Training in the Five-Level QDA® method

We provide various bespoke and open-registration training courses which are customised to your needs. The sections below describe our:

  • Open-registration workshops
  • Customized face-to-face training
  • Online training & coaching

Mastering qualitative software analysis with the Five-Level QDA® method

2 day workshops in London, UK in early 2018 focusing on using the Five Level QDA method to ensure your use of software is driven by the objectives of your research project.

These small workshops will enable you to develop the expertise you need to produce high quality analysis, whatever your methodology.

Follow the links below to book your space on the workshops.


Face-to-face training harnessing CAQDAS packages using Five-Level QDA

Face-to-face training can take many different forms depending on your needs. Typically we provide on-site workshops focused on learning a particular CAQDAS package, for example ATLAS.ti, Dedoose, MAXQDA, NVivo, QDA Miner, Quirkos or Transana. Training can be provided for research teams working on a specific project, for larger mixed groups, or embedded into university curricula. 

Workshops utilize your chosen CAQDAS package, and vary in duration, number of participants and format. The following are the five most popular formats, but we can also tailor the format to meet your particular needs. Contact Christina by email to discuss the appropriate format for your project or team.

Standard Three-Day Curriculum  

This format provides the best opportunity for comprehensive learning of the full range of capabilities of the chosen software. After gaining a complete understanding of the program’s design and features, we illustrate how to use the program in a wide variety of qualitative projects, from the most structured to the most unstructured. Following the Five-Level QDA principles, the objective is to learn how the analytic steps of a research project are “translated” into tasks that the chosen software can perform. We then learn how to operate all features of the software, with ample time for extended practice, individual coaching, and commencing work on projects. 

Customized Three-Day Curriculum

Where all participants are working on the same project the curriculum over the three days can be adjusted to best serve the participants’ needs. For example, we may focus all three days around the specifics of the project rather than illustrate the use of the program in a wide variety of qualitative projects. Alternatively, we may conduct an Intensive Two-Day Curriculum workshop first, and then spend the third day applying the what has been learned to the beginning stages of the project. 

We can also customize our curriculum for teaching graduate students within university curricula. This can be implemented as a workshop or embedded into semester-long research methods modules. We can either provide these sessions ourselves, or instruct faculty to deliver Five-Level QDA themselves.

Intensive Two-Day Curriculum

The curriculum is the same as for the Standard Three-Day Curriculum, except that there is less time for extended practice and individual coaching. To take best advantage of this intensive format we recommend that participants have collected some of their data so they are able to begin work on their projects soon after the workshop.

Extended Format Two-Day Curriculum

Where all members of a research team are attending the training together, it may be more productive to initially conduct only an Intensive Two-Day Curriculum workshop on-site that is the specifics of the project, after which the team begins work on the data analysis and then utlitizes our telephone and on-line project consulting, coaching and advanced training services on an as-needed basis as the project progresses. 

The choice between a Customized Three-Day Curriculum  or an Extended Format Two-Day Curriculum depends on several factors, including the length and nature of the study, whether the team members are of a similar level of experience or consist of more-experienced researchers and less-experienced research assistants, etc.

Software Planning Workshops

If you have not yet decided which CAQDAS package is most appropriate for your needs we can also organize half day comparative software workshops that outline the principles of using CAQDAS packages and 



Project-based training and follow-up coaching are all conducted by web conference, email, and telephone as needed.

Project-Based Training in CAQDAS packages

Project-Based Training

Online Project-Based Training focusses on the learning needed for a project, rather than comprehensive training, much of which may not be required for any particular project.

The process begins with working together to understand how the research question will be fulfilled by an analytic plan and strategies, and how these in turn can best be harnessed using the capabilities of the program. Just those skills needed to accomplish the goals, and typically continue coaching throughout the project, adding more software skills as needed.


Follow-Up Coaching

Follow-Up Coachingis best undertaken on a “just-in-time” basis, when new skills are about to be put into practice. It is not efficient to learn complex skills much in advance of needing to use them. Typical coaching  needs are:

  • to review software tools not used for some time
  • to reacquaint you with sophisticated uses of the program that you are only now ready to use
  • to review a project together to see how the next steps may be implemented in your chosen CAQDAS package


Nick Woolf is the best instructor I have had for learning a software application....Nick's highly interactive teaching style significantly increased my success...I returned to work with renewed insight and ideas about where my research was leading. Nick presented a remarkably effective class for both new and experienced researchers.
Mary F. Annese, MPA, Research Specialist
The Casey Family Program


Mindsets matter: think about how you think about CAQDAS programs

Mindsets matter: think about how you think about CAQDAS programs
By Christina Silver on Oct 31, 2018 at 02:06 PM in Five-Level QDA issues & ideas

On 17th October 2018 I had the privilege of opening the Digital Tools day at the World Conference on Qualitative Research (#WCQR2018) in Lisbon, Portugal. My talk was called “Mindsets for harnessing digital tools in qualitative and mixed-methods analysis: The Five-Level QDA method”. My main message was that we need to be more explicit about the way we think about the role of digital tools in the research process and our engagement with them.


Can tactics inform strategies?

Can tactics inform strategies?
By Christina Silver on May 25, 2018 at 08:41 AM in Five-Level QDA in practice

Analytic strategies come before software tactics: that’s the Five-Level QDA approach. But there are times when software tactics can usefully inform analytic strategies. This leads to serendipitous exploration, and fits well with the emergent spirit of qualitative research.

When analytic strategies drive software tactics the use of the software is meaningful – focused on the needs of the research rather than the capabilities of the program. But many CAQDAS advocates say that new software features (tactics) do offer new analytic possibilities (strategies), and so the relationship goes both ways. I agree.

While I usually discuss the downsides of software tactics driving analytic strategies, here is an example from the workshop I led at the MQIC in Berlin earlier this year of tactics appropriately informing strategies.


A CAQDAS horror story: when tactics drive strategies

A CAQDAS horror story: when tactics drive strategies
By Christina Silver on Mar 22, 2018 at 06:52 PM

A key principle of the 5LQDA method is that analytic strategies drive software tactics. This ensures that software use is always focused on the objectives of the study and is appropriate to the particular methodological context.

But what happens when software tactics drive analytic strategies? Here is the most extreme example I’ve observed. In my next post I’ll discuss when software tactics can usefully inform analytic strategies without actually driving the process.


How many codes are needed in a qualitative analysis?

How many codes are needed in a qualitative analysis?
By Christina Silver on Feb 22, 2018 at 08:53 AM in CAQDAS commentary

There is no answer to this perennial question - not even any guidelines. You need as many codes as you need - in other words, however many are needed to capture what's going on in the data in relation to your analytic focus and research objectives. How many depends on what you're using the codes to represent, how you derive them, and how you intend to use them in the analysis. I've done substantial projects with as few as 22 codes, and others that required several hundred.


My first thoughts on the Five-Level QDA textbooks

My first thoughts on the Five-Level QDA textbooks
By Five Level QDA on Feb 06, 2018 at 07:29 AM in Five-Level QDA issues & ideas

Ann Lewins has been using and teaching CAQDAS packages since 1994 and she pioneered the development of institutional support for their use in the UK, helping to create the CAQDAS Networking Project. Here she shares her first thoughts on the Five-Level QDA textbooks.

Five-Level QDA is a new teaching and learning initiative that aims to fill a huge gap by addressing some of the major dilemmas facing especially new qualitative researchers