What is the best way to open code in Transana?


A recent support interaction:


What is the best way to open code a transcribed & segmented video? If I create collections or quick clips, they multiply to an unmanageable number and are not organized in a way where I can see how the odes are overlapping, interacting, etc.


“Best” is, of course, a loaded word. What’s best depends on your analysis, your data, and your personal style. It also helps to recognize that you’ve just put your finger on what it means to ANALYZE data.

 Transana supports two approaches to coding, and you’ll probably want to make use of both of them. In Transana, you select segments of Documents as analytically interesting or important by creating Quotes and you select segments of Episode (with or without Transcripts) as analytically interesting or important by creating Clips. (Snapshots are the still image data equivalent of Quotes and Clips.) You can signify that analytic meaning in two different ways, by placing the Quotes, Snapshots, and Clips in a Collection and by assigning Keywords to the Quotes, Snapshots, and Clips as codes.

 While Collections and Keywords have a similar function in Transana (that of identifying analytic meaning), they have somewhat different properties that you can leverage during analysis. Placing a Quote, Snapshot, or Clip in a Collection typically says only one thing about that data item, defining that item’s proper position within the organizational structure of your (emerging) theory. In this way, Collections are an organizational tool. Keywords are a bit more flexible, in that you can define what is analytically important along several dimensions for the same Quote, Snapshot, or Clip by assigning multiple Keywords to it. But Keywords are a bit more abstract than Collections. Collection membership is immediately visible in the database tree, while Keywords require Transana’s Reports and Searches for interpretation and analysis.

 Quick Quotes and Quick Clips allow you to apply codes to segments of your Documents and Episodes/Transcripts without doing much analytic thinking beyond identifying the codes you want to use. (There’s no equivalent to this for Snapshots because still image data doesn’t work that way.) This is where many people start with open coding. But as you have seen, this approach to un-organized open coding has its limits as you do more and more coding. Your impulse to to organize your Quotes and Clips becomes stronger as you code more data.

 Transana uses Collections to allow researchers to organize the analytic data of their Clips, Snapshots, and Quotes. At this point, one of your primary analytic tasks is to seek out an organizational system that makes sense. Not all organizational structures are theoretically oriented, but many are. (It depends on your data and qualitative methodology.) This organizational system can be implemented through Collections, including Nested Collections within other Collections. You then move (or copy, which is a distinctly different analytic act) your Quotes and Clips into these Collections to organize or categorize them. The Quotes and Clips retain their coding, of course, but Collections allow you to provide an overall organizational structure that helps you make sense of your data when having all the Quotes and Clips in one place, with only codes to indicate analytic meaning, becomes overwhelming.

 One way you can identify Quotes and Clips for categorization into Collections is by reviewing them individually. Reviewing them using Transana Text Reports, Maps, and Graphs is another tool. Doing Searches is also really helpful at this stage in analysis.

 At some point in the analytic process, you may find yourself identifying Collection membership during the Quote / Clip creation and coding process. That’s when you’ll start to shift to creating Standard Quotes and Clips instead of creating Quick Quotes and Clips.

 I see this entire process as making the shift from “identifying” to “theorizing” or “analyzng” in your analytic work. The process needs to occur in your head and be reflected in your Transana database, your analytic memos, and your research journals, not the other way around.

 As for the overlap and interaction of codes, that’s what the Visualization, Reports, Maps, and Searches are for. You can particularly use the Filter Dialogs to customize the Reports and Maps to explore key relationships between codes. Be sure to save your filter configuration when you discover something interesting so you can call that configuration back up as you continue to analyze more data. A saved filter configuration or saved search can serve as a way of preserving a particular theoretical view of your data for reuse later in the analytic process.