Skip to Main Content

NVivo for Literature Reviews

Using NVivo Qualitative Research Software for Literature Reviews and Analytical Writing

Please note: This guide will be retired at the end of 2023.

About NVivo

NVivo is software designed to enable qualitative and mixed-methods research. The developer is QSR International.

Although some of NVivo's advanced features are for dedicated qualitative researchers, NVivo can also provide significant help with any kind of analytical writing.

In this guide we focus on literature reviews. The same techniques are potentially applicable to:

  • conference papers,
  • articles,
  • commentaries,
  • book reviews,
  • legal memoranda or submissions,
  • student essays.

Install or Upgrade NVivo

You can download NVivo for free from the Deakin Software Library. Both Mac and Windows versions are available.

Current version - NVivo (Release 1)

Recently, the names of different NVivo versions have been a bit confusing. The publisher QSR calls the current version of NVivo simply NVivo, or NVivo (Release 1). In the Deakin Software Library, this version is called NVivo 20.

Compared to previous versions, NVivo 20 has a more modern interface and some streamlined functionality.

NVivo's core functions have worked the same way for some time. Help resources based on previous versions may look different in places, but they continue to be relevant as most changes are cosmetic.

Caution: Projects created or used in the current version of NVivo—NVivo (Release 1) or NVivo 20—are NOT compatible with the previous version, NVivo 12.

Mac vs Windows

There are important compatibility limitations when working across both Mac and Windows platforms. We discuss these in further detail on the next page of this guide.

About this Guide

This guide was originally written for NVivo 12. An update is in progress.

In this guide, we refer to the most recent version of NVivo as NVivo (Release 1).

Almost all of the functions in NVivo (Release 1) were available in NVivo 12, and the most noticeable updates are to the user interface. If you are using NVivo (Release 1), please be mindful that some of the screenshots and menu options shown in our guide may have changed.

QSR publishes a user guide for Windows and Mac that is gradually being updated for NVivo (Release 1).

Introductory Video Tutorials from QSR

QSR publishes introductory NVivo video tutorials for both Windows and Mac.

The first video in each QSR series is embedded below.

Video: NVivo for Literature Reviews

Watch a recording of Deakin Library training (1 hour 18 mins)


Video: Analysis in NVivo (Windows)

Click the play button below to watch the video Analysis in NVivo (Windows) (01:00).

Video: Analysis in NVivo 12 Mac

Click the play button below to watch the video on Analysis in NVivo 12 Mac (00:57).

Additional NVivo Resources

Additional resources are available from NVivo's developer QSR and third parties.

QSR YouTube channel

QSR Publications and Webinars

Publications by QSR introduce important aspects of NVivo for literature reviews/analytical writing:

For users interested in NVivo's more advanced features, QSR also offers:

Third Party Video Tutorials

Here are some recent in-depth videos covering NVivo and literature reviews:

A popular tutorial entitled Improving Your Literature Review with NVivo 11 for Windows (42:00) was made by Ana Garcia of La Trobe University Library in 2015.

More recently, Dr Alan Shaw (Strategic Planet, 2017) made twin video guides directed at literature reviews:

Third Party Publications and Resource Guides

Flinders University has published a detailed guide focused on using NVivo and EndNote For Literature Reviews. Also available from Flinders is an NVivo Advanced Workbook relating to in-depth qualitative research.

La Trobe University publishes an NVivo Library Resource Guide.

Further Help

For software download issues, contact the Deakin IT service desk.

At this stage the Library is unable to provide support for NVivo, but if you are interested in further information or assistance, please contact the eResearch team: .