Top 5 ways to combine Evernote and NVivo for research ‘on the go’

I'm a big fan of working smarter, not harder. One of my favourite ways do use this is to utilise Evernote to it's best advantage.

Evernote is a cloud based platform for note-taking and information storage. It can be used across virtually any platform and mobile device, and has a number of tools to assist in storing and retrieving information. Thanks to recent developments, I can now easily transfer data I store in Evernote directly across to NVivo—allowing me to “research anytime, anywhere”.

There are a number of reasons why I think NVivo and Evernote are the perfect partnership. They both store similar types of data and they're both well suited to the "messiness" of qualitative research. Using them in conjunction is an excellent way to streamline the research process—Evernote is a powerful tool for collecting and storing data, while NVivo's strength is in analysis.

Some of my favourite ways to research “on the go” with Evernote, includes the following:

#1. Emailing information directly into my Evernote account

When you sign up to Evernote, an email address is created for you. Forwarding information to this email address will enter it directly into your account. This might be a photograph you’ve taken in the field, a document you need to safely store, or information you’ve received by email.

You can even get ‘fancy’ by directing it to a particular notebook and tagging it. For example, if I had some information I wanted to store in a notebook called ‘PhD’ with a tag for ‘ethics’ I could send an email with the subject line ‘Participant Information @PhD #ethics’.

There is further information on how to do this on the Evernote Blog.

#2. Scanning handwritten notes using CamScanner on my iPhone

I’m still a little old-fashioned, and I prefer to take handwritten notes during meetings. I also want a means to store and search these notes later down the track.

Since Evernote can convert images to text (despite the messiest handwriting)—I email the  scanned notes to my Evernote account. The Evernote iPhone app also has a document camera that can be used for this purpose, but I prefer the quality of the CamScanner files.

#3. Clipping webpages on my iPad

If I’m looking for websites for my research, I prefer to search on my iPad (this means I can do it snuggled up on the couch at home with the dogs, or on the office beanbags).

To clip relevant website content to my Evernote account, I use an app called Dolphin. This allows me to send the webpage directly to my Evernote account, specifying which notebook I’d like to save it in, and whether I need it tagged.

#4. Clipping pages on my desktop

If I do happen to be researching web content on my desktop, I can use the Evernote Web Clipper to capture the information I need. This is an add-on that is available for most popular web browsers. If you’re planning on taking this information across later to NVivo, you’ll want to opt for one of the ‘Article’ options—otherwise you may end up with extraneous material such as advertisements on the page, and these can confuse any later text analysis you conduct in NVivo.

#5. Recording brief dictations

While I can type notes directly into the Evernote iPhone and iPad apps, that can sometimes be too time consuming if I’m in a hurry. SoundEver is a great tool for recording quick dictations on the iPhone—simply shake to start/stop recording, and it will download automatically to Evernote.

Bring it all into NVivo

All of the above data types can be later imported into NVivo for analysis—I can code, query, and visualise my data, making the most of the Evernote/NVivo partnership. If you’d like to see this in action, you can watch a recording of my recent eSeminar on this topic:


The above are just suggestions—I know there are numerous apps out there and lots of techniques for using Evernote when researching on the go.

We’d love to hear your ideas—there is a discussion post on the QSR International forum, just for this purpose. Feel free to join the conversation!

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