References from reference management tools
If you conduct a literature review using a reference management tool such as EndNote, Zotero, RefWorks or Mendeley, you can import the references into NVivo.
If you start by collecting your bibliographical data in NVivo, when you are ready to write up your findings, you can export this data to a reference management tool.
- On the Data tab, in the Import group, click Bibliographic Data, and then choose an option.
- Locate and select the file you want to import, and then click Open.
- Review the default import options and make any required changes.
- Click OK.
- The file description can only store 512 characters. If the abstract is important to you, you should select to create memos from abstract, keywords and notes, so that the full abstract is imported into a memo. Storing the abstract in a memo is also a good idea, if you want to code and query the text of the abstract.
- If you want to import file attachments and figures from EndNote, make sure the EndNote reference library is available on your computer (or on a network drive), so that NVivo can extract the files and figures.
- Files attached using the RefWorks 'attachment feature' (available with institutional licenses only) cannot be exported from RefWorks via the RIS file, so they cannot be imported into NVivo.
- References without file attachments, URLs or figures are imported into NVivo as external files. References with associated files can be imported as internal files—refer to Understand how files associated with references are handled for more information.
For each reference you import, NVivo checks whether a matching file already exists in your project—if there is no matching file, a new file is created.
References without associated files are imported into NVivo as external files. References with associated files can be imported into NVivo as internal files. For example, if you have a reference to a journal article and the actual article is attached as a PDF file, then NVivo can import the PDF file as a PDF file. Refer to Understand how files associated with references are handled for more information.
By default, file names are based on the author and year of the publication as the file name—for example, 'Smith, Andrew (2010)', but you can change the import options to use the title of the publication (for example, 'Rising seas in the Pacific').
Files created when you import your references are assigned to a file classification (so that reference information can be stored as attribute values on the file). By default, all the files are assigned to the classification Reference—this allows you to see all your references in a single classification sheet and can be useful if you want to create queries that search different types of literature that have common attributes—for example, all references published in a particular year. If you prefer, you can create a separate file classification for each reference type—for example, Journal Article or Book.
The reference information is imported as follows:
- Author and year (or Title) are used to name the file—this information is also stored as attribute values on the file.
- The abstract becomes the description of the file. It can also be imported into a linked memo so you can code and query the text.
- Keywords are imported as attribute values on the file. They can also be imported into a linked memo.
- Notes are optionally imported into a linked memo—if you do not select this option during the import, then they are not available in NVivo.
- All other reference information—for example, journal and volume—is stored as attribute values on the file.
- An file (containing the content of the file attachment) is created when the reference includes a file attachment that can be imported into NVivo, otherwise an external file is created (containing no content). Refer to Understand how files associated with references are handled for more information.
- If there are multiple items in a reference field—for example, multiple authors—these are added to the attribute value and separated by a semicolon (;).
- Attribute values can store up to 255 characters—any reference information that exceeds this limit will be truncated when imported.
- If you have a very large reference library, it may take some time to import the data into NVivo—consider importing smaller groups of references.
When you import references, you can choose to import content from file attachments, file URLs (file://host/path) and figures.
If you choose not to import content, then the reference is imported as an external, with a link to the file. The reference information is stored as attribute values on the external.
If you choose to import content, where possible, NVivo imports the file as a new file—for example, as a PDF or picture file. The reference information is stored as attribute values on the new file.
If for any reason a file cannot be imported, then NVivo creates an external to represent the file attachment. The reference information is stored as attribute values on the new external, and the external has a link to the file. Files cannot be imported when:
- The file is password or copy-protected—PDFs are sometimes protected.
- The file is not in a supported format—refer to Files for more information on support formats.
- The file cannot be accessed—for example, the reference library is not on your computer or cannot be accessed across your network.
Only one file attachment, URL or figure per reference can be imported into NVivo. For example, if a reference contains multiple file attachments, then, by default, the first file attachment is imported. The path and file name for all file attachments, URLs or figures are recorded in the file attribute values.