This is the Reproducible Open Coding Kit book, a living1 Open Access2 book. The Reproducible Open Coding Kit, the ROCK, is a standard for qualitative research. It was developed to facilitate reproducible and open coding, enabling explicit documentation of the various analysis steps without compromising the flexibility that lends much of the qualitative research its strength.

At its core, the ROCK specifies conventions for including codes and attributes in plain text files. This standard enables coding and reading qualitative data without the requirement of any software other than a plain text file editor. Simultaneously, it allows the development of software to, for example, further process those files to support specific analyses, or to provide a graphical user interface to facilitate coding. This book will discuss two such implementations of the ROCK. The first is the rock R package, an R package originally developed to facilitate using the ROCK standard to support Epistemic Netwok Analyses, but since then extended to also use the ROCK for cognitive interviews and to work with decentralized construct taxonomies (DCTs). The second is iROCK, a rudimentary graphical user interface to code text files using the ROCK.

The ROCK helps qualitative researchers navigate the imperatives created by Open Science and the General Data Protection Regulation. On the one hand, because no proprietary software is required, researchers retain complete control over the data they process. This means that they do not need to enter into data processing agreements with third parties if they process identifiable data. On the other hand, if they work with anonymized data, because the data are stored in plain text files, they can easily be shared with other researchers, who can then easily re-run (or adapt and re-run) the analyses.

Note that this book is mostly written to cover reproducible coding of qualitative data using the ROCK, although it does cover some basic underpinnings of qualitative methods in Part I. Chapter 1 will start with a brief introduction of a number of qualitative approaches which are then discussed more in detail in the other Chapters in Part I. Part II will the continue, based on this introduction, with Chapter 6, which will establish a vocabulary. At the hand of this vocabulary, Chapter 7 will introduce the ROCK standard. Chapter 8 will discuss the rock R package, and Chapter 9 will discuss the iROCK interface. Chapter 10 combines all this in an example of a ROCK-based workflow. Chapter 11 concerns applying the ROCK to Epistemic Network Analysis, Chapter 12 concerns applying the ROCK to work with decentralized construct taxonomies, and Chapter 13 concerns applying the ROCK to work with cognitive interviews. Because this is a living book, more chapters may be added.

Impatient readers may want to skip ahead to Chapters 10, 11, 12, and 13, if those match one of their use cases. At present, this book is still under development: the first complete edition has not yet been released. Since the rock R package used in this book is also under active development, at this point you may want to install the development version of the rock R package (see Chapter 8).

Tot cite this book, you can use:

Zörgő, S. & Peters, G.-J. Y. (2019) The ROCK book (1st Ed.). doi:10.5281/zenodo.3571020


  1. A living document is a document that can be updated over time. Conventional books have editions; living books can be updated in smaller steps.

  2. Open Access means that it is free. Specifically, the license attached to this book for now is the CC-BY-NC-SA license. This roughly means you’re allowed to download, copy, and share the book; you’re allowed to change it, as long as you apply the same license to the adapted version; but you’re not allowed to sell it. The authors can of course always grant specific rights anyway.