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


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


The 3 day NVivo course was based around Five-Level QDA and was an excellent balance between the technicalities of using analytical software and its real-world use as a research tool. Christina grounded the training in how to conduct high quality post-graduate research as a means to enhance good research practice, allow effective data analysis, and support research project management. This is far preferable to an approach focusing largely or wholly on the technical details of software, with little relation to conducing actual academic research. Although the 3 days was very intensive it comes highly recommended.
Simon Cox
PhD Student, Nottingham Business School, Chief Officer, NHS Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group


Big moment for CAQDAS: QDA-XML exchange

Big moment for CAQDAS: QDA-XML exchange
By Christina Silver on Mar 18, 2019 at 05:15 PM in CAQDAS commentary

It's finally here - the ability to exchange analysed qualitative data between CAQDAS programs! Since September 2016 the developers of seven CAQDAS programs have been working together to develop an open source xml exchange standard.

Today the first version was released - a big moment in the history of CAQDAS and something that will change the way that researchers and teachers can work.

Find out more at and start exchanging CAQDAS projects !


An ode to Kandy Woodfield’s CAQDAS contributions

An ode to Kandy Woodfield’s CAQDAS contributions
By Christina Silver on Mar 15, 2019 at 05:26 PM in CAQDAS commentary

I was shocked and deeply saddened to see a tweet from Kandy Woodfield’s account announcing her passing. As Rob stated, she was a very much loved wife, sister, auntie, sister-in-law, and cats’ mum. My thoughts and condolences are with them all, during these most difficult times. I knew Kandy in a professional context, and I very much liked her as a person – she was always kind, thoughtful, humourous, poignant and vivacious.

This post highlights just one part of Kandy’s professional life – her contribution to the field of Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data AnalysiS (CAQDAS). Together with her colleagues at The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) Kandy developed the FrameWork Software. This work had a big impact on the field of qualitative and mixed methods social/policy research practice. It also influenced my thinking about the role of CAQDAS packages, and the relationship between technology and methodology more broadly. I hope this post goes some way to honouring Kandy’s impact in these areas.


Calling for a revolution – we have to get rid of codes

Calling for a revolution – we have to get rid of codes
By Nicholas Woolf on Jan 17, 2019 at 06:17 PM in CAQDAS commentary

Codes are the example par excellence for our constant banging on about strategies and tactics. Reminder: strategies are what you plan to do, and tactics are how you plan to do it. When using a CAQDAS program, the tactics are very different in nature from the analytic strategies. A strategy might be to compare the men and women respondents in a study by separately conceptualizing the male responses from the female responses. The tactic to fulfil it will depend on the CAQDAS package you use, but it will involve software tools that allow you to collect together selected items of data that have been tagged or grouped by you in the software so that you can compare them on screen or in printed form. Whatever the tools in your chosen software, they will have nothing to do with the subtleties of male and female characteristics or gender issues. Instead they will involve processing data in the software to accomplish your purpose. These are two extremely different ways of thinking, but because both are called ‘coding’ you unconsciously and unhelpfully think about them in the same way. For this reason we should stop using the term ‘code’ for the strategies level of our conceptualization work.


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.