Author Archives: trenapaulus

About trenapaulus

qualitative researcher specializing in the impact of new technologies on research methodologies

It will be really helpful once I learn ATLAS.ti

Our study of the Five-Level QDA Method to teach ATLAS.ti has just been published online by the International Journal of Social Research Methodology. Here’s the abstract:

Few studies have explored approaches to teaching qualitative data analysis software (QDAS). As more researchers rely on self-teaching, more research into best practices for developing QDAS expertise is warranted. In this paper, we report our experience using the Five-Level QDA® method to guide the design of an introductory ATLAS.ti workshop. By focusing on the translation process between analytic strategies and the tactics of the software, we sought to help students harness ATLAS.ti powerfully. Using a case study and reflective practice approach, we reviewed instructional materials, observational field notes, instructor reflections, student questionnaires, and interviews to describe what happened during the workshop as well as instructor and learner perceptions of the method. For the method to be successful, methodological competence prior to training and ongoing support after training are necessary, both of which may be fostered by using community-building strategies during and after instruction. Hands-on exploration of the software components during the workshop, including demonstration of both in-progress and completed projects by the instructor and peers, can bring life to the Five-Level QDA method. While the method emphasizes that powerful use of the software requires analytic strategies to drive software tactics, learners may view the two as mutually constituting. Implications for teaching QDAS as well as the development of the Five-Level QDA method are explored.


Qualitative Research Summer Institute

I had a fantastic time at QRSI in July because of all the former and current students and colleagues who were there. The two-day course on Analyzing Online Conversations really inspired me to keep moving forward on our manuscript for Routledge, and the one-day course on Social Media and Digital Tools was a great way to inspire people to find new uses for the tools they already use every day – as well as learn a few new ones.




Learn more about your participants: “Embrace the digital turn”

This is adapted from a previous blog post in order to promote my courses at the 2018 Qualitative Research Summer Intensive in Chapel Hill this summer:

These are exciting times to be a qualitative researcher. The human experience that we seek to understand is ever evolving, and we have the opportunity to examine its ebbs and flows. Perhaps the most recent shift in our social world has been the digital turn – the layers of interaction that we engage in through smart phones, social media and other technologies.

  • Are you gaining insights not only from what your research participants tell you in interviews, but also what they do in their digital lives?

Exploring what it means to be human is no longer limited to in-person observations and interviews. Now, we can (and should!) also explore the online self and how the digital world impacts how people go about their daily lives.

In her QRSI 2018 course, Analyzing Online Conversations: A Research Framework, Trena Paulus will guide you through creating a design to better understand what is happening in these online spaces.

Technology, ever marching forward, has not only changed what it means to be human, but also what it means to engage in qualitative research. Being a researcher means knowing how to harness the power of mobile devices, cloud computing and social media culture in our inquiries.

  • Are you harnessing productivity tools in an optimal way from start to finish in your research studies?

Tools you might already use – like Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Scholar – can make us more productive in our work. Yet it can be a challenge to learn how to make these tools work together efficiently.

In her QRSI 2018 course, Using Social Media, Software, Mobile Apps and Other Digital Tools to Support Qualitative Research, Trena Paulus will demonstrate “innovative workflows” to help you put your productivity tools to good research use – from the literature review to data collection, transcription, data analysis and writing up findings.

QRSI 2018 runs from July 23-27 and will be held in Chapel Hill, NC. Information about these courses, and others, is available at

The future of QDAS, AAAL2018 and QRSI 2018

Our special issue on the future of qualitative data analysis software has been published by The Qualitative Report! A special thanks to my co-editors as well as all of the peer reviewers involved in this project.

In March I was invited to give a pre-conference workshop at the American Association of Applied Linguistics on Exploring Digital Tools for Qualitative Research. Approximately 25 participants attended, including some familiar faces from previous conferences.


Finally, ResearchTalk has posted two video introductions to the Qualitative Research Summer Intensive courses I’ll be teaching this summer. Take a look at the preview for Analyzing Online Conversations and Using Social Media, Software, Mobile Apps and other Digital Tools to Support Qualitative Research. 

Hope to see some of you in Chapel Hill in July!

Introducting ATLAS 8 at UGA

Last weekend Doctoral Candidate Phillip Grant and I taught a two day, 1 credit workshop on ATLAS 8, Windows and Mac versions, framed by the Five-Level QDA Method (Woolf & Silver, 2017).


Students in our October course.

The book was released just in time for the workshop, so we were able to talk about  strategies and tactics, translating from analytic strategies into ATLAS 8 tactics, and analytic planning. Many participants were particularly interested in literature reviews, so we were able to focus a bit on that, as well as the new features that ATLAS 8 offers such as Twitter import, working with Geodocs, and Evernote synchronization. This group will continue working with the software over the next couple of months and then submit their project files and analytic planning worksheets at the end of the semester.

At the same time, I’m teaching our program’s qualitative data analysis class and since UGA now has a site license for ATLAS 8 (and NVivo Plus 11!) I’ve been able to fully integrate the software via the Five-Level QDA method.

8420 fall 2017

For this course, we are also using my colleague Melissa Freeman’s Modes of Thinking book on qualitative analysis, which has been tremendously helpful. It is, unsurprisingly, easier to teach software in the context of a full semester course, and I look forward to comparing the two experiences in a later post.

Last week I finally submitted our special issue on the future of qualitative data analysis software to The Qualitative Report, and I’m very excited to see that become available soon. The papers were based on the KWALON conference back in August 2016 and trace the trajectory of the community from its inception, to current uses of QDAS, to future developments, including the inter-operability initiative headed by Jeanine Evers.

It’s been a productive semester so far, hope the same is true in your part of the world.


Special issue on DTQR now available

Re-posted from Digital Tools for Qualitative Research:

The special issue of Qualitative Inquiry based on papers from the 2015 ICQI conference are now available. Here is the abstract of our introduction, Digital Tools for Qualitative Research: Disruptions and Entanglements:

In this introduction to the special issue on digital tools for qualitative research, we focus on the intersection of new technologies and methods of inquiry, particularly as this pertains to educating the next generation of scholars. Selected papers from the 2015 International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry special strand on digital tools for qualitative research are brought together here to explore, among other things, blogging as a tool for meaning-making, social media as a data source, data analysis software for engaging in postmodern pastiche and for supporting complex teams, cell phone application design to optimize data collection, and lessons from interactive digital art that pertain to the use of digital tools in qualitative research. This collection disrupts common conceptions (and persistent misconceptions) about the relationship between digital tools and qualitative research and illustrates the entanglements that occur whenever humans intersect with the nonhuman, the human-made, or other humans.

Thank you to all of the authors for their hard work on these papers! They include Jessica MacLaren, Lorena Georgiadou, Jan Bradford, Caitlin Byrne, Amana Marie LeBlanc, Jaewoo Do, Lisa Yamagata-Lynch, Karla Eisen, Cynthia Robins, Judy Davidson, Shanna Rose Thompson, Andrew Harris and Kristi Jackson.

Report from Corvallis

I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Oregon State University campus for the First Corvallis ATLAS.ti Summer Workshop Series. The participants were motivated, engaged, and fun to work with, and it was wonderful to have a chance to connect with Nick Woolf, Chris Silver, Paul Mihas, Susanne Friese, Eve Weiss and Ricardo Contreras.

My topic was “ATLAS.ti across the research process” during which we talked about using the software to do literature reviews, interface with citation management systems, analyze Twitter data, import from Evernote and the iPad app, and much more.

We all hope that this becomes an annual event!

ICQI 2017, a (virtual) return to Rocky Top, and preparing for Corvallis

What a great International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry!

Jessica Lester and I had a wonderful three hours with eight participants in our pre-conference workshop on Digital Tools and are currently in contract negotiations for a second edition of our book. I had an amazing time visiting with collaborators (in person!) from far away as well as making new contacts for future work together. I am particularly excited about the possibility of working on some guidelines for reporting the use of qualitative data analysis software, and growing a network of professors who teach digital tools courses as they relate to qualitative research in order to do some writing in that area.

It was also a treat to present with my UGA colleagues and to spend more time socializing than we usually do when we are all on campus!


Kathleen deMarrais, Kathy Roulston, Jori Hall and myself presenting on teaching qualitative research online

Since returning from the conference I’ve been secluded here in Knoxville for the past couple of weeks working hard on getting several manuscripts out the door and getting ready to focus for a few weeks exclusively on our book about analyzing online talk.

I did take a short break to present on the first night of Dr. Lisa Yamagata-Lynch’s Digital Tools class at UTK – which seemed fitting given I wrote the book while on Rocky Top.

Lisas class UTK.JPG

Presenting via Zoom on the first night of Digital Tools!

I look forward to returning to visit the class in August to hear all about their summer digital tools explorations!

Finally, I succeeded in installing ATLAS.ti version 8 and am busy preparing for our Corvallis workshop. I will be demonstrating how the tool can be used across the research process – from conducting literature reviews and importing references from Mendeley or Endnote; to collecting data via an iPad, Evernote, or social media; to using it as a writing tool. A doctoral student from UGA won a travel grant to attend, so it will be nice to see a familiar face in the audience.


Spring 2017 update

As always, the end of the spring semester comes more quickly than we anticipate. Next week is the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry and once again we have a very robust program of presentations related to Digital Tools for Qualitative Research. We are particularly excited about the “wiki hack” we are collaborating on with the University of Illinois librarians. Our special issue on Digital Tools in Qualitative Inquiry (papers from previous ICQI meetings) should be out in June or July, and I will share that news here.

Kate Guthrie, a student from last summer’s Digital Tools course recently told me that she and some other students (including Will Fassbender and Morgan Bryant who took the same course) presented at the Integrative Ideas and Research Conference on the UGA campus back in March. Their session, “Emerging digital tools in research preparation, collection, analyzation, and publication” had several objectives:

• Share diverse applications of digital tools and software available for graduate student researchers.
• Provide digital tool suggestions for managing one’s workflow while conducting research.
• Demonstrate how qualitative data analysis software can aid in conducting a paperless literature review, transcribe audio and video files, and code for common themes.
• Learn how both quantitative and qualitative software can capture and analyze social media data.
• Showcase a variety of digital tools including NVivo, MAXQDA 12, Dedoose, NodeXL, SAS, R, and more.

You can see the entire IRIS conference program here.

UGA is one of this year’s sponsors of the IIQM Master Class Webinar series, and my colleagues Jori Hall and Melissa Freeman are presenting, as well as my frequent collaborators Nick Woolf, Christina Silver and Jessica Lester. If you aren’t familiar with the series, I recommend checking out the abstracts and attending the ones of interest to you.

Our special issue on the Microanalysis of Online Data is now in press with the Journal of Pragmatics. This was the culmination of a few years of symposia with the MOOD network and it is rewarding to have seen this to fruition. In addition to being a co-editor, I had the pleasure of working with Wyke Stommel and David Atkins on a study of how hyperlinks function in service-oriented chats (library chat reference interactions and online counseling interactions.) You can see our abstract here.

I had the pleasure of speaking (via Zoom) to Dr. Kakali Bhattacharya’s qualitative research class about Digital Tools this semester, and the students had great questions about selecting QDA software and how they might be used for literature reviews. Stay tuned – Jennifer Lubke, Ginny Britt, David Atkins and I just got our page proofs for “Hacking the Literature Review: Opportunities and Innovations to Improve the Research Process” back from Reference & User Services Quarterly. I will share the link once it is online.

Speaking of librarians, last week I was invited back to the University of Tennessee libraries to give a presentation on “The Research Interview”. I enjoyed seeing some familiar faces and also meeting new librarians and working together on identifying the assumptions underlying the questions we ask, and thinking about how those assumptions might impact the responses we get from our participants.

A primary milestone this summer will be to finish editing the special issue of The Qualitative Report on The Future of QDA Software (with Jeanine Evers and Franciska de Jong), a result of the KWALON Conference last August. We have six submissions under peer review, and we can look forward to a very robust set of papers looking at QDA Software from a variety of angles and across the research process.

This summer I will be upgrading to ATLAS.ti version 8 in preparation for our Summer Workshop Series in Corvallis, Oregon. (And this fall, I’ll be learning the Mac version!) I will be facilitating one day of the workshop, but will be attending all of the Advanced sessions, focusing on how ATLAS.ti (and, really, all QDAS software) can be used across the entire research process.

There are several other writing projects in the works this summer – continuing work with Alyssa Wise on Researching learning, insight and transformation in online talk (Routledge, 2018), finishing our research study of 5LQDA to teach ATLAS.ti (with Liz Pope, Nick Woolf and Christina Silver), submitting our theoretical piece on how conversation analysis can be used to understand learning in online environments (with Jessica Lester and Amber Warren), and continuing my collaboration with Amber on the function of storytelling in online educational discussions, which she will be presenting at  IPRA 2017 as part of the Jo Meredith, David Giles and Wyke Stommel’s MOOD panel. Kathy Roberts and I will also be resubmitting our analysis of medical campaigns on GoFundMe – we received good feedback from a highly competitive journal, but are still looking for that magical “revise and resubmit!”

Enjoy the summer, everyone – in addition to writing I hope to do a lot of hiking, and I hope to see some you in Urbana, Corvallis, or on the trail.

Roundtop Trail

Sanity break.



Reflections and projections

Looking back on 2016, it was a year of highs and lows for me as it was for many, but I am grateful for quite a few professional highs – some of which have already been documented in previous posts. I’ll share a few more highlights from 2016 here, as well as a preview of what’s ahead in 2017.

Teaching Digital Tools for Qualitative Research Online

In the summer term I taught an online version of the UGA course that is aligned with our book, Digital Tools for Qualitative Research. It was an exciting challenge to teach about technology tools in a fully online format, and Liz Pope (a doctoral candidate at UGA) and I will be presenting some of what we learned at ICQI this year. We were able to collect data, including student interviews, and look forward to publishing our findings. Jay Pfaffman was kind enough to help us design the course using the Discourse platform – which I highly recommend.


The Discourse platform

I am a big believer in incorporating synchronous and asynchronous interactions into online courses. By using the Adobe Connect virtual classroom we were able to have a “QDA Roundtable” in Adobe Connect one evening so software developers and trainers could describe the tools that they use. Many thanks to all who joined us that evening! (Daniel Turner, Michelle Salmona, Karen Andes, Kristi Jackson.)


Adobe Connect QDA Software Roundtable

The Qualitative Research Summer Intensive

In July I had the privilege to facilitate two different workshops in Chapel Hill, NC as part of Research Talk and the Odum Institute’s Qualitative Research Summer Intensive. I taught a one day workshop on Analyzing Online Conversations: A Research Framework; and a two-day workshop on Digital Tools. The participants were highly engaged and I found the overall experience to be a very positive one indeed. I look forward to returning in 2018.

KWALON 2016: The Future of QDA Software

In August, I traveled to Rotterdam to join many of my colleagues from the QDA Software world to talk reflect on the Future of QDA Software. I was invited by Jeanine Evers to help organize this event, and we are now working on a special issue of conference papers to appear in The Qualitative Report.

Institute on Qualitative Research with ATLAS.ti at CSU-SB

In September I traveled to California State University in San Bernadino to co-facilitate a week of workshops on qualitative research and ATLAS.ti software with Johnny Saldaña (author of The Coding Manual and many other outstanding texts) and Mihaela Popescu. It was the perfect opportunity for me to use Five-Level QDA, developed by Nick Woolf and Christina Silver. The participants were able to learn first about qualitative methods from Johnny, followed immediately with guidance in how to translate these analytic methods into the terms of the software. It was an extremely rewarding experience.


Participants at CSU-SB’s Institute on Qualitative Research with ATLAS.ti


Dr. Popescu and I at the end of the workshop

Teaching with Five-Level QDA

Indeed, I have learned a great deal in my collaboration with Nick Woolf and Christina Silver as they have been developing their Five-Level QDA approach to learning and teaching qualitative data analysis software. Back in January of 2016 I used their model for the first time to develop a two-day Introduction to ATLAS.ti 1 credit course for University of Georgia students.


UGA students at the conclusion of two days learning about ATLAS.ti (Jan 2016)

I taught a second Introduction to ATLAS.ti course in conjunction with our College Office of Outreach and Engagement in October of 2016, where we welcomed 27 participants from UGA, Clark Atlanta, Auburn, Middle Tennessee State, and Kennesaw State.



Keep an eye out for the Five-Level QDA books (one each for ATLAS.t, MAXQDA and NVivo) coming soon from Routledge.


That about wraps up 2016, now here’s what’s coming in 2017.

Projections for 2017: More writing, less travel

2016 involved *a lot* of work-related travel on top of my normal commute between Athens (where I work at UGA) and Knoxville (where my family lives). There will be less of this in the year ahead so that I can focus on quite a few writing projects.

First, in addition to the special issue of The Qualitative Report (with Jeanine Evers and Franciska de Jong) that is underway on the Future of QDA Software, our special issue on Digital Tools for Qualitative Research (with Judy Davidson and Kristi Jackson) is forthcoming in Qualitative Inquiry, so look for news on that to appear here soon.

Second, our special issue on the Microanalysis of Online Data (with David Giles and Wyke Stommel) is forthcoming in Journal of Pragmatics.  Wyke and I, along with David Atkins, completed a study of how hyperlinks function in chat interactions between service providers and clients, and our findings will appear in the special issue.

In December, Jessica Lester and I submitted a proposal to Sage for a second edition of Digital Tools and we hope to get that underway soon for a 2018 publication date. I’m looking forward to continuing to collaborate with both Jessica and Amber Warren, building on last year’s published study looking at how conversation analysis methods have been taken up in studies of computer-mediated communication. The three of us share a common interest in learning, online teaching and discursive psychology and will spend this year doing some writing around those intersections.

Alyssa Wise and I had a chapter come out last year on analyzing learning in online conversations and signed a contract with Routledge to develop it into a book tentatively entitled, Researching Learning, Insight and Transformation in Online Talk. I will try to remember to post updates about the book in ResearchGate. I will be able to pilot test our chapters when I teach a graduate course on this topic in the fall at UGA and the book is scheduled to appear in 2018.

Finally, Kristi Jackson and I did a couple of presentations last year on deconstructing the common myths about QDA software that refuse to die (playing on The Walking Dead), and we plan to do some writing on this in 2017.

The Digital Tools SIG at ICQI

Judy Davidson, Kristi Jackson and I will again be coordinating the Digital Tools-related sessions at the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry in May, and we are always looking for more people to get involved. Jessica and I will be doing a pre-conference workshop this year, and I’ll be presenting on much of the work that I’ve mentioned in this blog post. This *will* be a travel event for me, but the plan is to go directly from the conference into a writing retreat- so, win-win!

The Corvallis ATLAS.ti Summer Workshop Series

I’m pleased to have been invited to participate in the first-ever summer workshop series on ATLAS.ti to be held in Corvallis, Oregon. I’ll be teaching the first day of the advanced workshops (registration and course outline here) and I have enjoyed collaborating with Ricardo Contreras, Susanne Friese, Nick Woolf and Christina Silver on the planning for the event. This, too, will be a significant travel event, but the plan is again to go directly from here to a writing retreat in the Pacific Northwest.

Well, that about wraps up the reflections and projections from here. Time to get back to writing!