Social Science Software (analysis, writing, organizing)

I’am always looking for ways to automate research. Here you will find a list of software that might help you with research, for example analyzing texts. Writing stuff, keeping literature organized. I will update this list from time to time:

Qualitative analysis

  • MaxQDA is one of the three  major qualitative software analysis tools (the others being NVIVO and ATLAS.ti). Current versions of these offer similar features and I guess all work just fine. They allow coding of text, are relatively easy to learn and has some handy quantitative-features as well. The reason I’am using it because there is a OS X version as well. Additionally, although it costs something, for students its relatively affordable. All you have to do is send them your student ID. There is also a temporal-licence, for example for the duration of your Masters thesis.
  • I recently stumbled upon a list of text-analysis software that counts co-occurences of words. Might come in handy for comparing legislative texts, or different versions of law. You can compare similarities of texts and arguments with them. Haven’t tried them out yet.
  • Recently I began to tinker around with a qualitative web application called Dedoose, which has similar functionality as MaxQDA and is relatively affordable with a monthly subscription model. The caveat is that requires outdated and vulnerability-ridden Adobe Flash.


  • I’ve started to use Scrivener as my main word-processor for larger projects such as theses. While MS Word or Apple Pages work fine for shorter texts, say around 20-30 pages, larger files with multiple chapters get complicated. Formatting moves around all the time, re-arranging chapters is annoying und MS Office in particular has the tendency to run sluggish with larger files. Scrivener is a screen-writer tool, designed for Novel- or Script-writing, but it also works great for dissertations. It features some elements from LATEX, meaning it is not what-you-see-is-what-you get, rather it compiles text-blocks into one document. This has the advantage that all formatting is done coherently at the end, which saves some time. Also, it is great for annotating chapters, keeping track of content and status of each chapter and especially for rearranging stuff.

Organizing stuff

  • THE best  mind-mapping program right now is Scapple, by the same company who built Scrivener (they know their stuff!). Scrivener is amazing because it gives you an endless space where you just can through everything in: documents, text, images and connect everything with arrows and lines. It is great for visualizing the relationship between various types of documents and contents. I mostly use it for creating timelines, like this crazy-one I have done for mapping the creation of the Internet.Bildschirmfoto 2015-09-10 um 12.58.34
  • MindNode is another minmapping tool that is quite nice. It is more hierarchical than Scapple, means that there is fixed hierarchy between parent-nodes and child-nodes. It does not allow flexible arrangement of items, so its not so useful for timelines, but great for visualizing the hierarchical-relationship between stuff. See for example my graph of the intellectual history of constructivism according to Adler (2013). The nice thing about it is the iPad App.Bildschirmfoto 2015-09-10 um 13.03.00

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