See below a few of the central features that characterize ATLAS.ti as one of the most powerful tools for qualitative research.
ATLAS.ti offers absolute state-of-the art multimedia processing. Frame-level and wave previews make coding audio and video material a joy; images can be fully coded in every detail and segments even be moved and re-sized.
Audio and Video documents
When you add a video document to a project, preview images are created. Next to the preview images you see the audio wave form. By right-clicking on the video preview you can set a number of display options in the context menu.
Sliders appear when you move the mouse pointer over the full preview and let you select just the section of the video that you want to see in the margin area:
Display of Audio files
Audio files are displayed in a similar manner, but instead of the video image, you see a white background displaying the file name and the audio wave form. The audio wave can be zoomed:
You can open up to four documents side-by-side in the ATLAS.ti HU editor. Obviously, this opens up fantastic possibilities for comparative work, and makes your work faster and more efficient all around.
Work on Multiple Documents At The Same Time
Documents can be dragged from the navigation pane or the P-Docs Manager onto the region button to open them.
HU editor with two document regions
Work on all open documents in their own margin-areas. All features and tools are available, so you can code, link, and annotate all in the same way as you would a singe document.
You can switch the margin area off if you simply want to compare documents. Also, to change the position of the documents, via drag & drop it into the desired document region:
Moving documents between regions
Linking Across Documents
The multi-document view makes it easy to link sections across various documents. Simply drag and drop a quotation between regions (1) to create what is called a hyperlink (3) in ATLAS.ti. The relation between the two data segments can be labeled (2), e.g. using a relation like supports, explains, contracts or discusses. You can chose amongst a number of predefined lables or create your own.
Double-click on a hyperlink and a window pops up providing information on the linked quotation. Or use the short-cut Ctrl + double-click to immediately jump to the linked quotation. If the document containing the linked quotation is not currently loaded, it is loaded into the neighboring region and you can view the linked segments side-by-side.
ATLAS.ti 7 is a powerful analytical tool. Its individual analysis options are centrally organized and designed for maximum efficiency, accuracy, and performance. Cloud views provide very quick, accurate, and yet intuitive analytical access to your data material. The query tool, ccooccurence explorer and the codes-PD-table allow in-depth analysis.
Cloud Views for Codes and Documents
The list of codes can be displayed in form of various cloud views. Options are to display the cloud based on number of code usage or number of linkages to other codes. The order can be alphabetically or by frequency.
Document cloud views either present the entire textual data base or can be created for single documents. Below is an example, comparing cloud views of four newspaper articles reporting on the Pussy Riot verdict.
The Query Tool
The Query Tool is used for retrieving quotations using the codes with which are associated. The simplest retrieval of this kind (“search for quotations with codes”) is what you frequently do with the Code Manager: Double-clicking on a code retrieves all its quotations. This may already be regarded as a query, although it is a simple one. The Query Tool is more complex in that it can be used to create and process queries that include combinations of codes.
A query is a search expression built from operands (codes and code families) and operators (e. g. NOT, AND, OR, etc.) that define the conditions that a quotation must meet to be retrieved (e. g., all quotations coded with both codes A and B).
By selecting codes or code families and operators, a query can be built incrementally which is instantaneously evaluated and displayed as a list of quotations. This incremental building of complex search queries gives you an exploratory approach toward even the most complex queries.
The Query Tool has the following main components:
 The operator toolbar offering 14 different operators (Boolean, semantic and proximity operators)
[2 and3] The list of code-families andcodes that can be used in queries.
 The term-stack pane in the upper right displays the stack of all expressions entered in the current query.
 The current query is displayed in the feedback pane.
 A result of a query in the query tool is always a list of quotations. These are displayed in the results list. From there you can also access the quotations in context or create an output via the output (printer) button.
Via the Scope button, code queries can be combined with variables. For example, you can ask questions like “Give me all quotations coded with positive attitude towards candidate XY from female respondents between age 18 and 29”.
The Cooccurrence Explorer allows to ask ATLAS.ti to show you codes that co-occur across all or selected primary documents. The result is a cross-tabulation of codes. It is often meaningful to apply filters for certain codes and documents in order to concentrate on a more specific set of concepts. The side panels in the code and document manager allow you to quickly prepare the kind of filters you need in order to produce the kind of tables you want.
As an example, below we look at one of the questions posed in the sample project. The aim was to find out how parents and non-parents respond to the question of why or why not having children. In order to reduce the full set of codes, a code group (called code family in ATLAS.ti) was prepared that only contains the two attribute codes (#fam: has children and #fam: no children) and all codes related to “reasons for having children” and “reasons for not having children”. This family is then set as filter.
In the code-cooccurence table the next step is to select the attribute codes as columns and all content codes as rows.
Selecting row and column codes
This results in the following table, providing a quick overview of where the differences are.
By clicking on the cells, you can access the qualitative data content behind it.
The Codes-Primary-Documents Table
The Codes-PD-Table provides an overview of code frequencies by documents, or code frequencies by document groups, code group frequencies by document or document group.
An example based on a sample data set is a comparison of statements that express a positive or negative effect of parenting across different groups. For this purpose two code families grouping all codes marking statements on positive and negative effects of parenting have been created and selected in the upper section. They will be displayed as rows of the table.
The various groups for comparison are selected in the lower section of the tool:
Setting options for the Codes-Primary-Documents-Table
In the Excel table below, they are shown in the columns:
The query tool allows to create document families based on the results of a code query. Thus, the next step is to go back to the query tool, enter a new query and save the results in form of new document groups. Then you can run your next comparison using the Codes-PD-Table, and so on.
Thus, all of the analysis tools can be used in combination for different purposes and they complement one another.
ATLAS.ti 7 is a highly visually oriented tool. Starting with the user interface—which is laid out with a maximum in user convenience and maximum use of screen-space in mind—to the various Object Managers to the intelligent Network Views: Everything is equally intuitive and efficient.
Interface and Previews
A powerful navigation pane can be opened when needed at the left hand side of the editor:
Accessing the navigation pane
It can be used to access and search all object types: primary documents, codes, coded segments, memos and network views, all from one place.
For primary document and network views, the view can be set to show preview images. Being able to see previews of your documents at any step makes your work much faster:
This option is also available in the Primary Document and Network View Manager:
In addition to the views in the navigation pane, more additional information on each document and network view is provided. You can chose to display just the thumbnail image, large, extra large, jumbo and Godzilla size (512x512).
Visualizations In Object Managers
The object managers do not just list objects. Various forms of visualization help to gain a quick overview. The primary document manager displayed below shows the list of documents on the right hand side, and the list of document groups (i.e. families) in the side panel on the left hand side.
The frequency bars show how many data segments have been coded in each document. And if you select a document, you immediately see at the highlighted family icons, to which family a document belongs.
The same display options are available in the Code and Memo Manager.
If you select an object group, this can be a document, code or memo family, the selected family icon changes it view and the background color turns pale yellow. The document family “Gender: female” is set as global filter in the above example, and therefore the list on the right hand side only displays the documents of female respondents:
Networks serve to represent complex information by intuitively accessible graphic means that resemble more closely the way human memory and thought is structured. Cognitive "load" in handling complex relationships is reduced with the aid of spatial representation techniques. ATLAS.ti uses networks to help represent and explore conceptual structures. Networks add a heuristic "right brain" approach to qualitative analysis.
The user can manipulate and display almost all objects within an ATLAS.ti project as nodes in a network view: quotations, codes, code families, memos, memo families, other network views, primary documents (PDs), and PD families.
Links are created either implicitly (e. g., when coding a quotation, the quotation is "linked" to a code), or explicitly by the user. Strictly speaking, code-quotation associations also form a network that can be displayed like any other:
Examples of directed and non-directed links
The links between to codes and the links between two quotations can be named. In addition, you can select whether a linked should be directed or non-directed.
Along with using networks for general “mind mapping," and the visual design of theoretical models, it is important to realize that network views also serve as a powerful analytical tool. Using networks for retrieval purposes is a well-known technique in information retrieval
Finally, network views can be exported as graphic files and inserted into other applications. Or you can simply copy and paste them straight into MS Word or PowerPoint files.
Print with Margin
The Print with Margin options shows the coded document as you see it on screen. It is available for all text documents, PDF and image files.
Output of a coded PDF document
Full Native PDF Support
ATLAS.ti's full native PDF support lets you work with PDF files in their native layout, just the way you would expect it. No ifs and buts.
ATLAS.ti treats your PDF documents exactly like the Acrobat Reader: Work as smoothly and flexibly as you would in Acrobat, utilize bookmarks and tables of content, scrolling, and flexible page views. And code to your heart's delight - text, images, anything that's on the page, down to whatever level of detail you desire! Annotate, comment, link, search and query, visualize your results - it's what computer-based data analysis was always meant to be.
Other QDA packages make you strip PDFs down to primitive text files, which is hardly an adequate way of working. But with ATLAS.ti 6 you are able to keep your original PDFs untouched—layout, graphics, tables and all—so your primary data always remains uncorrupted and complete.
Coding PDF documents
Better yet, you can move freely through your documents and code any section you like, regardless if it's text or graphics. Smooth scrolling, zooming, searching and auto-coding make your work a breeze. Navigation tools and thumbnail images keep you “on track” every step of the way.
Consider the enormous possibilities:
- Work on Web pages saved to PDF, thus securely maintaining their original layout, graphics, and--most important--all their actual content at the time of visiting.
- Directly access a plethora of publicly available resources such as research papers, business reports, conference proceedings, press releases, and so much more. Now it's all at your fingertips--without conversion or additional steps of any kind.
- And last but not least, use output from practically ANY computer application as your primary documents: By creating a PDF document (via a simple printer driver) you can now directly use material created in nearly any program, such as PowerPoint, Open Office, ATLAS.ti itself (!) as well as graphics, statistics, reporting, authoring, accounting and all sorts of business software as your primary documents.
The possibilities are truly endless and extremely exciting!
A most exciting feature – and one that is likely to change the way you work if you haven't used it yet – is ATLAS.ti's geo-coding support.
ATLAS.ti embeds Google Earth™ and makes its functionality available from inside the program. This has immense benefits and opens up fantastic possibilities for your work.
Picture, if you will, the world as your ultimate primary document. Freely move around in it and mark any section that interests you. Then, treat that segment exactly the way you are used to in ATLAS.ti. Code it, comment it, and link it to other objects. Use direct hyperlinks from other primary documents for supporting your arguments and for purposes of evidence or illustration.
The geo-coding facility even creates screenshots from any Google Earth™ view and assigns them as graphical primary documents. This "snapshot" helps you save system resources and makes sure that your reference is secured against changes.
All features of Google Earth™ are available (including camera angle and height over ground). But the interaction between the two programs is truly bi-directional, meaning that work done in ATLAS.ti can be directly introduced into Google Earth™. Comment on a marked location in ATLAS.ti, and your comment will be displayed in Google Earth™. Powerful stuff!
And that's still not all: Leverage the immense power of community as embodied by Google Earth™ layers, and by the possibility to exchange and directly import Google Earth™'s KMZ files (complex community-created "overlays"). If it weren't so tacky, we'd call it "QDA 2.0."
If your work is in or touches on fields such as tourism, geography, urban planning, ethnology, cultural studies, sociology, health, action research, advertising and marketing--or even if you simply like to take and document trips--you are bound to profit from ATLAS.ti's unique geo-coding feature. Just like us, you will soon wonder how you used to do without it.
Imagine converting the results of a large online survey into a Hermeneutic Unit in ATLAS.ti with just a few mouse clicks. ATLAS.ti lets you do just that!
Here is a typical work flow:
- Create an online survey using, for example, Google Docs (a very convenient tool, although other frameworks are supported as well)
- Download and store the survey as an Excel table once your respondents have filled out the questionnaire
- Import the table into ATLAS.ti
- Voilà: Each row (= one respondent) becomes a primary document, and content is collected and created from the answers to open-ended questions. PD families are created from single and multiple-choice questions; quotations are created for each answer and coded with the respective question (you may use abbreviations). This accomplishes a lot of tedious pre-coding work in a few seconds.
Now you can get started with what really matters: Your analysis!I
It's that easy to work with survey data from nearly any source.