Framework matrices

Framework matrices help you to condense large volumes of interview material into more manageable quantities and can help you to gain insight and familiarity with your data.

Framework matrices consists of a grid that has rows for cases (for example, people you interviewed) and columns for theme nodes. Each cell in the grid represents the intersection of a case and theme—when you enter text into the cell you can create a summary of the content relevant to that case and theme.

Working with condensed files in the framework matrix can make it easier to:

  • See everything about a theme by looking down a column
  • See how different themes relate to each other for a particular individual by looking across a row
  • Compare the experiences of different individuals by comparing one row to another

In this example, a framework matrix has been used to summarize the responses of four different people who were interviewed about volunteer work:

Example of a framework matrix.

1  Rows—each row represents a case node. In this example, the cases are people. The row headers can display the attributes of the case—in this example, the row headers show the age of the people you interviewed.

2  Columns—each column represents a theme node.

3  Associated view—a node that (by default) displays content that is coded at the row (case). In this example, the associated view is showing Anna's interview transcript.   You can change what is displayed in this view.

4  Cells—each cell is the intersection between a case and theme node. For example, the first cell in the matrix contains a summarized version of what Anna said about her experiences of volunteering.

Cells are blank when no summary has been created for the intersection between the case and themes nodes. When you first create a framework matrix in your project, all the cells are empty.  As you work through your interviews or other files, you will gradually fill in the cells.

Create a framework matrix

  1. On the Create tab, in the Notes group, click Framework Matrix.
  2. Enter a name for the matrix, and optionally enter a description.
  3. On the Rows tab, under Rows, click the Select button and then select the cases that will be the rows in your matrix.
  4. (Optional) Under Row Header Attributes, click the Select button and then select up to four attributes to show in the row headers in the matrix. For example, you might want to show the Age or Occupation of your interview respondents. Use the up and down arrows to order the attributes. If you include attributes, the rows in the matrix are ordered by their attribute values—otherwise the case nodes are ordered alphabetically by name.
  5. On the Columns tab, click the Select button, and then select the thematic codes that will be columns in your matrix.


  • Framework matrices are stored in the Framework Matrices folder within the Notes group in Navigation View.
  • You can only select attributes from a single classification. If you want to include case attribute values in the row headers, then you should select case nodes from the same classification—for example, cases from the classification Person.
  • You can also select the nodes for your framework matrix by selecting a set, Search Folder or case classification.

Work with the associated view

The associated view is a node, containing coding references that were created by coding your files.

Summarize the content

One of the key benefits of using a Framework Matrix is the ability to summarize your content to make it more manageable.

Create summary links

A summary link provides a connection between content in the summary and the related content in the associated view.

Learn more about the Framework method

The Framework method was developed by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen). To find out more about this methodology, refer to the Framework page on NatCen's website.

If you have a project created in NatCen's FrameWork software application, you can convert it into an NVivo project and continue working with it in NVivo.