Skip to Main Content

NVivo: Introduction and Basics

An introduction and overview of NVivo to help researchers organize and analyze qualitative data.

What is NVivo?

NVivo Logo

NVivo is software that supports qualitative and mixed methods analysis of textual and audiovisual data source. With it, you can:

  • Organize and code multiple data sources in one project file.
  • Assign attributes to data and compare them.
  • Adding interpretations and notes to your data and codes
  • Query and search your data
  • Visualize your data

This guide is designed to provide you with the information and resources you need to get started with NVivo, whether you are new to the software or looking to expand your skills. Here, you will find step-by-step tutorials, tips and tricks, and best practices for using NVivo to conduct your qualitative and mixed methods research.

The current version of Nvivo, which USF has recently updated to is NVivo 14 (released March 15, 2023).

  • The previous version was called NVivo 1 (or R1 or 2020) release in March 2020. 

Why use NVivo?

NVivo can help you organize and find insights in your data. 

  • Provides a centralized place to store documents, transcripts, audio and video, webpages, and many other types of data.
  • Accommodates non-textual data files (e.g., images, video, etc.)
  • Can run queries which pulls together coded information across various files
  • Built-in visualization tools allow for the exploration of the data and the relationships between concepts.
  • Contains built-in sample project populated with data to practice functionality.
  • Both PC and Mac versions are available.
  • Groups of researchers can simultaneously work on large project and later, merge projects together.

It is important to note that NVivo is there to help you manage, shape, and make sense of unstructured information. It doesn't do the thinking for you; it provides a workspace and tools to enable you to easily work through your information. It is a facilitative tool to help record your mental analysis, it does NOT analyze your data for you. 

Mac V. Windows

Although the most recent version of NVivo has created more analyses options for NVivo Mac, it is does not have as many options as NVivo for Windows.

Moving between Mac and Windows with NVivo often causes technical challenges – if at all possible, DO NOT try to work across platforms as you will need to save your project in a different file type every time you change.

The NVivo Workshops for Researchers are given using the Windows platform due to larger usage. Although you can follow along using the Mac version, there may be a few areas where there are differences. If you are a current USF faculty, staff, or student, and would like targeting training for the Mac version of NVivo, you can request a consultation with Shawna Durtschi.

Some of the features that are available in NVivo Windows but not NVivo Mac include:

  • Compound and group queries
  • See-also links (if you edit a file with hidden see-also links in NVivo Mac the links are deleted)
  • Annotations in audios, videos, pictures and datasets
  • Dynamic sets
  • Framework matrices
  • Sentiment coding
  • Relationship coding
  • Social network analysis
  • Cluster analysis
  • Project maps
  • Reports

More information on the differences can be found here in the NVivo User Guide.