I have noticed that NVivo is causing several complications for some of my colleagues. In fact to tell you the truth, I was initially bogged down with the software. A lot of people thought that the software is supposed to save you time in data analysis but they failed to invest their time in proper training. Also you should not leave too long a gap between training and actually using the program, because eventually you’ll forget about all those training. And most important of all, how you use the program and process the data using it, is entirely up to you. Nobody’s going to tell you, what’s right or wrong. Only you yourself would know, whether it works, how it’s going to work and how you are going to make it work.
I spent almost three weeks associating my data with the available functions of the program. And later upon understanding its capabilities and limitations especially when dealing with the data in my study, I had to redo my coding! So it’s really about trial and error in getting ‘along’ with the software.
But I think, the most important thing before I start using the program is to actually be on top of my data. I must have already understand and grasp my initial findings manually. Once I have already found my themes in the data, then coding the data in NVivo would actually make sense. Or else, you’ll end in neverending coding process, because of the simplification of the process brought about by the program. You can end up coding every single details in the data. If your study is based on the grounded theory analysis, then perhaps that would be the way to do it. However, my methods and research questions entail no such theory. So I initially set up an analysis template based on my initial themes and then develop a code manual. The template and code manual would assist in achieving a standard in the coding process and also logging the whole process.
So it seems that before one embarks in using NVivo, one must actually ‘prepare’ and understand the study data. One must already have the bigger picture. NVivo will then later helps in painting the finer details 🙂