ATLAS.ti for conversation and discourse analysis studies

This just in (or out, I suppose). This article was a long time coming. We presented drafts of this idea at the first ATLAS.ti user conference in Berlin in the fall of 2014 and before that at the first MOOD Network Symposium in Amsterdam in early 2013. I also gave a webinar on the topic for ATLAS.ti. This will be very useful to share with our students and colleagues.

ATLAS.ti for conversation and discourse analysis studies

by Trena Paulus and Jessica Lester

International Journal of Social Research Methodology


The use of computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS) has not been without controversy, with a pervasive sense of skepticism and resistance towards its adoption by many scholars. Language-based researchers in particular, such as conversation and discourse analysts, have been slow to embrace such tools for their work. In this paper we illustrate how we have used ATLAS.ti to support our own conversation and discourse analysis work, in order to demonstrate how such a tool can be leveraged to complete nine analytic tasks. Tasks and features we describe include, among others, transcribing and synchronizing transcripts with media files, engaging in unmotivated looking through creating quotations, and conducting a close, line by line analysis through writing memos. We illustrate how ATLAS.ti has allowed us to document our analytic decisions in a transparent, reflexive, rigorous and systematic way. We note, too, limitations of the software such as a lack of real-time collaboration support and challenges inherent to the analysis of video and online interactional data. Rather than taking control away from the researcher, we argue that ATLAS.ti enables the analyst to solve a range of methodological challenges, such as working with large data-sets and supporting deeper levels of analysis than is possible by hand.

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