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BarbMcD

higher ed Has anyone used Evernote for managing Qualitative Data capture and analysis?

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Hi,

I'm trying to identify my method for capturing and analyzing data for my Grounded Theory study.  I have a feeling that nVivo is the way to go, but I'm also wondering about using Evernote as a way to capture interviews, tag them, create memos, etc.

 

Has anyone tried this?

 

Thx!

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I have tried this with interview data from 10 informants and field jottings/notes from 7 field locations. 

 

For this relatively small quantity of data it was an effective tool. What I appreciated most was that my field jottings and notes, which were hand written, were indexed and searchable (along with all the typed up interview transcriptions of course). 

 

One limitation is that it doesn't offer robust means of coding, except perhaps the "annotating entire note as pdf". This would probably be effective for a small amount of data. My coding strategy with the small amount of data described above was mostly through the use of bold, highlight, and extracting text into notes devoted to particular themes (note links are helpful here as a form of "citation" in these aggregated "theme" notes. 

 

If your qualitative project is of a more systematic nature, is in the domain of "post-positivist" qualitative work where you intend to tabulate the occurrence of utterances, or is dealing with a very large amount of data, nVivo or similar will be much more efficient. 

 

One very important consideration is that of ethics and confidentiality. Unless you store your data in local notebooks, your data will be stored on Evernote's servers. For some institutional ethics committees and for some types of research this can be an issue. Even if it isn't an issue for your institutional ethics committee you'll want to think carefully about how appropriate this is for your data in particular. If you are collecting data on people's involvement in potentially illegal activity (e.g., family of those who sought assisted suicide in locations where that is illegal e.g., Russel Ogden), it would probably be bad to have this on anyone's servers except your own or your institution's to ensure that you have (almost) complete control. 

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I should note that some basic forms of tabulation could definitely be done through saved searches. You could, for example, use tags to create sub-groups of your transcripts (male/female...whatever). You could then search any or all subgroups for particular content (tag:male -tag:black "HIV") search any interview of a non-black man for the word HIV. This would allow you to see how many interviews brought that up at least once. You could manually dig further in to see how many times it occurred in each interview and store these frequencies in another note. 

 

Again, this is somewhat clumsy, but just how clumsy it is depends a bit on your situation.

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Thanks for the quick reply, Scott!

 

I won't be worried about word counts, but tracking things by theme will be critical.  I will probably have more than 10 interviews, but I'm not sure how many -- Grounded Theory: You don't know what you need until you know you need it.  In Grounded Theory, you start coding categories of your data and then add properties to those categories.  e.g. Sky Color: blue, gray, white  This would require me to probably identify chunks of interviews and/or observations for categories and then parts of those as properties.  You also write memos which also become data (and this is where I think Evernote will be HUGE because I would be able to write memos any time and anywhere that an idea struck me and it could immediately become part of my data.  If I use nVivo, I have to write it down, then enter it into nVivo and code it after the fact.  Certainly, I can identify my codes in the handwritten note, but... 

 

The Ethics piece is not something I had thought about. My topic (Teacher Communities of Practice) is not a "delicate legal subject", but I do have to consider the fact that I will probably have to notify participants that their data will be stored in the cloud as opposed to a private server (which NVivo does provide for). And this could influence their decision to participate.

 

You said:  My coding strategy with the small amount of data described above was mostly through the use of bold, highlight, and extracting text into notes devoted to particular themes (note links are helpful here as a form of "citation" in these aggregated "theme" notes. 

 

Were you able to search on specific, bolded words, then?  That is, could "bold" be part of your search criteria?

 

You said: What I appreciated most was that my field jottings and notes, which were hand written, were indexed and searchable (along with all the typed up interview transcriptions of course).   Yes, I like this feature, too.  As well as being able to capture pictures, title them and/or write about them, and have that be captured as well.

 

Another question, did you use Basic or Premium?

 

Thanks!

Barb

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With respect to coding, no, unfortunately you cannot search for formatting, so this was a good way to just make important sections visually distinct before they were extracted to my "theme" notes. I could individually search for and within these theme notes. The initial formatting was the first pass coding to separate the "grain from the chaff", but before sorting the grains by type... so to speak. 

 

I do think that Evernote could be compatible with a grounded through approach, for sure, but how you code (e.g., since facilities for highlighting are limited) may require some creativity. 

 

I was a premium user when I did this. The speedier indexing of text in images was nice, and when I scanned a dozen pages of field jottings, the extra capacity was essential. 

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