NVivo coding – using memos to keep track

A quick post to highlight a simple method I use to keep track of issues that arise during coding.

When I’m busy coding a set of documents in NVivo I usually find that questions and ideas emerge, both about the content of my data and about the way I’m coding it. For example, I might realise that two nodes I created separately are covering a lot of the same ground, or that one node is coding a diverse range of experiences and may need to be sub-divided. I don’t want to lose these thoughts, but I also don’t necessarily want to deal with them immediately, or perhaps I’m working with a colleague and would like their opinion.

The way I manage this is by creating a memo entitled ‘Coding Notes’. I jot down my thoughts in the memo, ready to come back to later. Here’s an example from a project I’m working on at the moment:

NVivo coding notes memo

In this example I’ve kept note of overlaps between nodes that might be useful for queries later on, nodes that should perhaps be merged, nodes that might need breaking down, clarifications of what particular nodes include and nodes that relate to each other. I often also want to remind myself of certain nodes that need checking, or nodes I’ve created part-way through the coding process.

Besides this, I’ve started to record ideas about specific areas of analysis (independence vs. cultivating social networks). If I add many other thoughts to this I will probably move them into a separate memo entitled something like ‘Initial Ideas’.

Because this project is also being worked on by other people, I’ve included a mention of what has and hasn’t been coded in each interview summary. In a previous project I needed to set this out in more detail so other people could understand how transcripts had been coded, so I created a separate ‘Transcript Coding Structure’ memo, specifying how I was coding each section of the interview:

NVivo coding structure memo

Coding can be a tricky process. Using memos like this helps me keep track of and communicate to others how I’m coding my data and issues arising – without interrupting the flow or allowing myself to get sidetracked. I’d welcome comments on how other people manage it.

One thought on “NVivo coding – using memos to keep track

  1. Pingback: NVivo teamwork: using memos to communicate | Liz Graveling

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