Kath McNiff on Tools, Tips and Other New Year’s Resolutions

Hey there. My name is Kath McNiff and I’m an online community manager at QSR International (the makers of NVivo).

Lessons Learned: We’re heading into a brand new year of evaluation (actually, THE year of evaluation). Oh, the joys of a clean slate! A chance to right the wrongs, sharpen the tools, clear the decks and morph into the best 2015 version of ourselves.


Here are some resolutions to consider:

  • Do an Inbox detoxIs your cluttered inbox making you feel overwhelmed and out of control? Vital details can easily slip through the cracks as you flounder around in the digital debris. Get yourself a copy of How to be a Productivity Ninja and follow Graham Allcott’s simple steps for getting your inbox to zero.
  • Decide on your Digital Strategy Have you been following the same old tweeters for the past two years? And what about those cobwebs on your LinkedIn profile? It’s time to make sure your digital footprint is polished and professional. If you’re looking at social media as a rich reserve of qualitative data, you need to make decisions about platforms, data collection and ethics.
  • Get the right tools Seriously consider using the free version of Evernote. While you’re out in the field you can use your phone or tablet to record interviews, take field notes, snap photos and clip relevant content from the web. Then, back at your desk you can synch notebooks and have easy access to all your material (and then bring it into NVivo for analysis).
  • Develop good NVivo habits Bring your research design documents into NVivo and refer to them regularly as you analyze your data. Start a project journal in NVivo and write, write, write – remembering to link to the data that supports your emerging insights. Then, when a client demands to know how you reached your conclusions – you can turn to your journal (complete with charts, word clouds and models). Check the QSR website for details about pricing.

Well, that should get us to February at least. Start the year feeling in control of your virtual world so you can spend more time celebrating in the physical one :

Hot Tip: Take a fresh look at the tools you use everyday. Are you missing out on some really useful feature because you always follow the same well-worn path? In the case of NVivo, spend some time watching the YouTube videos or read the help – and explore features you haven’t used before (framework matrices anyone?).

Rad Resources: If you want to get your ToDo list under control, try these free apps: Todoist or Trello

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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