TAMS Analyzer

Posted: June 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: research tools, TAMS | Comments Off on TAMS Analyzer

To analyze the data for my project on online intercultural communication I have decided to use TAMS Analyzer.  TAMS is an open source data analysis tool written for Mac OSX, and it’s free.  Yes, free.  From what I have learned so far it supports complex qualitative coding.  You can also use it to generate different types of reports, such as counts and, of course, lists of sorted codes/coded passages.  The documentation was helpful up to a point, and now I’m simply learning by doing.  I’ll attach a short summary of my notes here, which might be useful to those just picking TAMS up.  The page numbers refer to the “TAMS Analyzer User Guide,” a pdf document which comes bundled with the software itself.  The entire package can be downloaded here.

Using TAMS

  1. Material has to be rtf.  Recreate the docs as rtf files and import into TAMS
  2. You need to manually save these windows all the time.
  3. init file:  create this to tell the program how to code contextual data (p. 35, 95)
    1. Have context codes here for “role” (student, trainer, staff)
    2. Have file types (fieldnotes, interaction, interview, forum etc.)
    3. Have “person” or “name” as contextual data
    4. Have “topic” variable
    5. You can also do “if” coding, like if person = Bob then role = trainer
    6. Each “document” that you import will have a name – be consistent with your naming scheme (best to match it with original documents in your archive)
    7. Use “universal codes” (metatags) to note, for example, what type of document it is (interview, fieldnotes, etc.) (p. 19)
      1. universal codes are generated for every results window record and hold their value through the whole document.
      2. At the top of the document, put {!universal datatype=”Interview”}
      3. This will produce one column in your output called “dataType” and for records from this document it with fill it with “Interview”.
      4. i.     Note that the “horizon” (or scope) of universals is the end of file (eof)
        1. context codes” mark distinctive attributes for a section of a document (marked by {!end} or {!endsection}).  Typical repeat codes include speaker, time, question – all of which you would want to be attached to a passage of text you have coded. (See also variable tags, p.35)
        2. To make these (for example, to denote speaker) create the “heads up” tag like {!context speaker}at the top of the file.  You’ll then insert the context tags in the file where applicable, like {speaker}John{/speaker}: {food>parsley}I hate parsley.{/food>parsley}{!end}
              1. Where you have more than one speaker it’s a good idea to make the document structured, i.e. to put in “sections” pertaining to the context codes.  To do this:
                1. put the metatag {!struct} in your init file or on top of each interview if you don’t have an init file.  Now you can show switches in speakers, roles, etc.
                2. have a context code in the file like the one above.
                3. At the end of the section (i.e. the end of the speaker’s turn) put in {!endsection}.  With this command, context values get carried forward, but the system knows that particular section has ended.  (There’s another command to wipe clear the context values, if you want.)
                4. TIPS:  (1) be careful to mark all the speakers, or you will think the wrong people are saying the things you are finding. (2) put in an {!endsection} whenever the value of speaker changes, or you will be misled as to who is speaking.
      5. Data codes are marked with {code}interesting passage{/code}.
        1. Code names consist of numbers, spaces and underscore characters. No spaces permitted.
        2. Passages of text can have multiple codes; codes can be nested and can overlap.
        3. As you create codes you’ll use the “definition” button to define them.
        4. Coding Level 2 – there’s a “reanalysis” phase in which you re-configure codes that you’re working with.  You have to set the software to “reanalysis mode” to preserve original information.  You can then refine your codes.
          1. You can export reports from this level, too
          2. The > symbol shows subtype
          3. {sound>pig}oink, oink{/sound>pig} means that “oink, oink” is an example of sound subtype pig.
            1. i.     You can have multiple levels of subtype
            2. Coding Level 3– you can identify code families (minus the “no spaces” restriction – you can use full sentences here)
              1. TAMS calls these “code sets”
              2. There is “no spaces” restriction – you can use full sentences for code set names

Memos/comments can be included with a coded passage – you just do it by hand after the end code, separated by a space but still inside the brackets.  It looks like this: {food>parsley}I hate parsley.{/food>parsley This guy’s crazy!!!}

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