Approaches to qualitative data analysis using Nvivo software

By Divya Dhuria & Priya Chetty on June 29, 2017

Qualitative data can be analysed both manually and through Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS). But, given the vastness of data and systematic & rigorous preparation needed, the latter is overpowering the former. The systematic and rigorous preparation and analysis of qualitative data is usually time-consuming and labour intensive, making researchers– especially of health care, public administration and such others, switch towards CAQDAS over manual data processing (Zamawe 2015). Nvivo software is one of the most useful software for qualitative analysis and this article will focus on using the software for qualitative analysis.

Collecting data from different sources using Nvivo

Nvivo, developed by QSR International is one application used for:

  1. organizing,
  2. analyzing
  3. and finding insights

from qualitative and unstructured data set (QSR International 2017). Unstructured data sets are typically complex text documents containing information in not any pre-designed manner. Nvivo acts as a data management toolkit for such data and broadly supports both qualitative and mixed research methods.  Furthermore, unstructured texts like interviews, open-ended questionnaires, articles, journal articles, web content and even audio, video and image data are analyzed using Nvivo.

This gives it an edge over other qualitative data applications such as MAXqda, DEDOOSE, N6, and Atlas (Zamawe 2015). Nvivo is available for both Windows and Macintosh operating systems. With its newer update by QSR International, Nvivo also allows the imports of Tweets, Facebook Post and YouTube comments. In addition, it is able to code the information as data (QSR International 2017).

Comparing different version of Nvivo for qualitative analysis

NVivo comes in 3 primary variants, with a separate variant for Mac users. Each of these variants has specific functionalities, making itself distinct from the other. The variant a user chooses depends on the project requirement and the amount user intends to pay. However, in trial period all three versions are accessible and the user will get an idea of each of its specifics. Below is the table highlighting each of the variant’s functionalities –

Data Sources Nvivo 11 for Windows Nvivo for Mac
Starter Pro Plus
Text Document: Collect and Import Text Documents in TXT, RTF, DOC, DOCX and PDF formats; Supports Editable Text Yes Yes Yes Yes
Images: Collect and Import Images such as Photos and scanned documents in BMP, G/F, JPG, TIF and PNG formats; Use the pictures log to make notes and comments Yes Yes Yes
Audio & Video: Collect and import audio-video recordings in MP3, WMA, WAV, M4A, MPG, MPE, WMV, AVI, MOV, QT, MP4, 3GP, MTS and M2TS formats; Word with editable synchronized transcripts and view waveform visualizations. Yes Yes MP3, WAV, M4A, AVI, MOV, MP4; editable synchronized transcripts visualizations.

For this module, the NVivo Pro version was used which can be downloaded for trial or purchased from the NVivo website. In the module, we have also designed a case study that will demonstrate its functionalities. The details of the case along with each element of the application has been presented in the succeeding articles.

The first step is to understand how to operate the software. For that, open the software following the steps below.

Opening NVivo software for qualitative analysis

  1. Open the NVivo Shortcut on the desktop. If one does not have a shortcut on the desktop then click on “Start” on the desktop, and click on “All Programs“. Search for NVivo (11/ or any version) and open the application.
  2. The opening page of NVivo will allow choosing ‘recent’ project (if any), blank project and sample project option. As the below image highlights, ‘my recent project (Higher Education), apart from blank and sample projects.
Showing the interface of Nvivo software
Opening page of Nvivo Pro, with varied project options

In the next article, we will demonstrate the outline of the NVivo workspace in detail.


  • QSR International, 2017. What is NVivo? QSR International. Available at: software [Accessed May 12, 2017].
  • Welsh, E., 2002. Dealing with Data: Using NVivo in the Qualitative Data Analysis Process. Qualitative Social Research, 3(2).
  • Zamawe, F.C., 2015. The Implication of Using NVivo Software in Qualitative Data Analysis: Evidence-Based Reflections. Malawi medical journal : the journal of Medical Association of Malawi, 27(1), pp.13–5. Available at: [Accessed May 12, 2017].

I am a management graduate with specialisation in Marketing and Finance. I have over 12 years' experience in research and analysis. This includes fundamental and applied research in the domains of management and social sciences. I am well versed with academic research principles. Over the years i have developed a mastery in different types of data analysis on different applications like SPSS, Amos, and NVIVO. My expertise lies in inferring the findings and creating actionable strategies based on them. 

Over the past decade I have also built a profile as a researcher on Project Guru's Knowledge Tank division. I have penned over 200 articles that have earned me 400+ citations so far. My Google Scholar profile can be accessed here

I now consult university faculty through Faculty Development Programs (FDPs) on the latest developments in the field of research. I also guide individual researchers on how they can commercialise their inventions or research findings. Other developments im actively involved in at Project Guru include strengthening the "Publish" division as a bridge between industry and academia by bringing together experienced research persons, learners, and practitioners to collaboratively work on a common goal.