22 January 2019 | by Oliver Harrison

How to Reuse Code Frames in Q

Coding open-ended and ‘other/specify’ responses can often be a tedious task for market researchers. In this post, I will instead show you how to reuse and share code frames between coding questions in Q.

In quantitative surveys, you often need to ask open-ended questions to garner further insights beyond the predetermined list of options. I’ve covered the topic of coding in Q using various open-ended question formats and a new code frame (please see How to Code an Open-Ended Question into a Single Response Question in Q, How to Code an Open-Ended Question into a Multiple Response Question in Q, How to Code Open-Ended Responses with Multiple Mentions in Q and How to Code Other/Specify Responses in Q).

However, there are also a number of different ways in Q to copy and share code frames between questions. Q automatically stores each response you code in the background as an instruction associated with that specific code option, including whether it is single or multiple response. This creates the potential for auto-coding when responses match the rules exactly.

Let’s now look at an example from a survey on technology brands. We have already coded an open-ended text question on preferred tech brands as a multiple response question. However, we also have a ‘top of mind’ awareness question (‘What tech brands are you aware of?’) in our data set, which hasn’t been coded yet. I will now outline the various options in place for sharing and copying code frames in Q.

Reuse by Sharing Code Frame

The most efficient way to minimize having to repeat your coding is to share code frames with an already coded question in your project which includes coding rules. You can find this option by highlighting the text question you wish to code, right-clicking, choosing Insert Variable(s) > Code Text > Reuse by Sharing Code Frame and then selecting the question that has the code frame you want to share, in this case, ‘Q3 – Preferred Tech Brands’.

As you are sharing your code frame, it means whenever you add codes and associated coding rules, this will apply to any questions which share this code frame. When I apply Q3’s code frame to my next text variable, the coding rules match the text responses in this question perfectly so Q automatically codes everything.

Similarly, you can auto-code any copies of text variables included in the coding process if you share the appropriate code frame with it.

Reuse by Copying Code Frame

If you wish to just copy the code frame, rather than any coding rules, and code afresh, then a second option is available. Select the question you wish to code via Insert Variable(s) > Code Text > Reuse by Copying Code Frame and then select the question that has the code frame you want to copy.

Unlike the first option of sharing code frames, in this instance there will be no auto-coding and any new codes added will not be shared with the original or any other coded question which uses the same code frame.

Import and Export Code Frame files

If you have already coded a similar question, as is the case here, and wish to reuse its code frame and coding rules, you can simply go to the bottom of the coding screen of the question you want to copy the code frame from via Edit Code Frame and select the Export button to create a file of the existing code frame (*.QCodes) that can then be imported into another question.

Once you have created the file, you can then go into the coding screen of the question you wish to code and press the Import button. Next, select the code frame file you had previously saved. Q will then add the code frame options and the rules associated with them to this new question. The advantage of this option is that you can import the code frame of a question from a different Q project.

Import and Export Category Names

A further option is to manually copy an existing code frame list over to a new question without including existing coding rules. Simply open the coding screen of the coding question you want to copy your code frame from in the Variables and Questions tab by right-clicking and choosing Edit Code Frame. Next, right-click the code frame box on the right and select the Import/Export Category Names option. This will bring up a list of the code frame which you can then highlight and copy using CTRL + C.

Now go to the open-ended question you wish to code via Insert Variable(s) > Code Text > New Code Frame > Manual Categorization and, select Mutually Exclusive Categories or Mutually Overlapping Categories, depending on the code frame structure you want to use.

Again, right-click and select the Import/Export Category Names option, then paste in the code frames using CTRL + V. If desired, you can first edit this code frame in any text editor by adding and/or removing extra categories before pasting into the window.

Author: Oliver Harrison

After completing a PhD in German history and literature, Oliver swapped old dusty books for computer screens and logic. He then enjoyed the next 10 years as a survey programmer and data analyst in the Australasian market research industry. Today Oliver is passionate about problem-solving and helping customers achieve their goals as a member of the Customer Success team at Displayr.

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