An update on NVIVO for the literature review

I recently made a YouTube video about my experiences with Nvivo for the literature review. I realised when I was making this video that I needed to update my post a little about NVIVO. This is for a few reasons:

  • NVIVO 12 looks different to NVIVO 11 for Mac. In fact, now NVIVO 12 looks very similar to NVIVO for Windows.
  • I am further into my PhD so have more perspective on its use
  • I now have a Youtube Video where I explain in more depth!

What are my thoughts on NVIVO now?

I still love it. It has been invaluable for me during the writing and updating of my literature review and in writing my data chapters. Why has it been useful?

In a similar way to people who use multiple word documents for interesting quotes or useful quotes, I have been able to quickly identify quotes that I might want to use or articles I want to re-visit as they are similar to my findings.

At a glance, I am also able to find papers that I have forgotten about due to my use of the file classification sheet.

Some updates on NVIVO:

In my first post, I don’t think I went in-depth enough about what I might code. In my YouTube video, I discuss my coding by showing an article I have coded. Here are some of the things I code for:

  • Definitions of contested terms: I use these definitions to choose who I might reference when I mention a term for the first time as it allows me to see the many perspectives on the issue and choose the author I agree with most.
  • Quotes which use a term/theory I am confused about: As a PhD student sometimes there might be a topic in your field or a term which provides you with a lot of confusion and trouble. I used NVIVO to code instances of terms I was unsure about, which allowed me to understand how people talk about the issue and what keywords are in the field/theory.
  • Description of my method: I found this useful as describing a method can feel very hard and difficult. How do you describe what you have done in a clear way? This allowed me to review some of the key terms that people use and the general format of writing about my method.
  • Quotes I love: This one is pretty self-explanatory, I code quotes which I think are really interesting and useful

It is best to code for things which will be of use in the future. Don’t just code every sentence, as you will have too many things coded and this won’t be any good when it comes time to write your thesis. It is a learning curve to know what you want to code and what things may be of importance later. If you aren’t sure here are some tips:

  1. Try to think by chapter, what sort of things would you want for your literature review? What sort of things would you want for a data chapter? You may want different types of coding for your different chapters
  2. Think about the areas of the field that cause you trouble in your writing – code examples of the way that people write about these things. When you come to your own writing on that section you can review how people write about it and see the different terms and ways of writing.
  3. Be afraid to make mistakes. I have some nodes which I have only coded something to once. I made the node thinking it would be important, and then never used it again!
  4. Be adventurous and just begin! Once you have coded a few articles you may realise the things you want to code. Remember this is your project, your thesis, and you can decide what to code!

If you are interested, here is my Youtube video: