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Introduction to MAXQDA a Qualitative and Mixed Methods Data Analysis Software

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Course Dates and Times

Friday 2 March
13:00–15:00 and 15:30–17:00

Saturday 3 March
11:00–12:00 / 13:00–14:30 and 15:00–16:30

Francisco Freitas

Centro de Estudos Sociais, University of Coimbra


This is an applied introduction to MAXQDA, an easy-to-use tool for qualitative and/or mixed methods data analysis, now available as a universal application for Windows and Mac OS.

You will learn how to manage, code, and analyse different types of qualitative data, and how to report findings.

By the end the course, you will be able to work independently using MAXQDA.

The course is organised under three fundamental topics:

  • data collection and management
  • data coding
  • data analysis and visualisation.

Activities will consist mostly of demonstrations combined with hands-on practice using predefined datasets and worksheets. For future reference, I will hand out printed worksheets containing practical examples.

You will be given a short assignment after the first session.

Instructor Bio

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.


MAXQDA contains powerful tools to enhance research data management and analysis using project files.

The learning curve is fast, so you can use MAXQDA as a research tool, and focus on how to master and implement an extensive range of research methodologies instead of struggling to learn intricate software procedures.

This practical course covers three main stages of the qualitative data research process. I will introduce you to basic and more advanced features.

By the end of the course, you will be able to use MAXQDA in your own qualitative research projects.

Topic 1: Data Collection and Management

First, we will compile a list of data-gathering activities, using traditional research techniques and online or digital methods.

We will test the ways text files, PDF documents and reports, spreadsheets, survey data, focus group transcripts, bibliographic data, images, audio files, video files, web pages may be collected and imported into a project file using standard file formats and assistant tools like the MAXApp.

Then we will look at the software's main features, and how it is organised internally. This will help you manage your MAXQDA data in a fast and rewarding way.

Lastly, we will test MAXQDA's data preparation and curation features. You will learn how to manage and perform literature reviews using standard file formats that allow file exchange between software packages. 

By the end of this topic, you will know how to navigate efficiently through your databases.

Topic 2: Data Coding

Qualitative data is available in myriad formats. Text analysis is key, but qualitative data analysis is, increasingly, constructed around new formats.

Several methodologies, research designs or coding protocols, can be implemented using MAXQDA. We will discuss briefly 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. We will perform practical exercises using multimedia data (images, video, and/or audio recordings) and examples of textual data that encompass, for instance, policy documents, interview transcripts, open-ended survey responses, and newspaper articles.

Coding information and memo-ing features are important parts of qualitative research, and we will look at all MAXQDA's coding possibilities, along with options for linking data, or data classification using variables.

Topic 3: Data Analysis and Visualisation

If you want to construct and evaluate a theory under a methodological framework, your methodological bibliography must be precise.

Having the data in digital format means you can perform multiple types of search across the dataset, to answer significant questions. We will test MAXQDA's multiple query tools to operate simple and/or sophisticated research inquiries.

MAXQDA can also enhance analytical capabilities. I will show you how elements like grid tables and thematic summaries encourage the analytical process.

We will also look at program functions for visualisations that enable new levels of analysis to support qualitative research.

Then we will examine MAXQDA's tools analysing at different levels, and presenting findings in a more attractive way. We will assign colours, and explore functions including: 

  • Code Matrix Browser
  • Code Relations Browser
  • Document Portrait
  • Document Comparison Chart
  • Codeline.

Raw data has little use, so reporting information remains important. Effective data analysis is guaranteed by MAXQDA, and I will demonstrate MAXQDA's file export features.

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 unclear procedures and/or the tasks involved in the progression.

Software can provide evidence-based assumptions for a research audit (e.g. a dataset can be shared). Reporting, on the other hand, involves extracting information from the software and making it malleable enough to present effectively.

Finally, I'll show you how dedicated MAXQDA functions allow users to report all parts of their projects files, and choose what to do with the outputs.


No previous MAXQDA experience necessary, or knowledge of qualitative research methods in general.

Please bring a Windows or Mac OS laptop computer with the 15-day demonstration version of MAXQDA 12 installed and running flawlessly. I will give you a temporary MAXQDA license to continue testing the software after the course.

Day Topic Details
Friday Data Collection and Management

1.1. Digital data collection (including MAXApp)
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 data
1.6. Transcribing audio and video
1.7. Working with pictures
1.8. Interviews and focus groups pre-processing
1.9. Twitter integration
1.10. Reference management and bibliographic reviews
1.11. Importing structured data using spreadsheets

Saturday morning / afternoon Data Coding

2.1. Coding the data
2.2. Emoticodes features
2.3. Code system management
2.4. Code favourites and shortcuts
2.5. Memo-ing 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 using lexical searches
2.10. Merging or transforming codes

Saturday afternoon Data Analysis and Visualisation

3.1. Activation and information retrieval
3.2. Complex queries
3.3. Frequencies and stop-lists
3.4. Generating document sets
3.5. Summary tables and grids
3.6. Communicating findings with the visual tools
3.7. Creative coding
3.8. Data export and printing options
3.9. Smart Publisher
3.10. Teamwork implementation and management

Day Readings

Veerle Van den Eynden, Louise Corti, M., Woollard, L. B., & Horton, L. (2011) Managing and Sharing Data – Best Practice For Researchers UK Data Archive University of Essex

Silverman, D. (2009). What You Can (and Can’t) Do with Qualitative Research. In Qualitative Research (pp. 5–16). London: SAGE Publications

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 Edition) London: Sage Publications [selected chapters]

Saturday afternoon

Banks, M. and Zeitlyn, D. (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


Please bring a Windows or Mac OS laptop computer with the 15-day demonstration version of MAXQDA 12 installed and running flawlessly. I will give you a temporary MAXQDA license to continue testing the software after the course.

Mastering MAXQDA does not require special computational abilities, but you can get dedicated support for MAXQDA installation and usage problems.

Hardware Requirements


Please bring a laptop. I advise a display size of 14 inches or larger.

Find precise hardware requirements.


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

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 Edition) Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Other Resources

Materials to support MAXQDA learning:

  • online tutorials
  • video tutorials encompassing most MAXQDA features
  • official user manuals.

MAXQDA YouTube channel

I will provide more resources in class, and publish extensive information on Moodle, where all course-related communication will be centralised.