Reviews

Qualitative data analysis — explorations with NVivo

The number of new and revised versions of computer software dedicated to aiding qualitative data analysis shows no sign of relenting. While most software is supplied with a manual and tutorials, many end users yearn for supplementary texts that outline the theoretical principles of qualitative research paradigms and apply them to a specific computer program. This book by Graham Gibbs is one such text. It explores the use of the relatively new NVivo program; a next generation development of QSR’s NUD*IST software. This review is not about the software per se, but is about the usefulness of this text!

The first (and perhaps the most obvious) thing to say about any text that attempts to explain the use of computer software, is that to get the most out it, you really need to have access to the program — even if it is only a limited demonstration version. (Note: this even applies to those familiar with the NUD*IST program which shares many features with NVivo). As companies now facilitate easy access to demo versions over the internet this should not prove too big a problem.

Graham Gibbs’s book is presented in a logical structure and sequence and provides a step-by-step guide of how to set up and organise projects in NVivo. In addition to the basic features, explanations and numerous examples are given to illustrate the more advanced operations within the program. Good use is made of ‘screen-shots’ (figures of the various windows that are used in the actual

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The first (and perhaps the most obvious) thing to say about any text that attempts to explain the use of computer software, is that to get the most out it, you really need to have access to the program — even if it is only a limited demonstration version. (Note: this even applies to those familiar with the NUD*IST program which shares many features with NVivo). As companies now facilitate easy access to demo versions over the internet this should not prove too big a problem.

Graham Gibbs’s book is presented in a logical structure and sequence and provides a step-by-step guide of how to set up and organise projects in NVivo. In addition to the basic features, explanations and numerous examples are given to illustrate the more advanced operations within the program. Good use is made of ‘screen-shots’ (figures of the various windows that are used in the actual program) and ‘hint and tips’ boxes. While computer manuals are often full of jargon, this book provides clear explanation of the software and related terminology. While it does contain some technical material, mainly in regard to the actual operations of the program, the author makes an excellent job on the whole of demystifying the ‘computer-speak’.

Where this text differs from standard ‘how to’ manuals, is in the addition of chapters relating to the broader principles of qualitative analysis; the use of different analytic styles and schema and their application to the program — and issues concerned with writing up projects and communicating. There is little doubt that this will be an invaluable reference and of considerable help if you already own or are about to invest in NVivo software.

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