Nicholas Woolf and Christina Silver

Nick and Christina have been working together since the first ATLAS.ti User Conference in Berlin in 2013, where Nick gave the keynote introducing Five-Level QDA. We discovered that that we had independently reached similar conclusions about how to better help students and researchers gain CAQDAS expertise, and since then we have been developing, refining and implementing the Five-Level QDA method.

Below you can read about us and the on-going training and consulting we offer researchers, Christina in the UK and Nick in the US.

You can find a list of our publications here

Nicholas Woolf, Ph.D.

Nicholas Woolf
Nicholas Woolf

Nick has been training qualitative researchers and teaching CAQDAS workshops in the US and Canada since 1998. He specializes in working with researchers to think through their research questions, turn the questions into a coherent analytic plan, and design the process for implementing the plan on a CAQDAS package. Once the plan is designed, Nick provides project-based training in ATLAS.ti, meaning that time is spent on learning just the ATLAS.ti skills needed for each phase of the project, rather than in comprehensive training in the entire program, much of which may not be required for a particular study. The focus is on efficiently completing the project, in terms of both time and cost.

For individual researchers and dissertations students Nick guides the data analysis phase of a project from inception of the plan to completion of the project using the Five-Level QDA  method. About half the needed consulting time is generally spent at the beginning planning stage, and the remainder on an as-needed basis as the project progresses.

For team and funded research projects Nick’s role varies greatly according to need. For some projects he serves only as an outside consultant, providing guidance and advice at turning points of a data analysis on an as-needed basis. For other projects he is more involved as a team member, participating in or leading the data analysis, and training and coaching the researchers in whatever features of ATLAS.ti  they need to use. With some projects Nick undertakes the entire data analysis himself, and participates in the writing of the resulting papers. Nick has been involved in a range of projects, from evaluations to grounded theory studies, including studies in  family medicine, public health, education, and leadership and management studies.

After observing the learning process of thousands of his students in ATLAS.ti workshops, Nick developed a perspective for helping researchers more quickly gain the expertise that long-term users of CAQDAS develop through trail-and-error. He called this Five-Level QDA and presented this method as the keynote address at the 2013 ATLAS.ti User’s Conference in Berlin. Since then he has been working with Christina Silver in further developing and offering the method as a CAQDAS pedagogy. Their textbook Five-Level QDA: A method for harnessing powerfully will be published in 2017.

View further details about Nick's services.

View Nick's publications.

Contact Nick. 

Christina Silver, Ph.D.

Christina Silver
Christina Silver

Christina has been using and teaching CAQDAS packages since 1997. She has conducted many different research projects, big and small, with and without the use of qualitative software – including her own studies and many other academic and applied research projects. She has experience in using most of the leading CAQDAS packages and has taught almost 10,000 researchers in their methodologically-informed use.

Christina’s passion is working out creative and efficient ways to analyze different types of data using customized software applications. She really doesn’t mind the topic, she just wants to get her hands on data and harness software tools! She enjoys the dynamic nature of intensive workshop-based training, coaching and project consultancy, where she can help design strategies that are best suited to the needs at hand. This way, she learns from those she works with – and everyone is happy!

Christina’s particular interests relate to the relationship between technology and methodology and the teaching of computer-assisted analysis. Joining forces with Nick to refine Five-Level QDA has given her the ability to support researchers to harness CAQDAS powerfully in a more structured and effective way.

Some examples of consultation projects in harnessing CAQDAS packages powerfully, using Five-Level QDA, that Christina specializes in are:

  • Project planning and research design – working with groups and individuals to determine how to structure their work in the context of CAQDAS use.
  • Mixing methods – working with groups to plan how to integrate qualitative and quantitative materials, as well as how to transform qualitative information into quantitative information, with a view to applying statistical analyses in other software (e.g. SPSS).
  • Planning for your PhD – working with doctoral students to highlight how CAQDAS can help them project manage their PhD.
  • Planning for team work – working with research teams to highlight the considerations applicable when working together on a single research project using software.
  • Train the Trainer – working with university faculty to design curricula for integrating CAQDAS learning into methods courses.

Christina has designed and carried out analysis for a number of independent organizations. She has taught under- and post-graduate qualitative methods courses in UK and European universities and currently contributes to doctoral programs at several institutions, using Five-Level QDA in workshops of varying lengths.

Christina Co-founded Qualitative Data Analysis Services (QDAS) through which she and colleagues, including Nicholas Woolf, provide consultancy, analysis and training. Additionally, she is the Manager of the CAQDAS Networking Project and Co-Director of Day Courses in Social Research, both in the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey, UK. Christina is based in the UK but travels around Europe (and beyond).

View more information about Christina

View Christina's publications 

View Christina's LinkedIn profile

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Contact Christina 

Testimonials

So often I have attended training courses and wondered what I was doing there, feeling my life slip away into oblivion while I could be doing other more useful and interesting activities such as watching iron rust or paint flake. However, Christina's was superb. It was exactly what I had hoped for. Pitched at precisely the right level and presented in a very clear, engaging way. Being able to spend time having some real content and context given by someone who really understands the software and researcher's needs, along with a sensible amount of time to try things out and get help was great. I'm much more confident about getting to grips with my data now.
Paul Rause
Interdisciplinary researcher, Southampton University

Blog

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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