Open Source Social Research

I rely mainly on open source Software. I would use proprietary software as well but I think open source has  some advantages:

  • to be able to just install software on several computers
  • being able to share data with a team easily.
  • ease the entry: nobody is enthusiastic about trying something that comes with a hefty price tag.

However while there is open source software for almost anything it gets a bit sparse in regard to software for qualitative methods. Here is what I use:

Easytranscript: A little software for transcribing audio. Audio can be controlled by shortcuts. Especially useful is the setting of timestamps in the text and that clicking on that parts of the text go to the according part in the audio file.
Before using Easytranscript I used VLC together with some editor. When doing this, best use global shortcuts in VLC (e.g. some F-Key for start/stop and jump back) and word autocompletion in the editor.

RQDA: A R-based software for coding texts and retrieving text parts which have been coded. It has a simple GUI although its not totally conforming to standards. The installation requires R and GTK+ (the installation is described here –  needs some dependencies, but no manual config required)
RQDA only takes plain text and not the .rtfwritten by Easytranscript, but copy and paste to a text editor can resolve the problem.
An alternative to RQDA might be CATMA  ( which runs on every computer that has Java installed. I have not tried it yet.

Open Office Writer: Serves me well for writing reports, consent forms and whatever else I want to print on paper.
Together with Zotero it is quite good for writing scientific text as well. Many Linux-Users will opt to LaTex for that though it is harder to get into.