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NVivo for Literature Reviews

Using NVivo Qualitative Research Software for Literature Reviews and Analytical Writing


Memos are an optional feature in NVivo which can be useful for literature reviews.

About Memos

  • A Memo is a text document which forms part of an NVivo project file.
  • A Memo can be either:
  • A Memo can be used to record general details about the research journey, or details specific to a particular source document. (Simple parameters for editing fonts and formatting paragraphs are available within NVivo.) Each Memo can be linked to one source document from the Files or Externals folders.
    • To link a Memo, right-click on the name of the File or External in the List View and select Memo Link, then Link to Existing Memo or Link to New Memo.
  • The sample Memo below, for example, was created when the source document to which it relates was imported into NVivo. A link to the source document itself was automatically established.


NVivo screenshot showing Memo created using information imported from Endnote.

Memos: Potential Uses

Memos have a number of potential uses.

  • A Memo linked to an individual source document can record impressions (e.g. responses, criticisms, etc.) about that document.
  • A Memo can be used to record key details of the overall research journey. This helps to make the NVivo project file a centralised repository of all relevant information about your project.
  • Memos can be Coded in whole or part to Codes.
  • Memos can be searched independently of source documents. For Memos created automatically when references are imported from Endnote, for example, a user can search keywords, abstracts, and Notes, without including the full text of the source.