This came across the CONTENT listserv this morning (reproduced with permission):
>>>I am looking to compare the following programs SPSS, Nud*ist, ATLAS, and, SAS...
First, let me say that your list included two very different kind of computer programs. SAS and SPSS have comparable features and are designed for hard-core statistical analysis of quantitative data. At least one of them, I do not recall which, has some text processing capabilities but that is not its primary purpose.
The other two on the list are examples of the many different versions of computer assisted qualitative analysis software, or CAQDAS, that are available. And to answer that part of your question, there are a variety of different sources where you can compare the different versions, download trial copies, and so on.
CAQDAS Networking Project
SAS and SPSS are very similar programs. Other than some interface peculiarities, they both do essentially the same thing and choice is generally based on what's available at the institution where one works.
The various qualitative analysis software programs are, on the other hand, much more idiosyncratic with a wide variety of different capabilities and approaches. There are some standard capabilities (e.g. coding and memoing). This may represent a field that is still developing or it may represent the very nature of the intellectual pursuit of qualitative analysis itself.
Elliot Richmond, Ph.D.
Tags: CAQDAS, content analysis, qualitative research