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CAQDAS and research practices in STS and Mobilities (ECSGS funded)

Project: Research


£2.5k Funding through Lancaster University Early Career Small Grant Scheme (ECSGS)
How does software affect, change and mediate the way qualitative research is done? The capabilities of computer assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS) have massively increased since the 1990s, usage is far more pervasive, and the costs and pressures for institutional licensing have grown. Concomitantly the approaches to researching social life have become more complex, digital and mobile.
CAQDAS is strongly associated with particular approaches to engaging with qualitative data such as coding data and retrieving the codes, abstracting and reducing data to themes and relating data to fixed locations. Books, training courses and marketing materials for these packages actively position and promote them as being supportive but largely transparent in the
qualitative analysis process. Such simplistic positioning is challenged by scholarship in science and technology studies (STS) and practices in mobilities research that explore the mediating effects of software on work practices. The methodological concerns of these interdisciplinary research areas also pose significant challenges to conventional CAQDAS approaches – such as the idea of “following the actors” or exploring movement and mobility. At their intersection there is substantial potential for exploring, reformulating and better understanding what CAQDAS does, can do, and could potentially do by exploring the practices, uses, and theorisation of the software by researchers working in STS and mobilities research.

This research project seeks to investigate the following research questions:

How do social scientists studying science, technology and mobility in their research consider, engage with and account for the effects of using CAQDAS on their investigations and analysis?

Specific sub-questions then guide the methods and analysis:
• What influences choice of software?
• Which tools and options within CAQDAS are adopted, and how are they used?
• How is the use of software accounted for in public research outputs?
• How is the use of software accounted for in private research outputs?
• How are breakdowns, limits and workarounds understood, drawn on, incorporated or theorised?

Through exploring these questions the research project seeks to enhance the understanding of the role, effects and potential of CAQDAS. It draws on the emerging publication profile of the researchers exploring mobile methods, digital methods for social research and CAQDAS with a distinctive focus on the interdisciplinary social science research in STS and mobilities in which Lancaster University holds a world-leading position.
Effective start/end date21/04/15 → …
  • Wright, Steve (Principal Investigator)
  • Bhatt, Ibrar (Co-Investigator)

Research outputs