Streamline your academic writing with NVivo and Endnote

Lee Fallin works as a Library Skills Adviser (Learning Developer) at the University of HullHere he shows us how EndNote and NVivo can streamline the process of writing papers, assigments and research articles.

While the use of NVivo for research is well established, I often find students, researchers and academics focus too much on its use as a qualitative data analysis tool.

I find NVivo is an invaluable tool in my research arsenal and I want to talk about how I use a combination of NVivo and EndNote for every assignment, paper or article I write.

Using both of these tools together, it is easy to rapidly collect journal articles, interpret them and get on with writing. This is useful for all levels of academic work, from undergraduates writing their assignments to academics writing research papers.

While NVivo is not a replacement for reading articles, we can use it to:

  1. Help prioritise reading or query papers
  2. Get an overview of core concepts/ideas
  3. Analyse article metadata.

These goals can help with any form of academic writing as there is always literature to consult.

To use NVivo to achieve this, you first of all need to collect all of the journal articles and other papers you are consulting into a single EndNote file.

If you haven’t used EndNote and NVivo before, I have prepared a couple of brief posts on my blog that overview Using EndNote to collect literature and how to Export from EndNote and Import into NVivo.

Once you have done this, the videos below will overview the three areas that I think NVivo can help you to explore the literature for anything you’re writing. 

Help prioritise reading or query papers

Get an overview of core concepts/ideas

Analyze article metadata

These three examples demonstrate a very practical use for NVivo in academic and research writing.

The ideas outlined above can be used at any stage of your reading. If used at the start of your research, NVivo will give you a general overview of ideas and can be used to prioritise your reading.

If used towards the end of your research, NVivo can be used to explore concepts you have already read (even if you forget where) or as a way of ensuring you have not missed anything important.

In both uses, I always find NVivo provides me new insights, especially as I will often read in excess of 100 articles when writing a paper. That is a lot of information to remember and recall so the query tools provide invaluable post-reading exploration.

Using NVivo for literature helps me work more efficiently and effectively as a researcher and that gives me more time to focus on other things. I hope this blog inspires you to try NVivo in this way and I look forward to any comments or questions. 


Lee Fallin works as a Library Skills Adviser (Learning Developer) at the University of Hull. His background is in Human Geography and educational research. Lee is currently working towards his Educational Doctorate (EdD) from the Department of Education Studies also at the University of Hull. He can be found on Twitter @LeeFallin

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