Content analysis serves the purpose in qualitative research to enable you to study human behavior indirectly through how people choose to communicate. The type of data collected can vary tremendously in this form of research. However, common examples of data include images, documents, and media.
In this post, we will look at the following in relation to content analysis
- The purpose of content analysis
- Coding in content analysis
- Analysis in content analysis
- Pros and cons in content analysis
The purpose of content analysis is to study the central phenomenon through the analysis of examples of the communication of people connected with the central phenomenon. This information is coded into categories and themes. Categories and themes are just different levels of summarizing the results of the analysis. Themes are a summary of categories and categories are a direct summary of the data that was analyzed.
Coding the data is the process of organizing the results in a comprehensible way. In terms of coding there are two choices.
- Establish categories before beginning the analysis
- Allow the categories to emerge during analysis
Which is best depends on the research questions and context of the study.
There are two forms of content manifest content and latent content. Manifest content is evidence that is directly seen such as the words in an interview. Latent content refers to the underlying meaning of content such as the interpretation of an interview.
The difference between these two forms of content is the objective or subjective nature of them. Many studies include both forms as this provides a fuller picture of the central phenomenon.
There are several steps to consider when conducting a content analysis such as…
- Define your terms-This helps readers to know what you are talking about
- Explain what you are analyzing-This can be words, phrases, interviews, pictures, etc.
- Explain your coding approach-Explained above
- Present results
This list is far from complete but provides some basis for content analysis
Pros and Cons
Pros of content analysis include
- Unobtrusive-Content analysis does not disturb the field or a people group normally
- Replication-Since the documents are permanent, it is possible to replicate a study
- Simplicity-Compared to other forms of research, content analysis is highly practical to complete
- Validity-It is hard to assess the validity of the analysis. The results of an analysis is the subjective opinion of an individual(s)
- Limited data-Content analysis is limited to recorded content. This leaves out other forms of information
Content analysis provides another way for the qualitative research to analyze the world. There are strengths and weaknesses to this approach as there are such for forms of analysis. The point is to understand than there are times when the content analysis is appropriate