Author Archives: trenapaulus

About trenapaulus

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

Happy new year

It’s a new year, with lots of digitally-good fun in store! Here are some updates:

Tomorrow I’m heading to The Qualitative Report conference in Fort Lauderdale, where I’ll meet up with Kristi Jackson and we will present on The Future of QDAS: Moving beyond Outside Critiques to a Thoughtful Research Agenda. Hope to see some of you there!

I will be presenting on Digital Tools for Qualitative Research as part of the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology Master Class Webinar Series on February 11th at 1 pm Mountain Standard Time. You can register here.

The University of Georgia’s College of Education Office of Outreach and Engagement is hosting a two-day ATLAS.ti Qualitative Data Analysis workshop on March 25-26, 2016 in Athens, GA which I will be teaching. You can sign up here.

We are currently working on the Digital Tools Special Interest Group presentation series at ICQI in May. If you’d like to submit a proposal, the deadline has been extended til Friday January 15.

Registration is open for the Qualitative Research Summer Intensive in Chapel Hill, NC in July, where I’ll be presenting on Digital Tools and also on Analyzing Online Conversations.

Finally, Judy Davidson, Kristi Jackson and I have a new article out in Qualitative Inquiry, Speculating on the Future of Digital Tools for Qualitative Research. Check it out!

The discourse of QDAS

Our second article, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Tasmania , on the reporting practices of qualitative data analysis software users has just been released online first in the International Journal of Social Research Methodology.

The discourse of QDAS: reporting practices of ATLAS.ti and NVivo users with implications for best practices

Trena Paulus, Megan Woods, David P. Atkin & Rob Macklin

We still know relatively little about how researchers use qualitative data analysis software (QDAS) such as ATLAS.ti and NVivo. We conducted a discourse analysis of 763 empirical articles published from 1994 to 2013 that explored the language used by researchers when reporting QDAS use. We found that most researchers provided few details of their QDAS use beyond naming the program, but the detailed accounts provided by some authors provided valuable insights into the ways that QDAS programs can be used to support data analysis and the reporting of research outcomes. We conclude with suggestions for best practices in reporting QDAS use. We encourage researchers to provide more detail about their program usage, e.g. by choosing active rather than passive voice to avoid attributing agency to the software, defining specialized QDAS terminology to prevent confusion, and avoiding unsubstantiated claims of a relationship between QDAS use and improved quality.

Approaches to Digital Discourse Analysis 1

I’ve just returned from Valencia, Spain, where I attended ADDA1, Approaches to Digital Discourse Analysis. Amber Warren and I presented the final version of our literature review of how conversation analysis methods have been taken up by researchers of online talk. We’ve submitted the final article (co-authored with Jessica Lester) to a journal for publication.

It was fun tweeting behind the scenes (#adda1) and having a chance to hear plenary speakers Susan Herring, Crispin Thurlow, and Jannis Androutsopoulos share their thinking about the future of linguistic approaches to understanding digital discourse. Presentations covered a wide range of digital discourse – from WhatsApp to Twitter to Blackboard Collaborate – from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives.

Valencia is a beautiful city, and I enjoyed exploring the old city and meeting up with old friends from Manresa.

ADDA2 will take place in Charlotte, NC, USA in 2017.


The Interdisciplinary Qualitative Research Work Group at Morgan State University

I had the opportunity to present a webinar on Digital Tools for the interdisciplinary qualitative research work group at Morgan State University today. Many thanks to Yancey Gulley for the invitation.

I was also asked to write a column for their newsletter in preparation for the talk.

Despite some technical difficulties the talk went well and the group had some good questions about the learning curve with new technology use, when to introduce QDAS tools to students, and how I made the transition to paperless literature reviews.

Talking about digital tools with others is always a good way for me to think through the challenges that are important to new users.

Committees and controversy

Our article has finally been assigned to an issue in Educational Policy.

Committees and Controversy: Consultants in the Construction of Education Policy

Rachael Gabriel & Trena Paulus

The increasingly common practice of engaging consulting firms to assist states with educational policy agendas requires an analysis of the role these consultants play in what is positioned as a democratic decision-making process. In this study, we examine the discourse of a state-level advisory committee formed to develop a new teacher evaluation policy under Race to the Top. We used discourse analysis methods to analyze audio recordings of 11 meetings of this committee. We identified two patterns of consultant talk as it related to committee decision making: making decisions through validation and deferring and redirecting decisions, and we describe their implications.

Eagle QuaRC

I’m looking forward to traveling down to Statesboro, Georgia tomorrow to speak to the Eagle QuaRC community about digital tools for qualitative research. I’ll be giving a plenary talk on the topic as well as demonstrating several tools during an afternoon workshop – paperless literature review tools, importing Evernote and NCapture data into NVivo, transcribing with Inqscribe, and writing with Scrivener. I chose Scrivener as my “new tool” to learn for the purposes of this workshop. Even though it was developed for novelists and fiction writers, academics have adopted it recently, too, and I have to say it’s pretty amazing.

CfP: KWALON 2016 Reflecting on the future of QDAS


Call for proposals

Reflecting on the future of QDA Software:

Chances and Challenges for Humanities,  Social Sciences and beyond

25 and 26 of August, 2016 at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Proposal deadline 15 November 2015

Conference goal

The purpose of this conference is to create a context for reflection and debate between developers and users of Qualitative Data Analysis Software (QDAS) on the future directions and challenges for these software packages. We have invited the QDAS developers to present a paper and have received positive reactions from the developers of (in alphabetical order): ATLAS.ti, Dedoose, Feldpartitur, F4 analyse, HyperRESEARCH, MAXQDA, NVivo, Textifter, Transana, QDA Miner, Quirkos. We hope to meet all of them at the conference! The current Call for proposals is meant for QDAS users. We hope to meet all of you as well at the conference!


We are pleased to announce a call for conference papers from QDAS users on one or more of the following themes:

  • big data and text mining
  • compatibility across QDAS packages
  • cloud-based platforms
  • data security
  • digital archiving
  • data archives
  • fully equipped software versus light versions
  • open access/open source
  • user-friendliness of software

For a selection of papers presented at the conference it will be possible to submit an extended version for publication in a special journal issue.

The conference will be organized by KWALON (, the Dutch network for qualitative research in conjunction with the Criminology Department of the School of Law of Erasmus University Rotterdam ( ). The programme committee consists of Jeanine Evers (KWALON and Erasmus School of Law), Franciska de  Jong (Erasmus Studio, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands; ) and Trena Paulus (Qualitative Research Program, Department of Lifelong Education, Administration and Policy, University of Georgia, US; ).

Requirements for paper proposal
Your paper proposal should meet the following requirements:

  • State clearly which theme(s) the paper will address and summarize the main points relevant to the theme that will be dealt with;
  • Address both the chances and the challenges you see for QDAS regarding this theme, based on your own experiences with software use;
  • Maximum length of 1500 words;
  • Submit proposals to: by November 15, 2015.

Please note the dates for the conference in your calendar: 25 and 26 of August, 2016.

Hope to see you in Rotterdam!

UGA Qualitative Research Open House Returns!

You are cordially invited to a
Qualitative Research Program Open House
October 10, 2015
9.00 a.m. – 3.30 p.m.
136 River’s Crossing
850 College Station Road
Athens GA 30602

The Qualitative Research program offers two graduate programs. These include:

1. The well-established Interdisciplinary Qualitative Studies Graduate Certificate Program that has served the needs of graduate students from across the university. This program is also available in a fully online version for non-degree distance students. See UGA Online for more information about the online Graduate Certificate in Interdisciplinary Qualitative Studies.

2. A Ph.D. in Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methodologies (REM) offering an area of emphasis in either Qualitative Research or Program Evaluation. See our website for more information. Applications are now open for Fall 2016 admissions.

To learn about our programs and expand your skill set, you are invited to attend free workshops at the University of Georgia in Athens on October 10, 2015. You will be able meet the faculty and ask questions about the different options available to learn about approaches to qualitative research.

For more information, please email the Program Coordinator, Dr. Kathy Roulston at

To register for the workshop, please complete this registration form.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

9:00-10:30 AM Session I – Research interviewing as reflective practice with Kathleen deMarrais & Kathy Roulston Room 136
10:30 AM Break

10:45 AM-12:15 PM Session 2 – Fostering culturally responsive evaluation with Jori Hall and Melissa Freeman Room 136

12:15-1:15 PM Small Group Discussions and Lunch with faculty (lunch provided)

1:15-2:45 PM Session 3 – Digital tools for qualitative research with Trena Paulus Room 136

2:45-3:15 PM Student panel Room 136 with Current PhD students

3:15-3:30 Overview of programs: Program Coordinator, Dr. Kathy Roulston Room 136
• Graduate Certificate in Interdisciplinary Qualitative Studies (On-line and Campus versions)
• PHD in Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods

Workshop descriptions

Research Interviewing as Reflective Practice with Dr. Kathleen deMarrais and Dr. Kathy Roulston

Research interviews are the predominant method used in qualitative research studies. In this interactive workshop participants will engage in activities that examine the relationship between research topics and research questions, and provide an introduction to the formulation of interview questions. Participants will be encouraged to reflect on relationships between participants and interviewers, and implications for research design; and discuss strategies used by qualitative researchers to demonstrate quality. This workshop is designed for new qualitative researchers, as well as established researchers who would like to improve knowledge and skills in use of qualitative interviews.

Fostering Culturally Responsive Evaluation with Dr. Jori N. Hall and Dr. Melissa Freeman

How does culture shape evaluation practice? How do cultural perspectives influence how we approach evaluations, how we conduct evaluations, and how we share evaluation results? How can evaluators be responsive to stakeholders’ culture and context? In 2011, the American Evaluation Association (AEA) addressed these questions in their Public Statement on Cultural Competence in Evaluation, asserting that “cultural competence is a stance taken toward culture, not a discrete status or simple mastery of particular knowledge and skills.” At this session, we will explore key concepts in cultural responsive evaluation that can be applied in fields such as public health, human services, and education. This interactive session will offer attendees an opportunity to discuss the role of culture in evaluation approaches and activities. Attendees will also be provided with resources to engage further in issues of cultural competency both personally and professionally.

Digital Tools for Qualitative Research with Dr. Trena Paulus

Cloud computing, mobile devices and social media have fundamentally changed how we interact with each other and the world. These new technologies provide both new contexts and new tools for qualitative researchers to study social life. Participants in this workshop will explore how the qualitative research process in its entirety can be supported by digital tools in ways that can add robustness and depth to qualitative work. A variety of both free and commercial tools, including qualitative data analysis software (QDAS) such as ATLAS.ti, NVivo and MAXQDA, will be discussed. We will examine how tools can be integrated into all phases of the research process, include engaging in reflexivity (blogs); collaborating with stakeholders (Google Scholar); managing projects (Evernote); reviewing the literature (GoodReader, Mendeley); generating and managing data (social media and mobile apps); transcribing (Inqscribe) and analyzing textual, audio and visual data (QDAS and Transana); and representing findings (Scrivener, Prezi.)

Faculty Bios

Kathleen deMarrais, Professor and Department Head
Dr. deMarrais’s research interests focus on qualitative pedagogy, the teaching of qualitative research methodologies, fictional approaches to qualitative research, ethnography and autoethnography, as well as tracking the network of philanthropic funding for educational non-profits and its impact on educational policy in the U.S. In addition to numerous articles and chapters, her authored and edited books include Teach for America Counter-Narratives: Alumni speak up and speak out (2015), Foundations for research: Methods of inquiry in education and the social sciences (2004), Educating young adolescent girls (2001), The way schools work: A sociological analysis (1999), Inside stories: Reflections on qualitative research (1998).

Melissa Freeman, Associate Professor
Dr. Freeman studies qualitative research theories and practices with special focus on 1) philosophical and analytical forms of inquiry, 2) qualitative evaluation, and 3) research with children. Her research into different traditions such as philosophical hermeneutics, culturally-responsive and critical evaluation, and recently actor-network theory, has been to try to understand different ways of thinking about the social world, to bring different questions into the field of “science,” to disrupt conventional ways of thinking, and to open up new theoretical and practical trajectories for qualitative research and evaluation. Dr. Freeman’s work is cross-disciplinary and she is committed to addressing social and educational problems in ways that contribute meaningfully to new ways of conceptualizing the role of inquiry in everyday practice. She has published articles in Qualitative Inquiry, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, American Journal of Evaluation, and has a co-authored book, Researching children’s experiences (2009).

Jori Hall, Associate Professor
Dr. Hall’s research focuses on investigating and applying mixed methods and qualitative approaches to inquiry to improve educational programs. Dr. Hall uses qualitatively driven mixed methods approaches to interrogate the internal accountability system of schools and how it interacts with external accountability policies at the district and state levels. In addition to studying mixed methods and qualitative designs, Dr. Hall is an evaluator. Because Dr. Hall is committed to social justice, she urges investigators to consider responsive approaches to evaluation. Dr. Hall’s main concern is how participants’ values have been engaged responsively in various educational contexts. Her work on responsive evaluation approaches has resulted in multiple articles published in the American Journal of Evaluation. In addition, Dr. Hall clarifies assumptions related to ethics, ontology, and the epistemology of Dewey’s pragmatism, and the extent to which his thoughts on pragmatism can be used as a philosophical stance for mixed methods and evaluation research. Her work is featured in the Sage Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social & Behavioral Research (2010), New Directions for Evaluation (2013), and the Oxford Handbook of Multi and Mixed Methods Research Inquiry (2015).

Trena Paulus, Professor
Dr. Paulus explores how new technologies impact qualitative research methodologies. Her recent book, Digital Tools for Qualitative Research, examines the role of new tools across the research process – from embarking on the paperless literature review to using mobile apps to collect data to representing findings in novel ways. She is particularly interested in how conversation and discourse analysis techniques can be used to understand computer-mediated communication in contexts such as learning environments, online support groups and social media. Dr. Paulus is one of the founding members of the international Micro-Analysis of Online Data network which has held symposiums in the Netherlands, England and Switzerland.

Kathryn Roulston, Professor and Program Coordinator
Dr. Roulston’s research interests include the study of qualitative research methodology (including ethnomethodological and conversation analytic approaches to research); and the study of topics in music education. She uses ethnomethodology and conversation analysis as tools to do close analyses of interview talk and talk-in-interaction. This work has informed her work as an instructor, especially the teaching of qualitative interviewing. She is interested in reflective practice, and has examined her own and others’ teaching, focusing on how to work with doctoral students as they select topics for research, and design dissertation studies. She has also examined topics in music education in collaboration with faculty members in the Hodgson School of Music. She is an editorial board member of Qualitative Research and the Bulletin for the Council for Research in Music Education. Her publications include Reflective Practice: A Guide to Theory and Practice (Sage, 2010), articles in Qualitative Inquiry, Qualitative Research, Music Education Research, and other journals, and chapters on interviewing in the Sage Handbook of Data Analysis (ed. Kelle, Sage, 2014) and The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research in American Music Education (ed. Conway, OUP, 2014)

Download flyer here QUAL Recruitment Weekend 2015_flier

Conversation analysis and online communication

Our guest post on the Research on Language and Social Interaction blog.

One of the fastest-growing areas of CA-inspired research is in the field of computer-mediated communication – everything from human-machine interaction through to synchronous and asynchronous social media.  In this very welcome guest blog, Jo Meredith, Trena Paulus, Wyke Stommel and David Giles send in a report on the 3rdInternational Symposium for the Micro-analysis Of Online Data: Online communication, discourse and context, a significant meeting of cutting edge research.