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Beyond Code and Retrieve with NVivo

27 June 2017 - BY Stuart Robertson

In this blog, NVivo Certified Platinum Trainer Stuart Robertson shares some of his expertise in coding in NVivo from his many years of experience. 

As an NVivo user for some 15 years now I am quite familiar with the following statement:

  • NVivo adds rigor to the analysis process
  • NVivo allows you to interrogate your data
  • NVivo lets you drill down deeper into your data.

Often heads will nod in agreement, yet there hangs in the room an unasked question, “What does that look like?” During my training sessions, I try to provide an example of what that might look like. The example I use is also designed to help the participants think beyond the “code and retrieve” view of NVivo that is typically present when people are first using the software.

The Example

Using the sample data, I propose a situation where, after a great deal of coding, I believe that there may exist a possible connection between real estate development and water quality. However, I need to ask myself if this idea is supported by the data or could this be influenced by personal bias.

The starting point in the process of addressing this issue typically is the use of the Coding Query searching data coded at both the real estate development and water quality nodes. The results of the query can then be reviewed to ascertain whether there is sufficient quality data to support this possibility.

However, there are further steps you can take to drill down deeper. Where NVivo links to the original source, it is easy to review these areas of overlapping data within in their full context, thus seeing any nuances to the statements. However, you can take this process a step further using the Coding Stripes. Turning on the Coding Stripes for Selected Items… you can now explore if one item is consistently embedded within the other, which could indicate that one topic might be a subtopic of the other, or the places where one topic is discussed without the other. This allows you to reflect on how the existence of these data Impact your view of the situation. 

This is just one example of how the tools within NVivo can assist you as the researcher to interrogate your data and drill down deeper, thus adding rigor to the analysis process. When you are reflecting on your findings ponder some possible follow-up questions and how NVivo might be able to help you explore them.