Understanding issues and limitations of Auto-Coding in Nvivo

As pointed out in the previous article, the process has its own set of issues and limitations, which might create certain obstacles in the nodes created and therefore needs to be taken care of. This article therefore, highlights such issues and limitations along with their anti-dote to generate desired results.

Issues associated with Auto-coding

It may happen that auto-coding creates two nodes for a similar question. For example in the case research, Auto-coding in Nvivo has created two nodes for question, “what do u think about student’s performance?”segregating the responses of participants in two separate nodes 5 and 3, respectively as shown in the below figure. If not observed before proceeding with data representation and analysis steps, this will lead to generating and interpreting of limited information.

Two Nodes for a Single Question

Two Nodes for a Single Question

In such cases, merge two similar nodes into one single Node.

  1. Select the concerned Node
  2. click on Home (Ribbon)
  3. click on Cut as shown in the below figure
Home icons for Merging Nodes in Nvivo

Home icons for Merging Nodes in Nvivo

  1. Select the other concerned Node
  2. click on Home (Ribbon)
  3. click on Merge as shown in the below figure
Home icons for Merging Nodes in Nvivo

Home icons for Merging Nodes in Nvivo

Limitations of Auto-coding

Both Auto-coding and Manual-coding make the list of nodes and code the content from transcripts. However, there are differences in the nodes made out from these two procedures. Auto-coding procedure in comparison to manual coding has several limitations in line, only exception being its time saving feature.

From the procedure of formatting of Transcripts in auto coding, it is yet to be seen how Auto-coding does not code all the responses in their respective Nodes.

For example, the below figure represents the Nodes from Auto-coding. We can see that each of the Nodes represent a question in the transcripts, and for that reason we have 15 different Nodes. We can also see that each of the Nodes has eight sources and reference, which means; these Nodes contain eight different responses, which corresponds to the number of respondents in our study-8. However, while looking on the Sources and References against each Node, we can see that Node on question number 10 has one less source or reference. This means, Auto-coding procedures has skipped one response for question 10.

List of Nodes for each question through Auto-Coding

List of Nodes for each question through Auto Coding

Comparing the auto-Coding output with manual coding, we can see that in the case of manual coding, no response has been left to be coded in their respective nodes. The below figure shows the list of all the Nodes in Manual-Coding and also the number of sources and references which are eight in all nodes. That means Auto-Coding procedure does not necessarily Code all the responses.

List of Nodes for each Question through Manual Coding

List of Nodes for each Question through Manual Coding

In case of qualitative analysis with bigger sample size, the chance of auto coding procedures leading to insufficient responses in Nodes are even higher. Therefore, Manual-Coding is a more accurate procedure for a small number of participants. However, in the case where number of respondents is very high, Auto-coding is more preferable for saving time.

Following generating of nodes for appropriate interpretation of responses based on themes and attributes, it is important to classify the nodes and generate memos as part of data processing approach. This will help to record ideas inferences and insights for understanding of material used in the research.

Divya Dhuria

Divya Dhuria

Research analyst at Project Guru
DIvya has a keen interest in policy making and wealth management. She is a Master in Economics from Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics. She has been trained in the econometric techniques to assess different possible economic relationships. She hascontributed to the working paper on National Rural Health Mission at Institute of economic growth, Delhi. Along with academical growth, she likes to explore and visit different places in her spare time.
Divya Dhuria

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