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Data analysis software: Using NVivo with EndNote for Literature Reviews

Using NVivo with EndNote

for Literature Reviews

Whether you are a qualitative or quantitative researcher, EndNote and NVivo can help with the process of writing a literature review. EndNote users can export existing libraries (with attached pdfs) into NVivo so that all the bibliographic data is included. You can then use NVivo to search all of your papers in one go for a particular word (or related words), code passages of text so that you can analyse them together, graphically explore the most used terms and much more..

Staff and students at the University of Hull can download both NVivo and EndNote by visiting the Support Portal and using the search box.

Workshop objectives

This workshop covers: 

  • Importing references and PDFs into EndNote and exporting them into NVivo
  • Coding passages of text under particular themes so that they can be analysed together
  • Searching all PDFs for words and related words
  • Looking at word frequencies to spot possible trends
  • Graphically analysing bibliography data to show patterns

Memos

When you bring your PDFs in via EndNote, in most cases it will create a linked memo containing the abstract (if this was included in the EndNote record). You can see if this has happened by looking for the  icon alongside the PDF name.

The memos can be found in the Notes section of the folder pane down the left of the NVivo screen:

screenshot of the notes section

These memos can be useful for initial scoping exercises. For example you can create a folder for 'Scoping nodes' and just read and code the memos to get a feel for what is out there. These nodes can be quite broad at this stage. You can then decide which papers require more specific reading for more precise coding (when you are in a memo you can right-click and choose Links>Memo Link>Open Linked Item to open the associated PDF).

Whole text coding

Depending on your project, it may be useful to apply codes to the whole PDF. For example, the country the research took place in, the type of industry, the level of education etc. This can then be used when running coding queries i.e. look for thematic code x in papers also coded at whole text code y. It is a good idea to put these codes in their own folder.

Whole text codes cannot be applied by dragging and dropping. The easiest way to apply them is to right-click on the PDF name in list view and choose Code. You can create new codes or add to existing codes in the box that pops up.

Search folders

The bibliographic data imported from EndNote can be used to categorise your PDFs into folders. For example, you could have them in separate folders for each year or each group of 5 years, or you could categorise them by the journal they are in.

The Search folders video will show you how this feature works.

Sets

Sets can also be used to put groups of articles in. For example you could have sets for articles yet to be coded and a set for those that have been coded. The Sets video will show how to use this feature.

Using EndNote to collect literature

You can collect literature on mass from a database for export into EndNote. This blog post from a member of the Skills Team shows you how:

Collecting the literature blog post

 

If you are working off-campus, the likelihood is that you will not be able to automatically attach many PDFs to the records in your EndNote library because it will only find open-access articles. If that is the case, you will have to download and individually attach each PDF either by:

  • Dragging the PDF directly onto the appropriate record (from your downloads folder or the downloads bar at the bottom of your window).
  • Selecting a record in EndNote and clicking the paperclip button above your detail pane on the right, navigate to the file and select it.

Exporting from EndNote to NVivo

This blog post will show you how to export the files from EndNote and import them into NVivo:

Exporting from EndNote to NVivo blog post


Coding your text

The simplest way to use NVivo to help with literature reviewing is to code passages of text to particular nodes (that you create) so that you can then view everything coded to that node in one place when you are writing it up. 

The videos below you how to do this for interview data but the principle is exactly the same for the literature.

Querying your PDFs and your coding

Some other useful features of NVivo that are useful when reviewing literature are the Text Search, Word Frequency and Coding queries.

Text Searching

The Text Search query allows you to search all of your imported PDFs for particular words or phrases. These can then then be saved as nodes and you can see them all in one place as for the coding done in the videos above. You can also see Word Trees that look at what words come before or after the words found - and then run further searches for regularly occurring phrases.

Word Frequencies

NVivo can run a query that looks at which words appear most often in your PDFs (or groups of PDFs). This may help you spot trends that you had not noticed when reading. You can also run text-search queries on the results of your word frequency query to see where the words appear.

Coding Queries

These can be used once you have done coding as described in the videos above. It will allow you to see where coding overlaps. 


Again, the videos below show you how to do this for interview data but the principle is exactly the same for your literature. Just make sure you select your literature folder as the place to search (or it will also look at linked memos which contain the abstracts - see the Memos box on this page).

Graphically analysing bibliography data

All the bibliography data from the EndNote records is stored by NVivo and you can use it create some potentially useful charts.

This video shows you how. It is for NVivo 11 as we haven't created an equivalent for NVivo 12 yet. The only difference is when you are creating the chart you need to select Files rather than Sources.