Qualitative Data Analysis

Qualitative data analysis, or QDA, is a type of research wherein unstructured, non-numerical data is used. Examples of qualitative data that are relevant to speech analysis are transcripts, audio recordings and videos. With this type of data, it is most common the researcher is interested not in absolute quantitative aspects of the data, but in the contents of the data itself, in order to take a more heuristic approach.

A digital tool that assists qualitative data analysis is called CAQDAS, which stands for Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software. Popular examples of CAQDAS programs are ATLAS.TI, MaxQDA and nVivo. Below you will find more information on these three competitors, among other tools. It is important to note that much of the functionality of a lot of the industry leading QDA packages is similar. We recommend basing your choice of software on what your research institution already offers.

Below is a list of CAQDAS and other tools that assist in the analysis of qualitative data. Do keep in mind that this list is based on the personal experiences of our staff and thus should not be seen as a complete list of possibilities. The examples are alphabetically ordered.


QDA Workbench - Mixed method research - Many media types

Paid - Installer (Windows, Mac) or web-based (beta)


ATLAS is a workbench suited for the qualitative analysis of large bodies of textual, graphical, aduio and video data. This paid tool is a standard in many academic institutions, as it allows for many data types, and has a modern and accesible user interface, reminiscent of Microsoft Office.


QDA Workbench - Mixed method research - Many media types

Paid - Installer (Windows, Mac)


 MaxQDA is another QDA workbench, with similar functionalities to ATLAS.ti. A plus of this package is that the Mac and Windows versions are entirely the same, creating a uniform experience across groups of researchers.


QDA Workbench - Mixed method research - Many media types

Paid - Installer (Windows, Mac)


 NVivo is the third popular industry choice in QDA packages, offering features similar to ATLAS.TI and MaxQDA. It offers mixed method research and a modern interface. Do keep in mind that the Windows and Mac versions are different: the above video shows just the Windows version. For a video showing NVivo for the Mac, click here.


Speech analysis - Phonetics - Open Source

Free - Installer (Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook)


Praat is not a classic CAQDAS, but an open-source phonetics program containing tools for the recording, analysis, measurement and editing of speech sounds. While the software can be intimidating for new users, Praat is a powerful tool for phonetics research.