Getting started – Organize
Once your data is in NVivo there are many options as to how to proceed. We categorize these broadly as 'organize'—coding, creating cases and writing notes—and 'explore'—running queries and creating visualizations to get preliminary insights into your data.
It's up to you what you want to do first, but it's highly likely you'll need to code and make notes at some point—covered in this tutorial. And while not all projects require that you create cases (the units of analysis in NVivo), they open the door to powerful analysis—especially when matched with demographic-style metadata in case classifications.
With your data in NVivo, you can begin coding.
NVivo allows you to code text, images, PDF text and images, and selections in media files. You can create codes up front and then find relevant content or create them as you go. Coding stripes and highlighting allow you to see what content has been coded. You can organize codes in folders and in parent/child relationships.
Essential to any research project is note keeping—for observations, ideas, reminders to yourself (and others), and keeping a journal so you have a record of how the project, and your thoughts, have developed. NVivo offers a range of ways to keep notes. Foremost amongst them are memos.
Memos are free-style notepads that you can add to whenever you want. You can quickly add timestamps for new entries with the keystroke
Create new memos from the Create tab. Memos created this way are not linked to any project items.
Alternatively, if you have a code, file, or other project item open, use the Memo Link menu in the context-sensitive tab to create a memo that is linked to the item. Right-click on the item at any time to open the linked memo, and vice versa.
All memos are saved in the Memos folder.
and see-also links
Annotations are another way to keep notes, but linked to specific content selections within data files.
Annotations can be created for text selections in documents, PDFs and media transcripts, portions of images in image files and PDFs, and time spans in media files.
To create annotations, select the text, image or time span you want to annotate then click
Like annotations, see-also links connect from content selections within files, however they link to other project items such as files, codes or cases. It is also possible to create see-also links from one content selection to another content selection.
One of NVivo’s most powerful features is its ability to represent the people, institutions and places involved your inquiry. In NVivo, these are called ‘cases’.
Cases represent people, places or institutions involved in your study. You can code content to cases in the same way you code it to themes, bringing together all the content related to the people, places or institutions you’ve identified. This can be done manually, or with suitably formatted files, automatically.
Cases don’t just serve to bring together all the content for the subjects of your inquiry.
By recording demographic or other data for the cases you create—e.g. age, gender or population—you set yourself up to be able to make a whole range of analyses. Is there a difference between how younger and older people feel about an issue? Is education a factor? Are there relationships between population size and the factors you’re investigating?
Case classifications, as they’re called in NVivo, give you access to this type of analysis.
NVivo’s case classifications are collections of case properties, or ‘attributes’. By grouping attributes you can apply them to all your cases of the same type, ensuring you record the same metadata for all of them.
Once a case has a case classification applied to it, you should input the ‘values’ for each of the attributes in the classification. You can do this case-by-case, from the Case Properties dialog box (right-click on each case), or open the classification sheet (double-click the classification after you’ve opened Case Classifications). This gives you an editable table of all the cases with that classification and all their attribute values.
See how to explore your data: Getting started – Explore