Using NVivo > Organize your demographic data

Organize your demographic data

If your research involves interacting with people to gather their ideas or opinions, you will probably want to keep track of their demographic attributes (like age or gender) and use them as a basis for comparison. This page explains how to setup demographic data depending on the type of files you are working with.

Some of the features described here are only available in NVivo Pro and NVivo Plus.

Manage demographic data using case classifications

You use NVivo's case classifications to record descriptive information about the people or participants in your project. Although this page focuses on people, you could also use case classifications to record descriptive information about institutions and places.

NVivo provides quick ways to organize your demographic data and the steps vary depending on the type of files you are working with. In general, you need to:

  • Make a case node for each participant.
  • Classify the case node as a person—you could also have classifications for different types of people, like students or teachers.
  • Assign the attributes—for example, age group and gender.
  • Code a participant's comments at their case node—coding is how the content is assigned to the case.

After setting up case nodes and coding your data, your project may look something like this:

Process of setting up and querying cases.

Setup demographic data for interview participants

If you have a document for each interview, you can:

  1. Import the interviews into NVivo—make sure the document names reflect the names you use to identify the interview participants.
  2. Create a case node for each participant and code their interview at the case node—to do this quickly, select all the interviews in list view, right-click and then select Create As > Create as Cases.

    Process of creating cases from interview files.

  3. Prepare your spreadsheet for import. If you do not have a spreadsheet of demographic data, you can create this data directly in NVivo (refer to Classify cases). Format your spreadsheet so that:
    • Participant names are identical to the case nodes you created in NVivo.
    • The top-left cell of the spreadsheet contains the classification name Person.
  4. Import the spreadsheet—on the Import tab, in the Classifications group, click Classification Sheet. On Step 2 of the Import Classification Sheets Wizard, make sure you choose Case Classification from the Classification type list.  

    The Person classification sheet is created and displayed  in Detail View—you can sort, filter or export  the classification sheet and you can edit the attribute values.

    Classification sheets

Setup demographic data for focus group participants

If you have focus group documents with a number of participants you can:

  1. Import the focus group documents into NVivo.
  2. Create a case for each participant and code their comments at the case—to do this quickly, you can auto code the documents by speaker.
  3. Setup the demographic attributes for your participants—refer to Classify cases.  In NVivo Pro and NVivo Plus, an efficient way to do this is to import the demographic details from a text file or spreadsheet. You can prepare your spreadsheet so that:
    • Participant names match the names of the case nodes you created in NVivo.
    • The top-left cell of the spreadsheet contains the classification name Person.

      Demographic details in a spreadsheet.

  4. Import the spreadsheet—on the Import tab, in the Classifications group, click Classification Sheet. On Step 2 of the Import Classification Sheets Wizard, make sure you choose Case Classification from the Classification type list.

    The Person classification sheet is created and displayed  in Detail View—you can click in a cell to assign or create new attribute values.

Setup demographic data for social media participants

If you have captured data from Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube—you can use auto coding to create case nodes for the participants (for example. Twitter users) and assign biographical information such as gender or location.

Process of creating cases based on Twitter usernames.

For ideas on approaches to working with social media datasets, refer to Twitter data.

Use demographic data in queries and visualizations

Once you setup the demographic data for your research participants, you can use queries and visualizations to make comparisons. For example, you could use a matrix coding query to compare attitudes about environmental issues based on gender—this matrix displays the number of coding references at each intersection and helps you to answer questions like How often did women mention community? (you can double-click in the cell to see the coded content).

Matrix coding query results showing how many times women mentioned a theme. 

If you would rather ask the question How many women talked about community? you can change the count that is displayed in the matrix—right-click and select Cell Content, then click Cases Coded, and then click the classification Person.

Matrix showing how many women mentioned a theme. 

You could also create a chart to explore the demographic spread of your respondents—for example, you may want to check the representation of ages in coding for the node Natural Environment:

Chart showing demographic spread of respondents. 

Find out more about queries and charts.