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Introduction to Auto Category variables

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Auto category variables are often used to analyse open-ended questions, such as text, dates, times and quantities by categorising the responses. They may also be used to categorise multiple response closed questions. When you create or run an auto category variable, it sorts the responses from the variable it is based on, into categories. For example, when creating a word cloud from the respondents’ comments an auto category variable is automatically created to determine how frequently the words are used. The word cloud uses the results to display the words that appear most often as the largest so you can see what was most important to your respondents.

When an auto category variable is created there are a number of options:

  • Specify the number of codes to create, and the code are taken from the categories with the highest number of responses. The codes may change each time the data changes.
  • Create an “Other” category to group the codes that are outside the limit set.
  • Choose to include or exclude codes from the auto category variable
  • Add stop words that will not be included
  • Order the codes by the number of counts
  • Set options on how to categorise words in the response
Auto category responses

Coding works differently depending on the type of data in your open response variable.

Text

  • You can create codes based on individual words within responses or the complete response. Codes are created in alphabetical order from the codes with the highest counts. When categorising by word, Snap assumes that the words are separated by spaces.

Dates, times or values

  • Codes are ordered from lowest to highest (with code 1 containing the earliest time or date or the lowest value).

Creating an auto category variable

  1. Click AnalysisVariablesIcon.png to show the list of Analysis Variable
Analysis Variables list
  1. Click NewSurveyIcon.png on the toolbar and select New Auto Category Variable from the list. The Auto Category Variable Details dialog opens.
Error shown for an auto category variable
  1. Change the Label to a short description of the purpose of the variable.
  2. Enter the name of the open-response variable to categorise in the Source field.
  3. Specify the maximum number of codes that you would like in the Limit codes field.
  4. Check ‘With Other’ if you wish to group responses into an ‘Other’ category e.g. if ‘Limit codes’ is set to 5, only the top 5 codes will be displayed and the remaining codes will be grouped as ‘Other’.
  5. If you are categorising a literal variable:
    • Within Options ensure Separate Words is selected unless you know that there will be common phrases (e.g., zip codes) that you wish to use as codes.
    • Set Modify case to the case that you would like the code labels to use. (Normal will use the text as it appears in the responses)
    • Leave Case sensitive clear unless you know that you wish to code responses in different cases differently.
Auto category options
  1. Click SaveIcon.png to save your new variable.
  2. Open the Auto Category Variable Details window. By default the codes are displayed in order. These are the most populous codes in alphabetic order by label.
  3. Change the name to something that you will understand. For example, MyAVfromQ8
  4. Select ch_codes to display all possible codes. Categories that are not displayed in the word cloud appear with the category number in brackets. They are sorted by number of items.
Including codes in the Auto Category variable details
  1. To stop a word being used in the word cloud, clear Include.
  2. Items that are not included are sent to the bottom of the list. You can sort the list by Label or number of items. Click on the appropriate column label to change the way the list is sorted.
  3. Click SaveIcon.png to save your new variable.

Editing an auto category variable

  1. Click AnalysisVariablesIcon.png to show the list of analysis variables. The dialog below shows two auto category variables and a group variable. Double-click the variable you wish to edit. The Auto Category Variable Details window opens. By default the codes are displayed in order. These are the most populous codes in alphabetic or numeric order by label.
Analysis variables list
  1. Select Choose codes to display all possible codes. Categories that are greater than the code limit in the variable appear with the category number in brackets. Categories that are not included in the list of possible categories are tagged with a dash.
Auto Category variable details
  1. To stop a category being included in the codes, clear the Include box. If the categories are sorted by Code, items that are not included are sent to the bottom of the list.
  2. You can sort the list by Code, Label or number of items. Click on the appropriate column label to change the way the list is sorted.
  3. Change other settings as needed.
    • Set Modify case to the case that you would like the code labels to use. (Normal will use the text as it appears in the responses)
    • Leave Case-sensitive clear unless you know that you wish to code responses in different cases differently.
    • Select Use words if you want to categorise by single words (separated by spaces) rather than complete responses.
  4. Click SaveIcon.png to save your changes.
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