Run a Text Search query


Text Search queries allow you to find all occurrences of a word, phrase, or concept in your project.  This topic explains how you can create Text Search queries and what you can do with the results of the query.

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Understand Text Search queries

Text search queries let you search for words or phrases in your sources.  You can choose to search only the textual content of your sources, only in annotations or both.

You can select the source content you want to search, by selecting sources, nodes, sets, folders or search folders.

Before you run a Text Search query, make sure the text content language is set to the language of your source materials—refer to Set the text content language and stop words for more information.

You can use a Text Search query to:

  • Explore the use, context and meaning of words—are some expressions used more widely in a specific demographic?

  • See if an idea or topic is prevalent in your sources—particularly in the early stages of your project.

  • Locate an annotation that you remember writing.

  • Automatically code words or phrases. For example, find each occurrence of solar or wind power and code them (and the selected context around them) at the node renewable energy. Refer to Broad brush coding using queries for more information.

You can search for exact words, phrases or even concepts that include similar words. For example, if you search for sport, NVivo can find words with similar meanings: recreation, play, and fun.

Refer to Move forward with queries and visualizations for more ideas about how you can use Text Search queries to explore your data.

NOTE  

  • If you are working with French or Japanese text, we recommend that all team members use NVivo 10 for Windows Service Pack 3 (or later).

  • If you are working with Chinese text, we recommend that all team members use NVivo 10 for Windows Service Pack 4 (or later).

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Create a Text Search query using the Wizard

  1. On the Query tab, in the Create group, click Query Wizard.

The Query Wizard opens.

  1. Click See where particular terms occur in content, and then click Next.

  2. On Step 2 of the Wizard:

  • In the Search for box, enter the word or phrase. If you want an exact phrase enclose it in double quotation marks ("). Click Special, if you want to combine multiple words with special characters and operators.

  • Adjust the Find slider, if you want to find words or phrases with a similar meaning. By default, the slider is set to find 'Exact match only'—refer to Understand text match settings for more information.

  1. On Step 3 of the Wizard, choose whether you want to search text in all your sources, or restrict the search to selected items or folders.

  2. On Step 4 of the Wizard, choose whether you want to run the query just once or add it to your project (and run it). If you choose to add it to your project, you must enter a name. You can optionally enter a description.

  3. Click Run.

The query is executed and the results are displayed in Detail View.

NOTE  If you want to use Text Search query features that are not available via the Wizard—for example, search text in annotations—you can add the query to your project and update it later. If you are familiar with NVivo queries, you may prefer to create the query outside the Wizard.

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Create a Text Search query outside the Wizard

If you are not familiar with NVivo queries, you may want to create your Text Search query using the Wizard—the Wizard guides you through the process of setting your query criteria. However, not all query features are available in the Wizard, so you may sometimes want to create your Text Search queries outside the Wizard, as described below:

  1. On the Query tab, in the Create group, click Text Search.

The Text Search Query dialog box opens.

  1. On the Text Search Criteria tab, in the Search for box, enter the word or phrase. If you want an exact phrase enclose it in double quotation marks (").

  2. (Optional) Adjust the Finding matches slider to find words or phrases with a similar meaning. By default, the slider is set to find 'Exact match only'—refer to Understand text match settings for more information.

  3. (Optional) Click Special to combine multiple words with special characters and operators.

  4. In the Search in box, select whether you want to search in Text, Annotations or both.

  5. To change the scope of the query:

  • In the Of box, select which project items you want to include in the search—click the Select button to select the project items.

  • In the Where box, choose to include only project items created by selected users—click the Select button to select the users.

  1. Click Run.

NOTE

  • To save the Text Search query, select the Add to Project check box and enter the name and description (optional) in the General tab.

  • Click the Query Options tab to define the spread coding options (amount of coding spread around the search word).  Refer to Spread coding for more information.  By default, only the word or phrase is coded—to make references more meaningful, you may want to increase the spread. If you choose to spread coding, you cannot view the results as a word tree.

  • The Query Options tab also allows you to set your preferences for storing the results—for example, you might want to store the results as a node when you run the query. Refer to Query options for detailed information.

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What text is included in a Text Search query?

When running a Text Search query, NVivo applies the following rules:

  • In audio and video transcripts, only words in the Content field (column) are included in the query—any words in custom transcript fields are ignored.

  • In datasets, only words in codable fields (columns) are included in the query—any words in classifying fields are ignored.

  • A Text Search query does not find the 'stop words' associated with the text content language, unless the word is within a search phrase or the text content language is Chinese or Japanese. Stop words are less significant words, such as conjunctions and prepositions. You can edit the list of stop words to suit the content of your sources—refer to Set the text content language and stop words for more information.

  • A Text Search query does not find symbols or punctuation.

  • A Text Search query does not find parts of words—except if the text language is Chinese or Japanese.

  • A Text Search query does not search for words or phrases in framework matrix summaries.

  • A Text Search query does not search text within images. PDFs created by scanning paper documents may contain only images—each page is a single image. If you want to use Text Search queries to explore the text in these PDFs, then you should consider using optical character recognition (OCR) to convert the scanned images to text (before you import the PDF files into NVivo).

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Look for similar words

You can adjust the Find (or Finding matches) slider to find words with the same stem or words with similar meaning—for example, you can search for sport and find sport, sporting, play and basketball. Refer to Understand text match settings for more information.

TIPS

  • If you search for individual words, you will find only individual words—not phrases. For example, if you search for unemployed and adjust the slider to find similar words, you will find unemployment and jobless, but not out of work.

  • You may be able to find similar words if you search for a phrase—depending on the phrase . For example, if you search for words similar to "out of work", you will find any instances of unemployed and jobless.

  • If you search for a combination of a single word and a phrase (for example, "out of work" OR unemployed), you will not be able to find similar words.

  • If you search for a phrase, the results will not include words with the same stem. For example, if you search for "alternative energy", you will not be able find "alternative energies".

  • If you include the special search operator 'tilde' (~) to specify proximity in your Text Search Criteria, the results will not include words with the same stem.

  • If you include the special search operators 'wildcard' (*) and 'fuzzy' (~) in your Text Search Criteria, you will be limited to 'Exact match only'.

  • If a word has multiple meanings, you may get unexpected results—refer to When I look for similar words, I get words I did not expect for more information.

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Preview the results

When you run a Text Search query, by default, the Summary tab is in focus showing a list of all sources that contain the word or phrase.

Click the other tabs on the right to see:

  • Reference  The results are opened as a node preview and the word or phrase is shown with a narrow context. You can also expand the context around a reference.

  • Text, Picture, Audio, Video, or Dataset  Displays the results found in each type of source—only relevant tabs are available.

  • Word Tree  Displays the results as a tree with branches representing the various contexts in which the word or phrase occurs. You may be able to find recurring themes or phrases that surround the word. The size of the font indicates the number of times the word or phrase was found. The Word Tree tab is not available when you select to spread coding.

When you view the results as a Word Tree, you can:

  • Click a branch to highlight all of the other related branches to see the wider context.

  • Change the number of words that are displayed in the branches— in the Context (Words) box, in the Options group on the Word Tree tab, select the number of words you want to show.

  • Change the order of the branches in the word tree. In the Branch Order box, in the Options group, on the Word Tree tab, select Alphabetical (to order branches alphabetically), or Number of matches (to order branches by the frequency in which the branch occurs).

  • Display a different word as the root. For example, if you search for contaminate including stemmed words and synonyms, you may find that pollution is at the root of the branches because it occurs more frequently. To select a different root word, in the  Root Term box, in the Options group, on the Word Tree tab, select the root term you want to show.

  • Find the project item where a particular occurrence of the word is used—right-click on a branch to see the short-cut menu, then click Run Text Search Query.  

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Save the preview results as a node

If your query has returned interesting content, you may want to save it as a node, so that you can explore it further. Saving the results of Text Search queries as nodes can be a quick way of organizing your material into broad themes—refer to About coding (Broadbrush Coding using queries) for more information.

The node will contain the content that is displayed on the Reference tab in the query results in Detail View. If you repeatedly run the same query, you may want to merge the references into an existing node, rather than create them as a new node.

To save the references as a node:

  1. Click on the query results in Detail View.

  2. On the Query tab, in the Actions group, click Store Query Results.

The Store Query Results dialog box opens.

  1. From the Option list, choose what you want to do with the results. You can:

  • Create the results as a new node

  • Merge the results into an existing node (you must select the node to merge into)

  • Create a node hierarchy where the references from each source are in a separate child node

  1. If you are creating a new node,  enter a name and description.

  1. Click OK.

NOTE  

  • By default new nodes are created in the Results folder, unless you choose another location. Refer to Manage query results (Understand the Results Folder), for more information.

  • If you save the results as a node hierarchy, relevant content from each source is coded to a separate node, under a parent node.

  • You can choose how you want to store the results before you run the query—by setting your preferences on the Query Options tab in the Text Search Query dialog box.

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Make a set of the sources in your results

You can create a set from the results of a Text Search query—the set members are the sources displayed on the Summary tab in the query results in Detail View.

Saving the sources to a set gathers them together for further analysis. For example, if you are researching community health policies, you might want to find all the journal articles in your project that mention diabetes. You could run a Text Search query to find all occurrences of the term diabetes and then save the sources to a set for further exploration and analysis.

To save the results to set:

  1. Click in the query result in Detail View.

  2. On the Query tab, in the Actions group, click Store Query Results.

The Store Query Results dialog box opens.

  1. From the Option list, choose whether you want to create a new set or add the sources to an existing set.

  1. If you are creating a new set, enter a name and description.

  2. Click OK.

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Use a Compound query to refine your text search

You can use a Compound Query to further refine a text search, for example you could

  • Combine two Text Search queries to find where one term precedes another
  • Combine a Text Search query with a Coding query to find text in relation to coding—where young women talk about climate change, do they use the word pessimistic?

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