A little bit about me, and my passion for Q-methodology and research

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A little bit about me

Hello everyone and welcome to the Q-sortware website. I am Alessio Pruneddu, the person behind this website and the services offered with the Q-sortware. Although my background is rooted in the domain of work and social psychology, I developed my interested in Q-methodology during a Ph.D. course at the University of York, with a thesis about personality, change and attitude towards change. In the attempt to administer a series of questionnaires using different response formats, I conceptualised a software aiming at a smooth completion for participants and with a set of handful options for the researcher who is designing the project. In this sense, my interest in Q-methodology and Q-sort techniques is part of broader appreciation in alternative strategies to capture individual perspectives and world views.

Since the initial version of the Q-software was launched in 2010, many changes, amendments, and improvements were made until 2011, where I presented the Q-sortware in its current version at the Q-conference held in Birmingham, (Pruneddu & Zentner, 2011). At the moment, the software is used worldwide, and I am proud to write that many students and professional from different countries and disciplines considered the Q-sortware a valuable option for their research. The software is free for anyone and if you go to the 'Join' form link in the home page of this website, you can request an account right now. The intellectual property of the Q-sortware belongs to the University of York.

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The Q-sorTouch Tool project

Since October 2017, a new application is launched for a more professional data collection in the Q-methodology community. Based on the previous experience with the Q-sortware, the Q-sorTouch aims to be an alternative for those interested in an advanced tool for data collection in social sciences. Among the new features offered, there is the opportunity to administer Q-sort based on images and/or sounds, the randomization of stimuli included in each test/q-sort, and a new very friendly UI (User Interface) with which design procedures. Similarly to what was done with the Q-sortware, the Q-sortouch can generate surveys and tasks based on a large variety of response formats, such as multiple choice questions, open questions, semantic differentials, and obviously Likert scale tests, among the others. In addition to this, the Q-sortouch is available on touch screen devices, such as tablets, mobile phones and so on, therefore representing and absolute cutting edge tool for research designs at all levels.

After five years, in 2024 a new update is taking place, and it involves a new version of the the Q-sorTouch, namely the Q-sorTouch tool, in which improved graphics, and the chance to administer a Q-methodology task in multiple languages, are some of the key additional options packed in this academic friendly tool, which I hope you would like to explore for your next project!

While the Q-sortware will stay free and available to everyone, the old version of the Q-sortouch will be go offline and replaced by the Q-sorTouch tool. Follow the news section in the home page to know more and stay informed about the latest!

Visit Q-sortouch.com

Some notions on Q-methodology

The Q-methodology was initially developed by William Stephenson (Stephenson, 1953) in order to inspect peoples' views about a target topic. In this sense, Stephenson highlighted the importance of capturing subjectivity as a strategy to identify groups of individuals sharing the same point view. This is the outcome of the inverted factor analysis, the technique developed to recognise these views. The letter Q only indicates an alternative to the R methodology, which represents the traditional set of quantitative techniques employed in mainstream research. In over 80 years, this method has been used in various disciplines well beyond psychology, such as policy making studies, health studies, engineering, political science, education, environmental research, journalism, and so on (Brown, 1997). However, when reading papers on the topic, under the label 'Q-methodology' or 'Q-sort method', alternative practices are applied, making the comprehension of the method a bit obscure (Dziopa & Ahern, 2011). Inevitably, this complexity requires an additional focus on the relationship between theory and practice; in other words, a task requiring the sorting activity might be a Q-sort technique approach to a research question, but it's not necessarily a sign of a Q-methodology research project.

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My aim

As already mentioned, the Q-methodology is not always applied in a rigorous manner (Dziopa & Ahern, 2011), although clear directions and suggestions on how to apply this methodology are currently available (for example, Brown, 1980, 1996; Herrington & Coogan, 2011), there are many examples of works and researches that share only some aspects of the original theory. In fact, it would be advisable to distinguish between the Q-methodology and other works that employ the Q-technique without embracing the theoretical framework. In some cases, these applications proved to be very prolific, and they constituted a separate line of research (Block, 1961; 1971; Funder, 1988; Asendorpf, 1999; 2009). In line with the variety of possible applications of Q-methodology techniques, my aim is to offer a web application to promote research at all levels, with particular attention to academic research. This is the reason why the Q-sorTouch and the Q-sortware allow the preparation of research designs using the Q-methodology as well as other Q-techniques only loosely associated with it, including the administration of tests with response formats (such as the Likert scale) commonly used in quantitative/qualitative research. Please see below how my web platforms achieve this.

Multiple response formats 

Depending on your needs, various response formats can be employed within the same on-line survey

CSV files to download data

All data is recorded in a CSV file. In this way, depending on the statistical package you wish to use, you can directly upload your data in any environment for data analysis, such as PQmethod, R, SPSS and many more.

Design Flexibility

All webplatforms are specifically designed to support research at academic level, therefore embracing the perspective and common needs of a world class, academic level research project. 


Asendorpf, J. B. (2009). A person centered approach to personality and social relationships: findings from the Berlin relationships study. In L. R. Bergman (Ed.), Developmental science and the holistic approach (pp. 281 - 299). Mahwah, NJ: Taylor & Francis.
Asendorpf, J. B., & van Aken, M. A. G. (1999). Resilient, overcontrolled, and undercontrolled personality prototypes in childhood: Replicability, predictive power, and the trait-type issue. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(4), 815-832. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.77.4.815.
Block, J. (1961). The Q-sort method in personality assessment and psychiatric research. Springfieal, IL: Charles, C. Thomas Publisher.
Block, J. (1971). Lives through times. Berkely, CA: Bancroft Books.
Brown, S. R. (1980). Political subjectivity. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Brown, S. R. (1996). Q methodology and qualitative research. Qualitative Health Research, 6, 561-567. doi: 10.1027/1614-2241/a000021.
Brown, S. R. (1997). The History and Principles of Q methodology in Psychology and the Social Sciences. Department of Political Science, Kent State University, Kent, OH. Retrieved from: http://facstaff.uww.edu/cottlec/Qarchive/Bps.htm.
Dziopa, F., & Ahern, K. (2011). A systematic literature review of the applications of Q-technique and its methodology. Methodology: European Journal of Research Methods for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, 7, 39-55. doi: 10.1027/1614-2241/a000021.
Funder, D. C., & Colvin, C. R. (1988). Friends and strangers: Acquaintanceship, agreement, and the accuracy of personality judgment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 149-158. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.55.1.149.
Herrington, N., & Coogan, J. (2011). Q-methodology: An overview. Research in Secondary Teacher Education, 1, 24-28. Retrieved from: http://www.uel.ac.uk/wwwmedia/microsites/riste/Q-methdology-Article.pdf.
ISSSS, International Society for the Scientific Study of Subjectivity. Available from http://qmethod.org/howto.
Pruneddu, A., & Zentner, M. (2011). The "Q-sortware" as a web tool for personality assessment. Poster presented at the 27 th Annual Q conference, Birmingham, UK.
Pruneddu, A. (2013). Implicit person theories and Q-sort: Personality change in emerging adults (Doctoral dissertation, University of York).
Sneegas, G., Beckner, S., Brannstrom, C., Jepson, W., Lee, K., & Seghezzo, L. (2021). Using Q-methodology in environmental sustainability research: A bibliometric analysis and systematic review. Ecological Economics, 180, 106864.
Stephenson, W. (1953). Q-technique and its methodology, Chicago IL: The Univerisity of Chicago Press.
Zabala, A., Sandbrook, C., & Mukherjee, N. (2018). When and how to use Q methodology to understand perspectives in conservation research. Conservation Biology, 32(5), 1185-1194.