NVivo for Literature Reviews

If you are a seasoned researcher, or even if you have just started embarking upon a research project, you are probably familiar with common literature citation/organization tools, such as RefWorks, Zotero, and EndNote (see our LibGuide on these citation management tools).  However, not many people realize that NVivo, a qualitative research software, can also be used quite effectively as a research and citation organizer for literature reviews. Shimrit Keddem, our NVivo Basics workshop presenter and creator of our  NVivo Guide, recently introduced us to this aspect of NVivo.

cabraal_nvivo_screenshot_nodes
Image courtesy of Anuja Cabraal (http://anujacabraal.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/why-use-nvivo-for-your-literature-review/)

Researcher Anuja Cabraal, an NVivo consultant, writes extensively about NVivo’s organizational capabilities on her blog.  Cabraal highlights NVivo’s ability to categorize elements of your research into what NVivo calls “Nodes” (please see the workshop handout on our NVivo LibGuide on terminology). For example, you can have a Node for definitions of complex terms you are working with, a Node for PDFs or external documents you are using in your research, and a Node for different critical perspectives from which you may be working.  NVivo allows you to easily change categories as your research develops; Cabraal notes that these categories often help her to see patterns emerge in her work, which she may not have noticed otherwise.

what-is-qual-literature-review
Image courtesy of NVivo site (http://www.qsrinternational.com/what-is-qualitative-research.aspx)

In addition to her initial post on NVivo’s capabilities for creating a literature review, Cabraal has started a series of blog posts about subtopics regarding using NVivo for a literature review, such as managing reading lists and coding and editing your reading list/library in NVivo.  NVivo’s own page on qualitative research also provides ideas for creating literature reviews, working with social media and interviews in evaluative studies.

The NVivo software should be accessible on the PCs in all library buildings.

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