Gathering literature and ways to store them are very personal. Some people prefer to do it manually, over paper and pen; with marks, scribbles, highlights or even coffee spill from the favourite cafe. Some other use software, either EndNote or other words processing software.
I place myself somewhere in between. I usually prefer to look at hardcopies when I encountered a new topic, or wanting to sit on a fancy cafÃ©. Also the other reason is that I like to have a printed bibliography of the new ideas.
When I did my master degreeâ€™s dissertation, I used MS Word. I created files based on a theme or identified topic. Before I started my PhD, I was sure that a better storing system is in order. Asked around, did not get satisfactory answers. My gut feeling told me that once I hit 100 references, it will be quite a stretch to manage them. Never mind for the whole PhD duration. I thought â€œIt is a simple concept, like hashtag system. Categorising based on a hashtag, and at the same time we can view information filed under a certain tag. There should be something out thereâ€. In my fourth month, I found Nvivo which is a CAQDAS (Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software) and used it ever since to manage my library.
Although it took me a while to figure out, using Nvivo as means to storage literature is not new. QSR International provides webinars, e-demos and tutorials which guide us from the scratch, I suggest to check their resources.
Here are my usual steps:
- Find the intended reference, download the reference management format
- Open EndNote and import downloaded file in EndNote
- If the reference is in form of softcopy, attached pdf in EndNote data
- If is in form of hardcopy, I usually use my OCR pen to transfer data to editable text. Or simply re-type the text
- In EndNote, export file(s) to .xml format
- Open Nvivo, import it
- Categorise them accordingly in Nodes
In Window 1, there is a long list of nodes I took from my own Nvivo file. The orange colour highlight shows a node I choose to illustrate, â€œAOS_sketching profileâ€ node. At the bottom bit is what we see when we click the node. Identical idea with hashtags, everything I labelled previously can be found in the node. If we want to see more of a context of the text, click on the underlined words (title of the article)- refer to P1.
It showsÂ Window 2, where exactly the passages are in relation with the whole article- refer to P2. Similarly if we have coded an image, it will direct us to the image- Window 3Â . Right click on the location of the image (in my illustration, refer to P3 8 : 51,48 â€“ 491,378 )>Links>Open references source; and it will take us to the image.
NvivoÂ is quite handy and aids me to focus more on a topic. Words can be coded, un-coded or changed to other codes easily. What needs an improvement (or perhaps what I need to find out) from this system is references in a Node are arranged alphabetically. It would be great that theyÂ can be arranged based on the year of publication, so that itâ€™s easier to identify the flow of debates. Also one thing is very crucial, based on my experience, the software has been a great help to arrange my references; BUT doing analysis is our job and not the software.
This is just a brief explanation about using Nvivo to store and manage reference. I am no where near an expert, you are more than welcome to drop me a message to say Hi and possibly bounce some ideas back. Bye for now.