Basic Question from a New User

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    Hello, I'm a PhD student who shall be using NVivo to organise my research, which basically shall entail interviewing around 15 people. I shall be recording the interviews and then transcribing them verbatim, and importing into NVivo. However, I'm not too sure about 'nodes' and how I organise the data in NVivo. I presume nodes are common themes between different interviews that allow me to search easily between them? Should I import each interview as a different 'case'? Forgive my basic questions, I enjoy learning new software, but I'm a bit lost at what NVivo can help me do after I've imported the transcriptions of the interviews. Any tips would be greatly appreciated, Many thanks for your time, Lylio



    Hi Lyilo,

    Yes nodes are for storing common thematically coded content which in your case is segments of text or 'units of meaning'. You give each node, or code, a label and a definition (the definition allows you to claim consistency of coding in your methodology chapter) and you code the data to these nodes. You can also organise the nodes like folders in windows which allows you to manage your coding and impose a structure on your data which makes sense to your analytical framework. 

    In response to your question on case nodes; you code each transcript in its entirety to case nodes. The purpose of case nodes is to link your background information and integrate what people said (the content of their interview) with who they are (the background information and demographics you may have recorded about your participants) By setting up this architecture in your database you are facilitating a more robust enquiry because you can now ask more sophisticated questions of your data and get instant returns such as the degree to which the intangibles under scrutiny in your study (attitudes and beliefs for example) impact on tangibles such as age or gender for example. Case nodes allow you to fully explore patterns that may exist in your data based on your coding. And they allow you to produce evidence in support of key findings. In essence; case nodes allow you to do more than a basic thematic analysis. 

    Finally Lyilo, your questions are probably too many to deal with effectively in a forum like this. I don't know if you came across our offer on the website for a free on-line one hour tutorial to get you up and running. If you feel you would benefit from this it can be easily arranged and something like this is probably all you need to get going with your analysis. The objective of this one hour free session is to:

    1. Identify what is your data
    2. Set up your database
    3. Consider a coding strategy in-keeping with your chosen methodology and its philosophical underpinnings

    If you wish to avail of this offer to members of the website send an e-mail to 

    Hope this was somewhat helpful. 

    Kind regards,

    The Team



    Hi Ben,

    Many thanks for the detailed and helpful reply.

    I would be very much interested in the initial free one hour tutorial. However, before I email, should I already have my research data collected? You see, I’ve not actually began the interviews and so I don’t yet have any transcripts.

    Should I wait until I have completed the interviews before setting up the tutorial?

    Thanks again,



    Hi Lyle,

    I always think it's easier to learn with live data. Also, if the time frame between getting the initial tutorial and working with real data is too long, you will forget the mechanical steps you need to know. On the other hand, having a grasp of the capabilities of NVivo can help in planning your data collection. For example, using your topic guide to format the data for initial coding. Same with integrating your back ground information. It helps to know how you are going to use this information in your analysis before you collect it. 

    I suggest you focus on your pilot or initial interviews and we conduct the session at that point. That still gives you time to make any planing/data management decisions before going back into the field and you will have your database set up for when you get back.  

    Kind regards,


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