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Software Tools for Qualitative Research


Many qualitative researchers use computer-assisted software tools to undertake their studies (Miles, Huberman, & Saldaña, 2014). Although there are many types of software available to researchers, only some of them have the tools for solving complex tasks in the qualitative data analysis process (Miles et al., 2014). For example, some qualitative research software tools use hierarchical trees to analyze research data, while others categorize such research materials using unique metrics (Creswell, 2012). The main types of software available for qualitative researchers include Dedoose, Atlas. ti, MAXQDA, and NVivo (Scientific Software Development, 2014). This paper evaluates these software tools and recommends one of them for my proposed dissertation.

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HyperRESEARCH is a common software tool for analyzing qualitative data. It is different from the NVivo technique because it allows a researcher to conduct his study in his way (Researchware, Inc., 2014). Most researchers like to use the HyperRESEARCH technique because it accommodates different operating systems (including Microsoft and Mac) (Scientific Software Development, 2014). This advantage is essential for studies that use different researchers because it allows them to use the software with different computers.


NVivo is an internationally recognized software tool for qualitative research that traces its roots to Australian institutions of higher learning (Scientific Software Development, 2014). Although it has a relatively steep learning curve, compared to HyperRESEARCH, researchers have often used it for analyzing unstructured qualitative data (Silvana & Judith, 2009).


NVivo and Atlas are good software tools because they are applicable in computers that have a Mac operating system. However, before the introduction of Dedoose, researchers had few options to choose from, if they wanted to conduct Mac-based research studies (Hahn, 2008). Often, researchers had to depend on Atlas. ti or NVivo by using hard drive partitions to conduct Mac-based research (Scientific Software Development, 2014). However, this process defeated the purpose of having a Mac operating system in the first place. Furthermore, this option was expensive. Nonetheless, Dedoose changed the dynamics of qualitative research by providing qualitative researchers with the option of using whichever operating system they wanted. Launched in 2010, the software tool also gave researchers the option of using it on their “iPads” (Scientific Software Development, 2014).

Comparison of NVivo, HyperRESEARCH, and Dedoose

NVivo, HyperRESEARCH, and Dedoose have different types of software locations. While NVivo is a desktop future web tool, HyperRESEARCH is a desktop tool and Dedoose is a web tool (IST, 2014). All the software packages have the same business model – paid business model (IST, 2014). However, this similarity does not stretch to customer support availability because NVivo and HyperRESEARCH have an efficient customer support system, while Dedoose has “medium” customer support efficacy. The NVivo software tool is also superior to the other two tools because it has a high documentation quality, while HyperRESEARCH has a “fair” documentation quality (IST, 2014).

Lastly, Dedoose has a poor documentation quality (Lewins & Silver, 2007). Cost is another important issue that distinguishes the three software tools highlighted in this paper. Indeed, all the software tools have a “paid” business model. Dedoose has the most flexible pricing plan, which depends on monthly payments. IST (2014) clarifies that the base price for using the software package is $12.95. Comparatively, NVivo adopts an annual pricing plan of $2,345 per year (IST, 2014).

HyperRESEARCH also has the same pricing model and costs up to $2,300 yearly (IST, 2014). Dedoose is the only software package that does not charge an extra cost for upgrades. However, all three packages offer discounts for multiple usages. Therefore, departments and institutions often use the software tools at a lower cost than individual researchers do.

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Will the Software Packages be Necessary for my Dissertation?

Based on the nature of my dissertation, using a software tool would be appropriate because it would shorten the research time. Similarly, the software would provide a rigorous coding and interpretation process (Tesch, 2013). This way, I will be equipped with an enhanced data management framework. These goals align with the main purpose of undertaking qualitative research because it aims to deconstruct blocks of data through fragmentation. Thereafter, these blocks of data should coalesce into different categories that have the same correlation patterns. This way, the research would show conceptual and theoretical correlations among the categories identified.

This is the main purpose of the qualitative research design (Janesick, 2004). The NVivo software tool will help me to meet this goal. I choose this tool because I have used it before and based on its comparative performance (with other software tools), it is the most superior software package (compared to HyperRESEARCH and Dedoose).


This paper shows that there are many types of software tools for analyzing qualitative data. Some of the notable ones are Dedoose, HyperRESEARCH, Atlas. ti, MAXQDA, and NVivo. However, this paper has focused on two of the four tools (Dedoose and HyperRESEARCH) and evaluated how they compare to NVivo. Evidence shows that, besides having a “paid” business model, all the software tools have different documentation qualities, use different software locations, and have varied customer service availabilities.

These differences show that all the tools have different merits and demerits. However, this paper chooses to use the NVivo technique because it is the superior tool of the three software tools analyzed. It has a high documentation quality, uses both desktop and web platforms, and has the strongest customer support. Furthermore, I have accumulated enough experience using the software, in my previous research studies. Therefore, its use is bound to improve the rigour of my research and enhance the data management process.


Creswell, J. (2012). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Hahn, C. (2008). Doing Qualitative Research Using Your Computer: A Practical Guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

IST. (2014). Qualitative Data Analysis Software Comparison. Web.

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Janesick, V. (2004). Stretching Exercises for Qualitative Researchers. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Lewins, A., & Silver, C. (2007). Using Software in Qualitative Research: A Step-by-Step Guide. London, UK: SAGE.

Miles, M., Huberman, M., & Saldaña, J. (2014). Qualitative Data Analysis: A Methods Sourcebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Researchware, Inc. (2014). HyperRESEARCH: What It Is. Web.

Scientific Software Development. (2014). Qualitative Data Analysis Software. Web.

Silvana, G., & Judith, D. (2009). Qualitative Research Design for Software Users. London, UK: McGraw-Hill International.

Tesch, R. (2013). Qualitative Research: Analysis Types and Software. London, UK: Routledge.

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