities. All similar elements can be grouped under the same name. By naming something, we conceptualize and frame it at the same time" (Friese, 2019).

Creating New Codes without Coding

You can create codes that have not (yet) been used for coding. Such codes are called "free" codes. This can for example be useful when ideas for codes come to mind during normal coding work and that cannot be applied to the current segment but will be useful later. Sometimes you also need free codes for expression conceptual connections in networks. If you already have a list of codes, possibly including code descriptions and groupings elsewhere, you can use the option: Importing A List Of Codes.

In the Home tab, click on New Entities and from the drop-down menu select New Code(s). The short-cut key combination is Ctrl+K.

You can also create new codes in the Code Manager.

Click on the button Free Code(s) in the ribbon of the Code Manager.

Coding with a New Code

Open a document and highlight a data segment, i.e. a piece of text, a rectangular area in a graphic document, a section on the audio wave of a video or audio document, or a location in a geo document.

Right-click and select Apply Codes, or use the short-cut Ctrl+J, or click on the 'Apply Codes' button in the ribbon.

Coding with a new code

Enter a name and click on the plus button or press enter.

Coding with a new code

You can continue to add more codes, or simply continue to select another data segment. The dialogue closes automatically.

for more information on working with data other than text, see Working With Multimedia Data (see the main manual). and Working With Geo Docs (see the main manual)..

Display of Coded Data Segments in the Margin Area

The coded segment is displayed in the margin area. A blue bar marks the size of the coded segment (= quotation), and the code name appears next to it. When coding data in this way, a new quotation is created automatically, and the code is linked to this quotation.

Display of coded data segment in margin

Applying Existing Codes

Existing codes can be applied using the Coding Dialogue or via Drag & Drop.

Using the Coding Dialogue

Highlight a data segment, right-click and select Apply Codes, or simply double-click on the quotation.

ATLAS.ti Coding Dialogue

Select one of the existing codes, click on the plus button or press Enter. If you type the first few letters in the entry field, only those codes are presented that match the letter combination.

Code density is not a value that is calculated by the software. It goes up, when the researcher begins to link codes to each other. See Working With Networks.

Drag-and-Drop Coding

Drag & Drop Coding

Drag-and-Drop Coding is possible from the following locations:

  • the Codes branch from the Project Explorer
  • the Code Browser in the navigation panel.
  • the Code Manager

Below you find more Drag-and-Drop options.

To use drag-and-drop coding highlight a data segment, select one or more codes in the above mentioned lists or windows and drag the code onto the highlighted data segment.

Code Browser in the navigation panel: To open the Code Browser, go to the Home ribbon and select Codes from the Navigator section. The search field in the Code Browser facilitates handling a longer code list. Rather than scrolling the list, you enter the first letters of a code.

Code Manager: When using the Code Manager, it is recommend to place it next to the text you are coding into a new tab group. See Working With Docked And Floated Windows. You can quickly access codes using code groups to filter the list, or by using the search field. In the Code Manager you can see and edit code comments.

Code In-Vivo

Use in-vivo coding when the text itself contains a useful and meaningful name for a code.

In-vivo coding creates a quotation from the selected text AND uses the selected text as the code name. If the selected text's boundaries are not exactly what you want for the quotation, modifying the quotation's "spread" is often the next step after creating the in-vivo code. See Working with Codes > Modifying the length of a coded segment.

Select a segment in a text document, right-click and select Code in Vivo, or the corresponding button in the ribbon.

In-Vivo coding can only be applied to textual primary documents.

Quick Coding

Quick Coding assigns the last used code to the current data segment. This is an efficient method for the consecutive coding of segments using the most recently used code.

Highlight a data segment or click on an existing quotation.

Right click and select Quick Coding from the context menu, or use the short-cut Ctrl+L. Another option is to click on the Quick Coding button in the ribbon, but this is (admittedly) less quick.

Keyboard Shortcuts For Coding

CodingShort-Cut
Create Free CodeCtrl+K
Apply CodesCtrl+J
Quick CodingCtrl+L
Code In-VivoShift + Ctrl + V

More Drag-And-Drop Options

  • You can drag-and-drop quotations in the Quotation Manager to a code in the side-panel in the Quotation Manager.

  • You can drag-and-drop quotations from the Quotation Manager to a code in Code Manager.

  • You can drag-and-drop one or more codes to a quotation in the Quotation Manager.

  • You can drag-and-drop one or more codes to a quotation in the Quotation Browser in the Navigation Panel.

  • You can drag-and-drop quotations from the Quotation Browser to a code in Code Manager.

  • You can drag-and-drop quotations from the Quotation Browser in the Navigation panel to a code in side panel of the Quotation Manager.

Display of Codes and Coded Data Segments in the Project Explorer

Under the main Documents branch you see on the first level the quotations including quotation ID and start and end position. If a quotation is coded, you see the codes on the second level.

Display of codes under the Documents branch

Under the main Codes branch, all codes are listed. If codes are linked to other codes, you can expand the code sub tree further. See linking codes.

Display of codes under the Codes branch

The number behind a code, e.g. (1-0) means that the code has been applied 1 time and that it has not yet been linked to other codes (density = 0). The density remains 0 until the researcher manually links codes to other codes, mostly in later stages of the analysis, when relationships between codes become apparent. The code list shown in example 2 is from a more advanced project where links between codes have already been created.

Working with Codes

Modifying the Length of a Coded Segment

Select the quotation by clicking on the quotation bar or code in the margin area and move the handle in form of a little orange circles to the right, to the left, or up or down, depending on whether you want to shorten or lengthen the quotation.

Modifying the lenght of a quotation

Removing a Coding

This option is the reverse function of coding. It removes the links between codes and quotations. Unlike the delete function, neither codes nor quotations are removed; only the association between the code and the quotation is removed.

Margin Area

Right-click on the code in the margin area and select the option Unlink from the context menu.

Coding Dialogue The ATLAS.to Coding Dialogue

Double-click on quotation in the margin area. This opens the Coding Dialogue. Click on Applied Codes to quickly see which codes have been applied to the quotation. Click on the button with the minus (-) to remove a code.

Applied Codes

Replacing a Code via Drag & Drop

If you want to replace a code that is linked to a data segment, you can drag and drop another code from either the Project Explorer, Code Browser, or the Code Manager on top of it.

Adding, Changing and Removing Code Color

Modify Code Color

To change the code color, select one or multiple codes in the Code Manager and click on the Change Color button in the Code tab. Select one of the offered colors.

To remove code color, select one or multiple codes in the Code Manager, click on the Change Color button in the Code tab and click on Remove color.

Code color can also be modified in a network. See Further Options in Networks. (see the main manual).

Renaming a Code

In the Project Explorer, the Code Browser, or Code Manager, right-click on a code and select the Rename option. In the Code Manager, you can also click the Rename button in the ribbon. Another option is to click the F2 key.

Deleting One or Multiple Code(s)

In the Project Explorer, the Code Browser, or Code Manager, right-click on a code and select the Delete option. In the Code Manager, you can also click on the Delete button in the ribbon.

About Renaming, Deleting and Unlinking Codes

Renaming and deleting codes are procedures that seem trivial, but understanding the scope of these operations can be a problem for new users. For both operations you must understand, that there is only ONE code, for example 'source of happiness: children' in a given project, even if you applied this code many times.

In the margin are, you may see the code appear many times while scrolling through your document. In fact, you are seeing the codings for this code. Technically speaking, these are links between a quotation represented by a blue bar and the code, represented by its name and icon.

Removing a coding in the margin area (i.e. unlinking the code) is like erasing a word in the margin of a paper document with an eraser. It only affects one coding, i.e. one specific occurrence of the code. All other occurrences of the same code are untouched. The effect of the operation is local.

By renaming or removing a code from a project, you are affecting every occurrence of the code throughout the entire project. The effect is global. Renaming the code will instantly change all the code links in the margin to reflect the new name. Deleting it will remove all occurrences in the margin (and from all other contexts in which it was engaged, like networks, groups, etc.).

Duplicating a Code

It is also possible to duplicate codes with all its linkages. The duplicated code is a perfect clone of the original code including color, comment, code-quotation links, code memo links and code-code links. Duplicating a code can be a useful option to clean up or modify a code system.

To duplicate a code, open the Code Manager, select one or more codes, right-click and select the Duplicate Code(s) option from the context menu, or select the Duplicate Code(s) button in the ribbon. The clone has the same name as the original code plus a consecutive number, i.e. (2).

This option is also available in the Network Editor. See Further Options in Networks. (see the main manual).

Writing Code Comments

Code comments can be used for various types of purposes. The most common usage is to use them for a code definition. If you work in teams, you may also want to add a coding rule, or an example quote. If you work inductively, you can use code comments to write down first ideas of how you want to apply this code. You can also use it to write up summaries of all segments coded with this code and your interpretation about it. There are several ways to write a code comment.

  • In the Code Manager is open, you can use the comment field at the bottom of the window.

  • In the margin area, you can double-click on a code to open the comment editor. Another option is to right-click on a code and select the Edit Comment option from the context menu, or to click on the Edit Comment button in the ribbon of the contextual Code tab.

All codes that have a comment shows a little yellow flag, and display a tilde (~) at the end of the code name.

Creating a Code Book

The recommended option to create a code book is to use the Excel export:

Open the Code Manager, select all codes (e.g. Strg+A) and click on the Excel Export button in the ribbon.

Select all options that you want to include. Essential options for a code book are codes and comments. You may also want to include groundedness, density and code groups.

Recommended Options when creating a codebook

Example Outcome:

Codebook

Merging Codes

You may begin your coding very close to the data generating lots of codes. In order not to drown in a long list of codes, you need to aggregate those codes from time to time, which means merging and renaming them to reflect the higher abstract level. Another reason for merging is that you realize that two codes have the same meaning, but you have used different labels.

Select two or more codes in the Code Manager and click on the Merge button (or right-click and select the Merge option from the context menu).

Next, select the target code into which all other codes should be merged, and click on the Merge Codes button.

Merge Codes

A comment is automatically inserted into the target code that provides an audit trail of which codes have been merged. If the codes that are merged had a comment, these comments are also added to the target code.

Audit Trail when Merging Codes

It is also possible to use the network editor for merging codes. This provides a visual space where you can arrange your codes, review, sort and order them and decide which once to merge. See Networks: Further Options (see the main manual)..

Splitting a Code

Splitting a code is necessary if you have been lumping together many quotations under a broad theme. This is a suitable approach for a first run through to get an idea about your data. At some point, however, those codes need to be split up into smaller sub codes.

Select a code that you want to split in the Code Manager and click on the Split Code button in the ribbon, or select the option Split from the context menu.

In the Split Code tool, you see the list of the quotations coded with the code.

Click on the button New Codes. Enter as many sub codes as you need.
ATLAS.ti automatically creates a prefix that consists of the name of the code you split followed by a colon (:). After adding all sub codes that you need, click Create.

You can now assign the quotations to one or more sub codes. When you select a quotation, its content is shown below the list of quotation. Assign the quotations by clicking on the checkbox of the sub codes that apply. The quotation is automatically unlinked from the main code that you are splitting.

Splitting a code

After you have distributed some or all of the quotations into sub codes, click on Split Code. Now the sub codes are created, and the quotations are assigned accordingly.

It is not required that you assign all quotations to sub codes. If you are not sure what to do with a quotation, you can leave it coded with the main code and split it later.

It is recommended not to double-code with the main, and the sub code. It takes up unnecessary space in the margin area. Instead, create a code group of all codes that share the same prefix. This way, you can access all data of this category by using the code group as filter.

Mutually Exclusive Coding

If you do not want to allow that a quotation is coded with two of the sub codes, activate the option Mutually Exclusive. This is a requirement for some content analysis approaches and for calculating inter-coder agreement. See Requirements for Coding (see the main manual)..

Options

  • Copy Comments: Select if you want all sub codes to have the same comment as the code you split.

  • Copy links: Select if you want all sub codes to inherit existing links to other codes or memos.

  • Mutually exclusive: If activated, you can assign a quotation to only one sub code. This is a requirement for some content analysis approaches and for calculating inter-coder agreement.

Importing a List of Existing Codes

Importing an already existing code book can be useful for a number of reasons:

  • To prepare a stock of predefined codes in the framework of a given theory. This is especially useful in the context of team work when creating a base project.
  • To code in a "top-down" (or deductive) way with all necessary concepts already at hand. This complements the "bottom-up" (or inductive) open coding stage in which concepts emerge from the data.

You can prepare a code book including code descriptions, code groups and colors in Excel and import the Excel file. This is how you need to prepare the Excel file:

You can enter headings like Code, Code Definition, Code Group 1, Code Group 2, but you do not have to. The headers can be in any language. The columns are interpreted in the following order, whether you add headings or not:

  • column 1: code name
  • column 2: code description (comment)
  • column 3: code group 1
  • column 4: code group 2
  • all subsequent columns: further code groups

Code list for Import

If you color the code names, this color is used in ATLAS.ti as code color.

To import the Excel file, select the Import & Export tab and next Codebook. From the drop down menu, select Import from Excel

Select a file. Depending on whether you have inserted headers in the Excel file, activate or deactivate the option "My data contains headers".

If your project already has codes, you need to decide what ATLAS.ti should do if the list of codes in the Excel table contains codes that are already in your project. You can overwrite the existing codes, or ignore the duplicate codes, so that they are not imported again.

You also find the Import / Export Codebook options in the Tools tab of the Code Manager.

Exporting the List of Codes

You need to use this option if you want to export a list of codes for re-use in another ATLAS.ti project.

To export all codes with comments and groups, select the Import & Export tab and from there Export Codebook / Export to Excel.

Decide whether the Excel file should contain headers for codes, comments and groups, and whether to open the list in Excel immediately.

For purposes of creating a code book for a report or appendix, we recommend using the Export option offered in the Code Manager. This export is already formatted. See Report Examples (see the main manual)..

Building a Code System

A well-structured code list is important for further analysis, where you look for relationships and patterns in the data, with the goal of integrating all results to tell a coherent story. If, as in a survey, you only have questions with the answer categories "yes" and "no" in your questionnaire, your data will only consist of nominal variables. This means that the analysis is limited and does not go beyond the descriptive level. This is like a code list that consists of a set of codes whose analysis level remains indefinite.

See also: Creating a coding scheme with ATLAS.ti.

Benefits of a well-structured code list

  • it creates order
  • it brings conceptual clarity for yourself and others
  • it provides a prompt to code additional aspects as you continue to code
  • it will assist you in identifying patterns

Characteristics of a well-structured code list

  • Each code is distinct, its meaning is different from the meaning of any other code.
  • The meaning of each code is described in the code comment.
  • Each category can be clearly distinguished from other categories.
  • All sub codes that belong to a category are similar as they represent the same kind of thing. Nonetheless, each sub code within a category is distinct.
  • Each code appears only once in the code system.
  • The code system is a-theoretical. This means the code system itself does not represent a model nor a theory. The codes merely describe the data, so that the data can easily be accessed through them.
  • The code system should be logical, so you can find what you are looking for.
  • The code system contains between 10 and 25 top-level categories.
  • The code system has no more than two to three levels. Thus, it consists of categories and sub codes, and possible a dimension like positive / negative, or a time indicator like before / during / after. If dimensions apply to many codes in the code system, it is better to create separate codes and double-code the data with the content code plus the dimension.

How to Begin Building a Code System

The aim of building a code system is that you can access your data through the codes and that you can make full use of the analysis tools. For example, knowing you can cross-tabulate codes with the code co-occurrence table, helps to understand why it is important to either apply multiple codes from various categories to a quotation, or to code in an overlapping fashion.

You start by creating codes to catch ideas, the list of code grows. You then begin to sort and order codes into categories and sub codes making use of the merge and split functions. It is recommended to develop categories that contain only one level of sub categories (two if necessary), so you can flexibly combine the different aspects when querying the data and to avoid unnecessary long code lists and code labels.

You will find that you have different types and levels of codes. Structural codes that code speaker units in focus groups; attribute codes that code socio-demographic attributes of speakers or persons within a document; codes that indicate a category and codes that are sub codes of a category, and so on. As there is only one entity for all of these different things - the code - you can indicate different types and levels using the code label. The table below proposes a syntax that you can use as guideline:

Syntax for Different Types and Levels of Codes

WhatSyntax for Code LabelExample
Initial conceptLower casepersonal growth
CategoryUPPER CASE, coloredEFFECT
Sub codeLower case, same as category colorEffects pos: personal growth
Concept that does not fit any categoryasterisk (*) label in lower case*scientific evidence
DimensionLower case + special character, coloured/time: during
Socio-demographicsprefixed with ##gender: female
speaker unitsprefixed with @@Tom

Example

# gender: female

# gender: male

@Tom

@Maria

@Clara

/time: before

/time: during

/time: after

*single code 1

*single code 2

*single code 3

CATEGORY A

category A: sub 1

category A: sub 2

category A: sub 3

CATEGORY B

category B: sub 1

category B: sub 2

category B: sub 3

You see that the prefixes divide your code system into different sections. This helps you to keep organized and to quickly find what you are looking for. It also allows you to flexibly combine the codes of the different categories or categories with speakers, attributes and dimensions when querying the data.

Below you see a screenshot showing a structured code list in ATLAS.ti:

Example code list

The first two codes are abstract codes (= 0 frequency) that are used as modifier codes in networks. By the high densitym you can see that they have lot of links to other codes. Combatants and non-combatans are actually document groups in the analysis project. As you however cannot link groups to codes, these codes have been introduced to show the difference between the two respondent groups in networks.

If you want to read more about the project and how this code list was developed, you can read the following paper: CAQDAS and Grounded Theory Analysis.

If you have interview data, instead of attribute codes, you use document groups (see the main manual). to sort documents by attributes like gender, age, family status and the like.

Organize your code structure based on conceptual similarities, not observed or theoretical associations, nor according to how you think your will want to write the result chapters, or the possible role they play in any emerging theory.

Use a separate code for each element of what the text is about, i.e. each code should encompass one concept only. If there are multiple aspects, the passage can be coded with multiple codes.

Don't worry if not all of your codes can be sorted into a category. Some codes will remain single codes. In order not to "loose" them in the categories, use a special prefix, so they show up in their own section in the code system.

The Role of Code Groups in Building a Code System

Users are often tempted to use code groups as higher order categories. This defeats the purpose somehow. Code groups are filters and codes can be assigned to multiple code groups. A code of one category can however only belong to one and not to multiple categories. This is why code groups do not serve well as higher order codes. If you want to build categories and sub codes, the recommendation is using the above suggested syntax instead. Indicate a category by using capital letters.

If you have a lot of low frequency code that you want or need to merge, then code groups are a good way to collect them. After you have added all low level codes that belong to the same theme / topic / idea, you can set this code group as filter. This makes it easier to merge the codes. You can then add prefixes, and the category code in capital letters.

Once you have developed categories with sub codes, you can create a code group for each category for the purpose of using it as filter. Code groups will allow you to filter by categories, and for further analysis, you can use the code groups to analyse on the category level rather than the sub code level.

Moving on

Once the data is coded, you have a good overview of your material and can describe it. You can then take the analysis a step further by querying the data. The tools that can be used include the code co-occurrence table (see the main manual)., the code document table (see the main manual)., the query tool, and the networks (see the main manual)..

The goal is to delve deeper into the data and find relationships and patterns. Writing memos (see the main manual). is very important at this stage as much of the analysis does not just happen because you apply a tool. The insights come when reading the data resulting from a query, and when writing summaries and interpretations.

Literature

The recommendations in this section are based on the following authors:

Bazeley, Pat (2013). Qualitative Data Analysis: Practical Strategies. London: Sage.

Friese, Susanne (2019). Qualitative Data Analysis with ATLAS.ti. London: Sage.

Guest, Greg, Kathleen M. MacQueen, and Emily E. Namey (2012). Applied Thematic Analysis. Los Angeles: Sage.

Richards, Lyn and Janice M. Morse (2013, 3ed). Readme first: for a user’s guide to Qualitative Methods. Los Angeles: Sage.

Saldaña, Jonny (2015). The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers. London: Sage.

Exploring Text Data

A quick way to get a feeling for the content of text documents is by creating a word cloud or word list.

Word lists offer word "crunching" capabilities for a simple quantitative content analysis. This feature creates a list of word frequency counts, and some additional metrics like word length, and percentage of occurrence within or across all selected entities. Word lists can be exported to Excel.

Word clouds are a method for visually presenting text data. They are popular for text analysis because they make it easy to spot word frequencies. The more frequent the work is used, the larger and bolder it is displayed. Word clouds can be exported as image.

Word clouds and word lists can be created for:

  • documents and document groups
  • quotations
  • content of quotations by code and code group

A stop and go list including a list of 'ignorable' characters can be used to control the analysis. Words can also be temporarily removed from a list or cloud without the need to add them to a stop list.

For information see Creating Word Lists and Clouds. (see the main manual)..

Creating Word Clouds

To create a word cloud for documents or codes or quotations select one or more items e.g. in the Project Explorer or the respective document manager.

You can always add or remove more items of the same entity type to the cloud or list, once the word cloud has been created.

Right-click and select the option Word Cloud.

Creating a word cloud for selected documents

Other options are:

  • to load a document first and select the Word Cloud button in the ribbon.
  • to open a manager and select the Word Cloud button in the ribbon.

When you select to create a word cloud from codes, the word cloud shows the words of the quotations coded with the selected code(s).

Word Cloud showing frequency for a word

When you hoover over a word, its frequency is shown (= token / number of occurrences of a unique word).

Setting the Scope

Once you created a word cloud, you see a side panel on the left. The check-boxes of the currently active entities are checked. You can check further entities or uncheck already activated entities.

Setting the scope for a word cloud

You can also change the entity type. Options are to change between:

  • documents
  • document groups
  • codes
  • code groups
  • quotations

Change entity type

Context Menu Options

When you right-click on a word, you have the following options:

  • Remove from Word Cloud
  • Add to Stop List
  • Copy to Clipboard
  • Search in Context

Word Cloud context menu options

The option Remove from Word Cloud temporarily removes the word from the cloud.

If you have selected a stop list (see below), you can add more words to it.

The Copy to Clipboard option is useful, if you want to run the auto coding tool based on some words in the word cloud. See Text Search (see the main manual)..

The Search in Context option opens the Project Search (see the main manual). and shows the selected word in its context.

Stop and Go Lists

Words in stop lists are words which are filtered out when processing text. Stop words are short function words that occur very often and which do not convey any particular meaning. Examples are 'the', 'a', 'you', 'is', 'at', 'on' and 'which'. ATLAS.ti offers predefined stop lists in 35 languages. These stop lists are based on the information provided by Ranks NL.

In contrast, if you set a word list as Go List, then only the words that are in the list are counted.

Selecting a Stop List

To select a stop list, click on the drop-down button for Exclude

Selecting a stop list

Below you see an example for a word cloud where a stop list was applied:

Word Cloud with applied stop list

Cleaning up a Word Cloud

In the word cloud above, there are still a lot of words that distract from the content of the interviews like all speaker IDs: INT, SHAZ, DEB, AL, STU.

You can either remove the words from the current cloud, or add the words the stop list. Then they are also not counted in other word clouds that you create later.

To remove a word from a word cloud temporarily, select the word, right-click and select "Rmove"

If you want to remove it from all word clouds permanently:

Right-click on a word and select Add to stop list.

Remove a word from a word cloud

The cleaned up word cloud might look as follows:

Cleaned up Word Cloud

You can modify existing stop and go lists or create your own. See the full manual for further information.

Creating Word Lists

To create a word list for documents or codes or quotations select one or more items e.g. in the Project Explorer or the respective document manager.

You can always add or remove more items of the same entity type to the list, once the word list has been created (see Setting the Scope below).

In the Project Explorer, right-click and select the option Word List. In the Managers, select the Word List option in the ribbon.

Creating a word list for quotations by selected codes

Other options are:

  • to load a document first and select the Word List button in the ribbon.
  • to open a document, quotation or code manager and select the Word List button in the ribbon.

When you select to create a word list from codes, the word list shows the words of the quotations coded with the selected code(s).

Word List showing frequency for a word

When you hoover over a word, its frequency is shown (= token / number of occurrences of a unique word).

Setting the Scope

Once you created a word list, you see a side panel on the left. The check-boxes of the currently active entities are checked. You can check further entities or uncheck already activated entities.

You can also change the entity type. Options are to change between:

  • documents
  • document groups
  • codes
  • code groups
  • quotations

Another scope option is to enter a search term into the search field. This is especially useful when creating word lists from quotations. It allows you create word lists from quotations that only contain specific words.

Another scope option is to enter a search term into the search field to look for a specific document, code, or quotations that only contain specific words.

Context Menu Options

When you right-click on a word, you have the following options:

  • Remove from Word Cloud
  • Add to Stop List
  • Copy to Clipboard
  • Search in Context

The option **Remove from Word## Creating Word Lists

To create a word list for documents or codes or quotations select one or more items e.g. in the Project Explorer or the respective manager.

You can always add or remove more items of the same entity type to the list, once the word list has been created (see Setting the Scope below).

In the Project Explorer, right-click and select the option Word List. In the Managers, select the Word List option in the ribbon.

Creating a word list for quotations by selected codes

Other options are:

  • to load a document first and select the Word List button in the ribbon.
  • to open a document, quotation or code manager and select the Word List button in the ribbon.

When you select to create a word list from codes, the word list shows the words of the quotations coded with the selected code(s).

Word List showing frequency for a word

When you hoover over a word, its frequency is shown (= token / number of occurrences of a unique word).

Sorting Word Lists

Be default, word lists are sorted in alphabetic order by the first column 'Word'. You can also sort by any of the other columns by clicking on the column header.

Sort order of word lists

Setting the Scope

Once you created a word list, you see a side panel on the left. The check-boxes of the currently active entities are checked. You can check further entities or uncheck already activated entities.

Select the scope

You can also change the entity type. Options are to change between:

  • documents
  • document groups
  • codes
  • code groups
  • quotations

Another scope option is to enter a search term into the search field to look for a specific document, code, or quotations that only contain specific words.

Change the entity type

Word List Ribbon

Word List ribbon

Show Scope: You can activate or deactivate the side panel that allows you to select the scope.

Show Details: Display of the word counts of each document if you have selected multiple documents.

Show Percent: Display the relative frequency of each word (word count relative to the total number of words in the document / all selected documents)

Threshold: My moving the slider from left to right, you can determine that for instance only words with a frequency of at least 10 should be displayed. The number of the left-hand side shows the lowest, the number on the right-hand side the highest occurring frequency.

Exclude: You can exclude single character words, numbers, hyphens and underscores.

Stop / Go Lists: To exclude particular words, you can select stop lists. If only certain words should be displayed, you can create a Go List. See the section on "Stop and Go Lists" below.

Filter

  • Ignore Case: Select this option, if you do not want to count words separately depending on whether they contain upper or lower case letters.

  • Show Inflected Forms: The plural forms of nouns, the past tense, past participle, and present participle forms of verbs, and the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs are known as inflected forms. If you activate this options, the word cloud only shows the basic form of the word, e.g. building but not buildings.

Excel: You can export the results of the word list as Excel table.

There are limits in terms of how much data can be meaningfully processed, or moreover handled by and displayed in Excel. Assuming there are 2000 unique words in a document, and you process 100 documents, this results in an Excel table consisting of 200.000 cells.

Context Menu Options

When you right-click on a word, you have the following options:

Word List context menu options

The option Remove from Word List temporarily removes the word from the list.

If you have selected a stop list (see the full manual for further detail), you can add more words to it.

The Copy to Clipboard option is useful, if you want to run the auto coding tool based on some words in the word lists. See the full manual for further detail.

The Search in Context option opens the Project Search (see the main manual). and shows the selected word in its context.

Showing a word in context

Stop and Go Lists

Working with Stop and Go Lists are explained in detail in the full manual.

Search & Code

With the recent advances in deep learning, the ability of algorithms to analyse text has improved considerably. Creative use of advanced artificial intelligence techniques can be an effective tool for doing in-depth research.

Under the Search & Code tab, ATLAS.ti offers four ways of searching for relevant information in your data that can then be automatically coded.

Search & Code tab

You find more detail on each of the four tools in the main manual:

Below only one of the tools, namely Sentiment Analysis is explained:

Sentiment Analysis

Currently supported languages are: English, German, Spanish and Portuguese.

Sentiment analysis is the interpretation and classification of emotions (positive, negative and neutral) within text data using text analysis techniques.

Application Examples

  • identifying and cataloguing a piece of text according to the tone conveyed by it.
  • understanding the social sentiment of a brand, product or service.
  • identifying respondent sentiment toward the subject matter that is discussed in online conversations and feedback.
  • analysing student evaluations of lectures, seminars, or study programs.

Sentiment analysis works best on structured data like open-ended questions in a survey, evaluations, online conversations, etc.

Carrying out a Sentiment Analysis

To open the tool, sSelect the Search & Code tab and from there Sentiment Analysis.

Select documents or document groups that you want to search and click Continue.

Select whether the base unit for the search and the later coding should be paragraphs or sentences, and which sentiment you want to search for.

ATLAS.ti proposes code label for each sentiment: Positive / Neutral / Negative. If you want to use different code names, you can change them here.

Manage Models: If you want to improve your results, you can download and install a more comprehensive model. Currently, it is available for German and English language texts. More languages will be added in the future. The size of the German model is ~ 230 MB and for the English model ~ 110 MB.

Click on Manage Models if you want to install or uninstall an extended model.

Click Continue to begin searching the selected documents. On the next screen, the search results are presented, and you can review them.

The result page shows you a Quotation Reader indicating where the quotations are when coding the data with the proposed code. If coding already exist at the quotation, it will also be shown.

By clicking on the eye icon, you can change between small. medium and large previews.

You can code all results with the proposed codes at once; or you can go through review each data segment and then code it by clicking on the plus next to the code name. You can code all results at once by selecting Accept Proposed Codings from the Drop-Down menu.

Depending on the area you have selected at the beginning, either the sentence or the paragraph is coded.

The regular Coding Dialogue is also available to add or remove codes.

The Search Engine Behind the Sentiment Analysis

We are using spaCy as our natural language processing engine. More detailed information can be found here.

Input data gets processed in a pipeline - one step after the other as to improve upon the derived knowledge of the prior step. Click here for further details.

The first step is a tokenizer to chunk a given text into meaningful parts and replace ellipses etc. For example, the sentence:

“I should’ve known(didn’t back then).” 
    will get tokenized to:
        “I should have known ( did not back then ).“

The tokenizer uses a vocabulary for each language to assign a vector to a word. This vector was pre-learned by using a corpus and represents a kind of similarity in usage in the used corpus. Click here more information.

The next component is a tagger that assigns part-of-speech tags to every token and lexemes if the token is a word. The character sequence “mine”, for instance, has quite different meanings depending on whether it is a noun of a pronoun.

Thus, it is not just a list of words that is used as benchmark. Therefore, there is also no option to add your own words to a list or to see the list of words that is used.

The sentiment analysis pipeline is trained on a variety of texts ranging from social media discussions to peoples’ opinions on different subjects and products. We are using modified pre-trained/built-from-the-ground-up models - depending on the language.

Artificial intelligence techniques have been developed for big data analysis. The data corpora usually handled by ATLAS.ti are considerably smaller. Thus, you cannot expect all results to be perfect. Reviewing the results will be a necessary component of the analysis process when using these tools. When working with the tools, you will see that the tools will add another level to your analysis. You find things that you simply do not see when coding the data manually, or would have not considered to code. We, at ATLAS.ti, consider manual and automatic coding to be complementary; each enhancing your analysis in a unique way.

Quotation Reader

The Quotation Reader allows you to conveniently read quotations coded by a selected code or as a result of a query. You can modify existing codes, which means add or remove codes. Elsewhere, this has been referred to as coding on.

In the Quotation Reader, you can:

  • change between single line, small and large preview
  • add or modify the quotation name
  • write a comment for a quotation
  • apply new or existing codes
  • remove applied codes
  • view a quotation in the context of the original document
  • delete a quotation

The Quotation Reader

View Options: Depending on the length of your quotations you can adjust the view mode. If you have very short quotations, the single line view might be all what you need to see. It is also useful if you have created your own name for quotations, e.g. to paraphrase textual data or wrote titles for multimedia quotations.

Apply Codes: To change the coding for a quotation, either click on Apply Codes in the ribbon or click on the green code icon. This opens the coding dialogue, and you use all options that are explained in the section Coding Date.

You can also select multiple quotations and code them with a new or an existing code.

The Quotation Reader

View in Context: If you want to see a quotation in the context of the original document, either click on the up arrow, or the Go to Context button in the ribbon.

View quotatin in context

Rename: Select a quotation and click on Rename to add a name for the quotation or to modify a previously entered name.

Changing Quotation Names in the Quotation Reader

Open Network: If you want to see all links of a quotation, select one or multiple quotations, right-click and select Open Network, or select the Open Network button in the ribbon. See Working with Networks.

The Quotation Reader

Select All: This option allows you to quickly add or remove codes from all quotations, or to delete all quotations.

If you select all quotations and then the Apply Codes option, you can add a new code or select an existing one. When you click on the + button, all quotations are coded with this code.

Writing Comments for Quotations

If you want to write a comment for a quotation, select it and write a comment in the comment area at the bottom of the Quotation Reader window. Alternatively, right-click and select Edit Comment from the context menu.

Writing a comment for a quotation in the Quotation Reader

Creating a Report

You can export all or selected quotations from a Quotation Reader in Excel format. To do so, click on the Excel button in the ribbon. Learn more about creating reports here.

Working with Memos and Comments

  • "Memos and diagrams are more than just repositories of thoughts. They are working and living documents. When an analyst sits down to write a memo or do a diagram, a certain degree of analysis occurs. The very act of writing memos and doing diagrams forces the analyst to think about the data. And it is in thinking that analysis occurs" (Corbin & Strauss: 118).

  • "Writing is thinking. It is natural to believe that you need to be clear in your mind what you are trying to express first before you can write it down. However, most of the time, the opposite is true. You may think you have a clear idea, but it is only when you write it down that you can be certain that you do (or sadly, sometimes, that you do not)" (Gibbs, 2005).

The ideas captured in memos are often the pieces of a puzzle that are later put together in the phase of report writing. Theory-building, often associated with building networks, also involves writing memos.

Memos in ATLAS.ti can be just a text on its own, or can be linked to other entities like quotations, codes, or other memos.

Differences between Memos and Comments

From a methodological point of view comments are also memos in the sense that comments are also places for thinking and writing.

In technical terms, in ATLAS.ti there is a distinction between comments and memos, as comments exclusively belong to one entity. For example, the document comment is part of the document; a code comment belongs to a particular code and is usually a definition for this code. A quotation comment contains notes or interpretations about the quotation it belongs to.

Comments are not displayed in browsers separately from the entity to which they are attached.

Quotation comment

Quotation Comment

Code comment

Code Comment

Memos

ATLAS.ti memos in comparison can be free-standing.

Example Memo

  • You can write a comment for a memo, for example: use this memo for section 2 in chapter 4 in my thesis.

  • They have a type attribute. This means you can label them as methodological memo, as theoretical memo, organizational memo, and the like.

  • Memos can be linked to quotations, codes and other memos (see Grounded and Density column in the Memo Manager).

  • Memos can be grouped.

Example Memo

Creating Memos

Memos can be created from the Home tab, or in the Memo Manager.

To create a memo from the Home tab

click the drop-down menu for New Entities and select Free Memo.

Enter a name for the new memo and click Create.

Depending on your last settings, the memo editor may open as floating or docked window. If you want to change between floated and docked windows, see Interface Navigation,

To create a memo in the Memo Manager

Open the Memo Manager and select Create Free Memo in the ribbon.

Enter a name for the new memo and click Create.

Begin to write your memo. When you are done, click the Save button and close the window.

Linking Memos

Memos can be linked to quotations, codes and other memos. You can link memos per drag & drop basically anywhere in the program, or visually in networks. See Linking Nodes. Below a few examples are given.

Do not drop a memo onto a code in the margin area. This action will replace the code with the memo, which in most cases is not the wanted outcome.

Reviewing Quotations Linked to a Memo

To review all quotations linked to a memo, hold down the Ctrl key + double-click. This opens the Quotation Reader, and you can read all quotations that you have linked to the memo.

Opening an Existing Memo

You can access memos from everywhere: the Project Explorer, the Memo Manager, in the margin area if you linked a memo to a quotation, or from within a network.

If you want to review or continue to work on a memo, just double-click the memo.

Writing a Comment

You find a field for writing comments in every Entity Manager (see the main manual)..

To write a comment, select an item and type something in to the comment field. As soon as you select another item, the comment is automatically saved.

Changes can also explicitly be saved by clicking on the Save icon int the top right of the text pane.

All items that have a comment display a yellow post-it within their icon.

If you want to add formatting,

click on the icon with the arrow in the top right-hand corner. This opens a text editor that offers a number of formatting option. Alternatively, you can right-click on any entity and select the Edit Comment option from the context menu and write a comment for the selected entity.

References

Corbin, Juliet and Strauss, Anselm (2008). Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory (3rd and 4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Gibbs, Graham (2005). Writing as analysis. Online QDA.

Querying Data

ATLAS.ti offers several tools that support you in querying your data:

Simple Boolean Retrieval.

See Retrieving Coded Data.

Code Document Table

The Code Document Table is a cross-tabulation of codes or code groups by documents or document groups. It shows how often a code (codes of a code group) has (have) been applied to a document or document group. See Code Document Table. (see the main manual).

Co-occurrence Analysis

Use the Code Co-occurrence Explorer to explore coded data to get a quick overview where there might be interesting overlaps. If you are looking for specific co-occurrences and for accessing the quotations of co-occurring codes, the Code Co-occurrence Table is the better choice. See Code Co-Occurrence Tools. (see the main manual).

The Query Tool

The Query Tool finds quotations based on a combination of codes using Boolean, Proximity or Semantic operators. Example: Show me all quotations where both Code A and Code B have been applied.

Such queries can also be combined with variables in form of documents or document groups. This means that you can restrict a query to parts of your data like: Show me all quotations where both Code A and Code B have been applied, but only for female respondents between the age of 21 and 30. See The Query Tool.

Smart Codes

Smart Codes are stored queries. They can be reused and always reflect the current state of coding, e.g. after more coding has been done or after coding has been modified. They can also be used as part of other query, thus, you can build complex queries step by step. See Working With Smart Codes. (see the main manual).

Smart Groups

Like smart codes, smart groups are stored queries based on groups. The purpose is to create groups on an aggregate level. For instance, if you have groups for gender, age and location, you can create smart groups that reflect a combination of these like all females from age group 1 living in city X. See Working With Smart Groups. (see the main manual).

Global Filters

Global filters allow you to restrict searches across the entire project. If you set a document group as global filter, the results in the Codes-Document or Code Co-occurrence Table will be calculated based on the data in the filter and not for the entire project. Global filters effect all tools, windows, and networks. See Applying Global Filters For Data Analysis. (see the main manual).

Retrieving Coded Data

From the Project Explorer, Code Manager or Code Browser

Double-click a code. This open the Quotation Reader and you can review all codings.

Retrieving Coded Data

If you prefer to read the data in context, you can dock the Quotation Reader to the right or left-hand side of your screen in single line format. To do so:

Select the option Dock to Navigation Area in the ribbon:

Dock Quotation Reader to Navigation Area

Single line Quotation List in Navigator

Simple Retrieval in the Margin Area

If you double-click on a code in the margin area, the comment field opens. From there you can access the quotations coded with the code.

Retrieving Coded Data in the margin

Simple AND and OR Queries in The Quotation Manager

Open the Quotation Manager.

Select a code in the filter area. If you have a long list of codes, you can enter a few letters into the Search Code field to reduce the list to only the codes you are looking for:

Filter code list

The list of quotations only shows the quotations of the selected code. If you click on a quotation, it will be shown in the preview area. If you double-click, the quotation will be shown in the context of the document.

The yellow bar on top shows the code(s) you are using as filter.

When selecting two or more codes in the side panel, the filter is extended to an OR query: Show quotations coded with of ANY of the codes.....

Retrieving Coded Data in the Quotation Manager

Click on the blue underlined any operator. This opens a drop-down, and you can change between ANY and ALL.

Building and OR or AND query in the Quotation Manager

  • ANY: Show all quotations linked to any of the selected codes.

  • ALL Show quotations where all the selected codes apply. This means that two or more codes have been applied to the exact same quotation.

If you want to export the results, click on either the Report or Excel Export button in the ribbon. Find more detail see Creating Reports.

Create a report of retrieved quotations

Code-Document Table

You can use the Code Document Table for within and across documents or group comparisons by relating codes or code groups and documents or document groups to each other.

Running an Analysis in the Code Document Table

In the Home ribbon, select the Analyze tab and from there the Code Document Table.

Select codes or code groups for the table rows. The selected codes / code groups are added to the table.

Select documents or document groups for the table columns. The selected documents / document groups are added to the table.

How to make selections: To select an item, you need to click the check-box in front of it. It is also possible to select multiple items via the standard selection techniques using the Ctrl or Shift-key. After highlighting multiple items, push the space bar to activate the check boxes of all selected items, or right click and chose Check Selected.

Code-Document Table

How to read the table

By default, the codes / code groups are displayed in the first column, and the documents / document groups in the first row.

First column

  • Next to each code, the number indicates how often the code is applied in the entire project.

  • Next to a code group, you see two numbers: The first one tells you how many codes are in the group, the second numbers gives you the number of codings. This is different from the number of quotations, as multiple codes from the same code group could be linked to the same quotation.

First row

  • Below a document, you see the total number of quotations in each document.

  • Below a document group, you see two numbers: the first one tells you how many documents are in the document group, and the second number gives you the number of quotations for all documents in the group.

The additional information you get for each selected row or column item allows you to better evaluate the numbers inside the table cells. If the value in the table cell is 10, but the code overall was applied 100 times, this leads to a different interpretation as if the code was only applied 12 times in the entire project.

Table cells

  • The results in the table cells show how often each selected code was (or the codes of a code group were) applied in each document or document group. Counted are the number of codings, unless you select to count words (see options).

  • If you click on a cell in the table, the quotation content is shown in the Quotation Reader on the left-hand side.

Sankey Diagram

As soon as you create a table, a Sankey diagram will be shown in the area below the table. The Sankey diagram ist an alternative view complementing the original table view.

The basic table data model of rows and column entities is represented in the Sankey model as nodes and edges, the strength of co-occurrence between pairs of nodes. The Code Document table uses codes, code groups, documents and document groups.

For each table cell containing a value, an edge is displayed between the diagram nodes. The thickness of the edges resemble the cell values of the table. Cells with value 0 are not displayed in a Sankey view.

You can also view just the Sankey Diagram by deactivating the table in the ribbon.

Code-Document Table View Options

The Code Co-Occurrence Table

The co-occurrence tools search for codes that have been applied either to the same quotation or to overlapping quotations. Using these tools you can find out which topics are mentioned together or are in proximity to each other.

The results depend on how you have coded the data. If you want to examine the proximity of certain issues, then you have to code overlapping segments, or create one quotation and apply multiple codes.

Co-occurrence Table

To open the tool, select the Analyze tab and click Co-Oc Table.

Next you need to select the codes that you want to relate to each other:

Select one or multiple codes from the first list for table columns , and from the second list for the table rows.

To select an item, you need to click the check-box in front of it. It is also possible to select multiple items via the standard selection techniques using the Ctrl or Shift-key. After highlighting multiple items, push the space bar to activate the check boxes of all selected items, or right click and chose Check Selected from the context menu.

The context menu in each of the selection list also allows you to uncheck all selected code, to select all codes, to unselect all codes, to invert the selection, or to invert the checked codes.

The Co-occurrence Table shows the frequencies of co-occurrence in form of a matrix similar to a correlation matrix that you may know from statistical software.

How to Read the Table

  • First column / first row: The number below and behind each code shows how often the code is applied the entire project. This helps you to better evaluate the number of co-occurrences in the table cells.

  • The number in the cell indicates the number of hits, how often the two code co-occur. This means that the number of co-occurring „events" and not the number of quotations are counted. If a single quotation is coded by two codes or if two overlapping quotations are coded by two codes, this counts in both cases as a single co-occurrence.

  • If you click on a cell, the quotations of the corresponding row and column codes are displayed next to the table in the Quotation Reader.

  • Below the table, the Sankey Diagram is shown. You can view both at the same time or deselect either the table or the Sankey Diagram in the ribbon.

The quotation reader always displays two lists of quotations: the quotations of the column code, and the quotations of the row code.

Sankey Diagram

As soon as you create a table, a Sankey diagram will be shown in the area below the table. The Sankey diagram ist an alternative view complementing the original table view.

The basic table data model of rows and column entities is represented in the Sankey model as nodes and edges, the strength of co-occurrence between pairs of nodes. The Code Document table uses codes, code groups, documents and document groups.

For each table cell containing a value, an edge is displayed between the diagram nodes. The thickness of the edges resemble the cell values of the table. Cells with value 0 are not displayed in a Sankey view.

The Query Tool

The Query Tool is used for retrieving quotations using the codes they were associated with during the process of coding. The simplest retrieval of this kind - search for quotations with codes- is what you frequently do by double-clicking ona Code in the Code Manager or a code browser. See Retrieving Coded Data. This may already be regarded as a query, although it is a simple one. The Query Tool is more complex in that it can be used to create and process queries that include a variety of combinations of codes.

A query is a search expression built from operands (codes and code groups) and operators (Boolean, proximity or semantic operators) (see the main manual). that define the conditions that a quotation must meet to be retrieved, for example "All quotations coded with both codes A and B".

A query can be built incrementally which is instantaneously evaluated and displayed as a list of quotations. This incremental building of complex search queries gives you an exploratory approach toward even the most complex queries.

To open the Query Tool:

Select the Analyze tab and click Query Tool.

The query tool ribbon contains all available operators for querying data (see the main manual)., plus a few options that help you build a query.

IMAGE

At the left-hand side you see the list of codes and code groups that can be used as operands in a query. The main space is reserved for displaying the query and the results. At the top right-hand side you find a number of different output options to create a report of the query results.

Remember the results of a query in the query tool are always quotations.

How to Build a Query Using Boolean Operators

The examples shown are based on the Children & Happiness sample projects part 1. You can download and import it, if you want to follow along.

Example 1

Open the Query Tool by selecting the Analyze tab and from there click Query Tool.

Question

The aim is to find all statements where people wrote about the two positive effects of parenting: 'fulfillment' and 'life is richer'.

Next, select the operator OR from the ribbon. It will be added into the white field.

Set operators in the Query tool

As OR needs two arguments, you see two nodes with a red dot that can be filled with codes or code groups. You recognize the active node by the blue frame. Double-click on a code or code group to fill it. You can also drag and drop a code or code group to the node, or click on the Add button in the ribbon. The results of this first part of the query will immediately be displayed in the result pane.

Add a code or code group to a query

Click on the second node to activate it and enter a second code or code group. If you double-click a third code or code group, it will be added to the OR query. Another double-click will add a fourth node to the term, and so on.

Add a second term to the query

Simple OR query in the Query tool

Inspecting the Results of a Query

If you click on an operator node, the quotations resulting from the query will be displayed in the bottom pane. If you click on any other node in the query, the respective results of the selected node will be shown.

The results of a query are shown in the Quotation Reader. The full functionality of the quotation reader is also available here.

Reading the results of a query

If you want to read the results in a detached Quotation reader, click on the burger menu and select the option Open in new window:

Reading the results of a query

The status bar at the bottom of the screen shows the total number of quotations this query results in

f you click on any one of the node in a query, the respective results of this node will be shown:

Showing results of selected nodes

Options of the Result Pane

If you click on the Eye icon, you can change the view mode. Available options are:

  • single line
  • small preview
  • large preview
  • show quotation comments
  • show margin

When you click on the Burger icon you can export the results of the query to Excel.

Options in the result window

Removing or Modifying a Query

To delete a query, click on the operator node and select Delete in the ribbon, or the Delete key on your keyboard.

If you only want to delete an argument (i.e. a code or code group) from the query, click on the respective node and then on the Delete button in the ribbon, or the Delete key on your keyboard.

If you want to change the operator, click on the Change Operator button in the ribbon. Changing operators is only available for Boolean queries.

Options for modifying a query

Example 2

In this example, we show how to build a query with two Boolean operators.

Question

The aim is to find all statements coded with:

("children = level of happiness" OR "children > happiness")

that have also been coded with codes of the code group "sources of happiness".

Select the operator OR from the ribbon.

Add the two codes "children = level of happiness" and "children > happiness" into the two empty nodes as described above.

Example query 2

Select the operator AND to extend the query. The result of the first query is now one of the two arguments needed. Activate the empty node by clicking on it and add the code group "sources of happiness".

Example query 2

Activate the empty node by clicking on it and add the code group "sources of happiness".

Example query 2

You can read the query as follows: Find all statements where people wrote that children either make them more happy, or they experience equal level of happiness and where they also mentioned a source of happiness. This query yields one quotation as result.

Example query 2

You can rotate the layout of a query by clicking on the Rotate Layout button in the ribbon.

If you selected the wrong Boolean operator, you can exchange it by clicking on Change Operator in the ribbon. This saves you from rebuilding the query from scratch if you made a mistake.

How to Build a Query using Proximity Operators

The examples shown are based on the Children & Happiness sample projects part 1. You can download and import it, if you want to follow along.

Example 1

Open the Query Tool by selecting the Analyze tab and from there click Query Tool.

Question

Is positive and negative perception of parenthood related to the attitude whether having children contribute to happiness?

These aspects are captured by the code groups: "positive effects of parenting" and "negative effects of parenting", and the codes "children > happiness" and "children < happiness"

Select the operator Co-occurs in the ribbon.

Example Co-occur query step 1

As all proximity operators need two arguments, you see two nodes with a red dot that can be filled with codes or code groups. You recognize the active node by the blue frame.

Select the code "children > happiness" to fill the node on the left-hand side. You can also drag and drop a code or code group to the node, or click on the Add button in the ribbon. The results of this first part of the query will immediately be displayed in the result pane.

Select the code group "Positive effects of parenting" to fill the node on the left-hand side. The result of this query are 8 quotations.

Example Co-occur query step 1

The status bar at the bottom of the screen shows the total number of quotations this query results in.

You can read the query as follows:

Remember that the position of the code or code group in a query with proximity operators matters. The quotations displayed in the result pane are those quotations linked to the code (or argument) on the left-hand side of the query. Note that the Co-occurs icon shows a black and white field. The black field represents the quotations that are shown (see image).

If you got the arguments the wrong way around, you can swap them by clicking on the Swap button in the ribbon.

To see how the attitude "children > happiness" relate to "Negative effects of parenting", select the code group "Positive effects of parenting" and Delete it from the query.

Deleting an argument in a query

Replace it with the see code group "Negative effects of parenting". The result will be 0 quotations.

Next, test whether there is a relation between the attitude "children < happiness" and a negative perception of parenting by replacing the code on the left-hand side:

Testing hypotheses with a query

Example 2

In the following example, two proximity operators are used in one query.

Question Do respondents who mentioned positive effects of parenting also mention negative aspects?

As mentioned positive and negative effects do not necessary co-occur directly, the task is to find both aspects in the larger context of the entire comment written by each person. This larger context has been coded with the code "blog comment".

Select the operator Encloses in the ribbon. Enter the code "Blog comment" on the left-hand side, and the code group "Positive effects of parenting" on the right-hand side.

First step in the query with two proximity operators

Next, select the operator Co-occurs from the ribbon. The first query now becomes one of the arguments for the second part of the query. Add the code group "Negative effects of parenting" to the empty node.

Second step in the query with two proximity operators

The result shows 11 quotations (if you check the status bar on your screen). As the code "blog comments" has been entered on the left-hand side, each results reflects one comment. So we know that 11 respondents have been writing about both positive and negative effects of parenting.

You can rotate the layout of a query by clicking on the Rotate layout button in the ribbon.

Inspecting the Results of a Query

If you click on an operator node, the quotations resulting from the query will be displayed in the result pane. If you click on any other node in the query, the respective results of the selected node will be shown.

The results of a query are shown in the Quotation Reader. The full functionality of the quotation reader is also available here.

Options of the Result Pane

If you click on the Eye icon, you can change the view mode. Available options are:

  • single line
  • small preview
  • large preview
  • show quotation comments
  • show margin

When you click on the Burger icon you can export the results of the query to Excel.

Options in the result window

Removing a Query or an Argument

To delete a query, click on the operator node and select Delete in the ribbon, or the Delete key on your keyboard.

If you only want to delete an argument (i.e. a code or code group) from the query, click on the respective node and then on the Delete button in the ribbon, or the Delete key on your keyboard.

Delete query or an argument

ATLAS.ti Networks

Visualization can be a key element in discovering connections between concepts, interpreting your findings, and effectively communicating your results. Networks in ATLAS.ti allow you to accomplish all three of these important objectives. These small segments of your larger web of analysis are modeled using the network editor, an intuitive work space we also like to think is easy on the eye.

The word network is a ubiquitous and powerful metaphor found in many fields of research and application. Flow charts in project planning, text graphs in hypertext systems, cognitive models of memory and knowledge representation (semantic networks) are all networks that serve to represent complex information by intuitively accessible graphic means. One of the most attractive properties of graphs is their intuitive graphical presentation, mostly in form of two-dimensional layouts of labeled nodes and links.

An ATLAS.ti network

In contrast with linear, sequential representations (e.g., text), presentations of knowledge in networks resemble more closely the way human memory and thought is structured. Cognitive "load" in handling complex relationships is reduced with the aid of spatial representation techniques. ATLAS.ti uses networks to help represent and explore conceptual structures. Networks add a heuristic "right brain" approach to qualitative analysis.

The user can manipulate and display almost all entities of a project as nodes in a network: quotations, codes, code group, memos, memo groups, other networks, documents, document groups and all smart entities.

If you are interested in learning more about network theory and how it is applied in ATLAS.ti, you can watch the following video: Did you ever wonder what's behind the ATLAS.ti network function.

Opening Ad-hoc Networks

An ad-hoc network is when you open a network on an entity. This will show the entity in a network with all of its directly linked neighbors, except when you open a network for a document or multiple items. In the latter two cases, only the selected entities open in a network. More nodes can be added to such networks using different techniques. See Adding Nodes To Network and Adding Neigbors (see the main manual)..

Opening an ad-hoc network from the Project Explorer

Select an entity in the margin area, a manager, the project explorer or any browser, right-click and select Open Network. Another option is to select the Open Network button in the ribbon. It is available if you select an entity in a manager.

Opening an ad-hoc network from a manager

Opening an ad-hoc network in the margin area

The nodes are initially placed using a default layout procedure, but can be rearranged manually or using any of the other layout procedures. See Layout And Routing. (see the main manual).

An ad-hoc network for a hyperlink

Each time a network is opened on a selected entity, a new network is created. There is no need to save it, as you can easily display it at any time by opening it again. If, however, you rearranged the nodes and want to preserve the new layout, or if you add or remove nodes, then you need to save it explicitly: To do so, in the main Network ribbon select Save and enter a name for the network. Saved networks can be selected from the Project Explorer, the Network Manager, and the Networks Browser.

Basic Network Procedures

Two methods for creating networks are available. The first one creates an empty network, and you begin to add entities as sequential steps. The other method creates a network from a selected entity and its neighbors.

Creating a New Network

In the Home tab open the drop-down menu for New Entities and select New Networks.

Enter a name for the network and click Create. Another option is to open the Network Manager with a click on the Networks button and select New Network in the ribbon of the Network Manager.

Adding Nodes to a Network

You can add nodes via the option Add Nodes or via drag-and-drop:

Adding Nodes Using the Selection List

Adding Nodes to a Network

Select the Nodes tab in the ribbon and from there the Add Nodes button.

This opens a selection list that is docked to the left-hand side of the network. At the bottom of the selection list you see the comments of an entity. The search fields helps you to find faster what you are looking for.

Select the entity type and then the entities that you want to add to the network. Double-click to add the entity to a network; or drag-and-drop the selected entities to the network; or click on the Add button.

Adding Nodes via Drag & Drop

You can add nodes by dragging entities into the network editor from entity managers, group managers, the margin, the project explorer, or any of the browsers.

Open a network and position it for example next to the Project Explorer.

Select the node(s) you want to import into the network and drag-and-drop them into the editor.

Selecting Nodes

Selecting nodes is an important first step for all subsequent operations targeted at individual entities within a network.

Selecting a Single Node

Move the mouse pointer over the node and left click.

All previously selected nodes are deselected.

Selecting Multiple Nodes

Method 1

Hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard, move the mouse pointer over the node and left click. Repeat this for every node you want to select.

Method 2 This method is very efficient if the nodes you want to select fit into an imaginary rectangle.

Move the mouse pointer above and left to one of the nodes to be selected. Hold down the left mouse button and drag the mouse pointer down and right to cover all nodes to be selected with the selection marquee. Release the mouse button.

Linking Nodes and Entities

There are several ways to link nodes:

Linking via Drag & Drop

Linkind Nodes in Networks

Select a node. A white dot appears in the top left corner of the node. Click on the white dot with the left mouse button and drag the mouse pointer to the node that you want to link.

Release the left mouse button on top of the node. If you link codes to codes or quotations to quotations, a list of relation opens. Select a relation.

The two nodes are now linked to each other. In case you linked two codes or two quotations to each other, the relation name is displayed above the line.

If none of the existing relations is suitable, select New Relation Type and create a new relation (see the main manual).. The new relation will immediately be applied to the link.

Linking Two Nodes Using the Ribbon Icon

Linking via Ribbon

Select a node in a network and click on the Link button in the ribbon.

A black line appears. Move the end on top of another node and left-click.

If you link codes to codes or quotations to quotations, a list of relation opens. Select a relation.

You need to use the method for linking if you want to link more than two nodes at a time.

When you link two codes to each other, the Density counts goes up. For instance, if six source codes are linked to one target code, the density for the target code is 6; If the source codes have no other links, then their density count is 1. The density count for memos counts the connection to other memos and codes. If a memo is linked to two codes and one other memo, its density is 3.

Linking Three or More Nodes

Linking multiple nodes

Select all nodes that you want to link to one other node. See Basis Network Proecdures > Selecting Nodes for further information on how to select multiple nodes.

In the ribbon, click on the Link button. A black line appears. Move the end on top of the node you want the other nodes to be linked with and left-click. If you link codes to codes or quotations to quotations, a list of relation opens. Select a relation. Only one relation for all links can be selected.

Editing a Link

Move the mouse pointer to the line and left-click. The selected link label will be displayed boxed.

Right-click and open the context menu, or select the available options in the ribbon.

  • Open Network: opens a new network for the two nodes linked by this link.

  • Edit Comment: Use the comment field to explain why these two nodes are linked-

  • Flip Link: Use this option if you want to change the direction of a transitive or asymmetric link. (see the main manual).

  • Cut Link: removes the link between the two nodes

  • Change Relation: Select a different relation from the list of available relations or create a new one and apply it.

For second class links that do not have a name, only the cut link option is available.

Cutting Multiple Links

Cutting Multiple Links

Select one or more nodes (= source) whose connections to another node (= target) you want to remove.

Click the Cut Links button in the ribbon and move the mouse pointer over the target node. If you do the target node is boxed, and the links to be cut are colored in orange. Click the left mouse button on the target node.

The links between nodes in a network are real connections between the entities. Therefore, creating and removing links should not be regarded as solely "cosmetic" operations. Links make permanent changes to the project.

Linking Codes to Codes, Quotations to Quotations, Memos to Memos in Managers and Browsers

Quotations, codes and memos can also be linked to each other in the Manager, the Project Explorer, or the respective entity browsers.

Select one or more source items in the list pane of the Manager, in the respective sub-branches of the Project Explorer, or in the entity browsers and drag them to the target item in the same pane.

Select a relation from the list of relations in case you link two codes or two quotations, or select New Relation Type and create a new relation. (see the main manual).

Linking Entities of Different Types

When you code your data reading through a document, listening to audio data, viewing an image or video file, you are linking codes to quotations. This can also be done via drag & drop from the Project Explorer or any of the entity browsers to the list of codes or quotations in a manager.

This also applies to linking memos to codes, or memos to quotations.

Exporting Networks

Networks can be saved as graphic file, or exported as XPS or PDF file, or printed.

Saving a Network as Graphic File

Exporting Networks

Open the network.

In the ribbon of the network, select the Export tab and then Export Bitmap.

When saving the file, you can choose among the following graphic file formats:

  • *.png
  • *.jpg
  • *.gif
  • *.tif
  • *.bmp

Saving a Network in the Microsoft XPS format

The XPS format is Microsoft’s alternative to PDF.

To save a network in the Microsoft XPS format, select the Export XPS option.

Saving a Network in PDF format

If you want to create a PDF file, a PDF writer needs to be installed on your computer (e.g. Adobe).

To create a PDF file from your network, select the Print option and chose your PDF Writer as printer.

Creating Reports

ATLAS.ti offers user configurable reports in Word, PDF or Excel format. This means you can decide what should be displayed in the report. You find a report option in each browser at the top right-hand side in the ribbon.

Types of Reports

If there is no ribbon option, and you want to export quotations from a result of a query, look for the burger menu:

Burger menu

In addition, predefined reports are available in the Query Tool (see the main manual). under the Report button. If you hover over an option with your mouse, the screen tip explains what each of the report contains.

Additional report options in the query tool

Tables can be exported as Excel file. See Code Document Table (see the main manual). and Code Co-Occurrence Table (see the main manual)..

Excel export for tables

Create Word / PDF Reports

Creating Report from the Code Manager

If you want a text report of quotations for selected codes, then creating a report form the Code Manager is the best option.

Open the Code Manager. Select one or multiple codes or set a code group as filter if you do not want to create a report for all codes.

Select a filter option: If you selected some codes or set a code group as filter, you can still change and export all codes.

Scope of the report

You can group the report by:

Grouping option for code reports

By "smartness" means that quotations of smart codes are listed first in the report.

When you select a grouping option, further options are presented to you, e.g. whether you want to also export the comment of the code group or document.

If a selected code is in multiple code groups, then the quotations for this code will occur multiple times in the report.

Next select what should be included in report. When selecting Groups, Quotations, Memos or Codes, you can select further options. To do so, click on the small triangle before the item to open the branch. For Quotations for instance 'Content' is already pre-selected. You may further want to select to also include quotation comments, other linked codes or memos in the report.

Selecting the content for the reports

After you made your selections, click Create Report to open the report. It is a read-only report. You can save it as rtf file or copy and paste it into a Word document.

A code report

Creating Reports from the Quotation Manager

Open the Quotation Manager. Select one or multiple quotations or set one or more codes as filter if you do not want to create a report for all quotations.

Select a filter option: If you selected a few quotations or set a code as filter, you can still change and export all quotations.

Scope of the report

You can group the report by:

Grouping options for reports

When you select a grouping option, further options are presented to you, e.g. whether you want to also include the comment of the code group or document.

Note, if you group by documents or code groups, and a document or code is in multiple groups, then the quotation will occur twice or more times in the report. The same applies if a quotation is coded by multiple codes. If you group by codes, the quotation will be listed under each code that applies.

Next select what should be included in report:

Select what to include in the report

When selecting Codes, Memos or Hyperlinks, you can select further options. To do so, click on the small triangle before the item to open the branch.

After you made your selections, click Create Report to open the report. It is a read-only report. You can save it as rtf or PDF file or copy and paste it into a Word document.

Text Report

Below each quotation you see the codes that have been applied.

Document Reports

You may for example print a report that lists all documents with their comments.

Open the Document Manager. Select one or multiple documents or set a document group as filter if you do not want to create a report for all documents.

Select a filter option: If you selected some documents or set a document group as filter, you can still change and export all documents.

Scope of the report

You can group the report by:

Grouping options for reports

When you select a grouping option, further options are presented to you, e.g. whether you want to include the comment of the entity you group by.

If you group by document groups and a document is in multiple document groups, the document will occur multiple times in the report. If you group by codes, then the document will be listed under each code that applies, and so on.

Next select what should be included in report:

Select the content for the report

When selecting Groups, Quotations or Codes, you can select further options. To do so, click on the small triangle before the item to open the branch.

After you made your selections, click Create Report to open the report. It is a read-only report. You can save it as rtf file or copy and paste it into a Word document.

Report of documents with comments

Memo Reports

A useful memo report could be a report of all memos with their comments, or a report of a memo with all linked quotations.

Open the Memo Manager. Select one or multiple memos or set a memo group as filter if you do not want to create a report for all memos.

Select a filter option: If you selected some memos or set a memo group as filter, you can still change and export all documents.

Set the scope for the report

You can group the report by:

Select a grouping option

When you select a grouping option, further options are presented to you, e.g. whether you want to include the comment of the entity you group by.

If a selected memo is in multiple memo groups, then the memos will occur multiple times in the report.

Next select what should be included in report:

Select what to include in the report

When selecting Groups, Memos, Codes or Quotations, you can select further options. To do so, click on the small triangle before the item to open the branch.

After you made your selections, click Create Report to open the report. It is a read-only report. You can save it as rtf file or copy and paste it into a Word document.

Report of a memo with linkd quotations

Creating Excel Reports

In every manager you find a button to create an Excel report. A frequently used report for example is a Quotation Report by Codes. This is how you can generate such a report:

Report: All Quotations for a Code

Open the Quotation Manager. Select a code in the filter area on the left.

Click on the Excel Export button and select the following options:

  • ID

  • Select Quotation Name only when you have renamed the quotation.

  • Document

  • Quotation Content

  • Quotation Comment (optional)

  • Select Codes if you want to see other codes that have been applied to a quotation

  • Reference (start and end position of the quotation in the document)

Excel Report for Quotations

For further examples see Report Examples (see the main manual).

Info Sheet for Excel Reports

All Excel reports have an additional sheet that shows meta information like the type of the report, the project name, date of export and name of exporting user.

The info sheets for reports based on the Code Document- and the Code Co-occurrence Table, and Inter-coder Agreement Analysis contain further information.

  • abbreviations that are use

  • Code Document Table: Information about which relative frequency count is used

  • Code Co-occurrence Table: whether the c-coefficient was selected

  • ICA reports: coder names

Info Sheet in Excel

Info sheet for Excel Reports

Creating a Project Backup

ATLAS.ti 9 projects cannot be used in previous versions.

Please export your projects on a regular basis and store the bundle files in a safe location. In case something happens to your computer, you still have a copy of your project to fall back on!

To create a backup of your project, you need to export it and save it as project bundle file on your computer, an external drive, a server or cloud location.

A project bundle file serves as external backup of your project independent of the ATLAS.ti installation on your computer.

  • The project bundle file contains all documents that you have added or linked to a project, and the project file that contains all of your coding, the codes, all memos,comments, networks and links. Large audio, or video files can be excluded from the bundle.

  • Project bundle files are also used to transfer projects between computers. They can be read by both ATLAS.ti Mac and Windows. See Project Transfer (see the main manual)..

  • If your project contains linked documents, they can be excluded when creating a project bundle file. See "Creating Partial Bundles" below.

Exporting a Project

To export your project to either save it as backup or to use it for transferring it to a different computer:

Select File > Export.

Click on the Project Bundle button.

Exporting a project

If your project does not contain audio or video files, the Windows File Manager opens. For further information, on how to work with audio, or video files, see the full manual.

Select a location for storing the project bundle file.

The default name for the bundle will be the project name plus the name of the currently logged-in user and the date: project name (user name YYYY-MM-DD).

You can rename the project bundle file at this stage. This, however, does not change the name of the project that is contained within the bundle!

Think of the project bundle file like a box that contains your project. Putting a different label on the outside of the box does not change anything that is inside, which is your project with all your coded segments, comments, memos, networks, etc. and all of the documents that have been added to it. When you import the project bundle, the project name after import will still be the original name. If you want to rename the project file, you need to do this either during the process of importing the project, or on the opening screen. See Project Management (see the main manual)..

Project Transfer

In order to transfer a project to a different computer, e.g. to share it with team members, you need to create a project bundle file. See above.

Appendix

The following information has been compiled for the appendix:

  • System Requirements

  • Language Settings

  • Preference Settings (see the main manual).

  • Service Packs & Patches -- Live Update (see the main manual).

  • Get In Touch (see the main manual).

  • Useful Resources: Here you find links to the ATLAS.ti website, the Helpdesk, video tutorials, manuals in PDF format to download, the research blog and publications on the use of ATLAs.ti, including an article by Prof. Krippendorff about the implementation of inter-coder agreement in ATLAS.ti.

System Requirements

The system requirements are:

  • Windows 10, at least Anniversary Update 2016. ATLAS.ti 9 is 64-Bit only.

  • min. 8 GB RAM

  • 10 GB space on the hard drive

See also: https://atlasti.com/product/technical-info/

Language Settings

ATLAS.ti recognized the language or your Operating System and will set the language accordingly. Currently the following user interface languages are available:

  • English
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Portuguese
  • Simplified Chinese

For all other OS languages that are not listed above, the default language is English.

Changing the Display Language

To change the user interface language, select File > Options > Application Preferences > Display Language.

Changing the Display Language

Useful Resources

The ATLAS.ti Welcome Screen (see the main manual). contains links to manuals, sample projects and video tutorials. The News sections informs you about current developments, updates that are released, interesting papers we have come across, use cases, and our newsletter.

The ATLAS.ti Website

https://atlasti.com/

The ATLAS.ti website should be a regular place to visit. Here you will find important information such as video tutorials, additional documentation of various software features, workshop announcements, special service providers, and announcements of recent service packs and patches.

Getting Support

https://support.atlasti.com

From within ATLAS.ti, select Help > Online Resources / Contact Support. Or access the Support Center directly via the above URL.

ATLAS.ti 9 -- What's New

What's New in ATLAS.ti 9

This document is intended specifically for users who already have experience using the previous version.

Video Tutorials

If you like to learn via video tutorials, we offer a range of videos covering technical as well as methodological issues.

ATLAS.ti 9 Video Tutorials

Sample Projects

You can download a number of different sample projects from our website. Currently English and Spanish language projects are available. The projects feature different types of data sources:

  • text
  • PDF
  • image
  • video
  • geo data

.... and different data types:

  • interview transcripts
  • reports
  • online data
  • evaluation data
  • survey
  • literature review

You can use them for yourself to get to know ATLAS.ti, or you can use them for teaching purposes. If available, also the raw data are provided.

PDF Manuals

ATLAS.ti 9 Windows Full Manual and other documentations.

Research Blog

The ATLAS.ti Research Blog plays a very important role in the development and consolidation of the international community of users. Consultants, academics, and researchers publish short and practical articles highlighting functions and procedures with the software, and recommending strategies to successfully incorporate ATLAS.ti into a qualitative data analysis process. We invite you to submit short articles explaining interesting ways of making the best use of ATLAS.ti, as well as describing how you are using it in your own research. To do so, please contact us.

Inter-coder Agreement in ATLAS.ti by Prof. Krippendorff

We have been closely working with Prof. Krippendorff on the implementation to make the original Krippendorff alpha coefficient useful for qualitative data analysis. This for instance required an extension and modification of the underlying mathematical calculation to account for multi-valued coding. (see the main manual).. You can download an article written by Prof. Krippendorff about the implementation of the alpha family of coefficients in ATLAS.ti.

Publications

  • Friese, Susanne (2019). Qualitative Data Analysis with ATLAS.ti. London: Sage. 3. edition.

  • Friese, Susanne (2019). Grounded Theory Analysis and CAQDAS: A happy pairing or remodelling GT to QDA? In: Antony Bryant and Kathy Charmaz (Eds.). The SAGE Handbook of Current Developments in Grounded Theory, 282-313. London: Sage.

  • Friese, Susanne (2018). Computergestütztes Kodieren am Beispiel narrativer Interviews. In: Pentzold, Christian; Bischof, Andreas & Heise, Nele (Hrsg.) Praxis Grounded Theory. Theoriegenerierendes empirisches Forschen in medienbezogenen Lebenswelten. Ein Lehr- und Arbeitsbuch, S. 277-309. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

  • Friese, Susanne, Soratto, Jacks and Denise Pires (2018). Carrying out a computer-aided thematic content analysis with ATLAS.ti. MMG Working Paper 18-0.

  • Friese, Susanne (2016). Grounded Theory computergestützt und umgesetzt mit ATLAS.ti. In Claudia Equit & Christoph Hohage (Hrsg.), Handbuch Grounded Theory – Von der Methodologie zur Forschungspraxis (S.483-507). Weinheim: Beltz Juventa.

  • Friese, Susanne (2016). Qualitative data analysis software: The state of the art. Special Issue: Qualitative Research in the Digital Humanities, Bosch, Reinoud (Ed.), KWALON, 61, 21(1), 34-45.

  • Friese, Susanne (2016). CAQDAS and Grounded Theory Analysis. Working Papers WP 16-07

  • McKether, Will L. and Friese, Susanne (2016). Qualitative Social Network Analysis with ATLAS.ti: Increasing power in a blackcommunity.

  • Friese, Susanne & Ringmayr, Thomas, Hrsg (2016). ATLAS.ti User Conference proceedings: Qualitative Data Analysis and Beyond. Universitätsverlag TU Berlin. https://depositonce.tu-berlin.de/bitstream/11303/5404/3/ATLASti_proceedings_2015.pdf

  • Paulus, Trena M. and Lester, Jessica. N. (2021). Doing Qualitative Research in a Digital World. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  • Paulus, Trena M., Lester, Jessica. N. and Dempster, Paul (2013).Digital Tools for Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  • Silver, Christina and Lewins, Ann (2014). Using Software in Qualitative Research. London: Sage.

  • Konopásek, Zdenék (2007). [Making thinking visible with ATALS.ti: computer assisted qualitative analysis as textual practices 62 paragraphs. (http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0802124)

  • Woolf,Nicholas H. and Silver, Christina (2018). Qualitative Analysis Using ATLAS.ti: The Five Level QDA Method. New York: Routledge.

Get in Touch

Social Media

You can access all social media channels from within ATLAS.ti by selecting Help > Social Media.

Stay updated with the latest news on product updates, special offers, new training materials, or interesting articles and links we find. We are also happy to hear from users via these channels. Stop by and let us know about your projects and experience with ATLAS.ti!

Stop by and let us know about your projects and experience with ATLAS.ti!

The ATLAS.ti YouTube channel offers a variety of video materials:

  • Overview of the software functionality
  • Recorded webinars
  • Video tutorials that help you to learn the software.

Videos are available in English and Spanish.