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5 Most Useful Tips On Content Analysis Qualitative Research

Content Analysis Qualitative Research

content analysis qualitative researchContent analysis as well as qualitative analysis for social scientists or qualitative comparative analysis has been described as the “scientific study of the content of communication.” It is the study of content that considers the meanings, contexts and intentions in messages. Content analysis seeks to make valid, replicable and objective inferences from the analyzed content. The material for content analysis in qualitative research can be letters, short stories, newspaper content, radio or television messages just to name a few. As content analysis can be be used to examine virtually any piece of writing or recorded communication, it is used in a very wide range of fields so it is also important to know the differences between quantitative and qualitative data analysis for successful results.

Steps in the Qualitative Content Analysis Process

There is a basic procedure that should be followed in content analysis. Qualitative research using content analysis will consist of a six step analyzing process:

  1. Formulation of the research question or objective – A well formulated question provides focus.
  2. Selection of the content and sample – Locate appropriate content that can answer the question and that is from the right time period. If there is a large volume of material then a sample must be taken.
  3. Developing content categories – Every content category must be clearly and thoroughly defined and indicate what is or isn’t to be included.
  4. Finalizing units of analysis – Determine what unit of content is to be classified under the categories and what system of enumeration will be used.
  5. Preparing a coding schedule, pilot testing and checking inter coder reliabilities – Coding schedules will be prepared at the same time as categories are developed. A small sample should be run as a pilot testbefore performing the full analysis.

 Some Key Text Elements in Qualitative Content Analysis

  1. Content analysis qualitative research has some commonly used key elements that are often studied. These elements include:
  2. Adjectives used that give a strong indication of a speaker or writers attitude.
  3. Whether verbs are active or passive voice
  4. Use of metaphors and similes
  5. Tonal qualities such as sarcasm, aggression or flippancy
  6. View point of the narrator
  7. Context factors such as the position and credibility of the source
  8. There are many text elements an analysis might examine. The elements will usually be determined by the research question.

Benefits and Limitations of Content Analysis in Qualitative Research

Qualitative content analysis provides many benefits to researchers. These benefits include:

  • Can provide valuable historical and cultural insights
  • Is an unobtrusive means of examining interactions
  • Provides insight into complex models of human thought and language use
  • Can allow for both quantitative and qualitative operations

These are just a few of the benefits and there are many others. However there are some drawbacks to using content analysis including:

  • Can be time consuming
  • Often disregards the context that produced the content
  • Is often simply a word count

A good portion of the problems in content analysis are the result of improper procedures and not inherent in the method itself.

Tips for Conducting Content Analysis for Qualitative Research

The following suggestions may be useful in producing a good qualitative content analysis:

  • Don’t be overly liberal in drawing inferences just to meet your expectations.
  • Make sure your content analysis is more than just a word count
  • If possible, when coding use a different coder to check for errors
  • Use word frequency counts to identify words of potential interest followed by a Keyword in Context search for the consistency of usage of words
  • Use triangulation to provide validity to your analysis

Further information on qualitative research can be found by visiting the website of The Association For Qualitative Research at http://www.aqr.org.uk/ .

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