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NVivo logo Coding in NVivo v.7

Authors of this page: Graham R. Gibbs

Affiliation: University of Huddersfield

Date written: 21st August 2008

 

 

 

 

Symbols and Conventions

Coding

One way of coding is to start with some codes that you have developed from, say, your reading of the literature, the research aims of your project or even from ideas you developed when reading and transcribing your interviews and field notes. You can create these new codes in NVivo and then select sections of text and assign or link them to these a priori codes.

On the other hand NVivo also supports developing coding directly from the text, where you select some text and then assign a new code to it. One special case of this is in vivo coding where the term or phrase you select is not only coded to the new code but also becomes its name.

NVivo call codes 'nodes' and distinguishes free nodes and tree nodes. Typically when you first create a node it is a free node which is just kept in a list. Tree nodes have all the properties of free nodes, but in addition they are organized into a hierarchy or tree shown in the Tree Nodes Pane in a similar way to the file and folder hierarchy in Windows Explorer. Free nodes can be made into Tree nodes (and vice versa).

You can create, delete, merge and move codes and change the text to which they refer. At any time you can browse or display the coded text and change the coding or view it in context. Codes can also be searched and in this way, along with an inspection of linked data, like memos, the researcher can ask questions of the data and build and test theories.

Creating new nodes

Use this approach where you want to create codes without referring to the text, perhaps because you are guided by some existing theory or expectations as to what you expect to find. As you create codes (by whatever approach) don't forget to keep a record, either as a comment or in a memo (both can be stored in the project files), of what the code represents and what your thinking about it is.

To create a new node (code)

  1. In the Navigation View pane click Nodes.
  2. click Free Nodes folder.
  3. In the main toolbar click New button. (The pop-up menu changes depending on the context.)
  4. click Free Node in this Folder. Type in a name and optional description and click OK.
  5. If you wish to create a tree node and you have already created some branches, then in the Navigation View pane click Nodes then click Tree Nodes folder to see the existing nodes.
  6. right-click the name of a node in the list view pane that you want to be the new code's parent (see Figure 1).
  7. click Add Tree Nodes… and type in a name etc.

 

NVivo Create Node dialog

Figure 1. Creating a new tree node using the pop-up menu

 

Using existing nodes for coding

This is the most common situation, where you have developed a lot of nodes and are simply working through the documents coding their contents. You read the text and identify a passage as being about some theme you already have a node for.

To create new nodes from transcripts, including in vivo codes

  1. In the document find and select the text you want to code.
  2. click Nodes and then click Free Nodes or Tree Nodes in the Navigation view pane to display the required nodes  in the List view pane.
  3. Drag the selected text to the required node. (You may find it easier to re-arrange the view so you can display a longer list of nodes. click View:Detail view: Right.)

 

Create new nodes from the transcripts, including in vivo codes

This is the common, inductive approach. You read the text, get an idea for a node and create a new node and code the text immediately.

To create new nodes from transcripts, including in vivo codes

  1. Select the text you want to code in the detail view pane.
  2. click Code menu, click Code:Code Selection at New Node… The New Node dialog is opened.
  3. click Select button.
  4. In the Select Location dialog that is displayed, click Folders in the left panel, click Free Node in the right panel and click OK.
  5. Enter a name in the Name field and an optional description. click OK.

OR

  1. Select the text you want to code in the detail view pane.
  2. Click in the node name box in the Coding bar and type in the name of the new node.
  3. Click on the Code button in the Coding bar NVivo 7 coding button. (See Figure 2)

Alternatively, to code a word or phrase InVivo

  1. Select a word or short phrase
  2. Just click the InVivo button in the Coding Bar.NVivo 7 InVivo coding button

 

 

Creating a new node and coding selected text to it in NVivo

Figure 2. Creating a new node and coding selected text to it in NVivo7

 

Examining existing nodes

Once you have created some nodes and/or done some coding, use this approach to explore what nodes you have created.

To examine existing nodes

  1. Nodes are listed in the list view pane. click Nodes and then click Free Nodes or Tree Nodes in the Navigation view pane.
  2. In the case of tree nodes, click the plus signs or the minus signs to expand or collapse the hierarchy in the list view.