Managing imported data in Nvivo workspace

By Divya Dhuria & Priya Chetty on July 12, 2017

In the previous article, the importance of Nvivo as a computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software, along with types of qualitative data, it enables researchers to process and steps to import the same has been explained. Having understood the process of data import it is now necessary to ponder on managing imported data into the “Sources” menu, which will be reflected in the “Sources” window, described in detail here. “Sources” is a menu where one can save and manage all research materials including interviews, surveys, pictures, audios and any other type of files. This article covers four sections, the sub-folders of “Sources, which in turn assists in importing and managing data:

  • “Internals folder of “Sources” saves and represents research material.
  • Memos folder records thoughts, observations, insights and interpretations related to the material of research.
  • “Externals” folder records information of material that one cannot import into a project.
  • “Framework Matrices” is a tool that provides the way to summarize or condense source material in a grid.
source window and menu in Nvivo for managing imported data
Screenshot highlighting the Sources window and menu for managing imported data in Nvivo

Internals for managing imported data

One of the options available for managing imported data in Nvivo is “Internals”. It stores all the research material. The research material can be in the form of word documents (for interview transcripts) or PDF files (research material). “Internals” folder has further sub-folders comprising the text data in the form of word documents (for interview transcripts) or PDFs. These sub-folders can be arranged according to the methodology adopted for the research.

For example, one can mention three types of data collection methods– interviews, focus groups and literature review.

showing the internal folder under sources in Nvivo
A macro outlay of the internals folder

To create subfolders:

right click on Internals> New Folders

A box will appear namely “New Folder, as shown in the below figure. Enter the name and description.

For example, for interviews, write ‘Interview’ as the name and ‘interview transcripts’ as description and click on “OK” .

Nvivo allows users to make a separate folder for interview transcripts
Folders to feed interview transcripts

Similarly, create a sub-folder for “Focus Group and “Literature review”.

users can made separate folder to feed the transcripts of focus group
Figure 4: Folders to feed Focus Group transcripts
separate folder can be created for literature review articles
Folders to feed Literature Review articles

Note: To add fourth sub-folder under “Internals” named as ‘Research Administration’. One can add it in similar manner as above.

Research Administration is constructed to add documents related to ethical approval before interviews, statement of participation, emails and other research administration documents.

Memo for managing imported data

“Memo” contains observations, insights and interpretations. One can import or create a Memo in Nvivo. Subfolders can also be created to organize the Memo. It can also be used to attach sticky notes to one or the other participant’s interviews. To create a memo, follow these steps:

Click on Memo> CREATE (Ribbon)> Memo Option> Dialogue Box
Memos interface in Nvivo
Memo in Nvivo

A detailed explanation of the utility of memos and their functioning in analyzing data has been provided here.

Externals for managing imported data

It represents source material that cannot be imported to a project.

For example, printed books or other articles that are available in hard copies.

This type of material is saved in Externals. To create external folders, follow the below-mentioned steps:

Click on External> CREATE (Ribbon)> External> Dialogue Box:
showing the dialogue box in Nvivo under external folders
The dialogue box for Externals folders in Nvivo

As shown in the figure, in the “Name” section, give the name of the book or author. In the “Description”, type the summary of points in the books or article. Furthermore, by clicking on the external tab, another page of the dialogue box will appear as in the below figure.

using external tab in Nvivo for externals
External tab within Externals

Here, one can mention the file link, weblink or another source of reference that cannot be imported in Nvivo.

Having explained the steps to manage transcripts and raw document in NVivo, the next article will show how to ‘break’ the responses of participants collected through interviews. Breaking of the transcripts will be done through generating nodes and auto codes identified from the responses fed into the software.