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25 March 2019 - BY Silvana di Gregorio
QSR has been a core member of the Rotterdam Exchange Format Initiative (REFI) whose goal is to develop a standard for exchanging analyzed and partially analyzed qualitative data between QDA software programs. In September 2016, QSR’s CEO, Chris Astle and myself attended the KWALON conference: Reflecting on the Future of QDA Software where Jeanine Evers (co-organizer of the conference) made a case for the value of a common exchange format among the leading QDA software packages. Chris signed up QSR’s commitment to this cause which represents the first time that the competing software developers worked together for a greater good. REFI consisted of two groups – a group of developers and a group of expert users and software trainers. Despite the structural differences between the packages, and the additional resources in terms of cost and labor that each developer had to incur, they have succeeded in creating the QDA-XML exchange format.
The value of the exchange format goes beyond the ability to move projects between QDA software packages. It literally unlocks the analyzed data in a software package – thus, future-proofing research studies for the possibility for further secondary and comparative analysis in the years ahead. REFI is currently talking to digital data archives from around the world to see how the standard can be adopted to enable a researcher to submit their project directly into an archive. There is currently the QuDEx standard developed by the UK Data Archive for qualitative studies. However, that standard was developed for archiving needs whereas the QDA-XML format takes account of the various ways researchers work with qualitative data and software as both the developers and qualitative researchers were involved in developing the standard from the start.
We are living in an age of rapid developments in our digital world so it is important that analyzed research data can be preserved and become accessible to future generations of researchers.
We’re excited to offer this new functionality and will share it when it is available shortly.
Silvana is a sociologist and a methodologist specializing in qualitative data analysis. She writes and consults on social science qualitative data analysis research, particularly in the use of software to support the analysis. She is also QSR International's Director of Research.
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