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Getting Started


IF THIS is your first experience with PCQ, or your first Q Study . . . Click here




If this is your first Q Study . . .


Getting a good hold on a computer program requires some effort and PCQ for Windows Academic Edition is no exception. The design philosophy of this program assumes that you already have some background and knowledge of Q Methodology and Q Technique. The methodology is complicated and it is recommended that you consult one or more of the two basic book-length treatments of the methodology:

Brown, S. R. 1980. Political Subjectivity: Applications of Q Methodology in Political Science. New Haven: Yale University.

Stephenson, W. 1953. The Study of Behavior. Chicago: University of Chicago.


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What is a Q Study?

A study of communicability is best known as a Q study because it follows the theories and methods of William Stephenson (1953). The student of communicability asks questions including,

  • What is the range of communicated ideas in a particular discourse?
  • What are the prevalent variations in it?
  • How do these variations logically relate to each other?

While there are more formal ways to express them, these three questions underlie a Q study. It has five major parts:

  • Collecting a discourse from people involved in it;
  • Selecting a sample representative of the range of communicated ideas in the discourse;
  • Selecting respondents from among people involved in the discourse and asking them to arrange the sample of ideas in their preferred order of importance;
  • Formally comparing these arrangements provided by the respondents by factor analysis;
  • Analyzing the results of the factor analysis and other information gathered from the respondents.

PCQ for Windows is designed to assist in parts (4) and (5).

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What does PCQ for Windows do?


The first three of the five stages of a Q Study should be completed before using the program. The design of the program anticipates that sorts and items are in hand and ready to be typed into the program. Please refer to the Sequencing Wizard to get an overview of the steps in an analysis. The program tries to balance the complexities of Q Methodology by establishing a concrete sequence for an analysis.

The program performs these services:

  • a way to enter and edit parameters required to do an analysis;
  • a way to enter and edit the sort data;
  • a way to enter and edit the item data;
  • a group of processes to extract up to nine centroid factors;
  • a choice of rotation schemes.
  • a selection of tables to aid your analysis.

In the main window, the Tool Bar buttons are arranged, from left to right, in this same sequence.

The last stage of a Q Study comes after PCQ has completed its tasks -- interpretation of the results of the operations listed above. To assist you, PCQ for Windows Academic Edition produces a number of tables. These are stored in a Log Report file. The content of this file also follows the sequence outlined above. For more detailed information about how to use the tables in the Log Report file, please refer to Technical Notes.


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Using the Sequencer



Sequencer icon

Sequencer map

A Sequencer Wizard has been included in PCQ for Windows Academic Edition to help you work smoothly through the steps of an analysis. Click on the Sequencer Wizard icon on the tool bar to use it.



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Copyright 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Michael Stricklin & Ricardo Almeida (All Rights Reserved)

Last update on 09 March 2010.