Re: software/ethnograph

wilkr (wilkr@INDIANA.EDU)
Wed, 31 Jan 1996 17:36:12 -0500

I bought and used Tally 3.0 for my research methods course. It is very
good for manual coding of chunks of text, but in general the user
interface was archaic and clunky, the program was slow, and the students
thought it was very limited - really all it does is count how many times
a particular string or code appears in text.

Our University has a site license for AskSam, which is another free-form
text database program that has been used by many for field notes. It is
cheap and powerful and people seem to like it. Some people also have found
the simple WordPerfect utilities are adequate for indexing and counting.

Frankly, after waltzing around with a variety of programs, and tyring lots
of analytical shortcuts, I have ended up doing it the old fashioned way (I
am not a neo-Luddite - I *love* my new Pentium). I print out my interview
transcripts and fieldnotes on paper, and read through them with a notebook
and a pen, making marginal notes the first time, and then writing
observations on yellow tablets the second time. THEN I have enough stuff
in my head and on paper to start asking the questions that might require
coding and analysis. In my experience if you just jump into indexing, you
are making up the categories before you have the analytical framework
that makes categories necessary and meaningful.

Of course, this may just be because I am stupid and have a hard time
remembering stuff until I've read it three or four times!

Rick Wilk

Richard Wilk Anthropology Dept.
812-855-8162 (voice) Indiana University
812-855-4358 (fax) Bloomington, IN 47405