Qualitative data representation in Nvivo

The previous article reviewed data visualisation of case nodes through Demographic data representation in Nvivo and understanding its utility in qualitative method. This article explains qualitative data representation in NVivo. Visualisation takes place on attitudes or perceptions of participants on certain issues. With the use of different tools, visualisation takes place on different qualitative items of projects. Their connection and comparison with other items is derived, and collective map of all the items is created. The tools are as follows.

Figure 1: Different tools for qualitative data representation in Nvivo

Figure 1: Different tools for qualitative data representation in Nvivo

Explore diagrams for qualitative data representation

Explore diagrams help to focus on single items or related items of a project. An explore diagram consists of the central element of the study as the focus, with connecting elements around it. Explore diagrams are a dynamic tool. To generate it, select a source (interview), node or case (item to focus). For instance, in the case research, Namita’s interview is selected.

  1. Click on ‘Source’
  2. Go to ‘Interviews’
  3. Click on ‘Namita’
  4. Select ‘Explore’

The explore diagram will appear (figure below).

Figure 1: Detail view of explore diagram in Nvivo taking source in focus

Figure 2: Detail view of explore diagram in Nvivo taking source in focus

Select a connected item within the diagram to refocus on that item. The new image showing all its connected items will appear. In this way, focus can shift from one point to another in the study. For instance, shift focus to co-curricular activities by (figure below):

  1. Select ‘co-curricular activities’ (on diagram)
  2. Go to ‘Navigation’ (in ribbon)
  3. Change ‘Focus’.
Figure 3: Change of focus in explore diagrams in Nvivo

Figure 3: Change of focus in explore diagrams in Nvivo

After refocus, the explore diagram for co-curricular activities will appear (figure below).

Figure 4: Explore diagram of co-curricular (selected node) activities in Nvivo

Figure 4: Explore diagram of co-curricular (selected node) activities in Nvivo

Also, the focus can be re-shifted to previously selected focus item (Namita’s interview in this case) by clicking on ‘Navigation’. The ‘Back’ key takes us towards the previously focused item (figure below).

Figure 5: Navigation key for changing focus

Figure 5: Navigation key for changing focus

To show more connections, other options on the main ribbon (figure below).

Figure 6: Other options for explore diagrams

Figure 6: Other options for explore diagrams

To create an explore diagram for case details with respect to the selected item, click on ‘Case Coding’ (figure below).

Figure 6: Explore diagrams with case codes details in Nvivo

Figure 7: Explore diagrams with case codes details in Nvivo

Since explore diagrams are not saved in project details, either export the diagram or paste it into memo.

Comparison diagram for qualitative data representation

The comparison diagram allows comparing two same types of project items. For example comparison of sources, nodes or cases shows the similarity and differences in the study. This diagram also helps in comparing coding of two different cases. To generate a comparison diagram, use below steps (figure below):

  1. Click on ‘Explore’
  2. Select ‘Comparison Diagram’
  3. Select ‘Compare Sources/Nodes/Cases’
Figure 7 Comparison diagram key

Figure 8: Comparison diagram key

In the case research, select ‘Compare Sources’ and select Namita’s and Reshma’s case for comparison. The following window will appear (figure below).

Figure 9: Dialogue box for choosing cases for comparison in Nvivo

Figure 9: Dialogue box for choosing cases for comparison in Nvivo

After clicking on ‘OK’, the comparison diagram will open in detail view (figure below). Here, the selected two case sources comparisons are visible. The common elements of the cases are present in center of the diagram. The uncommon elements are present in either sides of the diagram. Since there is no uncommon element in the case research, no item is present on either sides.

Figure 9: Comparison diagram between two cases in Nvivo

Figure 10: Comparison diagram between two cases in Nvivo

By double clicking on any item, view its content in detail form. Use the below options to hide or show the items of interest (figure below).

Figure 11: Additional items for comparison diagrams

Figure 11: Additional items for comparison diagrams

Project maps for qualitative data representation

Projects maps are the way of visually examining and presenting data. The first step is to construct questions of your study. For instance, what does your node structure look like? To construct a project map, follow below steps:

  1. Click on ‘Explore’
  2. Select ‘Project Map’

A dialogue box will appear like below.

Figure 12: Dialogue box for creating project map

Figure 12: Dialogue box for creating project map

Dialogue box firstly requires a name for the project map. Give the name on the basis of the objective of maps. For instance, for the question “What do nodes structures look like?”, name the project map as ‘Node Structure’. After giving it a name and clicking on ‘OK’, a project map will appear as a blank canvas. Select items in your project to add in your project map. For instance, in below given figure, click on ‘Add Projects Items’ (figure below).

Figure 13: To add items in project map

Figure 13: To add items in project map

After clicking on ‘Add Project Items’, a dialogue box will appear (figure below). It carries all the items that can be added in a project map. In this case, Namita’s interview is selected for project map.

Figure 14: Dialogue box for adding items in bank project map

Figure 14: Dialogue box for adding items in bank project map

Representation of interview

Namita’s interview appears in project map canvas (figure below). To see which all items are associated with Namita’s interview, click on the arrow sign marked in figure below.

Figure 14: Selecting other associated items in project map

Figure 15: Selecting other associated items in project map

A bar representing all the associated items of Namita’s interview will appear (figure below).

Figure 16: Window displaying all the associated items for project map

Figure 16: Window displaying all the associated items for project map

Add this associated item in the Project Map canvas to compete the map. For that, select the item to add and right click. The option for ‘Add item in Namita’s Map’ will appear (figure below).

Figure 17: Adding associated items in project map

Figure 17: Adding associated items in project map

Similarly, add all the associated items related with Namita’s interview (figure below).

Figure 18: Adding all the associated nodes and classifications in project map

Figure 18: Adding all the associated nodes and classifications in project map

After adding all the items, the project map will appear (figure below). This case includes only associated nodes and classifications.

Figure 19: A project map around Namita's interview

Figure 19: A project map around Namita’s interview

The project map for all case classifications appears as under (figure below):

Figure 20: A complete project map with other case classifications

Figure 20: A complete project map with other case classifications

Cluster analysis of qualitative data using Nvivo

Data visualization helps establish relationship among attributes and attitudes in qualitative researches. Here the ability to teach (attitude) was connected with class assigned or extracurricular activities participated (attribute). It indicates the quality of education received by the students.

Tools like cluster analysis, mind maps and concept maps represent the researcher’s thoughts in a study. Cluster analysis helps in exploring the connection between any two or three elements. The connection is visualized in the form of clusters. It is similar to correlation analysis used in quantitative data. Mind maps and concepts maps are brainstorming tools to represent researcher’s ideas on connection between elements.  These maps eliminate the chances of bias which occurs in case of manual interpretation of qualitative data. The next article explains cluster analysis of qualitative data.

Priya Chetty

Partner at Project Guru
Priya Chetty writes frequently about advertising, media, marketing and finance. In addition to posting daily to Project Guru Knowledge Tank, she is currently in the editorial board of Research & Analysis wing of Project Guru. She emphasizes more on refined content for Project Guru's various paid services. She has also reviewed about various insights of the social insider by writing articles about what social media means for the media and marketing industries. She has also worked in outdoor media agencies like MPG and hotel marketing companies like CarePlus.

Related articles

  • Data visualisation using mind maps in Nvivo Mind maps are used to brainstorm ideas and visualize thoughts. A mind map begins with a main idea around which associated elements are drawn. They are useful for representing a node hierarchy.
  • Data visualisation through concept maps in Nvivo Mind maps portray the connection between nodes. Concept maps on the other hand help visualise thoughts, define concepts and contemplate the connections.
  • Results summarisation using reports and extracts in Nvivo Apart from sources, nodes, classifications, queries and maps, the Nvivo main folder also contains the option of ‘Reports’ (see figure below). ‘Reports’ contains a summary of the project.
  • Generating Nvivo word frequency query Nvivo word frequency query helps to list the most frequent words in the transcripts. It helps to search textual content of sources, nodes, folders and cases. This article explains how to generate  Nvivo word frequency query.
  • Data visualisation using cluster analysis Cluster analysis serves as an extension to qualitative data representation through data visualisation. It is an exploratory technique for visualising patterns in a study by grouping sources or nodes.

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