The following curated list provides recommended free and/or low cost data analysis tools.
If you’ve created a survey with Google forms, you can click on Forms>Summary of Responses and you’ll see pie charts and bar graphs of your data which update as more people respond. Your open response answers are also recorded in a block which makes it easy to cut and paste them into one of the tools described below.
Linguistic Inquiry Word Count
This is a free web-based version of a tool that was created as part of a larger research project on psychometrics. In order to build their dictionary and hone their hypotheses, they have made this tool available for free. You can paste text into the site and generate scores in the following dimensions: positive emotions, negative emotions, social words, cognitive words, and big words. Because these scores are based on word counts, this is not strictly a qualitative analysis. But it can help as part of either an extensive or intensive study about patron satisfaction or instructor evaluation.
This site, developed by IBM, allows users to upload data and then produce graphic representations for others to view and comment upon. You upload your data and choose the visualization method that works best for your data set. Many Eyes provides a variety of visualization methods for textual analysis, comparing value sets, looking at relationships among data points, using regional maps, and using traditional line graphs, pie charts, and histograms. This site is effective for qualitative and quantitative data.
T-tests? Random numbers? Bivariate analysis? And charts and graphs? Excel can run descriptive and inferential statistics when you download or enable a free add-in called the Data Analysis Toolpak which includes Excel’s Descriptive Statistics Tool. Excel can be used to create a frequency table to identify when various reference services receive the most requests or to compare two variable to look for a correlation (cross tabs). This can be done easily using Excel’s Pivot tables.
Note: If you’re using more than the pivot tables, you have to know a little more about what you are doing than if you used SPSS with a good manual.
- Click here for more information on how you can use Excel for statistical analysis.
- Click here for an easy-to-understand YouTube video on making pivot tables in Excel 2007 created by Matthew MacDonald. Click here for how to do it in Excel 2010 created by Simon Sez It.
- Follow directions here to enable the Toolpak in recent versions of Excel.
- Follow directions here to download the Toolpak for the 2003 version of Excel
Using the comments feature in Microsoft Word is a low cost alternative to qualitative analysis software like Nudist and Atlas.TI. Qualitative data, like interview or focus group transcripts usually have to be coded as part of the analysis process. The coding allows the researcher to first break down the data into units of meaning and then to organize those units of meaning into themes or categories. This organization process is the chance for the researcher to find out what participants emphasized, what was common among all the respondents, and what views were present but uncommon. The coding process is important because researchers who only interpret their qualitative data holistically as a set of general impressions may miss unexpected responses. Methodical analysis of qualitative data is more likely to challenge researchers’ assumptions and allow them to see the issue from their participants’ perspective. The comments feature in Microsoft Word allows you to attach codes to meaning units in the transcripts and then the find feature allows you to find all the instances of a specific code.
A rubric is a matrix that describes how a product or process will be assessed. Processes or products evaluated with rubrics are assessed in terms of whether the “work” meets the criteria (i.e. standards, learning goals, performance goals) delineated by the evaluator. The rubric breaks down the the product or process into its component parts and provides descriptions of what would indicate acceptable or unacceptable levels of performance for each part.
A rubric can provide structure to a qualitative evaluation of various types of work as well as a means for conducting a quantitative analysis when competency levels described on the rubric are assigned point values. Rubrics can be used to assess existing practices or to develop a scaffolded plan for reaching certain goals such as growing a collection or expanding an instruction program.The creation of a rubric can also help librarians articulate their goals and needs in language that can be understood by diverse stakeholders.
Visit the Rubric Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (RAILS) website to look at some examples rubrics that measure IL and non-IL library services.
You may also be interested in some of the VALUE rubrics created by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
This is a free version of expensive data visualization software. It’s free, in part, because the company collects the data you upload and the visualizations you create. It’s good when you have quantitative data in Excel spreadsheets, like database usage statistics or instruction statistics. You can upload your data to this site and, with just a general understanding of possible relationships among the data and a few clicks, you can create charts and graphs to visualize trends. These visualizations can help you test or develop your hypotheses about the outcome of new services or the value of existing resources.
TagCrowd is a web application for visualizing word frequencies in any text by creating what is popularly known as a word cloud, text cloud or tag cloud. Tag Crowd is more robust than wordle, rather than simply pasting in the source text you can use a URL or upload a document. TagCrowd specializes in making word clouds easy to read, analyze and compare, for a variety of visual analysis of qualitative data.
Created by researchers at the Freie Universitat Berlin, this downloadable program analyzes texts for word frequency and concordances. .txt, .doc and html files, such as web pages, can be analyzed as the program also contains a spider that can search the web. This version works with PC or Mac, although the download for Mac is a bit trickier. A user guide is also provided. Great for analyzing qualitative datasets such as transcripts or open responses on questionnaires, or web pages.
Quick Start Guide to Textstat — Created by Princeton