How to Conduct an Audit Trail from your NVivo Project

Tips and Tricks on how to Create an Audit Trail from your NVivo Project (including a codebook, depending on Data Analysis Method)

Here are some links to several resources and other videos referred to in this video

Here is a link to the NVivo project file example of audit trail for RTA:

Here is the link to The Excel Video referenced in the video (useful for both codebook display and creating visualisations of for findings chapter:

Here is a link to the previous video showing the practical application of RTA; it is the second video on the page under the Braun and Clarke introductory video:

Here is a link to a one-hour webinar we ran for Lumivero on visualising your data directly in NVivo:

Here is a link to a page that briefly demonstrates all three ‘Maps’ referenced in the video (NVivo versions 2020 and NVivo 14 first) Version 12 below and include  ‘Mind Maps’, ‘Project Maps and ‘Concept Maps’. Here are three short video explaining how each may be used in NVivo:


The video discusses the importance of creating an audit trail in NVivo projects, particularly in the context of academic research. The audit trail serves as a transparent record of the research process, showing the stages and methods used in studies like reflexive thematic analysis. The speaker emphasizes the significance of demonstrating the research process for credibility and trustworthiness.


  • 📊 Audit Trail Importance: The video underscores the crucial role of an audit trail in academic research, highlighting its necessity for transparency and credibility in methodologies.
  • 🔄 Demonstrating Processes in NVivo: Using NVivo, the speaker advocates for showcasing the research process stages in reflexive thematic analysis and similar methods, aligning them with academic guidelines.
  • 📑 Analytical Strategy Document: The creation of an analytical strategy document is recommended as the initial step in setting up a research project, guiding decisions on methods and providing a template for negotiation with supervisors.
  • 🧭 Methodology Section Organization: The methodology section should include details on the epistemological and ontological position, practical aspects like ethics and data collection instruments, and a focus on data analysis, incorporating appendices with audit trail information.
  • 🚀 Data Analysis Phases: The speaker walks through the various phases of data analysis in NVivo, including familiarization, systematic data coding, generating initial themes, refining and reviewing themes, defining and naming themes, and conceptual mapping.
  • 🗺️ Conceptual Mapping Tool: NVivo’s conceptual mapping tool, demonstrated through a concept map example, aids in visualizing relationships between themes and subthemes, showcasing thought progression in the research.
  • 📝 Writing the Report: The final phase involves systematically reviewing and writing the research report, asking critical questions of the data, and ensuring the representation of voices and perspectives.
  • 📂 NVivo Functionality: The video highlights specific functionalities in NVivo, such as exporting codebooks, using the mapper tool for conceptual mapping, and leveraging the software’s capabilities for a comprehensive audit trail.
  • 🎓 Academic Rigor: Emphasis is placed on the academic rigor of research, with the audit trail serving as a means for external reviewers to assess the trustworthiness and plausibility of the study.
Key Moments (beta)
  • Introduction00:08
    • The video discusses the importance of producing an audit trail in academic research.
    • The audit trail shows the processes and stages involved in research methods.
    • OpenAI Python library is mentioned as a tool for producing an audit trail.
  • Producing an Audit Trail00:08
    • An audit trail is a requirement in academic institutions and for reviewers.
    • Demonstrating the processes and stages of research adds credibility to the study.
    • The audit trail is considered the most important criteria for the trustworthiness of a study.
  • Previous Videos on Reflexive Thematic Analysis and IPA00:08
    • Previous videos demonstrated the processes and stages of reflexive thematic analysis and IPA using NVivo.
    • These methods are popular in research and require clear documentation of the audit trail.
  • Analytical Strategy and Data Analysis00:08
    • The analytical strategy memo is the first document produced in a study.
    • It helps in setting up the project and aligning it with the chosen method.
    • The memo includes an overview of the methodology, processes, and stages recommended by experts.
  • Codebook and Systematic Data Coding00:08
    • The codebook is used in phase two of the analysis, which involves systematic data coding.
    • Initial codes are organized into domains and themes.
    • NVivo allows for exporting the codebook as a Word document or Excel spreadsheet.
  • Developing and Reviewing Themes00:08
    • Phase four focuses on refining and reviewing the initial themes.
    • Codes may be broken down or refined to create more accurate themes.
    • NVivo’s visualization tools, such as concept maps, can help in understanding the relationships between themes.
  • Writing the Report00:08
    • Phase six involves writing the report based on the synthesized themes.
    • The report should address questions such as voice representation and data support.
    • Visualizations, such as graphs, can be used to present findings.
  • Conclusion00:08
    • Producing an audit trail in NVivo helps demonstrate the research processes and stages.
    • NVivo provides tools for organizing and analyzing data, creating codebooks, and visualizing findings.
    • Links to previous videos and additional resources are provided for further guidance