Obsidian plugin for qualitative data analysis, select text, assign tags, populate canvas

I have been thinking about this for a while now and think with Canvas all the ingredients are in Obsidian to be able to do the following…with a little addition needed which is the idea for this plugin:

In qualitative data analysis, meaning deriving insights from unstructured text data (those might e.g. interview transcripts), what we do in e.g. thematic content analysis method is this:

  1. highlight a section of text that represent something relevant to the research
  2. assign one or more tags to that text to create a snippet
  3. write a summary for snippets from one tag or tag group to create a memo
  4. cluster memo’s together (often visually using a virtual whiteboard) to create higher level groups of meaning to create an insight group (add all memos to a separate insight page)
  5. develop a theory based on the insights

3 to 5 are possible today, 4 with using canvas.

What we lack is the ability to highlight a text section and assign one or multiple tags to it, visually mark that section as highlighted and to populate a canvas automatically with the snippets in groups related to their tagging.

Below a screenshot from a software I am using now called Dovetail (source)

Challenges:

  • rendering a text section highlight in a certain color related to a tag color (which is helpful when reviewing the data)
  • populating canvas with snippets dynamically
  • keeping all content dynamically linked up unto the insight page level

Seeing there are so many academic folks flocking to Obsidian and the already existing tooling for academic research I am almost surprised this doesn’t exist yet but would assume there to be interest in this.

Interested in your thoughts!

2 Likes

The apps Dovetail looks great. Thanks for introducing it

It’s really good, I introduced it to our company and people love it. I would love to be able to do the same in Obsidian, removing the data silo as well as retaining ownership over the data and having the extensibility.