Q-Assessor Blog

Here are our occasional discussions of new developments at Q-Assessor, current ideas, technical issues, and other topics of interest.

  • System Improvements

    Q-Assessor has just received a major revision. Some of the changes are obvious:

    • The site now uses a responsive layout that adjusts to the nature of the device accessing it — whether smartphone, tablet, or computer.
    • All connections now are securely encrypted using SSL.
    • Our new hosting company, DigitalOcean, provides much faster performance.

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  • Doing Q "the R Way"

    One unfortunate result of online Q systems like Q-Assessor — and one that is frequently criticized by traditional Q practitioners on the Q Listserv — is that investigators can rapidly accumulate huge data sets. Instead of collecting perhaps a few dozen qsorts via in-person, on-paper administration, online data collection can produce hundreds and thousands of qsorts.

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  • New Payment Options

    In response to subscriber requests, we’ve increased the payment options for subscriptions to Q-Assessor. These options are described in greater detail on the subscriptions page. The two new options are these:

    • Paymode-X: This is a payment processor used by many larger institutions like universities and corporations. It imposes no fees on us either, so we welcome this form of payment. If your institution is picking up your subscription cost, they likely will insist on this mechanism. The information we provide on the invoice is sufficient for your finance people to make the payment to us via Paymode-X.
    • PayPal: This payment processor has a global reach and allows subscribers to pay via their PayPal accounts, if they have one, or via credit cards, if they don’t. Due to the low volume of subscriptions that want to pay this way, we have not implemented any automated PayPal functions like a “Pay With PayPal” button. Instead, if you want to pay this way, we will send you an invoice via PayPal that has links by which you can then log into PayPal and send the payment. This works well, though PayPal extracts a usurious percentage rate for “service fees” particularly if there is a currency exchange. If you are in a hurry and are unwilling or unable to pay via one of the above alternatives, then we will work with you to use PayPal.

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  • Making Sense of Your Results

    So you’ve successfully completed your study — all your participants have submitted their sorts and completed the post-sort interviews. You’ve munged your raw data using Q-Assessor’s online tools or you’ve downloaded your data and churned it with PQMethod or R. You’re now staring at some number of factors with reported eigenvalues and variances and whatnot. What does this all mean and how do you use it?

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  • Q-Assessor Now Provides Export to PQMethod

    From its beginning, Q-Assessor has utilized the centroid factor extraction method used in PQMethod’s FORTRAN public domain source code. Recent Q-Assessor users have reported the need to use some of PQMethod’s other tools — notably the PCA method. Although Q-Assessor was intended to provide an end-to-end solution where this wouldn’t be necessary, we have realized the value in providing this option.

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  • Q-Assessor Now Supports Images In Statements

    A recurring if infrequent request has been for Q-Assessor to allow investigators to place images within statements so that participants can sort graphical elements, not just text. Because of the variable and always too-limited screen real estate, this is a challenge. To be visible, images need to be large, but to fit numerous ones in a single view, they need to be small.

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  • Q-Assessor Now Supports Specifying Number of Extracted Factors

    One feature some Q-Assessor users have requested has been the ability to specify how many centroid factors are extracted from the initial correlation matrix. We resisted adding this step, as there is no support for it in Brown’s book (cf the Factor Analysis section of chapter 4) and from a mathematical viewpoint, we can’t understand why this “feature” was added to PQMethod. Nevertheless, because this is a request that doesn’t seem to go away, we have added this capability.

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  • Free "Test Drive" Use of Q-Assessor Now Available In Addition to Subscriptions

    Because of the gratifying interest in Q-Assessor over the past year, we have reworked our policies regarding access to the system:

    • We have resumed open registration to the site.
    • New registered users can configure and conduct one test study using all of Q-Assessor’s features, limited only by the number of concourse statements, interview questions, and allowed responses.
    • We have improved the subscription request system, so that a simple form — inquiring the number of months desired, the projected start date, and a billing address — generates an invoice and signals to us of your interest.
    • A paid subscriber can create and conduct any number of studies during the subscription period, plus gain access to older, completed studies.
    • All users who tried out Q-Assessor during the prior beta-test phase can access (when logged in) their studies again, albeit in “read-only” mode. Thus they can retrieve their data and analyses if they like, just not restart those studies — unless they subscribe.
    • Subscriptions are denominated in one-month intervals. The cost is currently $500 USD per investigator per month.
    • Q-Assessor can accommodate teams collaborating on a study once one team member is the designated subscriber for the group. All group members can develop and deploy group studies, though they cannot run their own personal studies without a personal subscription.
    • Payment options at this point are bank checks drawn on US funds and bank wire transfers. We do not as yet accept other payment processors like PayPal and credit cards, but at whatever time subscription volume is significant to offset the substantial fees of those processors, we will reconsider.

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  • Q-Asssessor Now Fully Internationalized

    Developed primarily for use in the U.S., Q-Assessor previously hard-wired the English language in operational texts like sort instructions, button labels, dialog window texts, email links, and the like. Investigators could author their statements, categorical poles, and interview questions in their language of choice, but all these other elements persisted in English. Clearly this was an unsatisfactory situation.

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  • Limited Availability to Serious Investigators

    Because of recurring inquiries, we’ve decided to make Q-Assessor accessible to serious investigators doing projects with real budgets. The cost per month per user is $500 USD. If you are interested, please email us with details about your project and desired use. Others should investigate the various free tools out there.

  • Extended Beta Test Phase Drawing to Close

    After a couple years experimenting with Q-Assessor, listening to feedback from users, and evaluating the opportunities for Q in various applications, we’re closing down the beta test phase. Thus new sign-ups are no longer being accepted.

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  • Future Directions for Q-Assessor

    Thanks to input from users during this extended beta-test phase of Q-Assessor, we’re sharpening the list of potential enhancements to the system. Here are a few insights into what the next version of Q-Assessor will most likely look like.

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  • Forced Selection of Poles During Q Sorts

    Several investigators using Q-Assessor have inquired about why participants are forced to select first the most “positive” statements and then the most “negative” statements during the second level sort. This is confusing and undesirable, they say. Participants should just be able to place any statement anywhere in the grid at any point.

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  • New Drag-and-Drop Interface for Q-Assessor

    We’ve just added a new drag-and-drop Q-sort interface to Q-Assessor, and we’d appreciate feedback about its design and implementation. You can learn more about it, run a demo study, and compare it to our standard interface here.

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  • Q-Sort Layouts: It's the Sort That Counts, Not the Layout

    Some online Q implementations such as FlashQ utilize a two-dimensional grid to structure participants’ sorting. Q-Assessor employs a vertically-oriented, grouped design. Why have these two approaches come to be? Is one superior? Does the layout for a Q sort really matter?

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  • Enhanced Q-Assessor Demos

    Initial feedback about the demo of Q-Assessor’s features we had setup was clear on one point: the analysis of random user data was, well, random — and we needed to fix this.

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  • Welcome to Members of the Q Method Listserv!

    Q-Assessor has broken out of relative stealth to announce its existence to the Q Methodology Listserv. This active group of primarily academic Q scholars has been in existence since 1996, and its archives provide a wealth of information and insight into all things Q.

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  • A Brief History of Q-Assessor

    A fitting first topic for these occasional posts is a bit of historical background about how Q-Assessor came to be.

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