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 Import tab, in the Bibliography group, 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.
- (Optional) Click Advanced to modify your import options for specific references.
- Click Import.
- 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.
If you have already created files in your project that correspond to bibliographical data stored in a reference management tool, you can import the bibliographical references and link them to the existing files.
CAUTION If your existing files have linked memos and you choose to replace memo contents with abstract, keywords and notes, you will lose any existing content you have currently recorded in the memo. If the memo content is important to you, you can unlink the memo and associate it with the file using a see also link, before you import the data, so that your existing memo is retained in the project, and the abstract, keywords and notes are written to a new linked memo.
As part of the import process, NVivo checks the references to be imported against the files already in the project. The count of references are then grouped according to how closely they match existing files as follows:
- Already linked includes references that were previously imported from EndNote.
- To be linked includes references that match names of existing files.
- Import new includes references that do not match names of existing files. You can still manually match them as follows:
- Follow the steps for importing references for your reference management tool as above.
- Click Advanced.
- Locate the references that you want to match and for each, do the following:
- Under Matched Files, select <Select Existing>.
- Select the file to be matched to the reference and click OK.
- When you have finished matching references, click OK.
- Click Import.
- When matching references to existing files, NVivo matches based on their EndNote ID (if available), otherwise NVivo matches on title (default) or author and year (when this is selected in the Name files by list).
- If the reference that you manually match to a file contains an attachment, URL or reference, these will not be imported as content in order to preserve your existing file. However, the reference data is stored as attribute values on the file.
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 title of the publication (for example, 'Rising seas in the Pacific'), but you can change the import options to use the author and year of the publication as the file name—for example, 'Smith, Andrew (2010)'.
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:
- Title (or author and year) is 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.
If you accept the default import options, then a reference will be imported into NVivo, as shown in the diagram below.
- 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
- In Navigation View, under Data, click File Classifications.
- Select one or more file classifications to export.
- On the Share tab, in the Export group, click Export Bibliography, and then choose an option.
- (Optional) Change the name or location of the exported file.
- Click Save.
If you are exporting a large amount of classifying data, the export may take a few minutes. You can monitor the progress of your export in the Status bar at the bottom of the NVivo window.
- You can only export classifications that have a bibliographical ID (created by adding one of the predefined bibliographical classifications to your project). The bibliographical ID is displayed in the classification properties. To view the properties, select the classification, and then click the Properties image, in the Item group, in the Home tab.
- Custom attributes are ignored—only values stored in attributes with a Bibliographical ID can be exported.
- When you import the XML file into EndNote, make sure you select 'EndNote generated XML' in the import options.
- When you import the RIS file into RefWorks, make sure that you select 'BIBSYS (RIS import Format)' as the Import Filter/Data File.
- If you import reference data into NVivo and then export it back to a reference management tool, only the data that could be imported into NVivo is available to be exported back to the reference management tool. For example: when you import references into NVivo, only one file attachment per reference can be imported, and any reference information stored in attribute values is truncated when it exceeds 255 characters.