The aim of this paper is to explore and explicate a method for using NVivo12 to analyze the responses to open-ended questions in surveys. It focuses on the features of NVivo12 that facilitate this particular type of mixed-methods research. Open-ended questions are used within surveys across a wide variety of disciplines and provide opportunities for participants to provide their own perspectives on a topic of interest. However, they can be challenging to analyze; if the survey has a large sample size, a very considerable corpus of text will be generated, yet the text associated with any single individual is likely to be modest and lack the context and richness usually associated with qualitative research. The paper builds on a recent contribution by Feng and Behar-Horenstein (2019) and demonstrates how the new features of NVivo12 specifically assist mixed-methods research by adding a new Crosstab query function and making it easier to export and import data directly from SPSS.


NVivo, qualitative, surveys, analysis, CAQDAS, future

Author Bio(s)

Jane Elliott is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Exeter, UK. Please direct correspondence to Jane.Elliott@exeter.ac.uk.


I am grateful to Jon Lawrence and Jennifer Wilcox for their helpful comments on this paper. Special thanks are due to the members of the 1958 British Birth Cohort Study who have provided detailed information to the study over many years, and to the team at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies who manage the study and document the data.

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