Data tagging is a pain in the butt.
It is super time-consuming and super boring. And unless you’re analysing things like parts of speech (POS tagging for all the linguists out there) or semantic tagging… then you pretty much have to do it by hand. I’m tagging for recurring themes, so things like requesting meetings, paying compliments or negotiating money. Because these are done differently by different people you can’t (yet) write an algorithm to find them. You just have to tag them yourself.
You can do this super old-school in Excel, or you can use specific software. The software installed on the uni network is NVivo. I don’t use it because it’s not free – and I want my work to be portable. So I use QDA Miner Lite – the ‘lite’ version is the freeware reduced-features version, and you can upgrade to the full package if you want to access to all the advanced fancy-schmancy features.
My QDA tagging looks a bit like this:
The tags are all on the right-hand side. Frankly, it’s starting to look like a bit of a shit-storm. Luckily QDA Miner pulls the tags out in lovely easy to read tables when you want to search for something.
There is basically only one big problem with QDA.
It has a massive Excel phobia.
It runs scared (crashes) whenever you change or save something in Excel, and QDA has no auto-save, so you can easily lose an hour’s work with an inconvenient crash.
Sadly I use Excel all the time – to clock my hours, as a calendar, to organise PhD data…
I might be at the point of needing to stick a post-it to my laptop saying
Save your tagging!!