The Implication of Using NVivo Software in Qualitative Data Analysis: Evidence-Based Reflections

Malawi Med J. 2015 Mar;27(1):13-5. doi: 10.4314/mmj.v27i1.4.


For a long time, electronic data analysis has been associated with quantitative methods. However, Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS) are increasingly being developed. Although the CAQDAS has been there for decades, very few qualitative health researchers report using it. This may be due to the difficulties that one has to go through to master the software and the misconceptions that are associated with using CAQDAS. While the issue of mastering CAQDAS has received ample attention, little has been done to address the misconceptions associated with CAQDAS. In this paper, the author reflects on his experience of interacting with one of the popular CAQDAS (NVivo) in order to provide evidence-based implications of using the software. The key message is that unlike statistical software, the main function of CAQDAS is not to analyse data but rather to aid the analysis process, which the researcher must always remain in control of. In other words, researchers must equally know that no software can analyse qualitative data. CAQDAS are basically data management packages, which support the researcher during analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Humans
  • Numerical Analysis, Computer-Assisted*
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Research Design
  • Software*
  • Statistics as Topic