Dynamic Descriptors

Dynamic Descriptors

Dynamic descriptor fields are a special type of field available in Dedoose. Dynamic descriptor fields are designed primarily to help you map and explore change over time when you collect qualitative data at multiple time points from the same participants, or when a unit of analysis you are interested in is not fixed. 

Most projects have zero or very little dynamic descriptors. Please read the example below to determine if a dynamic descriptor is appropriate.

To illustrate when a dynamic descriptor might be used, imagine you are doing an 18-month study on high school teacher experiences in the classroom you interview teachers at three different time points of Fall, Spring, and Summer. Some of the descriptor data for each participant will be the same at all time points, but some will change. For instance, teacher gender, race/ethnicity, educational background, and what grade they teach might stay the same over the course of the project; however, the time of the interview (e.g., Fall, Spring, Summer) will change. If you make time of the interview a dynamic field, you will be prompted to set the value (e.g., Fall, Spring, Summer) when linking the qualitative document to that teacher’s descriptor profile. Subsequently, your analysis and coding for those qualitative documents will be linked to the specific time point, allowing you to explore change over the three time points.


Dynamic descriptor fields must be linked to your media manually. To learn how to link descriptors to your media, please review our Manually Link Descriptors guide. 

Create a Dynamic Descriptor

To define and apply dynamic descriptors:

1. Navigate to the Descriptors Workspace

2. Click the addition icon in the upper right corner of the ‘Set Fields’ panel. This opens the Add Field window. Title the field and add a description

3. Define the descriptor field as an option list type and check the ‘Dynamic Field’ check-box. For example: a field called 'Phase' with values 'Time 1,' 'Time 2,' and 'Time 3.'


4. Click ‘Submit’

5. Each time a new media item is linked to a descriptor profile, you will be prompted to set the dynamic value for any dynamic descriptor fields in your study