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Digital Tools for Qualitative Research

Digital Tools for Qualitative Research

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December 2013 | 216 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Digital Tools for Qualitative Research shows how the research process in its entirety can be supported by technology tools in ways that can save time and add robustness and depth to qualitative work. It addresses the use of a variety of tools (many of which may already be familiar to you) to support every phase of the research process, providing practical case studies taken from real world research.


The text shows you how to select and use technology tools to:

  • engage in reflexivity
  • collaborate with other researchers and stakeholders
  • manage your project
  • do your literature review
  • generate and manage your data
  • transcribe and analyse textual, audio and visual data
  • and represent and share your findings.

The book also considers important ethical issues surrounding the use of various technologies in each chapter. On the companion website, you'll find lots of additional resources including video tutorials and activities.


Whether you're a novice or expert social researcher, this book will inspire you to think creatively about how to approach your research project and get the most out of the huge range of tools available to you.

Companion Website

Why Digital Tools?
Engaging in Reflexive Practice and Making Ethical Choices
Collaborating and Managing Projects
Reviewing the Literature
Generating Data
Transcribing Audio and Video Data
Analyzing Textual Data
Analyzing Image, Audio and Video Data
Writing and Representing the Findings
Looking to the Future


Paulus Digital Tools Website

Free resources on the companion website:

  • Links to free SAGE journal articles 
  • Links to suggested websites, online videos and audio clips
  • Activities

This is an authoritative, thoughtful and consistently useful treatment of digital resources for qualitative researchers. It is grounded in the authors’ wealth of practical experience and unlike other texts in this field, it guides the reader right through the whole range of ways in which digital tools can support the contemporary researcher across the qualitative research process in its entirety.


Professor Nigel Fielding
University of Surrey

This book is both thought-provoking and challenging as it constantly invites you to reflect on your actions by providing exercises, reflective questions, and an accompanying website with information, references, examples and links. I found a lot of recognition in the text - I consider myself to be an early adopter of digital tools - and yet, lots of new and inspiring examples of the use of digital tools were available to me in Digital tools. As technology is rapidly changing our research possibilities, opportunities and procedures, this book is both interesting and worthwile to students in all phases of their education as well as junior and senior researchers.

Jeanine Evers
Evers Research & Training

Digital Tools for Qualitative Research” is the first book on the digital technologies of qualitative research to go beyond the limits of the earlier era of stand-alone qualitative data analysis software packages.  This book acknowledges those earlier tools as it goes on to explore the potential of the internet and other digital tools, filling a critical gap in the universe of qualitative research methodology texts.  Strengths of this volume include its focus on all components of the research process and ways digital tools can be brought to bear to improve the robustness of qualitative research.  Just as in many other fields, where contained software packages had to make way for the wide open spaces of the Internet, here, too, the authors demonstrate the opportunities and challenges that come with the next generation of digital tools—a place where there is possibility, fragmentation, and remixing.  What I found particularly helpful was the ongoing consideration of ethical issues across the volume and the probing end-of-chapter questions.  The authors have opened up new space for qualitative researchers.  I will definitely use this text to work through my own challenges regarding conducting qualitative research in a digital world and will recommend it to students who are developing their own methodological paths.

Judith Davidson
University of Massachusetts – Lowell

This is a comprehensive introduction to digital tools relevant for both novice and more experienced qualitative researchers and a valuable contribution to the field.


It is refreshing to see discussion of the role of digital tools across the entirety of the qualitative research process; from tools to engage in and foster reflexive practice and collaboration, tools to review literature, generate, transcribe and analyse data, through to the writing about and representation of findings.  The book is well laid out and clearly written, with repeated sections across chapters helping the reader navigate the content. 


The use of affordances theory to contextualise tools is particularly helpful. This book is much more than a summary of available tools; designed to foster reflexive engagement in the implications of using digital tools as well as raising awareness of their scope. 


The explicit encouragement of the reader to consider the affordances and constraints of specific digital tools and their role in the research process is particularly valuable. This book will be a welcome addition to the researchers' tool chest and the teacher's resources.

Christina Silver
CAQDAS project

A pleasure to read, encouraging a reflexive and ethical approach to research without sounding restrictive or judgmental... What is enduring about this text is that it deals with the theory and execution of projects that utilise digital tools, encouraging good research management using these tools without too much emphasis on the technical nature of the specific tools themselves. In this respect, whatever new digital tools emerge, this book will remain a useful and relevant text.

Victoria Pagan, Newcastle University
Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

Informative and nice to read, my students will find this really helpful for their research projects

Mrs Emma Harvey
Department of Care & Early Years, Suffolk New College
December 4, 2020

A very useful of overview with some innovative approaches to using digital tools in qualitative research. This book brings home the value of a wide range of media ranging from the well established CAQDAS software through to the use of blogs, wikis and social/academic networking sites to support qualitative research. This book will appeal to a wide constituency of readers, from seasoned academics through to novice researchers.

Dr Fiona Harris
School of Health Sciences, Stirling University
June 22, 2015

Helped support dissertation students

Miss Diana Parton
Department of Primary Education, Bedfordshire University
June 19, 2015

It appears to specific for my students. I do however, recommend it too students who write their thesis and want to use online tools.

Dr Masja Van Meeteren
Department of Criminology, Leiden University
June 16, 2015

This is a good and continuously recommendable book. Certainly there need be a hands-on course, which supports the book and vice versa.

Mr Pertti Ahonen
Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki
April 30, 2015

Trena M. Paulus

Trena M. Paulus, Ph.D. is a professor in the Research Division of Family Medicine, Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University. She is affiliate faculty with the Applied Social Research Laboratory at ETSU where she works in the areas of research support and innovation for the university. She is a co-author of Digital Tools for Qualitative Research (SAGE) and Looking for Insight Transformation and Learning in Online Talk (Routledge). Dr. Paulus has published over 70 peer-reviewed journal articles and numerous book chapters focused on the intersection of technology and qualitative research, online learning and teaching, and... More About Author

Jessica N. Lester

Jessica Nina Lester, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Inquiry Methodology (Qualitative Research) in the School of Education at Indiana University, Bloomington. Dr. Lester has published over 80 peer-reviewed journal articles, as well as numerous books and book chapters focused on discourse and conversation analysis, disability studies, and more general concerns related to qualitative research. She is a co-author of the first edition of Digital Tools for Qualitative Research, published with SAGE. She has also co-edited a book focused on performance ethnographies (Peter Lang, 2013) and is currently co-authoring a book focused on applied... More About Author

Paul Dempster

Paul Dempster is an applied  health researcher who specialises in qualitative research. He is particularly interested in CAQDAS methods and has taught internationally on their use. He is a consultant methodologist for Transana at the University of Wisconsin and works for the NHS in Newcastle.    More About Author

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