NVivo has text-based and visual functions to help you "brainstorm" themes for your literature review. You can deploy these functions at any time. From the research stage, to synthesis, to writing. Even at the very beginning of your project.
As detailed below, NVivo's brainstorming functions include:
Word Frequency Searches and Concept Maps are best for initial brainstorming. As you refine potential themes, Mind Maps are helpful because you can convert them into Codes. Project Maps are more relevant when you are nearing the end of the research process. A more detailed comparison between the different kinds of visual maps is set out in the Concept Maps section below.
A Word Frequency Search identifies the most frequently occurring words across all or any of the text-readable documents in your NVivo project file.
To begin, click on the Explore tab and select Word Frequency. (You can also use the Query Wizard, explained later in this guide here. Or open the Search list in the Navigation View, select Queries, then right-click in the List View and select New Query, Word Frequency.)
Here is a screenshot of the Word Frequency search box.
Some pointers to assist with searching.
Results appear initially in the form of a list of words ranked by frequency. To exclude a word from your search, right click on the word and select Add to Stop Words List. Then run the query again.
For a literature review, a useful form of result is a Word Cloud. The Word Cloud tab appears at the far right of the Detail View.
A Word Cloud can be exported as an image by right-clicking and choosing to Export Word Cloud.
You can also create a Code automatically for any word included in the Word Cloud. Right-click on the word where it appears and select Create [Word] as Code.
You can also generate a Word Cloud quickly from any item in your NVivo project (e.g. a source document or Code). Open the item in the Detail View and select Word Cloud from the right of the top ribbon.
For some purposes, the Word Clouds available in NVivo are not ideal. For example, NVivo's Word Frequency Searches are based on identifying words rather than phrases. So, if you have a list of both words and phrases which you would like to use to produce a word cloud, NVivo is unable to generate satisfactory results.
A useful free resource which provides broader word cloud functionality is WordClouds.com.
Some pointers when using WordClouds.com:
NVivo allows you to create different kinds of visual maps to workshop ideas and project items.
Below you can find more information about Concept Maps, Mind Maps, and Project Maps - how they are different, and how to create them in your NVivo project.
Concept Maps are automatically saved and stored under the Maps heading in the Navigation View.
To begin, click on the Explore tab and select Concept Map. (You can also open the Maps list in the Navigation View, select Maps, then right-click in the List View and select New Concept Map.)
Here is a screenshot of a sample Concept Map.
You can use a variety of techniques to develop and enhance your Concept Maps.
Completed or draft Concept Maps:
Mind Maps are automatically saved and stored under the heading Maps in the Navigation View.
To begin, click on the Explore tab and select Mind Map. (You can also open the Maps list in the Navigation View, select Maps, then right-click in the List View and select New Mind Map.)
Here is a screenshot of sample Mind Map.
You can use a variety of techniques to develop and enhance your Mind Maps.
Completed or draft Mind Maps:
Most importantly, the Mind Map can be converted into Codes. Use the top ribbon command Create as Codes or Cases (this command can also be accessed by right-clicking in the Mind Map). The structure of Sibling and Child relationships will be translated from the Mind Map to the newly-created Codes. Floating Ideas are placed at the top level of the Codes.
Project Maps are automatically saved and stored under the heading Maps in the Navigation View.
To begin, click on the Explore tab and select Project Map. (You can also open the Maps list in the Navigation View, select Maps, then right-click in the List View and select New Project Map.)
Here is a small Project Map showing three source documents and the Codes to which parts of those documents have been Coded.
Here is a second Project Map showing more expansive connections across a whole NVivo project.
You can use a variety of techniques to develop and enhance your Project Maps.
Completed or draft Project Maps: