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N6 logo Text and code searches in N6

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

Affiliation: University of Huddersfield

Date written: 30th June 2005

 

 

 

 

Symbols and Conventions

Text and code searches

Searching is an important analytic technique and computers excel at. Two kinds of searching are supported by MAXqda: lexical searching and code searching. The former involves searching for text; the latter enables you to make analytic comparisons.

Searching is one of the most powerful tools available in MAXqda. It can be used for both an exploratory approach to the data, just to see what is there and for checking hunches. Text search, as I have described above is very good for exploration, but you can use node searching in this way too. For example it can be used to elaborate the dimensions of responses and you might use it as a way of developing a taxonomy and improving the content and structure of your node hierarchy. For example, in the Unemployed in Yorkshire project imagine you have done a node search to bring together all the text about the evaluation of various work finding services (e.g. an 'or' search). Reading through this text you might note that there are several different kinds of response to the services. Some respondents found them helpful, others found them inaccessible, others found them irrelevant to their needs. You can create new nodes for these ideas (code to them from the text you have found) as a dimension of the concept of evaluation.

Searching is an important analytic technique and computers excel at. Two kinds of searching are supported by N6: lexical searching and code searching. The former involves searching for text; the latter enables you to make analytic comparisons.

Simple lexical search

A simple lexical search of documents

To search all documents

  1. click the Search Text of Documents button (N6 search text of documents button). Or in the Document Explorer window click the Search Text button (N6 text search button) to search all your documents. Or click Documents:Text search:All Documents..
  2. The Text Search dialog opens. See Figure 1.
  3. Type in your search term into the Find what bo, choose the options you want and click Do the Search button.
  4. A text report is opened showing each of the lines where the word or terms searched for appears, listed by documents.
  5. The search also creates a new node, called Text Search n which is a child of the root node T - Text Searches .
  6. This can be browsed and renamed, and you can jump to the original documents to inspect the context of each line found. click the line of interest in the browser, right click it, click Jump to this Document, to go to the place in the original document where this line is found (the line is highlighted).

To search a specific document

  1. In the Document Explorer click the document you want to search then click Text Search.. button or click Documents:Text search: then you can choose Selected Document or All except selected document
  2. The Text Search dialog opens. See Figure 1.
  3. Type in your search term into the Find what box, choose the options you want and click Do the Search button.
  4. A text report is opened showing each of the lines where the word or terms searched for appears, listed by documents.
  5. The search also creates a new node, called Text Search n which is a child of the root node T - Text Searches .
  6. This can be browsed and renamed, and you can jump to the original documents to inspect the context of each line found. click the line of interest in the browser, right click it, click Jump to this Document, to go to the place in the original document where this line is found (the line is highlighted).

 

 

Text search window

Figure 1. N6 Text Search window

 

You can search for more than one word at a time and for variations of the words by using wildcards and special characters.

Search string Will find
[talk|talking|talks] 'talk' and/or 'talking' and/or 'talks' etc.
talk[a-z]* any of 'talk', 'talking', 'talks', 'talked' etc.

 

Search for nodes and text

N6 contains functions for searching and retrieving text that has already been coded searching for nodes. This allows a very rich set of comparisons to be made.

When doing text search it is clear that what is being searched for is text and what is being searched in is text. This is less obvious when searching nodes, but it is important to recognize that the same is true. In these cases what is compared in the search is the actual text coded at or linked to the node or variable. Thus in the simplest case, if you search for one node OR another, what is compared is the text coded with these nodes. The search will find all the text coded at either node, if any (including that coded at both nodes, if any).

N6 allows two or more nodes to be searched for in combination. Such combination is divided into two kinds, Boolean and proximity.

Boolean searches combine nodes using the logical terms like 'and', 'or' and 'not'. This type of search is named after the mathematician, Boole, who first formalised them. Common Boolean searches are 'or' (also referred to as 'combination' or 'union') and 'and' (also called 'intersection').

Proximity searches rely on the coded text being near, after or perhaps overlapping some other coded text. Commonly used proximity searches are 'followed by' (also referred to as 'sequence' or 'preceding') and 'near' (also referred to as 'co-occurrence').

Table 1 explains how they work and gives some examples. Although both Boolean and proximity searches are useful for investigating the data and checking hunches, the Boolean searches are most useful in examining hypotheses or ideas about the data and rely on consistent and accMonday, October 31, 2005 15:47plore the data, often at an early stage of coding.

Table 1 Common Boolean and proximity searches using node A and node B

Search

Will find:

Common use

A and B

only the text that is coded with both A and B and not any text that is coded with only one of the nodes A or B or neither.

If A is 'gives account' and B is 'plays truant' then A and B will find all the places the respondent explains why they stay away from school.

A or B

any text that is coded with A or B or both. N.B. it is often useful to do an 'or' search on three or more nodes at once. This will find text coded with any of the nodes.

In a project on people who have separated from their partners, if A is 'abandoned', B is 'drifted apart', C is 'mutual agreement' then A or B or C will find and bring together all the ways the people describe their reasons for splitting up.

A followed by B

the text that is coded with node A where it is followed by some text coded with code B. You may have to specify how closely it is followed.

In the same experience of separation project, if A is 'turning point' and B is 'training' then A followed by B (retrieving B) will show where people talk about training they have had after their turning point.

A near B

only the text that is coded with one node that appears near text coded with the other (before or after or even overlapping). You will need to define what near means, for example 'within 2 paragraphs'.

In the homelessness project, if A is 'becoming homeless' and B is 'anger' then A near B (retrieving A) will show where people talk about becoming homeless that is associated with their expressing anger.

For example, imagine in a study of people looking for work, you have coded all talk about looking for work to the codes 'Routine', 'Haphazard' and 'Entrepreneurial'. If you wanted to compare how men talked in these ways with how women talked about the same then you could either do a search for text with the variable value 'male' and coded with the node 'Routine', and then text with value 'female' and coded with the node 'Routine'. Then repeat this for 'Haphazard' and 'Entrepreneurial'.

There are no attributes in N6. This assumes you have nodes for 'male' and 'female' and have coded all the text in male documents to 'male' and all the female text to 'female'.

Too search and compare nodes

To search all documents

  1. click node search and compare button or click Nodes:Search/Compare Nodes:Node Search Window
  2. The Search & Compare Nodes dialog opens. This gives a diagrammatic representation of the various searches possible. See Figure 2.
  3. click Boolean tab. click Intersection button. In the Node Search dialog click Select button and double click the node list to open it up. Find and click the node 'Routine', click OK. click Select button again. Find and click the node 'Male', click OK. The search creates a new node, called Node Search n which is a child of the root node N - Node Searches.
  4. In the Node Explorer click the node created by the search click Browse button to see the text that is coded with 'Routine' in the male documents.
  5. Repeat the search but with the node 'female'

 

 

N6 Search and Compare Nodes diagrammatic

Figure 2. N6 Search and Compare Nodes diagrammatic