About queries


Queries help you to explore your data and investigate hunches as you progress through your project. This topic introduces the different types of queries and helps you to get up and running.

In this topic


What are queries?

Queries provide a flexible way to gather and explore subsets of your data. In NVivo, you can create queries to

  • Find and analyze the words or phrases in your sources and nodes. You can find specific words or those that occur most frequently.

  • Ask questions and find patterns based on your coding and check for coding consistency among team members.

You can create the following queries in NVivo:

Query Description Examples
Text Search Find all occurrences of a word, phrase, or concept.
  • Find and analyze all occurrences of the phrase alternative energy.
  • Find the words policy or legislation and code them at the new node government.


Word Frequency Find the most frequently occurring words or concepts.
  • Look for the most frequently occurring words in a set of interviews.

Coding Find all content coded at selected nodes, a combination of nodes, or a combination of nodes and attributes.
  • What do property developers say about rising sea levels?—run a query to gather content that has been coded at rising sea levels and at nodes with the attribute property developer.

  • Show me content coded at both coral bleaching and rising sea temperatures.
Matrix Coding

Find a combination of items (usually nodes and attributes) and display the results in a table.

  • Compare the positive and negative attitudes of interview participants to a range of local council services.
  • Compare how the terms sustainable, conservation and global warming  are used by different lobby groups—run text searches and create a node for each term and then use the nodes in the matrix criteria.
Coding comparison

Compare coding done by two users or two groups of users.

This query measures the 'inter-rater reliability' (Cohen's Kappa coefficient) or the degree of agreement for coding done by selected users.

Compare coding between users in different locations or from different disciplines who are coding the same data in order to check the consistency of their coding.

Refer to Move forward with queries and visualizations for more ideas about how you can use queries in your project.

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How do I get started with queries?

The best way to become familiar with queries is to run some simple queries and preview the results.

Refer to Create, edit and manage queries for more information on creating queries.

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Understand query results

When you run a query, the results are displayed in Detail View—for example:

  • Coding query results are a temporary node. You can view the source content (Reference pane) or the sources that contain the content (Summary pane).

  • Word Frequency query results are a list of words. You can also visualize the results as a word cloud.

The results of some types of queries can be saved in your project—for example, you can save the results of a Coding or Text Search query as a node.

After you have explored the results in Detail View, you can decide whether or not you want to save them. You may have no need to save the results—if you do not save them, they are discarded when you close the Detail View window.

If you delete or update project items that are included in saved query results—the results are updated to reflect the changes. If you add new items that match the query criteria they are not automatically included in the results. To make sure that your query results accurately reflect the current state of your project, it is best to run the query again.

Refer to Manage query results for more information.

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