Ethnograph 5.0 by Scolari (www.scolari.com)

People who need to analyze text-based qualitative data, including social scientists (anthropologists, sociologists, geographers,) historians, literary critics, health researchers, legal researchers, market analysts. Good for people who need to analyze large amounts of text, including interview transcripts, field notes, open-ended surveys, etc.

It does not do any kind of statistics.

Imports data from a word processor into the program (or type directly). When you import, the program automatically gives your text line numbers and formats the file. You can nest codes within the files, mark codes with memos, create a hierarchy of codes, and perform various types of searches on codes together with filters, i.e. you can perform searches by code and variables that define individual speakers (or identifiers) in a transcript or by variables that define entire files.

After coming back from fieldwork or after collecting a large amount of interview data. Ethnograph is good for coding and compiling patterns in the data.

The software is mostly for coding. It does not really restrict the research process in any way. It does not try to force you to necessarily identify large themes in the data. It does not try to do analysis or test hypotheses for you. Once youíve done searches you can annotate them with memos, put them together, view them in context, mark them for future reference, etc.

A few limitations:

  1. I found it irritating that code words were restricted to 10 characters in length. I have a lot of codes like "grassland degradation" "grassland division" and "sedentarization" that have to be abbreviated.
  2. This is not important for most people, but because there is no font editor within the program, it is not possible to use foreign language software (such as Twinbridge for Chinese or Tibetisch for Tibetan) which is normally compatible overlaid on top of other software packages (like Word). Thus you canít do much searching if some of your data is in another language based on a different alphabet/character set.
  3. Searches can be done by word within files, but across files searches can be done only by code word.
  4. The demo was quite slow on importing large files and crashed my computer a couple of times. I assume this is because it is a demo.
  5. The program does not seem to be able to handle matrices, tables, etc. Coding structure is hierarchical.

The program is straightforward, easy to use, and does not take too long to learn.

It is somewhat limited in terms of searches since you can only search based on coding that you have already done; you cannot use searches of patterns across files to then decide how to code (for instance). Text searching is possible within single files, of course.

The program easily allows nested coding but the display of the nesting Ė through a row of various symbols like #$% is not visually appealing at all and I imagine it could get very difficult to decipher if there are more than a few levels of nesting.

Overall the program is functional and useful, but I have not decided yet if it is worth $200.