NVivo teamwork: managing projects

This is part of a series of posts on using NVivo 10 in the context of a team project. It assumes you do not have access to NVivo Server (which allows multiple users to work on the same project at the same time) and are therefore working with stand-alone projects, which can only be opened by one user at a time.

When you have a team of people working on the same project, as well as keeping track of what has been done by different users and maintaining communication channels within the project, you need to consider how you will manage the project itself. Here are some strategies for handling multiple users.

Importing and merging projects

You can import a project or elements of a project into another project. If you have more than one person working on a project, you could give each user a copy and then import their changes into a master copy. However, I would only advise this if the users are working on very different parts of the project, e.g. data from separate populations (or at least different sources). You will also need clear ground rules about what each person does and how to manage common elements, e.g. nodes.

Back up the project before you import another project.

To import from one project to another, go to External Data\Project (the project icon in the Import group on the left, not the one in the Export group on the right):

import project toolbar

Browse for the project to import, then select the options according to which elements you want to import. Note that selection is limited to the type of project item, e.g. you can choose to import all the nodes or none of the nodes, but you can’t import some nodes and not others, except by user (choose ‘Selected (including content)’ and click on Options):

Import options

For more detail on the import process, and how to import certain items and not others, see ‘copying items from one NVivo project to another‘.

When the project has been imported, NVivo will generate a report containing a list of any items that could not be imported.

Sharing projects

If you prefer to work on a single file, one user at a time, you can keep the project in whatever shared space you have available (wiki, dropbox, shared network drive etc.).

Because internet connections are not always reliable and NVivo is not the most stable program, if your shared space is on the internet my advice is to download the file (i.e. copy it to your computer) at the beginning of each session, then work on it from your local drive, then copy it back to the shared space when you have finished. This will mean you are working in a more stable environment and your project will be backed up (saved in two places). If you incorporate the date into the file name, you can update this each time you save the project to make clear which is the latest version. However, users will need to communicate well in order to avoid two people downloading and working on the file at the same time. An advantage of working directly from the shared file is that only one person can open the project at any one time, thus avoiding this potential pitfall.


You can set passwords for NVivo projects by going to File\Info\Project Properties and the Passwords tab. Read/Write passwords allow full access to the project. Read Only passwords allow users to view the project without making changes, although they can copy it or import elements of it into another project. You can only set a Read Only password if you have already set a Read/Write password.

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