Chapter 10 – Managing Interpretations (NVivo)
Chapter 10 in the book is all about managing interpretations; managing where and how you make analytic notes, using software structures to ensure your thoughts do not get forgotten or your notes lost. Ways of expressing or visualizing connections and relationships are sometimes provided in software and help in the generation and management of the ideas that you have about the data. The literature that informs your work is very important and these software programs can be used in many different ways to manage cross referencing with substantive data or to manage the literature review itself.
Sections included in the chapter:
Writing as continuous analysis
Critical Appraisals of literature
Linking notes to data
Integrating notes with other work
AUTHORS’ CAUTIONS REGARDING LITERATURE MANAGEMENT TOOLS IN NVIVO
NVivo encompasses a wide range of tools to help you manage literature. It is useful to have an overview so that you get a sense of how different areas in the software might fit together in a manageable way to support iterative, interpretive processes generally (and to see how they also might help with managing a literature review). However it is the ‘fitting together’ of all the tools offered for literature review management which itself might be problematic. We cannot solve those issues for you. We provide ideas and principles but limited step by step. We try to keep things simple. If you do experiment with every tool try to evolve a judgement about how a selection of them will fit together for you. There is much step by step information in the previous Chapter based exercises which will have relevance here.
Given the extensive support for specifically, managing literature in NVivo the export/ import possibilities between many bibliographic software packages and NVivo requires almost tailored support for each researcher’s own circumstances. Work requires careful individual experimentation, management and clear use of extra procedures to avoid duplication and over-complication. Look to the online help menu in NVivo for further step by step support.
10.1 THE RANGE OF TOOLS
To support interpretation, analytic and procedural writing TO SUPPORT INTERPRETATION, ANALYTIC AND PROCEDURAL WRITING AND REFERENCING LITERATURE
10.1.1 GENERAL TOOLS OF USE FOR ALL TYPES OF WORK
- Memos - see more below at 10.2
- Memo links – see exercise at 6.5
- Annotations – notes anchored to data segments and listed as hyperlinks centrally see exercise 6.1
- Externals in the Sources area, or proxy files representing entities or files you want to write about but physically cannot or do not want to import. See more below at 10.3
- Coding – codes can be used to manage thoughts about literature fils, just as they can support work with primary data – see Chapter 7 exercises
- Hyperlink tools within normal writing spaces – make hyperlinks to outside files or web pages. See below
- Import web pages using NCapture – add on tool in Internet Explorer see more below
10.1.2 SPECIFICALLY TOOLS TO MANAGE LITERATURE
- Import the bibliographies from specific collections (just a list of references) – then code them to cross reference with substantive themes, annotate them
- Import full literature files, pdfs etc into NVivo – normal imports – do all the things to them that you might do with primary data, code them, annotate, link memos to passages within them, search them (with restrictions on the handling of results from text searches)
- Import the collections or libraries into NVivo – from the reference management tools i.e. database exports and variably, accompanying pdfs
- Hyperlink tools within normal writing spaces
- Externals (special files in the Sources/Externals folder)
- Memos to link to full files outside
10.2 MORE ON MEMOS
We talked fully about the step by step creation of memos in the Chapter 5 exercises when getting started with the software project.
- Get some ideas of how different types and organisation of memos can support the process of research and analysis in Figure 10.1 below – oriented to case A, Young Peoples Perceptions project
- Create memo spaces as here, to write about individual research questions, chapters (including the Literature Review chapter), Policy recommendations etc. Be in the required folder , Create ribbon tab /New memo OR right click in the List pane/New memo
10. 3 MORE ON EXTERNALS
The Externals Folder is useful if you want to reference relevant materials which you cannot or do not want to incorporate directly into your NVivo project.
- When a bibliographic database is imported (e.g. from Mendeley, EndNote, Zotero or RefWorks etc., via the export of an RIS or XML file ) if an attached pdf is not also imported automatically, a blank External file (and possibly also optionally, a memo) is created in the Externals folder –for further work to occur
- Pro-actively create externals - be in the folder you need to be in if you have created multiple folders under Sources/Externals then Create ribbon tab /External) (they can Include books, films, television programs, or even a room, a building or an area!) In this folder, you will create initially empty ‘proxy’ Sources which represent the externally held material (NOTE: YOU CANNOT IMPORT READY MADE FILES INTO THIS FOLDER- THOUGH EVENTUALLY YOU CAN WRITE, OR COPY AND PASTE OTHER READY MADE MATERIAL INTO IT). See dialogue box below at Figure 10.2
- A new blank space (or with numbered units if you chose to make them) Write notes or summarize the material, and those notes can be treated as data within NVivo (e.g., be coded, searched, etc.)
- Also link to e-books, large amounts of video data, or any other material or entity that might be of interest for your project
- Where possible, i.e. when you make a File path connection in the initial dialogue box, NVivo creates a hyperlink from within the project to the externally held file or website…
- When opening the external file, (if the file path has been designated at creation) you will either choose to open the (proxy) external file (inside NVivo) or the actual file (outside NVivo) (!!)
TIP: in the current version, once you have arranged the properties of the External, see above Figure 10.2 – it is not possible to change them e.g. the Contents, Units, the Start range – so give them some careful thought before deciding on them.
10.4. MORE ON IMPORTING BIBLIOGRAPHIC MATERIAL
10.4.1 GENERATE THE BIBLIOGRAPHY (LIST OF LITERATURE)
- Compile ‘by hand’ in an ad hoc way – inside or outside NVivo
- Use a Reference managing software then export the Bibliography from the Reference managing software
- Work out how to export the bibliographies from the reference software and include the notes you have created attached to each reference. Sometimes it is not so easy. Of course it will depend on how you have used the reference software. You may not have made ‘notes’
- If you can at least import the bibliographic list – e.g. below – you can then add abstract information or notes about each reference as the references are read and assimilated
- Once the list has been imported into NVivo (just as a normal Internal Source) via the Document Import option – this becomes a normal file that can have anything (within reason) done to it!
10.4.2 IMPORT COLLECTIONS OR LIBRARIES INTO NVIVO FROM REFWORKS / ZOTERO / ENDNOTE
These processes are complicated slightly by the fact that at both ends – the bibliographic software and the NVivo software are updating at dIfferent rates. You may find incompatibilities depending on what the current status is in either location. Some general outcomes follow:
Individual libraries or references can be exported from each of EndNote, Mendeley, Zotero, RefWorks (there maybe others by now).
THREE POSSIBLE OUTCOMES
It is very important that you get these options and their implications clear – the outcomes depend on successful working and exporting choices in the bibliographic software, the current status regarding updates in either software and the right options (to fit with all those chosen in the import dialogue box in NVivo see Figure below)
a You might be importing references form the above applications – together with all the information about them – which will be used as classifications /attributes but importantly, will include no content apart from the abstract. External files will be created for each – in which you can write or paste useful material. . Together with each import a memo is created (but only if there were associated Notes, Abstracts etc at the relevant reference). You can choose whether to let the software ‘organize’ the memo in the same way as the External i.e. at the Reference(?) Classifications .
b Independently of the above reference managing softwares, you might have already imported full text pdf’s into your NVivo project having found them while browsing the internet or having stored them on your computer in the past – but you have no publication/bibliographic information e.g. at Classifications in NVivo. If you have that information in your reference managing application (with or without attached pdf) – you can import it – and assign the accompanying information to the existing file inside NVivo.
c In your collection or library you may be storing attached full text pdfs with some references. If the right options are chosen at import into NVivo the full text pdf will be placed in Internals folder, and if the right steps have been followed before hand, the relevant Source classification attributes will be assigned to the pdf. (References which do not have full pdfs attached will be treated as at b. above).
Follow the steps in the NVivo online help menu to get more specific step by step advice for your particular situation and bibliographic software.
10.5 MORE ON CAPTURING WEB MATERIAL
A growing variety of web content and social media is available to you using NCapture, a web browser extension, icon seen left, which is available for free with NVivo.- see online Help menu in NVivo). It allows you to capture and import a screenshot of any webpage as a PDF or various social media sites (such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) as a dataset (table). Once you have NCapture installed (see the Help Menu for instructions), open your browser, and navigate to the website of interest.
10.5.1 FIRST CAPTURE THE WEBPAGE
- Click the NCapture icon in your browser bar
- A dialogue box opens (right)
- Choose your source type (probably ‘Web Page as
- PDF’), source name, optional description, memo nodes, etc.
- Click Capture
- See NCapture Progress page below
NOTE: WEB PAGES ARE CAPTURED USING THE PDF OPTION ILLUSTRATED BELOW AT FIGIRE 10.4 – SOCIAL MEDIA WOULD BE CAPTURED USING THE DATASET OPTION (NOT COVERED HERE).
10.5.2 IMPORTING A CAPTURED WEB PAGE FROM NCAPTURE
- As in Figure 10.5 above, go to the Sources section of the Navigation pane > Internals > Web Content subfolder (or wherever you’d like the new Sources to be created)
- Go to the External Data Ribbon tab > From Other Sources > From NCapture (as seen left)
- A dialogue box opens, as seen below , showing recent captures. Choose the captures you’d like, and click Import. Webpages will be brought in as .pdfs; social media files as tables, depending on your choices during capture
What we have covered in these sections raises new ideas for incorporating different types of information and reminds of standard tools which help to manage ideas. Related to these in the fuller discussion in Chapter 11 of the book are mapping tools which help to visualize connections in a graphic sense. See starting points for using graphic mapping tools covered in Chapter 11
See also Chapter 12 for other visualisations ‘map’ the data from different traditions helping the researcher to stand back by looking at quantitative summaries and charts.
Ann Lewins, Christina Silver and Jen Patashnick. 2014