RQDAassist v.0.3.1

This is to announce a new version of the R package RQDAassist, a package whose goal is to make working with RQDA much easier.

This version principally adds new functionality in the retrieval of codings from a project database. The function takes as arguments the file path to an RQDA project and a string containing a valid SQL query (SQLite flavour). As a default, one does not need to specify the query. The function does this internally to fetch data from relevant tables in the .rqda file. Thus, for a project MyProject.rqda, one can simply call

retrieve_codingtable("path/to/MyProject.rqda")

The default query that is run internally by this function is as follows:

SELECT treecode.cid AS cid, codecat.name AS codecat
FROM treecode, codecat
WHERE treecode.catid=codecat.catid AND codecat.status=1;

The user is at liberty to form their own queries; a reference for the database tables is in the RQDA package and the documentation for this function (accessed with ?retrieve_codingtable) provides a quick link to that help page. For example, if we want to just collect the filenames of the transcripts used in an analysis, we can use a different query. Note that the data are returned invisibly, to prevent cluttering of the console, so it’s better to bind it to a variable.

qry <- "SELECT DISTINCT name FROM source WHERE status=1;"
tbl <- retrieve_codingtable("path/to/MyProject.rqda", qry)
tbl

We can easily try this out using material from the excellent RQDA workshop conducted by Lindsey Varner and team. We can download the sample project they used right inside R:

url <- "http://comm.eval.org/HigherLogic/System/DownloadDocumentFile.ashx?DocumentFileKey=101e221b-297e-4468-bfc9-8deccb4adf8c&forceDialog=0"
project <- "MyProject.rqda"
download.file(url, project, mode = 'wb')

If we check the working directory with list.files, we should see the project there. Next, using our package’s function, we can get a data frame with information on codings.

> df <- retrieve_codingtable(project)
> str(df)
Classes ‘codingTable’ and 'data.frame':	39 obs. of  9 variables:
 $ rowid       : int  1 2 3 4 6 9 10 12 13 14 ...
 $ cid         : int  1 1 2 1 2 4 4 1 4 3 ...
 $ fid         : int  2 2 2 2 2 2 3 4 4 4 ...
 $ codename    : chr  "Improved Time Management" "Improved Time Management" "Improved Organization" "Improved Time Management" ...
 $ filename    : chr  "AEA2012 - Post-Program Interview1" "AEA2012 - Post-Program Interview1" "AEA2012 - Post-Program Interview1" "AEA2012 - Post-Program Interview1" ...
 $ index1      : num  1314 1398 1688 1087 2920 ...
 $ index2      : num  1397 1687 1765 1175 2964 ...
 $ CodingLength: num  83 289 77 88 44 296 120 150 210 116 ...
 $ codecat     : chr  "Positive Outcomes" "Positive Outcomes" "Positive Outcomes" "Positive Outcomes" ...

We see that we now created a data frame with 9 columns, with interesting data in them. Note particularly the variables codename, filename, and codecat. Let us now carry out the other query we gave as an example – to get the filenames of all the transcripts in the project:

> qry <- "SELECT DISTINCT name FROM source WHERE status=1;"
> tbl <- retrieve_codingtable(project, qry)
> tbl
                                name
1  AEA2012 - Post-Program Interview1
2  AEA2012 - Post-Program Interview2
3  AEA2012 - Post-Program Focus Group
4  AEA2012 - Pre-Program Focus Group

This project contains only 4 active files from which all the codings are derived!

A practical point

This function is useful for developing qualitative codebooks, and particularly when coding is carried out inductively and as has been demonstrated, can be extended to other uses, depending on the kind of data that are retrieved.

Installation

The easiest way to install the package is from an R session with

# install.packages("remotes")
remotes::install_github("BroVic/RQDAassist")

This is a source package, and to build it on Wiindows, Rtools needs to have been properly installed.

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An R package to help with RQDA

A few weeks aga, I published a package on GitHub, which I called RQDAassist. The package was inspired by a script I wrote to help RQDA users, myself included, to install the package after it was archived on CRAN when R 4.0 arrived on the scene. So, when RQDAassist was first published, that was its only real functionality.

Today, I am releasing a minor update (v. 0.2.0) that has a few functions added. It can now convert transcripts written in Word into plain text files – a desired format for RQDA projects – and it can prepare those test files into objects that can be read, in bulk, into an RQDA database. Another thing I personally needed for my work was the ability to seaarch qualitative codes using R scripts rather than the graphics user interface; so I wrote a search function, which currently works for active RQDA projects.

This package has so far been tested on Windows 10 (x64) but it should work fine on other major platforms (any subequent update will include the relevant tests for Linux and Mac OS).

There are no plans to take this package to CRAN and indeed there should be no need to do so once RQDA installation from that repository is fully restored. But I find the prospect of additional helper functions to be quite useful in my work and hope others do too. I hope to see these functionalities expand over time.

You are welcome to check out this project at the GitHub repository or try it out using the instructions in the README.

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Newbies also contribute to open source!

Programmer at work
By Crew crew – https://unsplash.com/photos/4Hg8LH9HoxcImageGallery, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61684334

As a starter in programming, once one encounters the world of “open source”, it can be daunting, if not impossible to contribute to projects. Of course, you’re just starting out and can barely construct a working program in the language you are currently learning.

So, do I have to wait until I am proficient or an expert in my favourite programming language, before I can contribute to an open source project? How can I be a active in the community, and not an onlooker, from the very start?

Easy. Documentation.

I don’t know about others but from my experience, software documentation is often lacking in quantity and quality. I guess because programmers are focused first and foremost on developing working programs, the documentation, manuals, help files, etc. end up having quite a few mistakes, errors and inconsistencies.

So, if you’re new to programming, you may not be able to immediately submit code to that project, but you can always help to improve the documentation. I assure you, this is one area where you can really really make yourself useful, and distinguish yourself as one who brings some value to the table. ‘Cos the documentation is a very important part of any good project.

So, dig in. Clone that GitHub repository and fix any problems you find in the manual.

(Fix)TFM.

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I uninstalled the Twitter app

Twitter is a sinking ship.

Honestly I’m sick of it. The toxicity. The lies. The biases. The censorship. What started as a fun platform has turned into a daily, waking-hours nightmare.

I remember how I started out on Twitter, back in 2009. At the time, I and one of my friends on MySpace, who was an aspiring model, continued sharing our thoughts on the site. At the time, she wasn’t too sure of her looks and I assured her that she had what it takes to make a good career. And she did make it big time. But she’s since been suspended on Twitter — maybe for showing too much flesh. I won’t mention her name for obvious reasons.

Twitter has not been a very positive experience for me in 2020. The role it has played in silencing valid dissenting medical opinion on the COVID-19 response is what I found most repulsive. I am particularly offended by their censorship of tweets about valid research that do not fit a certain narrative.

The deliberate suppression of tweets on damning information on one of the U.S. presidential candidates is also unforgivable.

Frankly, I’m done. I’ve decided to pull back, first by removing the Twitter mobile app. I will remain active on the platform but on a more impersonal note. I don’t think the site can survive too long anyway. There is no trust anymore and even the beneficiaries of its antics know this.

I remember how we used to complain about porn and terror on Twitter. Nothing much was ever done about it – basically it boiled down to free speech and we just decided to live with it. “Face your tribe and ignore the stuff you don’t like” was the approach we followed. Nowadays, the woke brigade at Twitter will flag a tweet that says “only females can have cervical cancer”. Balderdash!

For me it’s time to scale down. Thank God I don’t have a million followers, so it’s going to be easy to disappear altogether, soon.

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You are You, no matter what may be

In the early days of my professional life, as a young clinical officer working for a private hospital group in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, I had this funny experience. The hospital had this doctor’s resting room, where we would catch a quick nap during night calls. The room was pretty cosy and had this wonderful air-conditioning unit that would hum ever so softly as it cooled both the body and the nerves (I hated night call duty so much).

Unfortunately for me, a cockerel also loved the air-conditioner, that is the warm section outside of the room. So every night he would cuddle there. Not that I cared. But as my nerve-racked self sought respite in my slavish condition, some time between 3 – 4 am, this Mister would begin to crow. And believe me, crow he could. The first day it happened I woke up with my heart pounding, because of the volume of the sound (this cockerel was pretty big), which was worsened by the proximity of the head of my bed to the air-conditioner. When I realized what was really making that awful noise, I ran outside and saw the huge bird perched on the rail of the air-conditioning unit and promptly whacked it with my slipper and chased it off.

Feeling good with myself, I returned to my chambers to continue my dream from where I was so rudely interrupted by my feathered friend.

Then “Cock-doodle-doooo”! It happened again, only, this time around, much louder (apparently he was just tuning up when he woke me up the first time). I ran out again. WHACK!!!

Suffice to say, I didn’t get to sleep again that night. Or the next time I was on night duty. Or the one after that. Until, I presume, the owner of Mr. Cck needed his presence for dinner…As I thought about this, three things came to my mind: Every creature, including we humans, is made for a purpose. Your purpose is defined by your potential. Your potential is expressed in your assignment, your passion. Your passion may be attacked but it cannot be extinguished by anything, including external threats as long as there is breath in you.

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