NVivo coding: creating nodes

This is part of a series of posts on basic text coding in NVivo 10.

Before you create a node, make sure you have clicked on the folder into which you want to place it.

Click Node on the Create ribbon, OR right-click in the white space at the bottom of the list of nodes. This will open the New Node dialogue box. Type the name of your node. If you like you can add a description and a nickname if the node name is very long.

create new nvivo node


Then click OK, and the new node will be added to the list.

If you want to sub-divide your nodes, you can create ‘child nodes’. When you have opened the correct nodes folder, click on the node you wish to sub-divide (the ‘parent node’) before creating the node. If you use the right-click method, right-click directly on the parent node to create the child node.

nvivo child nodes

You can also use the coding bar to create nodes as you code. I’ll include instructions on how to do this in a later post.

NVivo coding: viewing and organising nodes

This is part of a series of posts on basic text coding in NVivo 10.

In NVivo, data are coded using ‘nodes’, which can be themes, people, places or any other categories with which you would like to label portions of data. You can code any piece of data with as many nodes as you like. View your nodes by clicking on Nodes in the bottom left navigation pane.

NVivo 10 nodes folder

You can save your nodes straight into the Nodes folder, and/or create sub-folders (it’s usually best to save thematic nodes in the Nodes folder and create sub-folders for any classifying nodes, such as people and countries).

To create a new folder, click on the folder you wish to place it in and then select Folder on the Create ribbon, OR right-click and choose New Folder.


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.

NVivo teamwork: using memos to communicate

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.

If you have more than one person working on a single project, you can keep track of what each person does through user profiles and the project log. If you need a bit more than this, memos can be a helpful channel of communication. Here are some examples:

Project diary

A log that each user should update at the end of a stint, with the date, what they have done and any emerging ideas. This one is taken from the sample project that ships with NVivo 10:

project diary memo

Project structure memo

A record of how a particular element of the project has been set up – in this case, how the interview transcripts have been coded:

coding structure memo

Notes and ideas

Memos are helpful to keep track of emerging ideas, comments, problems, strategies etc. These might be stand-alone memos or linked to individual project items, and you can group them together in a folder for easy access. See more on this in NVivo coding – using memos to keep track.

coding notes memo

‘To do’ lists

Always useful for both team and individual projects, ‘to do’ lists speak for themselves (just remember to keep them updated!):

to do memo

The above are just some ideas for using memos to keep all project users in harmony. Use any or all of them, or create your own, as suits your project.

NVivo teamwork: tracking different users

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.

User profiles

When you first open NVivo, it should ask for your name and initials. These are used to keep track of who has done what in the project – in ‘list’ view you can see who created and modified nodes, sources, queries etc.:

list view showing initials

The initials of the current user are shown in the far left of the status bar at the bottom of the window:

status bar showing user

You can view and change user details for the open project by going to File\Info\Project Properties and clicking on the Users tab.

To change your default user details (i.e. for any new projects rather than for the existing one), go to File\Options and click on the General tab.

In any project you open on your own computer (or using your own network user profile), after the first time it should automatically use your initials without asking for them. If several people will be accessing the same project on the same computer, you can tell NVivo to check who the current user is each time the program is launched. To do this, go to File\Options and, on the General tab, tick the box next to ‘Prompt for user on launch’:

prompt for user option


You can also, if you like, assign different colours to different users to see more clearly who has done what or who will be working on which files, etc. For more on this, follow this link.

Project log

You can instruct NVivo to keep a record of every event that happens in the project (e.g. every time a node is created or a source is deleted), along with the user who carried out the action.

project log

To do this, go to File\Info\Project Properties and, on the General tab, tick the box next to ‘Write user actions to project event log’.

enabling project log

Coding comparison queries

If you want to compare the consistency of different users’ coding, you can run a ‘coding comparison query’, which is found by clicking on the Query tab at the top of the screen. For more on this, follow this link.

Copying items from one NVivo project to another

Sometimes I find myself in the position where I have two different versions of the same NVivo project and I’d like to copy certain project items – sources, nodes, coding, classifications etc. – from one to the other. For example, I recently created an anonymised version of a project for teaching purposes, but continued working on the original version for my own research. I then decided I’d like to incorporate some of the new nodes and coding into my teaching project. Similarly, a student came to me this week wanting to copy two interview transcripts (along with their coding) from an older version of her project into the one she was currently working on. In an attempt to keep her work backed up, she had created a few different versions over several months and had accidentally coded these interviews in the wrong project.

NVivo supports importing from one project to another, but not very flexibly. The import options only allow you to select sources or nodes etc. according to the user who created them – otherwise you have to import the whole lot.

My workaround for this is fairly simple, if a little laborious:

1. Back up the newest version of your project (just in case!).

2. Create a copy of the version you want to import from. You can either do this in Windows Explorer or via the Copy Project command on the file menu:

Copy project

3. Open the copy you’ve just made and delete everything except the items you want to import. So, if you just want to import two interview transcripts, delete all the other sources. Don’t delete the nodes, or you’ll lose your coding. Or, if you want to import a group of nodes, delete all the other ones. Remember any that might be saved in different folders.

4. Save and close this project, then open the project you want to import the items into.

5. Click Project on the left hand side of the Import group on the External Data ribbon, then browse for the project you’ve just been working on. Decide whether you want to merge existing items or create new ones, then, if you want to import content (e.g. sources and coding) instead of just structure (e.g. classifications and nodes without coding), select Selected (including content) and click Options.

Import project

6. Select the items you want to import. If you’re importing a coded transcript, don’t forget to select coding as well as sources:

Import options

Once NVivo has completed the import, it will display a report showing what was imported and what was not, and the imported items will appear in the appropriate folders.

This should work fine for limited imports into projects that aren’t massively different. However, if you’ve changed the project a lot between versions NVivo may not be able to import everything. For example, if you want to import nodes and their coding but you’ve changed the names of some of your sources, NVivo won’t recognise them so won’t be able to import the coding for those sources. The report is helpful in drawing attention to anything not imported. If the import isn’t successful, you can click undo or revert to your back-up copy.

NVivo coding: three ways to keep track of progress

Coding takes time, and usually has to be done over several days or weeks. Working steadily through a set of transcripts, it’s easy to forget where you’ve got to after a break – especially if it’s a second or third round of coding (or a long break!). Here are three simple ways to keep track of which items have been coded and which you’ve yet to tackle.

1. Make a set

Sets are collections of shortcuts to project items, so you can create a set of sources that you need to code and then remove each one as you finish coding it – without deleting the source itself.

NVivo coding sets

To create a set, click on ‘Set’ on the ‘Create’ menu. Once you’ve created it, add your sources to it by right-clicking on the set and selecting ‘Add Set Members…’ from the drop-down menu, then navigate to the sources you want to add.

2. Use colours

An easy way to see which sources have been coded direct from the source list view is to assign them all a certain colour. Simply right-click on the source you’ve just coded, hover over ‘Color’ and choose the one you want. The screenshot below shows a green circle next to all the sources I’ve coded with the current nodes I’m working with, but you could just as easily mark all sources yet to be coded in, say, red.

NVivo list view using colours

To see the colours, make sure you have the column included in your list view settings, which you can change by clicking on ‘List View’ on the ‘View’ ribbon, and then ‘Customize…’.

3. Keep a memo

Finally, a less visual method of keeping track of coding is to create a memo called something like ‘Coding progress’, and note down at the end of every session where you’ve got to.

NVivo coding progress memoCreate a memo by selecting ‘Memo’ on the ‘Create’ ribbon. Each time you open your memo, don’t forget to click ‘Click to Edit’ at the top in order to change what you’ve previously written.

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.

Qualitative data analysis: data display

Love this combination of paper and technology, making it possible to see more than what fits on a computer screen.

Emma's blog

The first thing I want to say is that data display was lots of fun!

So my last blog post finished after I had developed and played around with my propositions before moving onto data display.

Miles et al (2014) dedicates 6 chapters to data display (part 2 of their book). I read and re-read these chapters a number of times before I could get my head around everything. Had I not done this, I can see how I may have gone down an inappropriate avenue. Miles et al provide various suggestions along with some smashing examples about how data can be displayed – mainly though matrices and network displays.

For my study, I created matrices (with defined rows and columns). Miles et al describe matric construction as “a creative yet systematic tasks that furthers your understanding of the substance and meaning of your database” (p.113). A key point that…

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