Qualitative Research and Mixed Methods Research



User Guide



Resources Overview

Dedoose support comes from a variety of directions and we expect that you’ll find whatever you need via our tutorial videos, FAQs, blog, and/or forum. If not, shoot us a note or post it to our forum and we’ll get right on it.  It is important to us to make it as easy as possible for all our users to find help so they can quickly get the best out of Dedoose.  Our User Guide is designed to provide detailed step-by-step instruction for all Dedoose features. The FAQs help you find quick answers to the issues we hear most about. Finally, as far as training, Dedoose developers and our SocioCultural Research Consultants, LLC (SCRC) team, are experts in the field. Training in the use of Dedoose is just the start of what we can provide.


Through our staff and network of research professionals, we can provide top-rate academic knowledge and experience for any researcher interested in the most innovative, reliable, rigorous, and valid qualitative and integrated qualitative and quantitative methods. Our services include in-person and remote training for Dedoose and consulting on issues related to research design, sampling, staff training, data collection and management, code system development and reliability, and data integration, analysis, and presentation.


Finally, we welcome and attend closely to user feedback in any form and on any issue.  Dedoose is ultimately for its user community and we are committed to continually improve upon and expand its features and overall user experience.

Looking For Support?

Dedoose support comes from a variety of directions and we expect that you'll find whatever you need via our tutorial videos, FAQs, blog, and/or forum. If not, post to our blog or shoot us a note and we'll get right on it.

Need One-On-One Training?

Need help getting started with Dedoose? We offer one-on-one and group training seminars and much more. Let us know what you need and we're ready to help you achieve your goals.


Visit the Dedoose Forum

Dedoose support comes from a variety of directions and we expect that you'll find whatever you need via our tutorial videos, FAQs, blog, and/or forum. If not, post to our blog or shoot us a note and we'll get right on it.

Send Feedback About Dedoose

We're waiting to hear from you. Let us know what you like, don't like, and want. We are here to listen so we can keep Dedoose alive and evolving to satisfy all user needs.

Dedoose Instructional Videos

Let Eli take you inside Dedoose through a series of narrated tours based on actual Dedoose projects — researchers facing real challenges and finding real answers—so take a few minutes and see firsthand how Dedoose can benefit you and your work including: the steps of establishing your account, importing your resources and descriptors, building and perfecting your coding system, excerpting your texts, applying the relevant codes, exploring and interpreting your work, and, last but not least, exporting your final results in a form ready for use in your article or report.




Welcome to Dedoose!  This video provides an introduction to the Dedoose application and how it can help with the management, integration, and analysis of text, video, audio, spreadsheet, and other kinds of data in a secure and awesome collaborative environment. Perfect for individuals or teams, from high-school students to expert social scientists...and great for teaching too. Entirely web-based, so access your data from anywhere, anytime, and all for an inexpensive monthly subscription fee.  Check it out!


Dr. Eli Lieber, of UCLA’s Center for Culture and Health, provides a quick overview of qualitative and mixed methods research and shows how Dedoose enhances these approaches with regard to data management, excerpting and coding, and analysis. Contemporary social scientists increasingly cross disciplinary boundaries to bring multiple perspectives to research problems and more fully represent social world complexity. Dedoose helps make this work efficient, effective, and collaborative.

Code Setup

Your code system is the ‘conceptual framework’ you will use to organize and understand your data and then communicate the findings to your audience--like the major outline items that will frame your qualiative or mixed methods story. This video shows you how to build your code system from scratch--define codes and weight systems, build in a hierarchy, and make any modifications as you go. The Dedoose code tree features are flexible and transparant so you can easily build a system that captures all key content.


Descriptor data are the demographic, scale, rating, and other data you collect from the sources of your qualitative data--i.e., the characteristics of your participants, settings, or communities. Using descriptors in a Dedoose project is key to conducting truly mixed methods research. In this video, you will learn about descriptor sets, defining fields (or/variables), and creating descriptors (the data). Dedoose makes it a straightforward process to create descriptors within the system or easily import directly from Excel.


Documents are often the core qualitative data in your qualitative or mixed methods research project. These can be text only, have images, and/or include hyperlinks that point to other data stored elsewhere (e.g., video, audio, websites, and images). This is the rich content you will excerpt, code, and analyze. Here you will learn to create documents inside of Dedoose or import them directly alone or in batchess. Also, you will learn to modify titles/descriptions, delete, and link to descriptors for truely mixed methods analysis.

Document Excerpting

Excerpting is the process of identifying meaningful content in your qualitative data, selecting, and then tagging the section with any number of appropriate codes (and any associated weights/ratings). This process is the heart of the work you will do with your texts to prepare for qualitative or mixed methods analysis. This video shows how to create and code excerpts and how Dedoose makes the process easy and efficient.

The Dedoose User Guide

The Dedoose User guide is currently available at a separate site. Please click the link below to visit the user guide or go directly to


Frequently Asked Questions

Supporting the Dedoose user is critical to our mission—satisfied users who are getting the best out of Dedoose. We are listening carefully and working to provide easy access to the help that users need. Outside the User Guide, this FAQs section provides quick access to answers to those issues we hear most about.

+Can I use foreign languages in Dedoose projects?

Yes, Dedoose can handle virtually any language and character set.

+What are dynamic descriptors and how do I use them?

Dynamic descriptor fields are an advanced type of option list field available in Dedoose. Typically used very sparingly, dynamic descriptors let you see and explore change over time when you collect qualitative data at multiple time points as their values are determined when a descriptor is linked to a resource. To illustrate when a dynamic descriptor might be used, imagine you are doing an 18-month study on elementary school student reading skills and will interview the students three times.Some of the descriptor data for each participant will be the same at all time-points, but some will change—for example, student gender, ethnicity, and family SES group might stay the same over the course of the project, but the time of measurement (e.g., baseline, time 1, time 2) or classroom grade (e.g., 3rd, 4th, 5th) might change. If you make time of measurement or class grade dynamic descriptors you will be prompted to set the value (e.g., baseline, time 1, time 2) when linking the qualitative resource to a descriptor. Subsequently, your excerpting and tagging activity for those qualitative resources will be linked to the specific time point. With data like these, Dedoose allows you to explore change over the three time-points and there is a set of graphs built into Dedoose to facilitate exposing patterns of change and drilling into the meaning of the patterns that emerge.

+How do I set up multiple descriptor sets and why would I want to use them?

Multiple descriptor sets are designed for studies using multiple levels of analysis. For example, if a study is comparing the success of different school districts, there might be three levels of data: 1) the district, 2) the schools within a district, and 3) the students within a school. It is likely that different sets of descriptor variables would be collected at each level, i.e., district level variables (e.g., average family annual income, square miles of capture area, percent rural versus urban neighborhoods), school level variables (e.g., size of student population, student-teacher ratio, percent of children on free lunch program), and student level variables (e.g., age, gender, size of family, language spoken at home, standardized test scores). If the study involves interviews with parents about the home environment, each interview could be linked to three descriptors: the one specific to their child, their child's school, and their school district. Dedoose allows exploration of qualitative data and tagging activity across descriptors. Thus, in a study like this, variation in the qualitative data could be explored as a function of district, school, or student variables or any combination of them.

+What are the user groups for and how do I set them up in the Security Center if I want to restrict the privileges for some users?

A number of predefined user groups are available to project administrators so they can control levels of access to the project database. To use them, the administrator first selects the groups required for the project depending on what kinds of privileges and restrictions they wish to establish. Then each user can be moved into the group appropriate for their role.

+What is my web browser cache and how do I clear it?

Each time you access a file through your web browser, the browser caches/stores information about the places you’ve visited on the web. The purpose for this is to allow your browser to use the stored information so that the next time you visit the same page much faster than retrieving it again. Each computer has only certain amounts of room to do this work and when it gets cluttered up, it can cause strange things to happen with Dedoose and other web sites and services you may visit.  Clearing the cache on a regular basis helps improve browser performance and is important to the smooth functioning of web applications, like Dedoose. It is also a prudent thing to do to keep your computer safe as the necessary steps also allow you to clear cookies, stored passwords, and other traces of your browsing activity to help protect your computer from privacy and performance issues. –The steps to clear a web browser's cache are specific to each browser (and vary by version as well). A quick web-search for 'clear cache version ' (for example, 'clear cache for Internet Explorer version 8') should help you locate the instructions you need. One useful resource, if still valid, can be found at:

+What file formats can I import to Dedoose?

o For documents, Dedoose natively accepts .doc, .docx, .rtf, and .txt files.

o For PDFs, while we will soon have native pdf support built into Dedoose, at this point they must first be converted to a text file and we strongly recommend Nuance PDFConverter. We can also help process these for you if you wish to contact [email protected] for assistance.

o For .xls, .xlsx, and .csv files, these can all be directly imported to the Descriptor Workspace and code tree depending on your needs.

o For other media, Dedoose natively supports .mp4 and similar video formats and .mp3 for audio files.

+Can resources be modified after submitting them to Dedoose?

A qualified ‘yes’ on this one. In the edit document view, you will find an option to ‘unlock’ the file for editing. HOWEVER, the indexing that takes place as excerpts are created and tagged is very complicated, so you must agree to a warning that states all excerpts, codes, and memos in the document will be deleted before you can edit the file. The programming to allow document editing without a need to delete anything is huge, so it is a ‘coming soon’ item on our development roadmap.

+Can tag weights be defined or changed after I used the tags?

Absolutely, part of Dedoose's flexibility in how different approaches to mixed methods work are accommodated to allow any modification to a code system and/or tag definition at anytime during the course of a project.

+Why are my descriptor field definitions or data importing incorrectly? I know I've located the right file, but the data do not look right...

Confusing results can occur when trying to import Excel data from a file with multiple worksheets. The solution is to create two files with only one worksheet each—one for the descriptor field definitions and one for the descriptor data. We usually just create copies of the file and then delete the worksheets with other data. BUT BE CAREFUL HERE as sometimes worksheets sitting to the left of the one you want are hidden from view, so you may need to scroll left in the list of worksheets (with the controls at the bottom of the file) to expose the additional worksheets that need to be deleted.

+Why do excerpts become colored and bounded by a bracket after I create them?

These are two approaches that Dedoose employs to help you quickly see where excerpting activity has taken place and what codes have been applied. Both are visual cues as to what you have already excerpted as you browse your resources. Floating over the bracket brings up a smart tip on information about the excerpt creator, date of creation, and any codes applied. And a click on the bracket will take you into excerpt editing mode for that particular excerpt and allow for additional coding, the removal of previously applied codes, or deleting the entire excerpt.

+I'm trying to modify my code tree…how do I get into edit mode?

Click the Edit Codes button on the Code Tree panel header, make the desired changes and then click the 'Exit Editing' button.

+I'm having a problem exporting excerpts to Excel. All the different languages look fine in Dedoose, but when I export to an Excel file, all I see is a bunch of 'Xs' where the text should be. How do I fix this?

This is a simple cell formatting issue. Highlight the column with data that aren't displaying properly and format the cells as 'General' by: (a) clicking the right mouse button, choose 'Format Cells,' and click 'General' under the 'Number' tab or (b) open the 'Cells' menu on the main menu bar, click 'Format Cells,' and click 'General' under the 'Number' tab.

+Tags or codes, what's the difference?

There are no functional differences in Dedoose between tags and codes and these terms can be used interchangeably to refer to the 'labels' that make up the code system to represent the themes or concepts that will be used to organize the qualitative data and communicate research findings.

+I set up a filter using the 'Select Data' workspace, but how do I turn it off so I can use all of my data?

When data have been filtered, you can easily save the filtered data set for future use or turn off the filter. In the Data Set Workspace, click the 'Data set' tab and click 'Save Current Set,’ and provide a nice title and description. And, to clear the filter, close Dedoose or click the ‘Clear Current Set' in that same ‘Data set’ tab.

+I have missing data in my descriptor file; can I still import the file to Dedoose?

Yes. When importing descriptors to Dedoose, a validation check review screen is presented before you can submit the data to the system. If data are missing, there will be a warning in the error section that identifies any missing data as 'Not a valid option.' Regardless of any errors, the data can still be imported by clicking 'Submit.'


+Can I add new descriptor fields or descriptor data to my Dedoose project if I already linked the descriptors to resources?

Yes, updating descriptor fields and data involves four steps: 1) adding the new descriptor fields, 2) exporting the existing descriptor data, 3) adding the new records and data to the database (you will see that Dedoose has added a new column called DedooseID for existing records to assure the data will remain linked to any associated resources), and 4) re-importing the descriptors to the project.

+I have access to more than one project, but Dedoose keeps loading the same one when I login. How do I change projects?

Users that have access to 2 or more projects will see the 'Projects' button on the main menu bar. Dedoose will always load the most recent project you had accessed, so click that button to select a different project than the one you most recently accessed.

+Why is there a delay when scrolling in a document using the up or down arrow on the scroll bar?

Text in Dedoose is presented via the Adobe platform. While this is a very powerful and flexible platform, it requires a 're-drawing' when changes are made. When using the up/down arrows to scroll, the updated location in the document will not be presented until the button is released—upon release, the document is presented in the new location. To avoid any confusion about location in the document, the scroll bar can be dragged to a new position or the scroll wheel on a mouse can be used—both of these approaches utilize a real-time dynamic presentation of the document view.

+Are hyperlinks within a document active inside Dedoose?

Yes, and this can be a great way to link activities within Dedoose to resources located outside the Dedoose project.

+I have a hierarchical tag/code system and see a flash each time I select a tag/code in the Data Selector. Is this a problem?

No, this is simply a function of the tree being redrawn upon applying a check mark and does not affect functionality.

+How many levels can I have in a hierarchical tag/code tree?

The maximum number of levels in a tag/code tree is limited to five.

+How do I add users to my project?

o There are basically three ways to add users to a Dedoose project depending on whether the user already has an account.  All additions take place in the Project Security Center and must be carried out by a user with administrative privileges. When attempting to add a user, the system will prompt you for an email address.

o If the email address is already associated with a Dedoose account holder, you will have the option to invite them to be linked to your project. Select a group, send the invite and, if they accept (they will get an email invitation), they are in and ready to go.

o If the email is not found to be associated with a Dedoose account holder, you will have the option to create (and pay for) an account for the new user, or invite the individual to create their own Dedoose account and then be linked to your project.

o Finally, the Dedoose support team can always assist.

+My system seems to be slowing down when I've been working in Dedoose for a long time. Why is this happening and is there anything I can do?

Adobe Flash, which makes Dedoose such a cool and dynamic tool, uses a lot of cache system memory. As you work, some of this memory gets used to store previously viewed information. First just try a reload and if the interaction is still sluggish you should try a cache clear. To reload:

o For PC users—click into the browser address bar and click the F5 key on your keyboard.

o For Mac users—click into the browser address bar and click Cmd-R

Clearing your cache is specific to your system and browser and you can find help here:


+Are there any limits on the number of descriptor fields, resources … in Dedoose?

While very generous, limits have been set on different aspects of a Dedoose project to protect the client-side system performance—Dedoose servers can handle endless amounts of data, but contemporary local computer resources do present some limitations. The maximum limits for aspects of a Dedoose project are descriptor field sets = 10/project, descriptor fields = 50/set, descriptors = 5000/project, and resources = 5000/project.

+None of the pre-defined security center access lists meet my needs. Is there anything I can do?

The pre-defined access list settings have been found to meet virtually all the needs of Dedoose users. However, if your project presents a unique situation, please feel free to contact Dedoose support and we will do all we can to address your needs.

+Do I need to save my work or log out of Dedoose?

The only ‘Save’ button in Dedoose is when synching transcript sections to excerpts on video and audio streams. All other data submitted to a Dedoose project are automatically saved in real-time so you never have to worry about losing data because you forgot to click 'save.' Logging out of Dedoose is as simply as clicking the logout button in the Dedoose header or just closing your browser window.

+How do I delete a document or change the document title and/or description?

When viewing a document, there is an ‘edit media’ icon in the header (it looks like a cog or snowflake). Click this button to open an 'Edit Document' panel. Here you can modify the document title or description and click 'Submit' to save. Or, you can delete the document by clicking the 'Delete Document' button in the lower left corner of the panel.

+Does the desktop app require an internet connection?

Yes. The desktop app is a copy of the web application that is able to run outside the web browser to enhance the user experience. This means you still need an internet connection to connect to your project data. We are working on an offline version and will shout loud and clear when it is released…stay tuned.

The Dedoose Blog

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