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Data analysis software

An introduction to some of the software that is available to support you in analysing research data.
The wordcloud is built from the adjectives & nouns used by participants to describe libraries. Books and knowledge dominate, as do accessible and welcoming. Words like comfort, safe and limitless are contrasted against words like daunting & intimidating.
© Lee Fallin

This article is designed to briefly introduce you to data analysis software. Some of these tools are free to use, others may be developed open-source and others are proprietary commercial tools. The software you use may greatly depend on your university or organisation as, unless it is free, you will require a paid licence to use much of this software. Speak with your ICT department to see what is available.


Spreadsheet software features calculation, graphing tools, and pivot tables and may include macro programming languages. Popular spreadsheet software includes:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Google Sheets

You can find an extensive list of spreadsheet software on Wikipedia.


Integrated with popular spreadsheet software, forms can be used to collect data or administer basic online surveys or questionnaires. Popular tools include:

  • Microsoft Excel Forms (data saved to Excel format)
  • Google Forms (data saved to Google Sheets format)

Statistical analysis tools

More complicated than simple spreadsheets, statistical software packages offer interactive, or batched, statistical analysis. Popular tools include:

  • IBM SPSS Statistics
  • Minitab
  • R

You can find an extensive list of statistical analysis software on Wikipedia.

Qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS)

CAQDAS software assists qualitative researchers with data management, storage, transcription analysis, coding and text interpretation. Popular tools include:

  • QSR NVivo
  • MaxQDA
  • ATLAS.ti

You can find an extensive list of CAQDAS software on Wikipedia.

Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

Geographic information systems are for working with maps and geographic information. They can be used for creating and using maps, compiling geographic data, analyzing mapped information, sharing and discovering geographic information, using maps and geographic information in a range of applications, and managing geographic information in a database.

You can find an extensive list of GIS software on Wikipedia.


This tool sits across many different categories so we’ve added it here in its own right. R is a programming language and free software environment for statistical computing and graphics supported by the R Foundation for Statistical Computing. The R language is widely used among statisticians and data miners for developing statistical software and data analysis. Polls, data mining surveys, and studies of scholarly literature databases show substantial increases in popularity.

© University of Hull
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