Data analysis in qualitative research: a brief guide to using NVivo

  • LP Wong
Keywords: Qualitative research data analysis, NVivo


Qualitative data is often subjective, rich, and consists of in-depth information normally presented in the form of words.Analysing qualitative data entails reading a large amount of transcripts looking for similarities or differences, and subsequentlyfinding themes and developing categories. Traditionally, researchers ‘cut and paste’ and use coloured pens to categorisedata. Recently, the use of software specifically designed for qualitative data management greatly reduces technicalsophistication and eases the laborious task, thus making the process relatively easier. A number of computer softwarepackages has been developed to mechanise this ‘coding’ process as well as to search and retrieve data. This paperillustrates the ways in which NVivo can be used in the qualitative data analysis process. The basic features and primarytools of NVivo which assist qualitative researchers in managing and analysing their data are described.


Mays N, Pope C. Qualitative research in health care. Assessing quality in qualitative research. BMJ. 2000;320(7226):50-2.

Harding G, Gantley M. Qualitative methods: beyond the cookbook. FamPract. 1998;15(1):76-9.

Pope C, Mays N. Qualitative Methods in Health and Health Services Research. In: Mays N, Pope N (eds). Qualitative research in health care. London: BMJ; 1996.

Holloway I, editor. Qualitative Research In Health Care. Maidenhead, England: Open University Press, 2005.

Basit TN. Manual or electronic? The role of coding in qualitative data analysis. Educational Research. 2003;45(2):143-54.

Tashakkori A, Teddlie C, editors. Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social and Behavioral Research. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage; 2003.

Bogdan RC, Biklen SK. Qualitative Research for Education: An Introduction to Theory and Methods. Boston: Allyn and Bacon; 1982.

Patton MQ. Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods. 3rd edition. Thousand Oaks, Californa: Sage; 2002.

Dey I. Qualitative Data Analysis: A User-Friendly Guide for Social Scientists. London: Routledge; 1993.

Roberts KA, Wilson RW. ICT and the research process: issues around the compatibility of technology with qualitative data analysis. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung. 2002;3(2). Available at: URL:

Wickham M, Woods M. Reflecting on the strategic use of CAQDAS to manage and report on the qualitative research process. The Qualitative Report. 2005;10(4): 687-702.

Richards L. Using Nvivo in Qualitative Research. London: Sage; 1999.

Pope C, Ziebland S, Mays N. Qualitative research in health care. Analysing qualitative data. BMJ. 2000;320(7227):114-6.

How to Cite
WongL. (2008). Data analysis in qualitative research: a brief guide to using NVivo. Malaysian Family Physician, 3(1), 7. Retrieved from
Original Articles