What packages are available?
These include programs, many of them aimed at businesses, to help researcher find text and terms in very large databases and collections of documents. As these programs have developed they have moved more into supporting businesses in organising and giving staff intelligent access to large amounts of corporate data. They are very strong on finding data, but do not support the ability to code data.
This is the kind of program that started CAQDAS back in the 1980s. The simple aim was to allow researchers to code text (i.e. mark it and link it to a name that indicated the marked text's thematic content.) Most support simple retrieval, that is the collecting together of all text coded in the same way. Many of these programs have developed into the next type, theory building software.
These programs build on the code-and-retrieve functions and add facilities such as sophisticated searches (both text/lexical and code based), diagrams and networks, memos, and ways of developing the code list or codebook. Today, they are the most frequently used CAQDAS.
This software was developed to assist language and text researchers undertake quantitative analysis of language use. They are usually designed to work on a large collection of text, called a corpus (plural, corpora) that is representative of some use of language or its use in a certain context. A concordance is a listing of some or all the words used in that corpus, showing each in its context (e.g. 10 words either side.) Some of the facilities of these programs are now being built into the most recent versions of theory-building software.
Most of these programs share functions with the code-and-retrieve and theory-building programs but add to them the ability to deal with audio and video recordings and not just text. Early versions of these programs worked with audio and video tape recorders to use their analogue recordings. Now, most work with digital video and audio files. Some theory-building software offers some of the ability to work with digital video and audio files.
Although some theory-building software now includes diagram and chart features, this software allows much more sophisticated production of diagrams and charts, particularly focusing on concept maps.
Although it is possible to work with digital audio and video data (see the software listed above) most researchers still work with text. Converting video and audio into text is still laborious, but there is some software that can help. This includes optical character recognition software, that can convert printed documents into digital, text files, and voice recognition software, that can convert the spoken voice into digital text files.