The second phase of REFI developed the REFI-QDA Project, which builds on the work completed in the first phase, when the REFI-QDA Codebook was developed.

Each QDA software has a range of different features (see individual software websites for details). In developing the first version of this REFI-QDA Project, we focused on enabling exchange of the following core components between QDA software ‘projects’:

  • sources (text, PDF, image and multimedia formats)
  • segments (specified chunks of materials/data identified as meaningful by the user)
  • codes (labelled ‘tags’ attached to segments)
  • annotations (comments attached to segments, codes, sources or links)
  • memos (writing spaces for analytical notes, either standalone or attached to sources and/or codes)
  • links between codes, segments or memos
  • cases
  • sets/groups of entities
  • visual representations of linked entities in the project
  • user information

The QDA software packages that have implemented the REFI-QDA Project, enable some or all of these components to be exported into an XML Project Exchange File (with the extension: .qdpx).

This REFI-QDA Project file can then be imported into a second QDA software for further analytic work. This may be useful if the second QDA software has a feature required for analysis that the first QDA software does not, or when researchers using different QDA software programs wish to collaborate.  The prerequisite for interoperability is that both software packages have implemented the REFI-QDA Project.

Testing of the implementation of import and export, and validation of the export file against the XSD schema is the responsibility of individual software developers.

Please note: because there are differences in how each program functions with respect to sources, segments, codes, memos, annotations, links and their organization, users may experience some modifications upon importing a project into a different program using the REFI-QDA Project. In addition, the currently available version does not enable ‘round-tripping’ – i.e. going from software A to software B and then from software B back to software A. Implementing round-tripping is a goal for phase 3 of REFI.

Terminology table
For your convenience, we have translated the terms used for the elements in the REFI datamodel into the terminology used in each software package in the table below. Note that some concepts may not map one to one between packages.

REFI term ATLAS.ti f4analyse MAXQDA NVivo QDA Miner Quirkos Transana
Case document group/
code group
n/a document variable case case source variable transcript/
Code code code code code code quirk keyword
Codebook codebook code system code system codebook codebook codebook codebook
Coding coding coding coding coding coding highlights coding
Description comment comment comment description description description description
Graph network n/a map map n/a n/a n/a
Link link/
n/a link link/
n/a n/a n/a
Note comment/
memo journal/
Project project project project project project project database
Selection quotation selection segment reference segment quote/
Set group n/a group/set set n/a n/a collection
Source document text/
associated media file
document file document source transcript/
Transcript transcript text transcript transcript document source transcript
User user n/a user user user author user
Variable document group/
code group
group variable attribute variable source property keyword

Implementation table 
The REFI-QDA Project is available for use as detailed in the table below.

Software Directly involved in developing Project  Exchange REFI-QDA Project Implemented
ATLAS.ti Mac Yes Yes
ATLAS.ti Windows Yes Yes
Dedoose No Yes
f4analyse Yes Yes
Leipzig Corpus Miner (LCM) No Yes
NVivo Mac Yes Yes
NVivo Windows Yes Yes
QDA Miner Windows Yes Yes
QualCoder No Yes
Quirkos Yes Yes
Transana Mac Yes Yes
Transana Windows Yes Yes