It has long been recognized that information technology (IT) can facilitate (or even permit) forms of empirical analysis unimagined just a generation ago. However, political scientists have generally experimented with only a narrow range of the possibilities the new technologies offer – easier writing, editing and communications processes, and more sophisticated statistical analyses. While these have undoubtedly increased productivity and rigor within the discipline, other IT applications have largely gone unnoticed. The growing pool of Computer-Aided Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS) technologies presents researchers with new ways to conceptualize, perceive, and communicate their research, with the potential of revolutionizing social science research. This paper offers an overview of those IT and CAQDAS solutions with the most potential to facilitate political inquiry, and offers a series of practical steps by which technological novices might begin to apply the new technologies in their research. In closing, we discuss the benefits and perils of using such technology, and suggest the ways by which IT might strengthen current research techniques. The appendix catalogues several dozen applications for data acquisition, organization, processing, analysis and presentation, with contact and pricing information.
Quality & Quantity – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 12, 2005
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