Ethnography Data to Manuscript

I’m interested in ways to use Scrivener to code specific passages in different documents, and then search that code and have only those specific passages so coded appear in a new document with an indicator of the source document for each passage. This is basically the heart of any QDA software like Atlas, Hyperresearch, Ethnograph, NVivo, etc. There are several hints in this database that I’ll work on, but I’m wondering if anyone out there has solved this specific problem. I know Scrivener wasn’t built to do this.

Not being in the field myself, I’m not sure of the precise details you are looking for, such as whether or not you need these codes to be visible in the final product or if you are looking for something that is entirely within Scrivener and doesn’t appear in the compile. There are a number of tools you can use to attach chains of references and remarks to a text. You might want to skim Chapter 17 in the user manual, which discusses all forms of meta-markup in a document, in exportable and internal forms, such as highlighting, inline and offline notation (of both the footnote/endnote and regular commentary forms), and text colour tools. In addition to these, you might also find §11.3 (pg. 93) and §9.5 (pg. 71) to be of use. Particularly the latter, which if used in a certain fashion can give your project an almost “wiki” feel to it, where each word or phrase can be supported by anything from a single document (and all of the meta-data and features a document supports) to a whole hierarchy of documents. While this tool is supremely useful for heavily annotated text, it’s of less use on export unless you intend to use an HTML based export (which includes e-books).

Finally, for organising and locating markings, the Find by Formatting tool can step through your project by format type, and since all of the notation methods I’ve described above are a type of formatting, that means they are all accessible to this tool.

Many thanks for that help. I’m more or less wandering in the right territory of the manual, but you’re giving me a good sense of direction.

Please keep us updated with how you get on. Although I’m not doing ethnography, my research does involve a considerable amount of qualitative data (mainly focus group transcriptions but also written survey responses). On the advice of my supervisor, I chose to install Nvivo 8 on a Windows partition on my Mac and, well, let’s just say that the warmth of my regard for that particular software package could keep meat fresh in the middle of an Aussie summer. :unamused:

I’m too far in now to start over using something else (like Scrivener) for my thematic analysis, but am very interested to know if (and if so, how) others use it for similar data types.

Another, more conceptual, tip for QDA is to really utilise the “small pieces of text” qualities that Scrivener works so well with. A new item in the binder for every phrase, for example, so you can maximise the meta-data and marking features in Scrivener at a low level. Of course this is not the best option if these lines needs to be conjoined again into a paragraph later on. It’s not too hard to do that, but you’ll probably need to use something like one of DEVON Technology’s free text tools to reformat single-breaks into one line, post-merge or compile.

This is particularly useful in linking as Scrivener does not feature point-to-point links, but document-to-document links. So if the documents are in fact the points, your links go right to the spot they should.

You might consider turning on “Separate with single line breaks” in the Formatting preferences pane (very bottom). This will cause the Scrivenings text view (which is for creating ad hoc documents out of chunks of text without physically merging them) to use an alternate non-intrusive divider between individual elements within the Scrivenings session.

Will do, Norm, and you do the same. I know QDA-world some–Nudist/NVivo, Atlasti, Ethnograph, Hyperresearch, not the more recent creatures–and really, when you get down to it, I mostly use them for their simple ability to let you find a passage (or image or audio segment), mark it, and then later pull all the similarly marked units into one place to look at. The different software packages all offer massive numbers of bells and whistles and visual representations that colleagues like, but I just mostly wade through a lot of material and look for threads, and I do that on the way to writing something. Gotta be a way to do that in Scrivener. I can see a couple of possibilities, problem still is carrying information with the marked unit as to its source. More news at ten.

Hi Mike,

I was just browsing this forum, looking for answers to exactly the same problem, and wondered whether you’ve found a solution that works for you?

I’m also an anthropologist, looking for a simple way to code themes in my fieldnotes. Scrivener is such a nice, elegant software, that I have no desire at all to transfer over onto clunky NVivo (even though it is provided by my university).


Hi Jenny. Yep, couldn’t agree with you more, though I’ve been using Hyperresearch because it’s Mac friendly. But no, I experimented with a couple of workarounds but it was like trying to build a Corvette out of washing machine parts. There’s action around bib type material, with links among Papers and Bookends and Scrivener, but no one seems to have linked Scrivener with QDA software. If I had the tech savvy and the time I’d do it and get rich and just buy the Corvette. The “qualitative” market continues to grow, and it’s more about writing than more traditional social research.