Procedure to create different types of nodes in Nvivo

By Divya Dhuria & Priya Chetty on July 19, 2017

A computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS) like Nvivo enables researchers to process qualitative data systematically by breaking the responses into nodes. They act like ‘sticky notes’ referring to particular themes or topic. However, they can be easily retrieved, organised, flexible, delete, alter or merge with another node at any given stage. Nodes come in two forms:

  1. tree node and
  2. free node.

While the former organize codes in a hierarchical structure, the latter is free-standing, not having any associations with a structured framework of themes or concepts. They are formed after completing the coding of all the transcripts, manually or automatically. The present article aims to bring forth the following elements:

  1. How to create ‘Theme Node’
  2. How to code information
  3. How to Create ‘Case Node’

Structure and types of  nodes

Node structure is present in the List View of Nvivo. Nodes represent themes, places, people or other areas of interest. Through nodes, code sources to gather material about a particular theme or interest.

For example, in the present case research of High School Education Quality, an interview has been conducted covering different themes such as the preference of teachers, the performance of students, stress, curriculum quality and many more.

Nodes in this case would help to represent information based on these themes provided by different interviewees at a single location. Nodes can be created for two types:

  1. Theme Node
  2. Case Node.

Creating theme node

Record in nodes or units of observation while working with large data sets such as interview transcripts, literature review, journals, transcript responses, secondary literature, and journal details. ‘Theme Node’ in such case is the one that segregates the entire data into observable and interpretable units like references about a specific theme, topic, concept, idea or experience.

For instance, from the interview transcripts of the sample case, certain theme nodes like ‘preference for teaching’, co-curricular activities’, ‘ability to teach well’ and others have been made. These ‘Theme Nodes’ reflect the overall content of the transcripts. References to the theme are gathered by ‘coding’ sources at the node.

Click on ‘Nodes’ (Navigation) > click on Create (ribbon) > click on ‘Nodes

The above-depicted dialogue box will appear after clicking on ‘Nodes’. The Dialogue box would create a node file. The general information requires a name and description of the node.

For instance, in the case research, the questionnaire firstly investigated the preferences of teachers for teaching higher grade students in the school.

Therefore, the first node can be named as ‘Preference of Teaching’. This node will store the preference of teachers who appeared for the survey and who are teaching higher classes in selected schools.

Figure 2: Dialogue box details for new node
Figure 2: Dialogue box details for the new node

After clicking ‘Ok’, a node will appear on ‘Nodes’ (Detail view) with the given name. Similarly, different nodes can be prepared for different themes or questions asked in the interview or survey during the research.

For instance, in the case research, further questions on ability to teach higher classes, the performance of students, curriculum quality, co-curricular activity, stress among students, student’s participation and student’s performance were also asked. And for each question, a different node is maintained following a similar approach. It will look like figure 3.

Figure 3: List of nodes in Nvivo
Figure 3: List of nodes in Nvivo

Creating case nodes

The second type of node is ‘Case Node’, which is used to represent the participants or respondents in the interviews. Case nodes are maintained to save a participant interview. Each interview is coded as one case node, for each participant. The purpose of the case node is different from theme nodes. Case node, unlike theme node, is prepared to store demographic data of the participants. To prepare a case node, follow:

Click on ‘Sources’ > select all the transcripts > right click > select ‘Create As’ > select ‘Create as Case Nodes’.

Figure 4: To prepare Case nodes for participants
Figure 4: To prepare a case node for participants

Each participant will now have their own case node. These nodes are visible in the folder named ‘Case Nodes’. The purpose behind the case node is to systematically organize the demographic profile of participants, in case there is diversity in them (QSR International 2017).

For instance, if the participant population is stratified across students, teachers, assistant teachers, parents and department heads, each of the participant’s professional profile can be stored in their respective case nodes based on their profession. Since our study contained only a particular demographic segment in terms of profession i.e teacher, there is only one case node, diverging further to other case nodes such as location, age, experience and others.

Case node is also used to visualize the trends in demographic information of the participants. With the help of a case node, a study can link the qualitative data with the demographic details of the interviewees or participants. Case node is useful in studies and helps to build the association within the project. Just as quantitative analysis includes correlation analysis to build connection among items, ‘Case Node’ enables a similar function for qualitative data, providing a connection of theme nodes with the demographic profile of participants.

Coding information in a node

After creating nodes indicating different themes (as shown in Figure 3 above), the next procedure is to code the information in the transcripts to the relevant node.

For instance, in the case research, there are 8 sets of transcripts carrying interview responses by 8 teachers on different themes. Now, to code the information of these transcripts to the given node, start with the first transcript, which is Interview Namita in this case. When the transcripts are opened in Nvivo, the word file will open in ‘Detail View’ just like in the below figure.

Click on Sources > click on the transcript (Namita in this case) > word file will open in detail view

Figure 5: Coding Information to Nodes
Figure 5: Coding Information to Nodes

After the transcript opens, select the information to code in a given node.

For instance, in the present case research, to code the response on participant teacher’s (Namita) preference in teaching to higher classes to the node ‘Preference for Teaching’, select the response of the teacher that indicates her answer in the shortest phrase.

After selecting the information, follow below-mentioned steps:

Select the text > right click > select code

Figure 6: Dialogue box representing all existing Nodes
Figure 6: Dialogue box representing all existing nodes

A dialogue box shall appear to show the list of existing nodes based on different themes. Select the appropriate node and press ‘OK’.

For instance, responses on preference for teaching to higher classes will be coded to the node Preference for Teaching (See Figure 6 above).

Similarly, each of the responses of the Interviewees will be coded to their respective themes. And at last, the folders will look like figure 7 below. Since in the case research, eight respondents were interviewed, each node contains eight sources (i.e. responses) by each respondent.

Figure 7: List of all Nodes with coding (number of Sources)
Figure 7: List of all Nodes with coding (number of Sources)

This article shed knowledge only on how to create a manual code of themes or elements or topics. Automatic coding is possible in Nvivo for the same set of questions for different participants.


  • QSR International, 2017. What is NVivo? QSR International. Available at: [Accessed May 12, 2017].