online QDA logo - Home Page



Bookmark and Share

Atlas.ti logo Families in Atlas.ti v.5

Authors of this page: Graham R. Gibbs and Celia Taylor

Affiliation: University of Huddersfield

Date written: 30th June 2005





Symbols and Conventions


Variables, also known as attributes, are familiar in quantitative research, but can also be used in qualitative analysis. Typically each case in a study might be assigned a value for each variable. (They may have no value if the variable is not applicable.) Common examples are the gender of a respondent ­- male or female, age of respondent in years and place of residence. Often this information is recorded in the document summary sheet. This is similar to the use of variables in quantitative research, but in qualitative analysis we can also apply variables and values to other units in a study, like settings or events. Thus for settings, like different firms in a study, we might record the number of staff, company name and manager, or for events, the date, time, and place. Such attributes are usually matters of fact about the person, setting etc. However, later in your analysis you might develop classifications or even a taxonomy that can be represented as an attribute and applied, perhaps, to different cases. Most commonly attributes or variables are used to control retrievals and searches using codes so that you can make comparisons. (See the next section.)

Atlas.ti does not handle attributes directly, but you can collect documents and codes into families and use these in searching.

To set up families

  1. Documents:Edit Families:Open Family Browser . The Primary Document Families browser opens (see Figure 3.)
  2. To create a new family click on the Create New Item button (Atlas.ti Create New Item button) or click Families:New family.
  3. Type in a name for the family (effectively an attribute value), click OK.
  4. To assign documents to this family, click a Non-Member document and click < button. Codes and memos can also be assigned to families the same fashion using the Code families and Memo families browsers.


Atlas.ti Primary Document Family manager

Figure 3. Atlas.ti Primary Document Family manager