Preparing for final write-up

Memos and your project journal

Throughout your project you have been writing regularly—creating memos and perhaps recording your progress in a project journal.  You can use all of this material as the basis for your final 'write-up'. For example, you might export your memos as Microsoft Word documents and these may eventually evolve into chapters of your thesis.

If you used a project journal to record the significant stages of your project, you can draw from this when it is time to 'write-up' your project. For example, your journal might include:

  • Maps of key concepts and categories at various stages in your project.
  • Details of the results of the queries you have run at various stages of your project and their contribution to your analysis
  • Details of projects which have been merged to comprise the current project.
  • Links to reports created at various stages in your project to show the progression of ideas, concepts and the state of your data.

Exporting data to use in the final 'write-up'

Qualitative researchers share their findings in a variety of ways—from traditional reports to video documentaries and conference presentations. NVivo lets you export your data in many formats so that you can include it in whatever medium you decide to use—for example you could:

  • Export your memos or to Microsoft Word.
  • Export the text content of a node to Microsoft Word or export the entire node as a HTML page—this is a great way to share your findings (including audio and video clips) with colleagues who don't have NVivo.
  • Export node matrices or crosstab query results or classification sheets to use in statistical applications like Microsoft Excel or IBM SPSS Statistics.
  • Copy a chart or export it as an image file and include it in your presentation—you can also do this with other visualizations like diagrams and maps.

Creating a bibliography

If you have gathered bibliographical data in NVivo, you can export and then open it in a reference management tool (such as EndNote or Zotero) and use its features to insert citations and format your references. References from reference management tools

Planning and creating a convincing report

As your project matures, it may be time to consolidate your emerging ideas and insights.  For example, you might want to review the memos, annotations and maps you have created.  Are your ideas beginning to crystallize? Can you identify gaps in your knowledge—and plan how you will fix or explain them? If you feel you can confidently address your research question, then you may be ready to write your final report.

There is no standard template for creating a qualitative report and your approach will depend on your particular discipline or methodology—but this table provides a basic outline and helps you to see how the work you have done in NVivo can support the writing-up process.

Section Possible Content Materials you might review


Project purpose and goals

Project journal, early memos and maps

Contribution to literature

Why is this research needed?
What gaps does it fill?

Review items created during the literature review process, including:

  • Memos related to articles, books and other literature
  • Annotations in articles and other literature
  • Quotes, descriptions or abstracts stored in Externals (which represent and link to literature outside the project)
  • Maps and other visualizations you created to explore the ideas covered in the literature


What methods or theoretical framework did you use and why?

Review items created during the research design, including:

  • Methodological memos
  • Annotations in articles and other literature related to qualitative methodologies
  • Matrix coding queries comparing the use of different methods
  • Maps demonstrating your approach


Describe the research setting including the places and people that are part of your study. Why did you choose this setting?

Review the materials created during research design and data collection:

  • Memos related to people, places or other cases
  • Queries that explore cases based on their demographic attributes
  • Charts showing the spread of respondents

Central analysis

There are many approaches you could take—depending on your methodology. For example, you might have chapters that focus on particular hypotheses, themes or case studies.

Review the materials created during the coding and analysis phase—these might include:

  • Thematic memos that describe the significance of nodes or files
  • Coding queries that explore the co-occurrence of themes
  • Matrix coding queries that compare respondent attitudes across a range of themes
  • Illustrative quotes that have been coded to a great quotes node.
  • Word Frequency and Text search queries that explore the use of language
  • Charts that show the frequency and coverage of particular themes
  • Maps that illustrate your growing understanding of the data
  • Reports that summarize your data at various points in your project


Discuss the impact of your research including ideas, recommendations, unresolved issues and areas for future investigation.

Return again to review your project journal, memos and maps.


A list of all references and citations.

Export your bibliographical data to a reference management tool like EndNote, and use its features to insert citations and format references.

For information about citing NVivo in your report, refer to the FAQs on the QSR website.