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Abby Haynes

Using Framework matrices as editable data collection spreadsheets

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I have been maintaining several spreadsheets in Excel because they are capturing qualitative data about ongoing events and my understanding is that I cannot edit a spreadsheet once it has been imported into NVivo. However, I would like to use NVivo for this purpose so that I can start coding the data and linking it to other sources. I note that Framework matrices are editable. Is there any reason why I shouldn't use them for the initial data entry rather than Excel providing they are clearly labeled and separated from the Framework analysis I plan to do across all my data?

Thank you,


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Hi Abby,


There a couple of reasons why it would be preferential to use a Microsoft Excel document as opposed to a Framework matrices for your initial data entry.


Firstly Framework matrices are primarily used to provide a way to summarize or condense your Source materials. They allow users to compare cases against themes and create a custom summary. For further information on this please refer to the link below:




If you choose to enter your initial data through a Framework matrices you will be required to create Case Nodes and Theme Nodes before entering any data, thus making this approach impractical.


Another limitation of entering your initial data as a Framework matrices is the inability to use NVivo’s automatic ability to classify Nodes from attribute values in your data. This task would then have to be completed manually, whereas if you choose to import an Excel document it could be automated. The following video describes this process:



In your situation I would suggest importing data in an Excel document that you know will remain unchanged. This will enable you to start your work, and then after you have finished capturing the rest of your dataset information you can then import a second dataset to complete your work. The process of importing multiple dataset should not impact any NVivo functionality you wish to utilize later on in your project.


I can see how this process may be inconvenient and will pass along the suggestion that “a dataset should have the ability to be modified after importing” to our Product Development manager.


I hope this helps.


Cheers, Gaelan

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Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Gaelan. It's not what I was hoping to hear but it's good to have clear information at this stage. I appreciate you suggesting modifiable datasets to your product development team.

Best wishes,


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