Introduction: Coding Analysis Toolkit Instructions

The Coding Analysis Toolkit (CAT) is a free qualitative data analysis software that exists entirely online. For researchers with textual data, CAT allows for the categorizing and patternization of large-scale data amounts into quantitative amounts. Graham R. Gibbs and Celia Taylor in their article How and What to Code describe coding as, “the process of combing the data for themes, ideas and categories and then marking similar passages of text with a code label so that they can easily be retrieved at a later stage for further comparison and analysis.”

NOTE: For an overview of the Coding process refer to How and What to Code a resource designed to explain the practice.

Reference: Gibbs, G. R., & C. (2005, June 30). How and What to Code . Retrieved March 12, 2017, from

Step 1: How to Make a Primary Account

Launch your Browser (CAT is optimized for Safari, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Mozilla Firefox)

Search for the Coding Analysis Toolkit through your preferred search engine (Google) and find the link titled CAT Homepage: NOTE: The original CAT website has moved! It is no longer the top option on Google Searches; if you access this option, use the attached hyperlink within the page to redirect to the correct website. Once you have reached the CAT Homepage (Pictured Below) look to the top right corner of the page towards the USERNAME and PASSWORD login boxes. To the left of the USERNAME textbox, select the link Register for a free account (see red arrow).

Clicking the Register for a free account link will take you to the New User Registration page (pictured below). With a list of corresponding fields needed to establish a Primary account.
NOTE: Primary accounts serve as project leaders during analysis. As such, they have increased admin responsibilities such as: Locking and Unlocking Datasets Managing Sub-Account Permissions After completing necessary text boxes and clicking Register (see red arrow) you will be taken to the Thank You Screen.

Step 2: How to Login

When you plan to revisit the site after creating your account, just type in your created username and password in the upper right hand corner of the main homepage (see blue boxes).

NOTE: The login process is the same for both primary and sub accounts.

Step 3: How to Add Sub Accounts

Making a sub-account allows a primary account holder to invite collaborators into their current coding process. If you are working in a group it is important to have the different group members decide on a primary account holder (whose responsibilities are detailed within the “How to Make a Primary Account” Section), and have the remaining group members utilize this process afterwards.

*These directions are for primary account holders.

Login to CAT and access the Main Menu. Select the Account tab along the page’s header. (see red box) Within the dropdown menu under Account, select Manage Sub Accounts (see blue arrow) it will take you to the Manage Sub Accounts page.

Within the Manage Sub Accounts page (pictured below) select the blue text: Add New Sub-Account. It will redirect you to the Add Sub Account page.

The Add Sub Account Page (pictured below) operates similarly to the New User Registration page.
Place the requested information into each text box. NOTE: Only sections marked with a red asterisk (*) must be completed. The additional fields are optional depending on one’s preference of detail.

When making sub-accounts it is important to make the distinction between expert and regular accounts. To change sub-account status use the drop down menu titled Account Type (see red arrow)

Expert Accounts have permission to access, upload, and lock datasets. This option allows the sub-account holder to contribute directly to the research process beyond coding. Choose expert account for sub-accounts of collaborators. Regular Accounts can only access datasets when granted permission from the primary account holder. These accounts are best for coders who are not collaborators.

When all required fields and any additional fields have been completed, select the Create Account button at the bottom of the page (see blue box).

A CAT registration email will be sent to the email address listed within the Sub-Account page. After this email is confirmed these sub-account usernames will appear within your list of Available Coders.

Step 4: Creating Data Files and Codes

Uploading Data Files and Codes is the basis of CAT. Uploading your content (Data File), and the codes by which you will analyze them, occurs within the same page. It is important to remember the difference between the two:

Data Files: These are the sections of text that you want to analyze. Some common data files include: interview transcriptions, writing samples, and any other body of text that you would like to assess.

To design a data file that can be uploaded into CAT you must organize your text into standard paragraphs without formatting. See image below for example. NOTE: Highlighting your text and selecting the option “Clear Formatting” does this automatically. After clearing the formatting of your data file you can save the file as a plaintext document (txt). This ensures that it will be clear of formatting and readable by CAT.

Codes: Codes are the options by which you are organizing your data file (text). Codes are broken into three main parts: Codes; Definitions; Keystrokes Codes are the actual options that you will choose from when undergoing the process. These will appear as the different buttons on the screen during the coding process. Definitions are the meaning that you attach to each code. For example the code: FUNNY JOKE might have the definition: something that is humorous Keystrokes are the corresponding buttons on your keypad that you can select as option to choose each code. NOTE: You need not use keystrokes. We recommend simply clicking the code buttons with your cursor. Similarly to the data file, save this document, without formatting, to your desktop as a plaintext (txt) document. An example of a plaintext file of codes is color coded below.

Step 5: Uploading Datasets and Codes

Once you have created and saved plaintext (txt) files of both your Codes and Dataset onto your desktop you can upload them to CAT.

From the homepage (pictured below), navigate to the header item called “Datasets.” Within the Dataset dropdown select “Upload Raw Dataset” (see red box) this will navigate you to the Upload Raw Dataset screen. NOTE: Your datasets will exist, but be considered RAW until they are locked. When in doubt, check Raw Datasets to find any that you are working on–chances are if they aren’t locked they are there.

Once on the Upload Raw Dataset screen (pictured below) be sure to title your dataset.

To upload your text and codes use the attach file buttons (see red box). The top box works for your data file (text) and the bottom box is for your created codes. Select “Standard” for the Data Format Style: dropdown menu.

The three checkboxes (Disable Verification for User-Defined and Multiple Coding, Allow User-Defined Codes, Allow Coder to Select Multiple Codes) are optional. If you are using codes that don’t exist in a binary (i.e. YES/NO) we highly recommend selecting “Allow Coder to Select Multiple Codes” for any analysis that exists beyond a binary option.

After you have added your data file and codes to the corresponding areas, selected the Standard Data Format Style, and chosen your additional options, press the Upload button (see blue box).

After selecting Upload you will be taken to the Add/Edit Raw Dataset Codes page. With our method, you have already added all needed components of both your data file and codes.

If you want to add additional codes, fill in the text boxes and dropdown menu next to New Code and select the add code button. These follow the same format as the creation of codes on a plaintext (txt).

See attached image for the corresponding components of a code (Codes; Definitions; Keystrokes) When you have checked your codes, select the Finished button (see blue box).

The Finished button will transport you to the View Raw Dataset page. You are now ready to select coders and begin the coding process!

Step 6: Assigning Coders

Coders are any accounts that are either primary or sub-accounts you have added. These usernames will automatically appear within the Available Coders box.

Select the coder you wish to add with your mouse. After this person’s name highlights blue (see picture below) click the add button (see red box). NOTE: To add all Coders select the Add All option.

To remove coders select their username and the remove button (see blue box). Once you have selected your coders select the Set Chosen Coders button (see purple box).

This will modify the screen with a red text above the View Raw Dataset page title saying “Permissions Set.” After assigning coders use the header to select Code Datasets from the Dataset dropdown menu.

Step 7: Coding Datasets

Selecting the Code Datasets option from the Dataset dropdown will redirect you to the Code Datasets (pictured below) page.

This page is divided into three categories within a chart: Dataset Name, # Complete, and Total Paragraphs. Dataset Name: This is what you titled your dataset. Click the blue name to access and begin coding (see red arrow). # Complete: Indicates how many paragraphs of you data file you have coded. This should be zero to begin. Total Paragraphs: This is how many paragraphs are in your data file. Each paragraph is coded individually. In our example, each coder will code 18 passages.

Selecting the Dataset name will take you to the Coding Page (pictured below). This page has a paragraph from the data file, your codes represented in buttons, and (if you have selected the Allow Coder to Select Multiple Codes option during the Upload Raw Dataset phase) the Code Item button.

Read the paragraph and select the corresponding code text boxes that relate to it. If you have allowed for multiple codes you must select the Code Item button to advance to the validation screen (see red button). NOTE: You must select the Code Item button to record your choice, the next button moves you to another paragraph without recording your code selections.

If you have Allow Coder to Select Multiple Codes option activated, you will be transported to a Verify Choices page. Verification ensures that your choices are accurate. Select Verify Choices at the top of the page to continue on to the next paragraph.
NOTE: If you have not selected the Allow Coder to Select Multiple Codes option, you will skip this page and move on to the next paragraph immediately after a code selection. After you have coded all paragraphs in your data file select the Click here on the following page. This will notify the project manager (primary account holder) that this coder has completed the dataset. After selecting Click here you will be returned to the Code Datasets page with red text reading Notification Sent (pictured below).

From the View Raw Dataset page all datasets that are considered raw will appear. Select the dataset you have just completed by clicking it’s name (written in blue).

This will transport you to the corresponding page related to that dataset (pictured below). Select the Lock Dataset? Option (see red box). Select the Lock it and Archive it option on the following page. You are now ready to begin validating.

Step 8: How to Validate Datasets

Validating datasets allows coders to ensure that the chosen codes they have made are accurate. This process allows validators to select if a chosen code is valid or not valid in response to a specific paragraph. This process ensures accuracy in your final data. NOTE: Datasets must be locked to access validation.

From the homepage, select Validate Datasets from the Validation drop down menu along the header. This will transport you to the Adjudication - Validate Dataset page. Within the Adjudication - Validate Dataset select your dataset from the Dataset:menu (see red box). Select all codes you wish to validate on the following screen (this is the same process as adding coders discussed earlier) and select Continue. On the validation pages select either Valid or Not Valid as you advance through the paragraphs (see red box). When you have completed validating the dataset you can look at reports of your data.

Step 9: How to Access Data Reports

Data reports are the reason you complete the process. They allow you to sort through your qualitative data, create charts, and analyze the information. This process will show you a basic formulation of data in a viewable format. NOTE: Datasets must be locked to access Data Reports.

From the menu header select the Dataset Reports from the Reports menu (see red box). This will take you to the Dataset Report page.

On the Dataset Report page (pictured below) select the blue name of your dataset.

On the following page (pictured below) select the preferred options from the list of checkboxes (see red box).

Select the coders and codes you wish to include in the report by selecting and adding them as done before.

When you have made your choices, select Generate Report (see blue box) to visualize your findings! Congratulations you have used CAT!!!