Qualitative Data Tool: Using QDA Miner Lite

By Barry Nagle, Managing Partner/Senior Researcher, Evaluation and Action Research Associates

As researchers, we often receive requests to include multiple, open-ended questions in a survey. Software designed specifically to analyze qualitative data, such as open-ended survey questions, can be prohibitively expensive. QDA Miner Lite offers a free option for researchers that can facilitate qualitative data analysis. As a note, this Tech Tip is an introduction to the software, rather than how to perform a qualitative data analysis.

Importing the Data

QDA Miner Lite can import data from many programs, such as Excel, Access, tab delimited files, etc. The data-importing process is user-friendly and efficient. To begin a new project, follow these steps:


As can be seen, the data import process is efficient. Understanding the user interface will help with the coding process.

User Interface

The figure displays the QDA Miner Lite interface. There are multiple elements on the interface, described in the figure below.

Now we can get to the fun part, which is how to code the data.

Coding the Data

There are two ways to code the data. First, let’s add a code we think we will use. On the menu bar, you will see a “Codes” option.


When this is selected, a box where the code can be entered appears.


Enter the “Code Name” and enter or select the “Under” category. Previously created major categories will be available by clicking the arrow. “Under” refers to the overall category you want to use and “Code Name” is your specific sub-category. The “Color” option is available if you want to assign colors to your codes.

Now we can apply the code to our data. For this example, I have selected part of a passage.


In this example, notice how a code is available. By clicking on the green pen, you assign the code to this passage (you can select a different code by clicking the arrow). After you click the green pen, you see the code that has been assigned on the right-hand side of the window.


This method goes through each case individually to assign a code.

There is also a more efficient way to code. On the menu, select “Retrieval” and “Text Retrieval.”


Once selected, this box appears.


In the search box, define where you want to search. This example is telling the program to search in the “Reason” variable. In the “Search for text” box, enter the word or phrase for which to search. This example is telling the program to search for the word “leader.” When “Search” is clicked, all of the cases that have this word in it are displayed.


Select the code you want to assign to passages that have this word. Select the passage and click on the green pen. This assigns the code you have specified to these passages.

As a note, you can assign multiple codes to a passage. Here is an example of a passage that has two codes.



QDA Miner Lite has basic analysis tools. One option is to select “Analyze” and then “Coding Frequency.”


When this is done, the “Coding Frequency” box appears. Here, select the codes you want to display (or leave the “Coverage” box unchecked to show all codes). After selecting “Search,” the number of cases and the percentage of cases associated with each code displays. An additional positive is that the number of words associated with the code as well as the percentage of words is displayed. These results assist you in identifying the code magnitude.

Exporting the Data

QDA Miner Lite provides options to export the coded data. Under “Text Retrieval” select “Coding Retrieval.” When the “Code Retrieval” box opens, select the codes you want to display and then click “Search.”


Once done, the results appear. When the save button at the top of the display is selected, the data will open in Excel. This enables further data analysis.



QDA Miner Lite provides a cost-effective way to analyze qualitative data. The data in QDA Miner Lite is much easier to read than it is in a program such as Excel, which can make qualitative data analysis less intimidating. The “Text Retrieval” function enables the user to code data based on key words. The Coding Frequency analysis and the ability to export coded data are important benefits that will serve researchers that want to increase their utilization of qualitative data. Instructions on how to download the software are available on the Provalis Research website. Additional helpful resources can also be found here.



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Total Comments: 2
Lisa posted on 9/15/2016 12:25 PM
Barry, this is a great tech tip. I've been struggling to learn NVIVO without much success. I've been coding manually, instead. Thank you for the alternative choice in software and the examples.
Marlene posted on 9/26/2016 9:24 AM
This is terrific! I just downloaded the software. Thank you for the tip!