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Dealing with Non-Responses to Open-ended Survey Questions

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In my office, we regularly code the responses to open-ended survey questions using NVivo.  One issue we not have been able to resolve is the best way to deal with non-responses to open-ended survey questions when importing survey data into NVivo.  Ideally, when viewing the node for each open-ended question in list view in NVivo, we would like the count of references to display the correct number of valid responses to each survey question (i.e. we would like the reference count to exclude non-responses).  Even if we import all non-responses as blank cells (and replace all --99 missing values from Qualtrics with blanks), the reference count for each question node in NVivo references the total number of rows in the spreadsheet for each question (including blank cells), rather than the number of valid responses.  We have found a workaround to filter out the non-response data from each question node using a separate classification sheet which indicates whether each respondent answered each question.  However, this process has been very time intensive.  

If anyone has a solution to this issue, your advice would be very much appreciated!

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I believe a Matrix Coding Query will be helpful. You can add Respondents(Cases) as Rows and Questions(Nodes) as Columns of the matrix and run the query. 

The resulting Matrix will show number of common coding reference across each intersection of Nodes and Cases.

Here is the detailed information on Matrix Coding Query:


I hope this helps.

Kind Regards,


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Hello @rsh,


When working with datasets it is always better to format source file before importing into Nvivo.

Therefore, the simplest solution for your question will be NOT converting -99 with blanks.

Keep it as it is, then import and auto-code as you desire. After that, all you need to do is to find "-99" text in coded text of a certain node using search function, then un-code them all from that very same node. The reference count will be same as number of responses. 

Hope this helps,


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