Last week, I attended the basic and advanced NVIVO 10 training sessions (2.5 hours each) on the 3rd and 6th. Some of my friends were quite surprised as I am a "quantitative" guy and one even joked "You are moving to the other camp". This actually underlines the philosophical divide that exists in academia (especially in the social sciences) between the positivists and the interpretivists in particular.
My research philosophy is grounded in positivism and my PhD Thesis was based upon extensive quantitative research, using structural equation modelling. Previously, I did not have the inclination (nor the time) to learn more about the various qualitative methods (and tools like NVIVO). However, after teaching research methods and the fact that a number of my dissertation students were using qualitative methods forced me to move outside my comfort zone. There also seems to be an increasing move towards research involving mixed methods which I feel is a good development. I am really into netnography, the process and term coined by Professor Robert V. Kozinets, Professor of Marketing, Schulich School of Business, York University.
Anyway, the session were led by Dr. Laura Venn, Co-founder and Director of Research, Innovative Futures Research
, a company based in Warwick. I found the two session really useful and wish I had taken them much earlier. I have used qualitative methods to analyse discussions forums on the net (paper submitted for presentation at a Conference recently) and it would have made my life much easier. I had to download hundreds of webpages and code them the old fashioned way with a lot of cut and pasting. The ability to visualize connections by generating tag clouds, tree maps and cluster analysis are what attracted me in the first place. However a new amazing feature of NVIVO 10 is that it allows you to to actually capture all the information from the discussion forums and social media including Facebook and Twitter straightaway.
Laura did provide some examples and I know the time was quite limited but I wish we had more hands on training using actual exercises. I did learn a lot but will definitely need to play around more before I am really fluent with it. Fortunately QSR (the company which owns NVIVO) offers a number of free online webminars and I am attending one tomorrow.
You can download trial copies of the software (lasts for 30 days) here: http://www.qsrinternational.com/products_nvivo_free-trial-software.aspx