Advantages of a Free Software Culture for Qualitative Researchers in the Social Sciences


  • Ernesto Israel Santillan-Anguiano Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, México
  • Emilia Cristina González-Machado Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, México



CAQDAS, Free Technologies, Software, Qualitative Analysis


This paper aims to show the characteristics of free software and its implications for qualitative analysis in social research, especially in the case of new researchers and researchers with limited financial resources, as happens in third-world countries. First, the elements of qualitative research are described and understood as an approach linked to the interpretation and meanings that are given to the world. Secondly, the functions and handling of the RQDA software are explained. The main feature of RQDA is the fact that it is a free and open-source cross-platform tool, which allows project administration for data management purposes. The results show that even with the limitations that this type of tool may have, they offer a series of advantages that make their use possible and desirable to develop quality social research. Regarding the conclusions section, a reflection is offered on the use of technology based on free software for social research purposes, which must consider the pros and cons during its implementation. Concepts such as that of open access, or free culture, incorporate various forms of attending to historical problems suffered by science and education.


Adekotujo, A., Odumabo, A., Adedokun, A., & Aiyeniko, O. (2020). A Comparative Study of Operating Systems: Case of Windows, UNIX, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS. International Journal of Computer Applications, 176(39), 16-23.

Adu, P. (2019). A Step-by-Step Guide to Qualitative Data Coding. Routledge.

Bhambra, G. K. & Holmwood, J. (2021). Colonialism and Modern Social Theory. Polity Press.

Bowden, B. (2020). The Intellectual Origins of Postmodernism. In: Bowden, B., Muldoon, J., Gould, A.M., McMurray, A.J. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Management History. Palgrave Macmillan.

byn Uzayr, S. (2023). Linux. The Ultimate Guide. CRC Press.

Cârstea, D. (2023). For a Postmodernist Writing in Anthropology. International Journal of Social Science Research and Review, 6(6), 525-533.

Chandra, Y. and Shang, L. (2017). An RQDA-based constructivist methodology for qualitative research, Qualitative Market Research, 20(1), 90-112.

Cope, D. G. (2014). Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software. Oncology Nursing Forum, 41(3), 322–323.

Court, J. P. (2020). Darwinian Evolution’s First 50 Years of Impact on Medicine and Botany at the University of Toronto, 1859 to 1909. Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, 37(1), 232-267.

De Souza, R. (2023). Open Source and Free Software Licenses for Embedded Systems. IGI Global.

Denzin, N. y Lincoln, Y. (2017). The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research. Sage Publications.

Eghbal, N. (2020). Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software. Stripe Press.

Estrada, S. (2017). Qualitative Analysis Using R: A Free Analytic Tool. Qualitative Report, 22(4), 956–968.

Firdaus, F., Zulfadilla, Z., & Caniago, F. (2021). Research Methodology: Types in the New Perspective. MANAZHIM, 3(1), 1-16.

Flick, U. (2018). Editorial introduction, in R. Barbour, Doing Focus Groups. Sage Publications.

Fortunato L. & Galassi, M. (2021) The case for free and open source software in research and scholarship. Philosophical Transactions. 379 (2197), A.3792020007920200079.

FreeBSD Project (2019). The FreeBSD Copyright. The FreeBSD Foundation.

Gonzalez-Barahona, J. M. (2021). A Brief History of Free, Open Source Software and Its Communities, Computer, 54(2), 75-79.

Hellman, M. (2021). Understanding addiction: The shift from epistemology to ontology. Behavioural Brain Research, 412(113416).

Huang, R. (2016). rqda: R-based Qualitative Data Analysis. R package version 0.2-8.

Kuckartz, U. & Rädiker, S. (2019). Analyzing Qualitative Data with MAXQDA. Text, Audio, and Video. Springer.

Kwet, M. (2019). Digital colonialism: US empire and the new imperialism in the Global South. Race & Class, 60(4), 3–26.

Lê J. K., Schmid T. (2022). The practice of innovating research methods. Organizational Research Methods, 25(2), 308–336.

Liu, Y. (2022). Paradigmatic Compatibility Matters: A Critical Review of Qualitative-Quantitative Debate in Mixed Methods Research. SAGE Open, 12(1).

Newman, M., & Gough, D. (2020). Systematic reviews in educational research: methodology, perspectives and application. In O. Zawacki-Richter, M. Kerres, S. Bedenlier, M. Bond, & K. Buntins (Eds.), Systematic reviews in educational research: Methodology, perspectives and application (pp. 3–22). Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden.

Nicoll, B. & Keogh, B. (2019). The Unity Game Engine and the Circuits of Cultural Software. Palgrave Macmillan.

Normann, D. & Sanders, S. (2022). On the computational properties of basic mathematical notions. Journal of Logic and Computation, 32, (8), 1747–1795.

Rapley, T. (2018). Doing Conversation, Discourse and Document Analysis. Sage Publications.

Rehbein, B. (2015). Critical Theory After the Rise of the Global South: Kaleidoscopic Dialectic. Routledge.

Scerri, E. (2020). Recent attempts to change the periodic table. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 378(2180).

Silver, C. & Rivers, C. (2015). The CAQDAS Postgraduate Learning Model: an interplay between methodological awareness, analytic adeptness and technological proficiency. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 19 (5), 593–609.

Siregar, I. (2021). Epistemological Challenges Against Sociolinguistics. International Journal of Linguistics Studies, 1(2), 37–42.

Snyder, H. (2019). Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines. Journal of Business Research, 104, 333-339.

Sonenscher, M. (2022). Positive Thinking: Social Science, Sociology and the Intellectual Legacy of Auguste Comte. Modern Intellectual History, 19(3), 947-957.

Sorokin, P. (2017). Social and Cultural Dynamics. A Study of Change in Major Systems of Art, Truth, Ethics, Law and Social Relationships. Routledge.

Standlee, A. (2021). Free Software, the Internet, and Global Communities of Resistance: Hacking the Global. Contemporary Sociology, 50(5), 438–440.

Starikov, E. B. (2021). How many laws has thermodynamics? What is the sense of the entropy notion? Implications for molecular physical chemistry. Monatshefte für Chemie-Chemical Monthly, 152(8), 871-879.

Stevens, P. (2022). Qualitative Data Analysis: Key Approaches. Sage.

Virdee, S. (2019). Racialized capitalism: An account of its contested origins and consolidation. The Sociological Review, 67(1), 3-27.

Williams, H. (2021). The Meaning of “Phenomenology”: Qualitative and Philosophical Phenomenological Research Methods. The Qualitative Report, 26(2), 366-385.

Woods, M., Macklin, R., & Lewis, G. K. (2015). Researcher reflexivity: exploring the impacts of CAQDAS use. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 19(4), 385–403.



How to Cite

Santillan-Anguiano, E. I., & González-Machado, E. C. (2023). Advantages of a Free Software Culture for Qualitative Researchers in the Social Sciences. International Journal of Qualitative Research, 3(1), 97-103.