Strategies for teamwork


A growing number of projects involve multiple researchers working collaboratively. While teams offer higher productivity and a richer perspective, they also present a number of management challenges.  This topic suggests some strategies for meeting these challenges.

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Ways to collaborate

Many projects involve multiple researchers working together. NVivo helps you to collaborate by allowing you to Work in copies of a project and merge them into a master project at appropriate intervals—making use of user profiles to track changes. A challenge with teamwork is balancing coding (and thinking) as though you are all one person, with taking an independent approach to coding (and thinking) to bring the value of diverse viewpoints and experience into the research.

While teams offer higher productivity and a richer perspective, they also present a number of management challenges. Early in a project it is important to determine the approach your team will take to:

  • Collecting and organizing data.

  • Creating and cataloguing themes and topics (the node structure).

  • Coding the data.

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Strategies for managing teamwork

When you collaborate in a project, you might want to consider the following:

  • Appoint a team leader who will keep the team on track and make final coding decisions.

  • Have regular team meetings to discuss interpretations, address issues and assign tasks—record the outcomes in a memo.

  • Have each team member keep a memo to record their progress, including any hunches, suggestions or questions—you could also do this in a single ‘teamwork journal’.

  • Early on, have multiple team members code the same collection of sources, then compare coding (using coding stripes or a Coding Comparison query )—this can help ensure a consistent approach.

  • To start with, make a node hierarchy for each team member.  After team discussion, you can refine, merge and reorganize.

  • Aim for a clear node structure and use descriptions (in node properties) to make the purpose of a node clear for all team members.

  • As the project progresses, see which nodes have been created or modified and by which team member—do this in Node List View.

  • While a common node structure is important for efficiency and reliability— it should remain flexible so that new insights and exciting ideas are not lost.

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Compare the coding of team members

If multiple researchers are coding the same material, you may be interested in the consistency of their coding. You can run a Coding Comparison query to check the 'inter-rater reliability' using the Kappa coefficient.

Where coding consistency is important, it may be useful to agree on a node structure early and have regular discussions about how the structure is evolving.

Remember that inconsistency in coding is not necessarily negative— it may prompt productive debate and deeper insights into the data.

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