I have never been happy with the standard Qualitative Data Analysis (QDA) software options that have been available (or the prices!), so for the next 2 weeks I will be on a quest for the perfect fieldnotes management system that will be used by my incoming class of 15 students for our ethnographic project exploring anonymity on the web.
So far I have been testing Diigo, Evernote, and Tiddlywiki.
I’m looking for something that has the following characteristics:
- free (all 3 pass)
- taggable (all 3 pass)
- searchable (all 3 pass)
- ability to share links and notes openly and instantly (Diigo wins here)
- ability to protect private notes securely (still exploring this)
- data exportable (all pass but I need to explore more … the good news is that notes can be exported from Diigo as a CSV file)
- ability to share an entire “notebook” so a student can send me their entire body of research (Tiddlywiki is great for this)
- ability to create private notes that are not linked to any particular website (Diigo fails this)
- ideally it will also work offline (Diigo fails)
So far, Diigo seems best for the collaborative aspects of the project. It allows us to build up a massive database of links and notes that are collectively generated, tagged, and organized. But it is a total failure when it comes to the ability to create private notes and work offline.
Right now, the best solution I can imagine is a combination of Evernote and Diigo. Evernote for managing private notes and working offline. Diigo for sharing and collaborating. If Evernote could somehow be synced with Diigo we would have the perfect solution.
I should also mention that each option also has bonuses not listed above. For example, Evernote is easily updated and synced from multiple devices. You can even upload pictures from your mobile and Evernote can actually decipher text within the photos which is then searchable.
One more problem with all 3. It would be great to be able to hyperlink to offline materials such as photos and videos. (Obviously, none of these things were designed as QDA software replacements, so these are not really shortcomings.)
Any thoughts or solutions? Any possibilities I have overlooked?
Still much to explore. I’ll update as I find solutions.