Import & organize files

The type of material you include in your project depends on your research question and methodology—and NVivo lets you import a wide range of materials from interview transcripts and journal articles to audio/video recordings and social media content.

This page provides some ideas for collecting your data and organizing it once you have brought it in. Refer to Files for detailed information about the types of data you can import.

Bring your files into NVivo

Use the options on the Import tab to import your files:

Description of options on the Import tab of the NVivo ribbon.

Collecting your data

Some ideas to consider during data collection:

  • Even if you cannot import a file directly into NVivo any digital content that you can save, print or export in PDF format (web pages, PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets) can be imported into NVivo for analysis.
  • Capture information about the setting, social context, body language or tone. It also helps to record your first impressions and interpretations—these can be hard to remember later on. You can create or import this information as a memo in NVivo.
  • Record the demographic details of your participants—you could do this in a spreadsheet and then import it (or add it directly in NVivo).
  • When you are out in the field, you may want to record interviews, take photos, clip web pages or make notes. You can use OneNote to gather material on your smartphone or tablet.  
  • Keep a log of what you are doing—date and time, location, the events that took place, the surrounding conditions and your personal feelings about the events.
  • Do you require consent from all participants? To keep everything in one place, consider importing consent forms as files in your project.
  • If you want to edit audio, video or images you will need to do this before importing the material into NVivo.

Go mobile with OneNote

If you use a smartphone or tablet to record interviews, take photos or make notes—and you want to analyze this data in NVivo—you should consider using OneNote.

When you're out and about, you can use these note-taking tools to gather and organize research related material:

  • Record interviews with research participants
  • Record voice memos that remind you of things to follow-up
  • Snap photos of the whiteboard during a brainstorming session with your research team
  • Capture your research setting in a photo and use photo editing tools to include arrows, explanatory text or pixelate faces to protect privacy
  • Make notes about a book you're reading and snap photos of the pages you've annotated
  • Take photos and make notes about an interesting conference paper

You can also collaborate with other members of your research team using shared notebooks. You need to be the owner of a notebook if you are importing content from a work or school account.

When you're back at your desk, you can connect to your OneNote account from within NVivo and bring your material in for analysis.

Work with transcripts

If you have interview or focus group transcripts saved as Word documents (or text files), you can import them as document files in NVivo.You may also want to use annotations to capture the tone of the conversation, including body language and displays of emotion.

If you have audio or video recordings of interviews or focus groups, you can import the media as audio or video and include a synchronized transcript.

There are a number of ways to approach transcription—for example, you can:

  • You can experiment with the dictation feature (Edit > Start Dictation) provided with macOS.

Ways to organize your files

NVivo provides flexible ways to organize your data using folders and sets—you can experiment to see what suits you best:

Project items organized in Navigation View.

You can also use file classifications as a way to organize or compare files based on their attributes—for example, find all the articles by a particular author or all the interviews that were conducted by Mary. If you import bibliographical data from reference management tools like EndNote any new files are automatically classified.