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Introduction to MAXQDA a Qualitative and Mixed Methods Data Analysis Software

Francisco Freitas

Centro de Estudos Sociais, University of Coimbra

Francisco Freitas is a researcher who studied, sociology, natural and technological risks and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) at the Universities of Coimbra and Aveiro.

Alongside his research activities, he collaborates with Verbi GmbH in the development of the Portuguese version of MAXQDA.

For many years, Francisco has worked on research projects on which he uses his extensive experience in the fields of research methods, data collection and analysis, including the activities of georeferencing, mapping, and spatial analysis.

Francisco has worked regularly as a software instructor and research methods lecturer in several countries.

His current research interests encompass big data, digital research methods, and advanced analytics.

Francisco is a certified MAXQDA instructor.

Course Dates and Times

Course Dates and Times

Friday 3 March: 13:00-15:00 and 15:30-17:00
Saturday 4 March: 09:30-12:00 and 13:00-14:30
7.5 hours over two days

Prerequisite Knowledge

Introductory course on MAXQDA version 12 for Windows or Mac. It is not required to hold previous experience on this software package or to detain knowledge in qualitative research methods in general. Participants must bring their Windows or Mac OS laptop computers with the 30 days demonstration version of MAXQDA 12 installed (available for download at Every participant will receive a 100 days free MAXQDA license to continue the testing of the software after the course completion. Mastering MAXQDA does not require special abilities in computation. Nonetheless, dedicated support for MAXQDA installation and usage issues is available and can be obtained in the following official web address:

Short Outline

This is a course intended to offer an applied introduction to MAXQDA. MAXQDA is a recognised and easy to use tool for qualitative and/or mixed methods data analysis, now available as a universal application for Windows and Mac OS. During the course, participants will obtain a practical overview on how to manage, code, analyse different types of qualitative data and report findings using MAXQDA. After the completion of the course, all the participants will be prepared to work independently in their projects using MAXQDA. The course will be organised under three fundamental topics. As a completely hands-on course, the activities will consist mostly of demonstrations combined with guided practice using predefined datasets. Methodological references and practical clues will be addressed frequently in order to frame the software usage during the course and to guide future incursions by the participants in this area.

Long Course Outline

A software package like MAXQDA contains powerful tools to enhance efficient research data management and analysis using project files. The learning curve is fast, therefore users can use MAXQDA as a tool for research, being able to focus on how to master and implement an extensive range of research methodologies instead of struggling learning intricate software procedures. This practical course will consist of three different topics covering the main stages of the qualitative data research process. Throughout the course the participants will be introduced to basic and more advanced features. The main objective of the course is to prepare participants to implement software usage in their qualitative research projects.

Topic 1: Data Collection and Management

The departing point will consist of completing a list of data gathering activities, using examples from the more traditional research techniques towards the internet or digital orient methods. We will test the different ways through which documents may be collected and imported into the project file using standard file formats and assistant tools like the MAXApp. By document, we will see that a very broad group of items can be included in this category: text files, PDF documents and reports, spreadsheets, survey data, focus groups transcripts, bibliographic data, images, audio files, video files, web pages, etc.

Secondly, we will check the software main features and how it is internally organised. This step is important to allow users to manage their data accordingly inside the software, something that can be accomplished inside MAXQDA in a fast and rewarding way. We will proceed by testing some data preparation and curation features using MAXQDA, in order to cover a comprehensive number option. One example will consist of managing and performing literature reviews using, again, standard file formats that allow the exchange of files between software packages. By the end of this topic, participants will have an overview in how to navigate through their databases, replacing the one-by-one navigation procedures.

Topic 2: Data Coding

Qualitative data is available in a myriad of formats. Text analysis remains a key feature, but qualitative data analysis is increasingly being constructed around new formats. Several methodologies, research designs or coding protocols can be implemented using MAXQDA. We will briefly discuss the main academic variations in the deductive or inductive approaches and correspondent methodologies to coding, the different ways to code information, and the types of formats that can be incorporated. This includes practical exercises using multimedia data (images, video, and/or audio recordings) and examples of textual data, encompassing, for instance, policy documents, interview transcripts, open-ended survey responses, newspaper articles. Coding information remains as an important part of qualitative research and we will complete an in-depth revision of all the coding possibilities inside MAXQDA. Memoing features are important to inform qualitative research and will be included in this topic. Another important feature to be presented are the options for linking data or the data classification possibilities using variables.

Topic 3: Data Analysis and Visualisation

Methodological bibliography should be precise in terms of the tasks one must perform in order to construct and evaluate a certain theory under the guidance of a particular methodological framework. Having the data in a digital format entails the possibility of performing multiple types of searches across the dataset to answer significant questions. Therefore we will test the multiple query tools available inside the program in order to operate both simple and/or more sophisticated research inquiries. Multiple approaches are possible and that is one of the advantages of using software for qualitative research. Apart from the methodological requirements, software may also be used in terms of enhancing researchers´ analytical capabilities. We will be addressing how elements like the grid tables or the thematic summaries eventually encourage the analytical process.

Regarding the visualisations, the goal will be to look at the specific functions in the program to enable the creation of new levels of analysis to support the progression of qualitative research. Underlying this and apart from the methodological requirements, we will assess how software can offer specific analytical tools in order to target different levels of analysis, while at the same time, to present research findings in a more fashionable way to the desired audience. The activities will consist mostly of assigning colours and exploring convenient functions like the Code Matrix Browser, the Code Relations Browser, the Document Portrait, the Document Comparison Chart or the Codeline.

At last, reporting information remains as an important feature as raw data has little use, and every research project must target the production of valuable information. The file export features will be addressed since the openness of a software remains as an important principle for effective data analysis, something that is guaranteed by MAXQDA. Nonetheless, a key element in any research process is the ability to communicate effectively and disseminate results. In qualitative research, a good investigation can be blurred by the lack of substantiation about the procedures and/or the tasks involved in the whole progression. Software may be extremely useful in terms of providing evidence-based assumptions for a research audit (e.g. a dataset can be shared). Reporting on the other hand, involves a process of extracting information from the software and making it ‘malleable’ so that it can be presented effectively. MAXQDA allows users to report all the parts of their projects files using several dedicated functions. The MAXQDA practitioner is then able to choose what to do with the outputs at any moment, and that will be tested in detail during the contact hours.

Day Topic Details
Friday Data Collection and Management

1.1. Digital data collection (including the MAXApp assistance)
1.2. Data preparation and transformation
1.3. Generating a project file
1.4. Data import and management (internals and externals)
1.5. Organising and referencing the data
1.6. Transcribing audio and video
1.7. Working with pictures
1.8. Interviews and focus groups preprocessing
1.9. Twitter integration
1.10. Reference management and bibliographic reviews
1.11. Importing structured data using spreadsheets

Saturday morning Data Coding

2.1. Coding the data
2.2. Emoticodes features
2.3. Code system management
2.4. Code favourites and shortcuts
2.5. Memoing options and logbook
2.6. Linking documents and linking documents to sources
2.7. Assigning hyperlinks and geolinks
2.8. Document variables and code variables
2.9. Autocoding data
2.10. Merging or transforming codes

Saturday afternoon Data Analysis and Visualization

3.1. Activation and information retrieval
3.2. Lexical searches and complex queries
3.3. Generating document sets
3.4. MAXDictio and stop-lists
3.5. Summary tables and grids
3.6. Communicating findings with the visual tools
3.7. Creative coding
3.8. Data export
3.9. Smart Publisher
3.10. Team work implementation and management

Day Readings
Friday Corti, L., Eynden, V. Van den, Bishop, L., & Woollard, M. (2014). Managing and Sharing Research Data: a Guide to Good Practice. London: SAGE. [selected chapters] Silverman, D. (2013). Doing Qualitative Research. London: SAGE. [selected chapters]
Saturday morning Kuckartz, U. (2014). Qualitative Text Analysis: A Guide to Methods, Practice & Using Software. London: SAGE. [selected chapters] Lewins, A., & Silver, C. (2014). Using Software in Qualitative Research: A Step-by-Step Guide (Second Edi.). London: Sage Publications.. [selected chapters]
Saturday afternoon Banks, M. (2005). Visual Methods in Social Research. London: Sage Publications. [selected chapters] Pink, S. (2004). Visual Methodologies. In C. Seale, G. Gobo, J. F. Gubrium, & David Silverman (Eds.), Qualitative Research Practice (pp. 391–406). London: SAGE.

Software Requirements

MAXQDA 12 Windows or Mac installed and running flawlessly.

Hardware Requirements

Students to bring their own laptops. For precise hardware requirements, please consult: It is advisable to use a 12-inch or larger display laptop.


Bernard, Harvey Russel; Ryan, Gery Wayne (2010). Analyzing Qualitative Data: Systematic Approaches. London: SAGE.

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2005). Introduction. The discipline and practice of qualitative research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research (pp. 1–20). London: SAGE.

Freitas, F. (2013). Coding qualitative data using MAXQDA 11. In Rosaline Barbour’s Introducing Qualitative Research: A Student's Guide. London: SAGE. Retrieved from

Gibbs, G. R. (2007). Analyzing Qualitative Data. London: SAGE.

Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M., & Saldaña, J. (2014). Qualitative Data Analysis: A Methods Sourcebook (Third Edit.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Other Resources:

In the following web address,, there is a comprehensive list of materials designed to support the MAXQDA learning process. In the referred landing page, every user will be able to find detailed online tutorials, an extensive list of video tutorials encompassing most of the program features, and the official user manuals. A dedicated channel for MAXQDA is available on YouTube: During the contact hours more resources will be provided and extensive information will be published on the Moodle platform, where all the course related communication will be centralised.

Additional Information


This course description may be subject to subsequent adaptations (e.g. taking into account new developments in the field, participant demands, group size, etc). Registered participants will be informed in due time.

Note from the Academic Conveners

By registering for this course, you confirm that you possess the knowledge required to follow it. The instructor will not teach these prerequisite items. If in doubt, contact the instructor before registering.