Using Computers for analysis

Using computers for analysis

Quantitative analysis with computers

When you are handling large amounts of data and need to store or to arrange data items efficiently, a computer based approach is invaluable. The ability of a computer to make repetitive calculations rapidly and accurately has revolutionised quantitative research and it would now seem rather out of keeping with normal practice to try to undertake such analysis by hand.

There are large numbers of computer programs that can assist with quantitative analysis.

Probably the most commonly used are Matlab, Excel and SPSS all of which are available on computers on the University network.

You can find general product information for Matlab here.

You can find general information about excel here and you have seen some of its functions as you have worked through this theme.

You can find general information on SPSS here.

There are numerous text books to support you in learning how to use these kinds of software; you may find the following helpful:

Impetus is a self-paced, computer based course provided free of charge by the University and can be accessed via the University Blackboard system. Instructions on enrolling for this course are provided at the linked page.


Computers and qualitative research

It is sometimes argued that computer programmes can distance the researcher from the data and thereby influence negatively the analysis and interpretation of meaning. Notwithstanding these criticisms, several good computer programmes exist that can help the researcher to manage large data sets and the processes of filing, storage, coding, retrieval and presentation of data. These Computer Aided Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS) programmes can replace or support some of the manual tasks that qualitative researchers need to undertake. Tesch (1993) suggests that these programmes can help with the different approaches to qualitative research (language orientated, descriptive or interpretative and theory building) by assisting with:

Perhaps the best known programmes are:

This paper gives a comparison of two of these programmes:

Christine A. Barry (1998) 'Choosing Qualitative Data Analysis Software: Atlas/ti and Nudist Compared' Sociological Research Online, vol. 3, no. 3

There are a number of books that provide instruction in using this software and also online tutorials available, amongst others, at :

<< Previous | Next >>