Thursday, October 23, 2008

You can't use Evernote for qualitative data analysis, even though it would be perfect

I mentioned a few days ago on my Twitter stream that qualitative data analysis tools are expensive and tended to lag other software, and that I preferred to build my own customized databases for QDA with MySQL and various front ends. More on that soon. But first, a few words about Evernote.

Evernote is described this way:
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere.
Essentially, you install Evernote on all of your input devices, such as your laptop and iPhone, and capture the data you find most useful in the ways that you find most useful. So suppose that you see an interesting note on a whiteboard. You take a photo and it gets uploaded to Evernote. Text, audio, etc. all go to the same place and are accessible anywhere. Brilliant.

Whatever gets uploaded is "run ... through our recognition technology" and synchronized across all your input devices. Then you tag it and make notes. Tagging, of course, is a great way to code data. Now you have a vast, annotated, searchable database of heterogeneous data elements that can be accessed from anywhere and that is automatically synched (and therefore backed up). Perfect for qualitative data analysis, right?

Alas, no. Because any self-respecting institutional research board would balk at raw qualitative data being stored on a machine or server that is not owned and properly secured by the university. My IRB, for instance, specifies that data must be password-protected and stored on a hard drive that is encrypted at rest.

Hence I use a local, password-protected database running on an encrypted hard drive, and I set my screen saver to require a password for wakeup. I put audio, photos, etc. on the same hard drive. The drive gets backed up to a secure server. And anything I can't stick on the hard drive, such as physical collateral I pick up at the site, goes into a locked closet in my office.

1 comment:

Jehad Hasan said...

The sheer varieties of modes in which one can perform data analysis will undoubtedly sweep you off your feet as there are a plethora of techniques and advances to research data service. qualitative and quantitative data analysis