Use of folders, cases & sets in NVivo

Folders, cases and sets can all be used to group sources together to allow subsets of the data to be compared but these three tools have different strengths.

Folders are created by right clicking in the relevant source folder in the navigation view. Each source can only be in one folder and the names of the folders affect the ordering of references in a node.

Folders are used to:
• help to manage large quantity of sources
• make it easy to select a group of sources for analysis

Example use: separate folder for each site for a large study across 3 sites

Sets are created by right clicking on a selected group of documents. Each source can be in multiple sets.

Sets are used to:
• group sources for analysis or management
• select sources for analysis
• make a single row/column in matrices

Example uses: set for each phase of interviews in a longitudinal study, set of sources that require coding

Cases & attributes
Cases are created by coding all text relating to a case to a case node. A case is the smallest unit of analysis (and may be a single source, parts of a source or several sources). Frequently a case will be an individual person. Cases may be counted in matrix queries.

Attributes record characteristics of cases. Each case can have a single value for an attribute. Although attributes normally record quantitative data about a case, they can be used to record qualitative data about a whole case.

Attributes are used to:
• in queries
• select cases for a set

Example uses: one case for all of the interviews with a single person, one case for all the text spoken by a single person in a focus group.

Example attributes: gender, role, organisation